We can tell that there’s a shift in digital awareness amongst small business owners right now. Unfortunately for most, it’s not happening quickly enough nor is it going deep enough. We’re still just scratching the surface, even with small businesses that are beginning to embrace Internet marketing.
One of my big concerns right now for small businesses is that they are spending a lot of money on advertising strategies that are not just months or years out of date, but decades! I dedicate hours out of every day just to learn more about marketing, trends, and our own data. Constantly educating yourself like my team does, while running a business, seems extremely overwhelming. It’s no surprise that small businesses are still wasting thousands of dollars on outdated or outgoing marketing strategies.
Over the past few weeks, I have experienced many meetings with potential customers that are spending anywhere between $500-5000 a month on local magazine ads, billboards, coupon books, newspapers, and everything else you can imagine. Each small business owner asked me, “what do you think about those advertising platforms?”
My response was and is simple, “Where do you see most people paying attention today? What are you doing during commercial breaks, before a movie starts in a the theater, or even on a date? Why are you spending money in places that no one pays attention to anymore?”
Dropping your marketing spend in areas that aren’t driving business is just smart business. You can’t just disappear though. You need to figure out where the attention is on the Internet too, because that is changing at an exponential rate.
Here’s a breakdown of what is going out, what is current, and what is on the horizon for all of you early adopters.
Outgoing Internet Marketing Tactics
These are tools that still achieve results, but their ROI is significantly lower today. Eventually, they will fade away.
- Email marketing: If you jumped on email marketing 15 years ago, you were winning. It still works today, but you’re lucky if you get a 15%-20% open rate. We’re just not excited about email today.
- Yelp Advertising: A few months ago, I predicted that Yelp would eventually fade away due to their anonymous review system which has lost trust significantly and competition from Facebook. Their ads are also out of date in style and delivery. We’re programmed now to just skip over them, even though they are at the top of the search.
- Google AdWords: The paid listings at the top of search results are quickly losing favor. While there have been a few minor successes with their ad delivery recently (we’re actually having a great year with AdWords for our home services customers), Google is suffering from a loss of clicks in their ads. Worse is the fact that when most people click on ads on a mobile device, it’s by accident.
Current Internet Marketing Strategies (MUSTS)
- Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram: There are still social media deniers out there, and I think they’re going to have a really difficult time as mobile Internet share and purchasing behavior shifts over the next 12-24 months. These networks require strategy if you want to succeed. The days of building a Facebook page and acquiring new fans are over. You have to earn it with the content that you share.
- Facebook and Instagram Ads: The Facebook ecosystem is the most popular, used, and advanced in terms of targeting ability. Successful ads require you to know your customer and to know your own brand well. You should use what you know about both to reach your ideal customer with content that converts. Instagram has had some targeting issues, but for the most part, it is powerful as well and runs off of Facebook’s ad buying program. Again, you need to know your audience, your business, but you also need to understand Instagram so that your ads blend into the ecosystem.
- Business Blogs: Content creation via blog posts are still doing very well for businesses. While video and images continue to explode and podcasts are making a comeback, the written word has maintained its popularity. I think it ties into the fact that reading information allows us to scan and skip around easily to content that we’re seeking. As search engines still play a large role in how we discover businesses, business blogs also work well with authority building through relevancy of original content.
Internet Marketing You Need to Jump on NOW That’s Not “Proven” Yet
A few weeks ago, I read an article on Forbes.com that said Snapchat was an awful place for marketers because you couldn’t click through to a website, or measure how long people watched your Snaps. I’m not positive, but I bet he also said email marketing was stupid back in 1995 because you couldn’t measure open rates. No, you can’t click through to a site to make a purchase, but that’s not always the point of marketing. Those are the hard metrics that CFO’s want to see. The soft metrics though, are what build brands and open the doors with brand influence and authority.
Jump on the strategies now while you can still have an impact:
- Snapchat: The demographics first started with teens, and then college aged adults. Today, the fastest growing age demographics include 25-35 year olds. This time last year, Snapchat had 100 million daily active users. So remind me why you think it’s a social network just for kids? If you can start leveraging this network now and figure it out (because it is by far the most time consuming for marketers) then you will have the advantage that many businesses did back in the day when Facebook just started to explode. It’s a land grab right now, and you don’t want to be left out.
- Snapchat On Demand Geofilters: If you’re unfamiliar with the Snapchat platform, geofilters or image overlays that users can place over the images that they create. For example: If you’re within the Atlanta city limits, an “Atlanta” filter can be applied to your Snapchat image/video. Businesses can now purchase ad space in certain areas for a certain amount of time. We have launched on demand geofilters for small businesses such as designers in New York City and roller skating rinks in Texas. Results have been amazing so far, especially because the competition is so low.
- Pinterest Advertising: We have used Pinterest advertising for almost a year now, and have loved the results as well. I’m shocked at how little competition there is when it comes to advertising on this female dominant visual search engine that is geared towards the purchase process. Why wouldn’t you want an ad for your business to be found in a place that is all about consumerism?
Small businesses that create a strong foundation with Internet marketing open themselves up for the opportunity to tackle early adoption of platforms like Snapchat (which we haven’t seen growth in a network like this since Facebook). If you’re wondering how you can afford to move into Internet marketing, maybe it’s time to look at your traditional marketing expenses and start phasing them out.