All in one vs. best of breed automation tools – what should your small business opt for?

With so many marketing automation tools out there, it’s not always easy to choose which one is right for your business.

So, what should you consider during your decision-making process?

There are best of breed platforms that focus on specific elements, and then, there are all-in-one tools that cohesively manage your CRM, automate emails, social media posts, and maintain metrics in one place, like smoove.

In an effort to make the decision easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why we think all-in-one automation tools that integrate with your CMS (content management system) and marketing automation strategy can benefit small and medium-sized businesses.

Let’s take a look:

1. Personalization Made Easy

95% of marketers who implement personalization report an increase in conversions. Everyone is vying for your customer’s attention, so if you can send a message that directly captures their eye, you’re one step ahead.

While it’s possible to take best of breed automation tools and integrate them within your CMS for personalization purposes, the ease of doing so is not as simple as when your automation tool is all-in-one. When pairing separate systems, the ability to personalize content is only limited to the areas where you embed the code from your automation platform. However smoove makes integration with platforms like WooCommerce, Magento and Shopify easy so that you can maximize your customer’s journey through personalized content based on their actions.

When your tools work together, you can use landing pages and opt-in forms with automated email marketing to personalize content and send tailored messages to your audience. For example, if a customer interacts with an email or a form on your site, you can automate another message to be sent that addresses their next logical step. Or, if a customer abandons their cart, let smoove do the talking with an automatic email reminder to finish the checkout process.

All-in-one automation platforms take out the legwork and saves your sales team time by creating a workflow process that is carried out by the system. All you have to do is set up how you want it to work.

In this way, you can grow your relationship with each consumer as if they are your sole customer – making them feel important adds value and builds trust, and in turn, loyalty.

2. Simplified Training / Single User Interface

Businesses spend a lot of time and money on training, especially new employees. Regardless of your employee retention rates, every new technology requires a learning curve.

While some are easier than others, a major benefit of using an all-in-one automation tool means that the onboarding and training is siloed to one product. Training comes in the form of product demos, video tutorials, chatbots, support tickets and customer service hotlines. Having one user-interface means that all your teams, from marketing to sales to developers, can access the same tool for their purposes.

Your employees will be happy to know that all of their customers’ metrics and information can be easily found, stored and updated in one place.

3. Single Customer Service Point of Contact

In the same vein as employee training, using an all-in-one tool means you have a dedicated team of experts, and most likely, a single point of contact that manages your business’ account on behalf of the marketing automation platform.

So, any time there is a problem, you have a case file for your business that is updated which makes diagnosing and solving problems highly efficient. Your team members can easily build a relationship with the marketing platform’s support experts to establish a trustworthy relationship.

4. Tracking/Metrics- Holistic Customer View and Data

Marketing comes down to knowing your customers and anticipating their needs. With an all-in-one platform, it’s really easy to track and implement campaigns across platforms and see metrics in one view.

Since customers like to interact with brands in their preferred setting, whether it be via email, websites, SMS messaging, or social media, an all-in-one system treats each customer individually and can measure their engagement across any outlet in a single view.

Therefore, when you want to create customer journey mapping to send out automated messages via email or social media to guide a customer to the next step in the sales funnel, you can bring back reason #1 and personalize content by knowing to whom to send what message.

Wrap Up

It’s important to note that all-in-one marketing automation tools may not be the right fit for your business. But, you can easily decide by defining and prioritizing your goals, assessing your team, and outlining your budget.

If saving time and implementing an easy-to-use automation platform sounds good for your business in its current stage, then an all-in-one marketing automation tool may be the perfect fit.

With a bird’s eye view of each customer that allows you to drill deeply into data, measure ROI on marketing efforts, highly personalize content, and allow all of your team to access information in a single interface, all-in-one tools offer businesses of all sizes an opportunity to attract, nurture and retain happy customers.

How to run a successful smartphone campaign

In 2018, smartphone technology is so advanced that mobile phones are slowly replacing desktops and laptops. We use mobile phones to open and answer our emails, to browse social media, even to order a meal or taxi via SMS and different apps. The best thing is that we can do all of these things while on the move. Stats show that internet users spend on average 69% of their online time on smartphones and that mobile devices will drive 80% of global internet usage by the end of 2018. This, of course, provides a great opportunity for SMB’s to implement a mobile and SMS campaign in their marketing strategies. Mobile marketing is an excellent way to reach a huge number of prospects and existing customers. It is also good to reduce marketing costs and track the overall success of your campaigns.

A recent report published by Google revealed that mobile is the dominant platform for searches, as 48% of the buyers search the internet via smartphones. Also, another research showed that 69% of consumers worldwide between the ages of 18 and 39 use mobile devices to research products before they make a purchase. Still, considering the fact that today’s market is crowded with businesses that feel like carbon copies of one another, we need to find a way to design a strategic, data-driven and innovative smartphone campaigns.

