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Mobilizing Small Businesses

Recently, we posted information on how small businesses are missing out on consumer’s shift to mobile. Nearly 80% of SMBs said they do not have a mobile solution. Nearly 85% of non-mobile small businesses said they plan on having some kind of mobile solution in the next 3 years. With that in mind,, we’ll look into the factors that small businesses should be cognizant of when creating a mobile solution.

shutterstock_87972136● Half of all non-mobile businesses expect to have a mobile solution within a year, 22% said that they will be focusing on mobile in the next 1 to 2 years and 14% said it will be at least three years before they could implement a mobile solution. 16% said they would never invest in mobile
● The biggest factor that businesses investing in mobile should consider is device and platform capability – 60% of currently mobile small businesses answered this way
● Nearly half said that the ease of content authoring and content management was very important
● 46% said that personalization and easy customization should be considered
● 38% indicated that integration of external social media platforms was key
● Almost one-third remarked that CRM integration was vital to a successful mobile solution
● 22% said that adding video capabilities was significant and another 22% thought including push notifications was important

What Does This Mean To You?

There is no slowing down mobile. The technology continues to evolve and consumers are becoming more dependent on it. It more than just consumers use it for shopping, consumers mobile for virtually everything.
● The average US consumer uses a mobile device for over 8 hours per week
● The US smart phone owners have an average of 36 apps on their device
● Only 25% of apps are used on a weekly basis
Creating a mobile app is the first step, getting consumers to find the app, download the app and use the app is another challenge.
That’s something we’ll discuss tomorrow. For more information on increasing the visibility of your business, please contact:

amfiala@gmail.com

Sources: eMarketer, Edurance; MarketingCharts.com

Small Businesses Missing Out on Mobile

Consumers are fully engaged with mobile technology. Recent studies show
that 75% of US consumers own a smart phone and nearly half of US
households have a tablet. Recently we’ve posted articles on the growth
of the mobile only consumer. While national and regional businesses are
taking advantage of mobile visibility, small businesses are not as involved
with this key consumer medium.

smartphonedollarNearly 80% of SMBs don’t utilize mobile, here
are some of the factors preventing them:
● 50% said they don’t know how to build a
mobile app
● 23% said they were too busy running their business and can’t maintain a mobile app
● 22% said it’s too expensive to develop a
mobile app
● 5% are worried about the security risks
associate with mobile

 

What Does This Mean To You?

Mobile commerce continues to grow. Last year, Mcommerce reached over $200 billion, this year it’s expected to hit nearly $300 billion. By 2018, mobile will account for nearly half of all Ecommerce. Also, desktop/laptop penetration is deteriorating. Some studies are showing that mobile device use eclipsed desktop/laptop use last year.
All this adds up to one thing – by not including mobile in their portfolio, small businesses are cutting off a potential revenue source. Mobile technology continues to evolve and everyday new functionality that is developing that can drive consumers to your business.
The growth of mobile has made it cheaper to have a mobile solution that small businesses don’t have to build and are easily maintained.
Lots of businesses were weary of developing online solutions. How many of these businesses that did not adapt to online are still operational?
Consumers see mobile technology as an extension of their lives. By not embracing mobile, these small businesses are at risk of putting a barrier between themselves and customers.
For more information on how small businesses can better compete with regional or national competitors, please contact:

amfiala@gmail.com

Sources: eMarketer, Edurance

Reviews Import for Local Businesses

Our last couple of posts have centered on the types of content that help consumers make buying decisions and the role of expert opinions. A new report is out that centers on how important online reviews are to consumers when choosing a local business. Small businesses don’t have the resources that major regional or nation competitors have. They need to take advantage of every opportunity to stay competitive with these bigger name brands. Online reviews are one of the things that can help small and medium businesses set themselves apart from the crowd.
onlinereview33● Nearly 90% of consumers say they read online reviews to determine the quality of
local businesses
● Close to 40% regularly will read a review, which is up six percentage points in the
past year.
● 25% of consumers will read 2 to 3 reviews. One-third will 4-6 reviews and 18% will read 7 to 10 reviews of local businesses
● Overall, 85% of consumers read up to 10 reviews before visiting a local business

