By John Orlando, Chief Marketing Officer at Constant Contact
Small business owners might not hear this often enough, but you deserve a round of applause. Not only are you kicking it when it comes to revenue, you’re also savvy marketers with impressive do-it-yourself skills. This insight comes from a recent survey of 1,000 small business owners conducted by Constant Contact.
Digging into the numbers, 70 percent of small business owners reported meeting or exceeding their Q1 2016 revenue targets. This news follows on the heels of a great close to 2015, where year-over-year revenue was up for 61 percent over 2014 revenue for the survey participants. As we hit the 2016 midway, it’s a good time to see if you’re on track, ahead or behind your goals. But no matter where you are on that scale, here are some secrets to attracting new customers, inspiring them to come back, and driving word-of-mouth all the way through December and beyond.
Marketing To Smaller Audiences.
When it comes to making sure your marketing has a real impact on your bottom line, you’ll do better to engage smaller audiences instead of trying to appeal to the masses. By focusing on existing customers, you’ll be able to more fully engage them, which inspires them to return and tell their friends about you. While we all know this to be true anecdotally, the facts support it with 87 percent of survey respondents saying that referrals are their top new business driver.
To maximize the power of these great customer relationships, identify your most active customers and segment them on your contact list. This includes customers who make frequent purchases, those you’ve gotten to know on a personal level, and those you engage with regularly through email and social.
If you consistently personalize your messages to this audience and treat them like VIPs, they’ll keep you top of mind. Next, go a little deeper into that list and reach out to those customers that you feel most comfortable approaching. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind sharing positive feedback on your website, newsletter, social media channels, or an online review site. By asking them to take just one of those actions, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of their feedback as you amplify it in email and social media. This powerful one-two punch can be a significant new business driver considering that another survey by Dimensional Research found that 90 percent of customers say buying decisions are influenced by positive online reviews.
If you’re feeling awkward about asking customers for a reference or new business lead, don’t. Know that when you reach out, most customers are more than happy to get behind you and help you grow your business.
Finding the Right Marketing Tools To Engage Customers.
Mobile, video, blogs, advertising, search engine optimization, email, social media – the list of options for marketing your business is almost endless. But what really works? Email and social media are the two marketing channels that have consistently proven to be the most cost effective and offer the highest ROI. In terms of which social networks to build a presence on, follow your audience.
Yet don’t be afraid to experiment with new marketing tools. According to the Constant Contact survey, small businesses are trying out video with tools like Meerkat and Periscope, and they’re also exploring mobile apps.
Since you only have so much time available for marketing, your best bet is to use the established, proven tools and experiment with new ones as they come along. Integrate the two where it makes sense. Based on how your customers respond, you’ll arrive at the right combination for your business.
How Small Business Owners Master Online Marketing.
Focusing on your most active customers not only makes sense from a business point of view, it also makes your life easier, especially since only seven percent of small business owners said they plan to hire full-time employees this year.
If you aren’t aggressively hiring and want to master the latest marketing tools, take a cue from your peers. According to the survey, small business owners are turning to a variety of online and offline resources to learn about the latest marketing technologies and you may be surprised to find that their number one source is all about the human touch: colleagues, peers and friends. After that, they turn to online searches, webinars, blogs, trade publications, news outlets, and product review sites.
You may also be surprised by the fact that their top reason for learning isn’t to stay ahead of the competition. When asked what inspires them to learn about a work-related topic, concept or process, 68 percent of survey respondents said “natural curiosity.” Following close behind was professional development, to better understand customers, and competitive pressures. That innate curiosity is paying off as small businesses continue to produce impressive revenue numbers.
Get Ready Now To Crush It At Year-End.
There’s no reason why small business owners can’t knock it out of the park again this year. By engaging smaller audiences with tailored messages that reach them on the marketing channels that drive the highest ROI, you’ll put yourself in a great position to close the year on a high note and keep that momentum going.
Have fun along the way as you experiment with new marketing tools, check in with colleagues and friends to find out what they’re doing to attract new customers, and keep up the enthusiasm for lifelong learning, as it offers personal satisfaction as well as many added benefits to your marketing efforts.
John Orlando is Vice President, Customer and Product Marketing at Constant Contact. John joined Constant Contact in 2013 and currently directs the company’s market strategy, defining and positioning product and service offerings, and setting a comprehensive go-to-market approach across multiple channels. He also heads up the Constant Contact’s efforts to ensure the success of small business and nonprofit customers through targeted customer lifecycle marketing that spans education, loyalty, and cross-sell programs.