To make your mobile campaign truly stand out, experienced marketers suggest you do the following:

  • Decide on goals and objectives of your campaign and determine your target audience
  • Use advantages of new online marketing tools to make the most of mobile marketing channels
  • Track the performance of your campaign to measure its overall success and adjust your offers to your customer’s needs

To make your work count and move your marketing efforts to where your target customers are, below are four tips you need to use to run successful mobile and SMS campaigns.

4 tips to run a successful smartphone campaign

1. Set your goals and objectives

Plan goals and objectives

Before you launch your smartphone campaign, think of the goals and objectives, first. Ask yourself – what do you want to accomplish: Is to attract and convert new customers? Is it to sell more to your existing customers or to increase the visibility of your brand?

Now define realistic goals that are achievable in a certain period of time and within the given campaign budget.

Always think about your target audience and think of the goals that can add value to their experience with your brand.

Segmenting your customer’s database based on their location, purchasing habits and engagement with your brand will help you design an outstanding mobile marketing campaign.

For example, by segmenting your customers based on their location, you can design a highly personal and targeted local campaign in a specific area. Also, if your goal is to sell more, you can analyze your customer’s purchasing preferences and predict which products they may be interested in.

Now it will be much easier to craft marketing offers tailored to their exact needs and expectations.

2. Optimize your emails for mobile

As already mentioned, smartphones overtook computers as the device most often use to open and read emails. A research from 2017 showed that the majority of marketing emails sent out by companies are now opened on a mobile device, regardless of what kind of business you’re in.

Mobile marketing

Customers have already adopted mobile as the primary way of accessing the Internet, and this is exactly the reason why businesses need to pay special attention to optimizing their email offers for mobile.

Ensuring that your emails and newsletters look equally good on both desktop and mobile phone will increase your click-through rates and simply – bring more customers to your website and/or your stores. To do this the right way, here are some tips:

Keep it simple and focus on functionality

Considering the small mobile screen size, you will need a simple and clean design. This usually means a single column template with an easy-to-read font, without extra work such as zooming in and out while reading an email.

Include visible Call to Action

You should focus on having a single CTA with a clear message. Don’t forget the emphasis on providing a value to the customer. Also, people usually use their thumbs to click on it! The CTA button needs to be visible and big enough so that readers don’t “struggle” with it.

Optimize images

Nowadays, emails are more visual than they used to be. But it still doesn’t mean you should send out one with images only. Always add text to your email and fully optimize the images included in it by reducing the file size and size of the image itself.

Various online services and apps can reduce file size by as 80% without actually reducing the quality of the image. This way you can capture the customer’s attention without worrying if they will wait for the image to load. This is also important due to the fact that not everyone has unlimited mobile data plans. If loading a bunch of images inflicts extra costs on their mobile bills, they’ll unsubscribe immediately.

Make sure it’s consistent on all devices and always preview your emails to check if the images and text are displayed properly.

3. Use SMS campaigns the right way

Sure, mobile marketing is really advanced in 2018. Still, SMS marketing serves as one of the best sales-boosting and customer care channels. One of its biggest advantages in the modern day and age is that SMS doesn’t rely on an internet connection.

To get the most from SMS campaigns, you should always look at it as a mediating channel which leads customers to your more engaging mobile website or app.

To add more value to your SMS campaigns, your message needs to be:

Straightforward, short and simple

Get to your point fast and remember you have the 160 characters to express everything you want to say. Avoid sending unclear copy and make sure the SMS campaigns have all the necessary info about your offer.

For example, if this is a flash sale in one of your stores, don’t send it as a simple announcement. Also include specific date(s) of the sale and highlight the discount percentage in a few compelling words. Customers are more likely to act on it if you provide them with enough information and incentive.

Backed with data

Save your bulk messages for general sales and promotions and segment your customers for targeted promotions. By analyzing your customer’s purchase history and the location-based demographics, you can send the right messages to the right customers.

Customer segmentation can be easily done by SMS automation. This marketing automation feature allows you to send out your text messages in line with a predefined schedule and data-driven strategy you have in place. SMS automation enables you to send your targeted offers at the right time and make your SMS campaigns truly outstanding.

Inviting

Calls-to-action increase customer engagement with your marketing text messages. But, unlike emails, your SMS campaigns offer can’t have a colorful and flashy CTA button. Anyhow, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find an interesting way to include it in your SMS, too. Translate your CTA into words and make sure your customers can easily act on it.

You can do that if you add shortened URLs to your copy. Or, depending on your offer, find another innovative way to catch the customer’s attention. For example, you can ask your customers to “Show this text” in your store in order to earn a discount. Or, invite them to “Buy now” if you have a short-term sale.