What This Means To You

The good news is that consumers are doing their homework before going shopping. These reviews can give you a competitive advantage against bigger competitors and other small local companies.
What are you doing to cultivate these reviews?
Many businesses are using surveys as a way of gauging customer satisfaction. These can also be used to generate reviews on your site or on other local review sites such as yelp. At the end of the survey, provide a link to create review to post on your site or other local review aggregators.
Positive reviews are like a virtual endorsement. If you have good ones, promote them on your site and through your social media. You need to give people a reason to come to your establishment over one of your competitors, positive reviews can be that reason.
No one ever wants to hear negative things about their company. Just like no ever wants to hear that their baby is ugly. But, speaking honestly, there are some ugly babies out there.
How often do you use secret shoppers or customers to spot check how your business is operating?
This isn’t a game of gotcha with your employees, it’s an opportunity to improve the way your business runs and the satisfaction of your customers. It also gives you the chance to highlight employees who are doing a great job, not just find teachable moments with employees who need coaching up.
Doing this work should holistically help you get better online reviews and more new customers. For more information on how to use digital tools to grow your business, please contact:

Al Fiala
amfiala@gmail.com

Sources: BrightLocal

Small Businesses and Twitter

Recently, we featured information on how small businesses are using social media as a promotional tool. One of the takeaways was just many small businesses are using Facebook as a promotional platform. A new study has come out that shows how many SMB’s are using Twitter and their opinion of the social platform.

twitter-logo-break● Over 70% of the small businesses surveyed said it was important to have a Twitter presence, but only four in 10 were using the social platform
● Among the businesses using Twitter, nearly 70% posted at least once a day and almost three quarters said they received a positive return on the time they invested
● Over 90% of businesses using Twitter considered it their most valuable social resource
● The majority of businesses were using Twitter to connect followers with content – 74% connected with their website, 40% connected to blog and 17% connected followers to a newsletter

What This Means To You

Social media should be viewed as a connection point and a way to drive business. But it starts with a strategy. Just having a Twitter handle (or any social media existence) does not mean you are socially marketing your business. Setup up guidelines about what you are going to post, this help you extend the persona of your brand to your social presences. Determine how often you are going to post and set goals for mentions and retweets. Think of your social functions like someone who works in your establishment. They welcome people who talk through the door, they don’t ignore customers questions and are on the lookout for possibly unhappy customers. So to transfer this socially – Send a welcome message or thank you tweet for following. Check for and return direct messages and monitor your hashtags for negative information. Tomorrow, we’ll dig into the bottom line value of social marketing – engagement and interaction with your friends and followers. For more information on generating more business through social means, please contact:

Al Fiala
amfiala@gmail.com

Sources: Twitter

Loyal Customers = More Spending and Lower Costs

There are nearly 30 million small businesses nationally. While these businesses individually may not have the name recognition or marketing power of most big-box stores, they provided over half of the country’s jobs and 54% of sales. With limited budgets, successful small businesses are finding the key to success is developing a loyal customer base.

loyalty● Over 60% of small businesses report that more than half of their annual revenue is generated by repeat customers
● Repeat customers, on average, spend 67% more on merchandise than initial first-time shoppers
● Over 50% of small businesses are use social media as their primary marketing tool
● Just 34% of SMBs have a loyalty program
● 54% of those with a loyalty program, do not have it digitally integrated

What This Means To You

The benefits of loyal customers cannot be underestimated. Not only do they spend more money, they are also an extremely powerful marketing tool for your organization. Through Brand Evangelism, a simple post, recommendation or review can effectively create new, future loyal customer. Loyal customers are also more forgiving than first time shoppers and don’t let things that may drive normally drive away a customer bother them.
But many small businesses are not fully taking advantage of this loyal customer base.
The two-thirds that are not involved in loyalty programs are most likely leaving money on the table. The ones that have not taken their loyalty programs digitally are certainly eliminating customers and operating inefficiently. This is especially true of those primarily using social media. The more you invest in a loyalty program, the more money you will save on customer acquisition and the more revenue you will generate. For more information on developing consumers that will extend your message and expand your influence, please contact:

Al Fiala
amfiala@gmail.com

Sources: Center For Media Research; BIA/Kelsey

Search Engines Very Important to Local Businesses

Search engines are the life blood of the digital experience. Search engines are the starting point for most people online and it’s the most popular online activity. A recent report shows just how important search is to local businesses.