4. Track your results

By now, we know that for a successful mobile campaign, our mobile marketing offers need to be optimized, automated and sent out timely to different groups of our customers. We also know that these offers have to be aligned with our campaign goals and objectives. But how can you predict and, later on, measure the success of a certain campaign?

The answer on this one is quite clear: Track your campaign!

Ask yourself once again if the goal of your campaign is to convert more customers? Is it to get more subscribers to your newsletters or sell more products to your loyal customers? After getting your answers, it will be much easier to understand which metrics to track in order to measure the progress towards the marketing goal(s) you have.

Email tracking

Speaking of emails, we recommend you track the following:

  • Click-through rate, which gives a direct and accurate insight into how many people on your email list are engaging with your content and are interested in your offers.
  • Inbox placement rate, which helps you improve the content of your emails, its subject lines and to adjust the time you send your emails. If regularly tracked, this can prevent your emails going to spam.
  • Unsubscribe rate, which helps you discover weak points of your campaign and/or the way you do business.
  • Conversion rate, or the number of people that clicked on a link within an email and completed the wanted action, such as downloading your eBook or purchasing the product.
  • Email sharing/forwarding rate, which both helps you find out what kind of emails are most likely to be shared and discover your most loyal customers.

SMS tracking

When it comes to SMS campaigns tracking, experienced marketers suggest determining KPIs depending on the type of SMS offer you have in place. These are:

  • Response tracking – if your SMS campaigns required a response, this one is quite easy to measure. The customer will send texts back to the source! If this type of SMS yields low response, something is wrong. Look at your CTA or your offer. Is it attractive enough? Rethink your offer. But also try to keep things simple! Ask your customers to reply with a single word or a code.
  • Click tracking – Marketing text messages often contain URL’s that lead the customer to a mobile-friendly website. These sites offer more information about the certain offer. Click tracking is one of the best ways to determine the ROI and to measure the overall results of your SMS campaigns.
  • Coupon and Call tracking – Having a unique coupon code is a great way to measure the performance of your campaign and find out if this approach actually works for your field of business.Same goes for using a custom phone number that redirects to the main line. Inviting customers to get more information or complete a sale via phone is a great way to measure the conversion. Also, to directly find out if the customer is satisfied with your products and services.

Wrap-Up

Mobile marketing unlocked truly powerful opportunities for marketers. Unlike other channels, it allows us to reach a larger number of customers in a personal and timely manner.

Mobile marketing and SMS campaigns are changing the way people engage with brands. But for every successful mobile campaign, you need to follow certain steps:

  • Like with any other marketing campaign, it is crucial that there are established objectives and goals for the campaign. Deciding on goals and segmenting your target audience will help you design the best strategy and select the appropriate mobile marketing channels to distribute your offers.
  • The majority of customers today use their phones to access the Internet, so it is very important to optimize your email marketing offers for mobile. If your emails and newsletters look equally good on both desktop and mobile phone, customers will appreciate it. They will, most likely, buy from you more often.
  • Never underestimate the power of SMS campaigns. Use SMS marketing to connect the customer’s online and offline experiences with your brand. Send the right SMS to the right customers at the right time and drive more customers to your website and/or your stores.
  • No business can afford to waste money, time and effort on a campaign that produces poor results. How to use data to properly run a mobile campaign should be a priority for any marketing team. This means tracking the success of your email and SMS offers and using the results to design more attractive marketing offers in the future.

Tracking emails – the 5 metrics you should be looking out for

Without any doubt, email marketing is one of the most effective and most direct channels of digital marketing in 2018. Email marketing is also considered to be one of the cheapest channels of communication within the world of business. It brings efficiency to multiple levels of your business. You can send it automatically, do different groups of customers. You can integrate it with other channels of communication and marketing for further engagement. It allows you to increase the frequency and relevance of communication with your customers.

The levels of marketing and communication achieved via email cannot be replaced with other strategies at the same cost. We also know by now that, for a successful campaign, our emails need to be optimized, automated and sent out timely to different target groups of our customers. We are also aware of the fact that our email strategy needs to be aligned with our marketing goals. But how can we measure the success of an email campaign and actually find out if it’s helping us to hit our goals? The answer is quite clear: By tracking emails!

Before getting into the types of metrics, ask yourself a question. What are the goals of our email marketing campaign? Is to get more subscribers? Convert more customers? Sell more to existing customers?

After deciding on goals, it will be much easier to use the collected data and effectively measure the progress toward the goal(s) we have.

To make this as simple as possible, we selected five metrics you should always use when tracking emails:

1. Click-through rate (CTR)

Click-through rate, or the percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links in your email. This is the metric everyone uses when tracking emails.

Click-through rate gives you a direct insight into how many people on your email list are engaging with your content and are interested in your offer and/or your brand. According to a research, email CTR is actually is one of the top performance indicators used to evaluate the effectiveness of your email campaign.

It’s important to add that email CTR doesn’t depend only on the interesting subject lines (this mostly affects email open rates) but also on the various other things such as creative copy, time of day, email length and the strategic link positioning.

IBM’s and Epsilon’s research on the matter tells us that the average CTR for newsletters is between 3 and 3.5%, which is something you should aim for. So you would want to strive to either hit, or go beyond these numbers.
To make sure you’re doing it right, experienced marketers suggest to employ following hacks:

#Send only relevant emails

Relevent emails

Segment your customer’s database based on different parameters such as their location, purchase history and engagement with your business and send out different, strategically crafted emails to their inboxes. Also, pay attention to the frequency of your emails and try not to cause the so called “email fatigue”. Find a formula that works for your business, but advice is to keep it to 5 messages per month overall.

#Design great content

You probably know that the content of your emails needs to be creative, inviting and visually striking, but that’s not all! Add a few relevant and strategically-positioned links. That way you will increase your customer engagement, and find out your recipients’ interests. Work on your Call-to-Action and make sure it’s visible, clear and that, once they’ve clicked on it, offers something valuable to your customers.

#Make sure you have a responsive design

Today, businesses value every click so get on board with technology and make your emails look the same and respond well to any device your customers may use. This especially goes for mobile phones, devices we carry everywhere we go.

CTR is also frequently used for determining the results of A/B testing. The usual goal of these tests is to find new ways to make your campaign more successful.

A/B testing allows you to make a smart decision when you must choose between two options of the same category (such as subject line, CTA button, coloring and so on) as well as send them out to a selected number of your contacts.
With this simple tool, your contacts list will get the more popular option, automatically. You can choose between the one that users opened the most, and the one that triggered more action. By displaying two variations of one campaign, you can use tools for tracking emails, to see which one attracts more interaction and conversions from your customers so that you can later create more efficient strategy to reach more customers and boost your sales.

2. Conversion rate

This metric represents the percentage of email recipients who did two things. One – clicked on a link and/or CTA within an email and two – completed a desired action. That can be purchasing a product or filling a form on your landing page. Or, becoming a new subscriber to your business offers.

These rates vary, based on a bunch of parameters, so it’s quite the challenge to set up a figure to aim for. Basic newsletters, for example, have an average conversion rate of one percent, according to Marketing Insider Group.

Order follow-ups do better with five percent, same as with emails related to cart abandonment. Depending on the type of newsletter you’re sending, average figures are between one and five percent, so try to move beyond those figures.

To increase your conversion rates you will also need to optimize your website and your offers by doing the following:

#Segmenting your customer’s database

Segment your subscribers based on their demographics, preferences and previous purchases and send out different emails. Not all customers are ready to buy from you straight away. You will need different approaches to make their buying journey truly unique and delightful.

#Personalize and customize the content

Use your customer first name in the first sentence, craft an interesting subject line and make sure your copy is both useful and interesting. When crafting a subject line, experienced marketers suggest to employ a so called CURVE principle (curiosity, urgency, relevance, value, or emotion) as each of these principles, when used the right way, has the power to increase your conversion rates.

Also, along with the company name, include your own name in the sender field. This is much more effective than generic company address. Marketing automation software, such as smoove, offer these possibilities, and are an indispensable part of every serious marketer’s arsenal. These tools offer easily integrated and managed personalization features, as well as automation.

#Use double opt-in

Double opt-in or the practice of asking people to confirm that they’ve signed up for a newsletter by clicking on a confirmation link they receive via email is actually a very effective way to generate strong leads – future customers which are really interested in your products and your brand.

Double opt-in helps you avoid the spam folder, increases the recipient’s engagement and moreover – provides you with a direct opportunity to introduce your business in the opt-in email. Opt-in mail can be a great marketing opportunity as well if you, for example, include special offers for new subscribers.

Automate emails as responses to other triggers, as well. These can be welcome emails to your new subscribers. Or “thank you” emails after a purchase. Upselling emails, reminders on shopping cart abandonment, stuff like that. Make sure you personalize these emails and make them relevant to certain customers. Only that will increase the chances of conversion.

3. Unsubscribe rate

Unsubscribe rate is the number of people who opted-out from your marketing offers. As every marketer, you are probably wondering: Why is this happening again?

Well, there is no universal answer to this one.

Sometimes, people are just tired from receiving emails from different brands or have no need to purchase from you again. Also, maybe you had a great initial offer, so the people gave you their email only for that. It doesn’t mean they have any interest in purchasing from you at all. This happens all the time and the trick is to not become too overwhelmed with this occurrence.

Another, more serious reason why customers leave can be that your emails weren’t properly segmented. There is a reason we talk about segmentation over and over again. People will open personalized, relevant emails. They (most likely) won’t open generic, irrelevant ones. It’s simple as that.