BlueOrbSearch● 96% of desktop/laptop users performed a search looking for a local businesses
● 81% of tablet owners and 79% of smart phone owners did the same
● No matter what platform was used, restaurants were the most popular local business
that was searched for (24% of desktop/laptop users, 28% of tablet users, 30% of smartphone users)
● Local retail was the second most popular business searched for. 23% of desktop/laptop users searched for a local retail business. So did 28% of smart phone users and one third of tablet users
● Local services came in at #3. 21% of desktop/laptop & smart phone users searched for a local service. 11% of tablet users performed a search for a local service
● On average, 10% of users searched for local health & fitness business and 9% search for local entertainment options
● Nearly 40% of all consumers used multiple platforms during their search, but nearly half of the desktop/laptop users were loyal to only that device

What This Means To You

Local businesses often don’t have the name recognition as their national or regional competitors – or the budget to develop that top of mind awareness. A solid search strategy puts you on the same level as those competitors.
In fact, if you don’t have a robust search strategy – it is most likely costing you business and empowering your competition as you are reading this.
Someone once said the best place to bury a dead body is on the second page of a Google Search.
Think about it, how often to you go to the second page of a search?
How often to you go past the 3rd listing?
Search tactics can even give you an advantage over large competition.
Many consumers would rather support local businesses instead of regional enterprises or big box national companies. In fact, 89% of consumers agree that independent businesses contribute positively to local economies. Over the next couple of posts, we’ll delve into who is using local search, what the types of information they are searching for and these results that came from those searches. For more information on how to create a winning results from consumer search activities, please contact:

Al Fiala
amfiala@gmail.com
Sources: Neustar Localeze, 15 Miles, IndependentWeStand.com

Half of Small Businesses Not Ready For Mobile

Take a look around, smart phones and tablets are all around.  Recent research points to the fact that smart phone penetration has reached over half the population and tablet ownership is climbing rapidly.  But a new report has come out showing that an extremely large percent of small businesses are not optimized for mobile.   

shutterstock_98997599• 49% of small and emerging businesses said their web sites are not optimized for mobile

• Nearly 20% said they were unsure of the status of their web site

• Among those companies that are not currently optimized for mobile, 37% are either in the process of optimizing or plan to optimize in the next year

• Nearly 60% of teens say they were saving for clothes, over  half said they were saving for college and almost 40% said they were saving for a car

• Nearly 40% of those not currently involved in mobile have no plans to become mobile friendly

• 57% of those businesses without a mobile solution say they have no compelling reason to become mobile optimized.  43% say that their customers have not asked them about mobile options

 Does This Mean To You?

It’s both good and bad.  If you have a mobile solution, and you’re competition does not – it’s very good.  You have a huge competitive advantage over the organizations those who are not mobile-ly optimized.  If you do not have a mobile solution, it’s bad – probably critically bad.  You are most probably losing sales, losing the battle in search and not top of mind with consumers.
For those companies who say – it don’t have any compelling reason to become mobile optimized – here are three.
1. During the 2012 holiday season – nearly 25% of web traffic originated from a mobile device
2. Currently 48% of online shopping is done from a mobile device
3. 80% of customers will not return to a site that offers a bad mobile experience (like trying to navigate a standard site on a mobile device)

An even easier example – look at your own behavior or the behavior of your customers.
Odds are that you’ve become more dependent on your mobile device and have looked up information that lead to a some kind of shopping activity.
The data shows that shoppers have.
Nearly 40% of consumer that researched a product or brand on their mobile device made an online purchase, one-third made a physical purchase.
For those that that say your customers haven’t asked about mobile options – many of those mobile dependent customers have probably started doing businesses with a mobile-friendly competitor.
For more information on making a winning mobile strategy, please contact:
Al Fiala
amfiala@gmail.com

Source: ControlScan; comScore; Limelight; ConversionXL