Also, there is another common reason people unsubscribe – you send emails too often. Be moderate and don’t let you customers leave because of this. Set the expectation for when and how often you’re going to email your audience and be consistent.

However, tracking emails when people unsubscribe won’t suffice. To find out if there is something you’re doing wrong, just ask them! Think about conducting more surveys via emails, social media or other communication channels you may have.

By finding out why people unsubscribe, you have a chance to improve the weak points of your business and decrease the unsubscribe rates in the future.

4. Inbox placement

Inbox placement

Inbox Placement Rate is gaining prominence among marketers as one of the most important metrics to evaluate email marketing campaigns. It is based on the deliverability of emails and is used to determine the percentage of emails that reached the recipient’s inbox.

As stats show, 205 billion emails are sent every day (which is around 2.4 million emails sent every second). Of course, people don’t open and read every single one of these emails. Also, engagement levels and recepient levels are important for another reason. They determine which emails make it to the inbox. Lately, spam filtering has become more rigorous and it’s getting harder for businesses to avoid their emails going to spam.

Still, there are few tips on how to increase the chances your email reaches the customer’s inbox:
#Avoid spam trigger words and phrases such as “great offer”, “earn”, “money”, “incredible”, “free gift”, “order”, “please read” and more
#Never use all caps in your subject line and/or your email offer
#Forget the exclamation points, especially in the subject line
#Don’t be overly graphic and make sure your email actually contains text, not only images. Emails with images only and no text just about guarantee your email will never see your customer’s inbox.
#Avoid using attachments in marketing emails as filters usually send those to spam as well. If you want to offer something, do so with a link rather than an attachment.

5. Email Sharing/Forwarding rate

Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate is the percentage of email recipients who shared the email content on social media. It’s also the percentage of those who clicked on the “forward” button. Even though this may not seem that important, we can ensure you: It is!

Tracking emails to how many people shared or forwarded them is how you generate new leads. Doesn’t matter if this is the goal or your campaign or not. Having your existing prospects and customers forward your emails means they are actually becoming ambassadors of your brand and generating new leads for you.

Along with getting new leads, this is how you find most shared types of emails and offers. Use that information when designing the strategy for your future campaigns.

If you notice that certain customers are often sharing and forwarding your email content, nurture these relationships! Reward the customers for their loyalty. This way you can increase the customer loyalty to your brand, get some new customers and, most importantly, increase your sales.

Wrap Up

A well-executed email campaign can increase sales and customer loyalty. It can generate new leads and reduce marketing costs, too. This is especially when compared with other digital marketing channels. Marketing automation tools like smoove help marketers achieve these goals with less effort and cost, while helping them be more efficient.
Email metrics help us successfully measure the results of our email marketing. They also help us improve our future email marketing campaigns.

In order to do this, we always need to be tracking emails the following ways:
Click-through rate, which gives you direct insight into how many people on your email list are engaging with your content and are interested in your offer
Conversion rate, which shows how many people clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action, such as purchasing a productUnsubscribe rate, whose tracking can help you discover weak points of your campaigns and/or your business
Inbox placement rate which, with regularly tracking emails, helps you improve the content of your email offers and prevent them going to spam
Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate, which helps you discover what kinds of emails are likely to be shared the most but also to find out which customers are loyal to your brand.

Why use marketing automation for small businesses

When running a small business, financial and human resources are limited. That’s why it’s necessary to use marketing automation for small business in order to grow, serve customers, and increase your bottom line. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of consumers will manage their customer relationship without talking to a human.

What can a marketing automation platform do for your small business? Here are just a few benefits: Read more

What Makes People Forward Emails

When you send an email marketing message, its success is commonly measured by the open rate and/or the click through rate. But, what about message forwarding? The best case scenario is to have your subscriber amplify your message by sharing it with their network. So, what steps can you take to make your message more likely to be forwarded?

For starters, it’s useful to know that according to a New York Times Customer Insight Group, most respondents’ motivation for sharing was to establish or maintain relationships with others. In fact, 73% of people say they share emails because it helps them process information more thoughtfully and deeply. This means you want to provide an informative message from the get-go. But, there’s more to it than just the content!

Here are some other features of highly shareable email content: Read more

Top local business online marketing hacks

In order to convert and engage their customers, SMB’s need a new approach to marketing. One of the best ways to differentiate themselves from other similar companies in the market, businesses can begin by employing new community-centric and local business online marketing strategies to reach their customer at the right place and time.

All businesses share the same goal – to reach the customers in a way that motivates them to make a purchase. However, due to the crowded marketplace, we risk launching already seen campaigns, or those that are simply too generic.

Brands of all sizes benefit from local marketing

Local web marketing became a part of consumer’s daily lives. For example, online search engines will share relevant, local results even when we’re not specifically looking for products or a service provider near us. This is good enough of a reason for SMB’s to capitalize on this, regardless of their real location.

Local marketing strategies help brands drive authentic engagement and reach target buyers in a specific area. Still, to design a successful campaign, brands need to determine a strategy that will work locally.

This is done by optimizing your online marketing efforts to help you drive more traffic and raise awareness of your brand in localized areas. Your strategy needs to be based on your customer location data, but also other parameters such as their buying habits (do they prefer online or offline sales channels?), and overall market data in the area you want to target.

Don’t forget that local marketing campaigns will require local, customized communication and messaging, designed for a particular market.

One of the best, world known, local marketing campaigns are those executed by global restaurant chain McDonald’s. Their localized food choices such as the Tofu McNugget in China, Koroko Burger in Japan or Le McWrap Chèvre in France enjoy great popularity among locals.

Also, McDonalds uses every opportunity to show that it purchases meat and vegetables from local farmers in a certain area which makes their customer feel closer to their brand, such as shown in this campaign poster.McDonalds local business online marketing

Even though McDonald’s is a globally known brand, almost 30% of its revenue comes from restaurants outside the US and big countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. Paying special attention and employing local marketing strategies, McDonald’s managed to stay on top of its customers’ mind and significantly increase sales in those other countries as well.

For example, in Spain it even went a step further and introduced new packaging for a new menu item – gazpacho, a traditional tomato soup. Customers in Spain loved it and recognized the effort, even though it was probably not the best gazpacho they’ve ever tasted.

McDonalds

How to start with local business online marketing?

Now after we have seen how strong localized campaigns can be, it is also important to stress that all businesses can benefit from local marketing, big or small. By adapting your strategies, and also your products and services to a certain local community, you can build your brand and increase your sales much faster than before. But how to start with local marketing?

To integrate a localized strategy into your digital marketing campaigns, employ these three top hacks:

1. Localize (mobile) search

Customers have already adopted mobile as the primary way of accessing the Internet and almost one third of mobile searches today have local targets. This is exactly the reason why brands need to pay a special attention on building better connections with local buyers via their mobile phones.

Mobile phones are personal devices and people carry them wherever they go, so mobile advertising is the ideal way for businesses to provide customers with more personal and targeted offers that seem familiar and friendlier than the offers they see elsewhere. Mobile ads can lead customers directly to your website, your landing page and even your nearby store.

The most effective and most popular local mobile ads are those customers can run into while scrolling through social media such as Facebook or Instagram.

To get more customers into their stores, Jasper’s Market created a special event ad on Facebook and invited local customers in San Francisco to a free cooking class. But what was so special about this ad? Well, along with uploading other photos in the ad, Jasper’s market marketing team also decided to include a Google map of the stores which offer the class.Jasper's Market
They also added an intriguing “Available at selected markets near you’ so that customers actually click on the ad to find out where and when they can join the class.

2. Localize online search ads

Local search ads are one of the most reliable and cost effective ways to drive sales and leads with impressive results. Getting a global visibility for your brand is a very difficult task, but if you restrict it to a specific location, you will be able to get a better ROI without huge spending. Localized ads help you distribute local promotional offers and discounts, include more information such as your contact details, store distance and local product stock but also increase the visibility of your brand logo and company image.

In this location-based, targeted ad by British retailer Argos we can clearly see how the company included all the elements of good local marketing mentioned above. Their offer includes basic product information, details about the nearest store where products can be found in stock, a map and also another thing – how to buy the product online!

Argos

3. Localize newsletters

By segmenting your customer’s database based on their location and purchase preferences, you can design highly personal, targeted newsletters. Another great thing is that, with the help of marketing automation, these newsletters can be sent automatically to your customer’s inbox. This can save a lot of valuable time you can actually use to work more on the strategy and content of your targeted newsletters.

Content wise, these newsletters need to have a more local approach and offer something specific for the area you want to target, such as promotion of local events, flash-sales in nearby stores and customized articles related both to the products and the location of your campaign. For example, if you work for a company that sells hiking equipment and accessories, you can include a short description and link to an article or a blog post about best hiking locations in the area.

For example, a private education organization General Assembly does a great job with their locally targeted newsletters. In one of their newsletters (shown below) they targeted Boston-located professionals and let them know about upcoming events and courses they offer in the area.

General Assembly Boston

A clear CTA in the first section reveals the main goal of the newsletter – to attract more visitors to their Design in Motion panel, but that’s not all.

General Assembly Boston

General Assembly’s newsletter also contains other business news related to the Boston area and a list of other courses and educational activities their customers can engage in.

Wrap Up

Local marketing strategies enable businesses to drive authentic engagement and effectively reach target buyers in a specific area. Local marketing has been successfully employed by both big and small companies and today serves as one of the best ways to increase ROI regardless of your business location.

Still, in order to start targeting our customers locally, we need to excel in the following:

  • Localize mobile search and design creative and appealing ads with local offers which are hard to miss on
  • Localize online search ads and provide customers with necessary buying details and ideally – offer both online and offline ways of purchase
  • Segment our customer’s database and localize marketing newsletters based on their location, interests and purchase history

3 winning SMB’s marketing strategies

There are countless examples of marketing strategies that SMBs can employ to draw in more customers and improve their bottom line. The success depends on a number of factors, ranging from the customers and their habits, to the work you’re doing and how you’re approaching it.

Here are three of the best marketing strategies and tactics for small and medium-sized businesses, which won’t break your bank but can still provide stellar results;

1. Run a blog

Blogging is one of the most important tools businesses use to improve their marketing and establish themselves not only as sellers, but also as experts in the field. A business blog is a central point of your content marketing and your own piece of mind to share across the social media pages, newsletters, emails, ebooks and other channels of communication you may have.

Why should you run a blog?

It gives your business a voice

A blog is a place to talk about the company products and services, but also a channel to touch on the new developments in the industry and discuss marketplace news. It gives your business a “personality” and gives your customers confidence that you are experts in the field which all builds your brand.

It helps in reaching new customers

With strategically crafted, interesting and useful blog posts, you are able to reach many people and get your content shared across different social media channels they use. Also, its dynamic nature with frequent updates helps you achieve higher internet search results rankings, which is one of the ultimate goals of content marketing efforts.

It gives your business more exposure

Blog posts are not only to be shared on your own marketing channels. You and your team should give an extra effort to share the blog content across, for example, LinkedIn groups related to your field of business. This is how, along with reaching new customers, a blog can also help you build a dynamic community which exchanges information, opinions and reviews of your business and products.

It drives customer engagement

A blog creates a two-way conversation with your prospects and existing customers and encourages comments, interaction and feedback. By regularly engaging with your customers via a blog, you can truly improve the customer experience and increase their trust in your brand. If customers believe you’re a reliable source of industry information, they will buy from you as well.

How to run a successful blog?

#Add value and be original

Adding value to your content is the one thing that will keep your customers coming back for more and in the end – buy from you. Be aware that there are other blogs out there probably writing about the same things, so find your niche and your brand voice so you can be consistent and original. Nurture your own perspective and creativity and the customers will recognize it.

#Post regularly

Make sure you maintain a certain dynamic and post regularly. Depending on your business, this is ideally once or twice per week. Speaking of length, as practice (and Google ranking!) shows, blog posts should be between 800 and 1,200 words long. Blog posts over 2000 words are considered niche, so be careful and post these less often.

#Structure smartly

Structure your blog smartly. Craft a great headline with an active verb and try to use the topic keywords in it. Don’t forget sub-headlines, bullet points and interesting images/helpful videos related to the topic. Your blog fuels SEO, so don’t forget to develop your keyword strategy. A single search term as a keyword is not as effective anymore, and companies now employ so called “topical search” which includes search phrases, synonyms, and other topic-related terms users might enter in their browser. Include stats and both external and internal links in your blog post as it gives your business and your blog more credibility.

#Promote via different channels

Promote your blog across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media you use. Include links to your blog posts in your newsletter offers and other marketing content you produce such as ebooks.

To consistently create great content and keep a customers interested in it, you need to tie your blog to your company image in an innovative way. To find out how this looks in practice, let’s take a look at Whole Foods, which has one of the most popular company blogs in the food industry.

Whole Story

Their blog, Whole Story, concentrates not only on the products they sell, but also on the eating culture and healthy lifestyle. Knowing that their customers are heavily invested in eating healthy, the company creates different articles related to the topic and provides a lot of value to the readers.

Whole Foods

This is how their customers can learn more about food safety or how to grow their own food, but also find out more about food festivals, healthy diets and get some new recipes.

2. Run email marketing

Email marketing is considered to be one of the most affordable and most effective marketing tools in the world of advertising. Regardless of how many new and technologically advanced ways we have to reach customers in 2018, email still stands as one of the most direct and cheapest marketing channels.

Why should you run email marketing?

It’s cheap

Email marketing is considered to be cheapest channel of communication within the world of business. It brings efficiency to multiple levels of your business: it can be sent automatically to different groups of customers you may have, it can be integrated with your shopping cart technology to further engagement, and it allows you to increase frequency and relevance of communication with your customers. These levels of marketing and communication cannot be replaced with other strategies at the same cost.

It can directly reach many customers

If you segment your customer’s database and automate your emails wisely, you can reach different groups of customers with timely, strategically crafted content based on their exact needs and interests. This significantly builds the relationship you have with your buyers and increases your sales.

It increases brand visibility

You cannot force your customers to visit your stores or your website to make a purchase. But with a simple, timely email you can remind them you’re still here and stay on top of their mind in the crowded marketing landscape.

This also means that you can deliver the email when it will have the biggest impact. Adjusting the timing of your emails helps you deliver relevant messages at relevant times such as, for example, a newsletter with a 20% discount coupon one week before holidays.

How to run a successful email marketing campaign?

#Develop a strategy

Every marketing campaign needs a business strategy plan, so always take time to develop one. Think about what you want to achieve with a certain campaign: Is to grow your revenue? Is to retain your existing customer or convert a new ones? After finding your answer, think about what value to add to it and find an original and creative way to execute it.

#Segment effectively

Marketing automation tools can help you effectively segment your customers based on their interests, demographics, recent open or link click activity, purchase history, subscription date and more. Email segmentation is a powerful marketing technique which helps you send relevant offers to specific buyers in an email list.

#Personalize

Email personalization is based on the same parameters as those used in customer segmentation. These can be your customers’ previous purchases, buying preferences, website browsing data and other information you collected in their buying process.

Create an email your customers will want to read. Include the customer name in your subject line and/or the first line of the email and make a step forward and create personal content based on mentioned parameters. Make every word count and the results will be remarkable.

#Automate

Setting up your emails so that they get sent automatically when certain triggers are activated is one of the most successful email marketing tactics. These triggers can be the day of your customer’s first registration or their first purchase, their birthdays or public holidays. Automated email campaigns are proven to be very successful in engaging target audiences, increasing email open rates and also transaction levels and revenue.

Similar to what we said before, to run a successful email marketing campaign means to be consistent in aligning it with your brand image. One of the best company examples is Uber. All of its communications and marketing assets tell the brand’s story in a simple and clear way.

For the purposes of their Calendar Integration campaign, Uber sent a simple but beautifully designed email with a clever copywriting.

Uber email

With a brief initial description and a very clear CTA, Uber designed the email which is hard to miss, ideal for people who are quickly skimming their emails.

3. Run SMS marketing

In 2018, SMS marketing remains one of the most important channels of digital marketing. SMS is great way to get in touch with your customers as it doesn’t depend on an internet connection, can be used to reach anyone with a mobile phone and it’s incredibly fast. This is how SMS marketing campaigns managed to stay an integral part of digital marketing and found their way to become one of the fastest growing marketing channels in the world of business.

Why should you run SMS marketing campaigns?

It’s an instant marketing solution

Text messaging enables you to reach your customers anyplace and any time with personalized messages sent directly to their phones. SMS doesn’t require a lot of prep-time, it’s short, concise and has no additional materials attached to it. It brings clear and valuable information to your customers, such as a sale, temporary discount, reward for loyal customers, promotion of a new product or product delivery details.

It’s cost-effective

Compared to other marketing solutions and paid advertising, SMS marketing is considered to be very affordable. This makes it an ideal promotion channel for every business out there, even for those with a limited marketing budget.

It’s ideal for time-sensitive offers

People walk around with mobile phones in their hands all the time, so SMS is the best known tool for delivering time-sensitive marketing offers you may have. SMS is the best option to, for example, spread the word about the flash sale in your stores or to inform your customers about that special 24-hour holiday offer.

How to run successful SMS marketing campaigns?

#Keep it short and relevant

Have in mind that the space you have for the marketing offer is limited, so the message needs to be short, direct and concise. Make sure everything you want to say fits into one message and use a shortened URL to your website or landing page to add an extra value to your offer.

#Always include CTA

Even though it’s not a newsletter or a landing page, a marketing SMS also needs to have a clear Call-to-Action. This means there is no flashy and clickable CTA button, but you still have – words! Invite your customers to action in a few compelling words and make sure you actually…

#Integrate the SMS with other marketing channels

SMS is easy to integrate with other types of marketing you do. Although SMS is a marketing channel for itself, it’s often used to drive more customers to visit the company website or a web shop. One of the most frequent uses of SMS marketing campaigns is to enlarge customer databases by sending the URL to your mobile landing page.

Restaurant chain Pizza Hut recognized the marketing power of SMS years ago and it’s still using it as of one of the main channels of promotion for their products and services. Few years ago, a Pizza Hut SMS subscribers received a text message promotion with a link to custom order their next pizza with a discount.

Pizza Hut SMS Discount

Once an SMS subscriber clicked on the link in the SMS promotion, they’re taken to Pizza Hut’s mobile ordering experience and discovered another perk of this offer – a free appetizer!

Pizza Hut

Wrap Up – marketing strategies

Today’s marketplace is crowded with businesses offering similar products and services, so SMB’s are on the constant lookout for successful marketing strategies and expand their business without huge spending. This is mostly done via cost-effective, top marketing strategies such as content marketing, but also through innovative and data driven email and SMS marketing campaigns.

The secret of success is hidden both in creating original and strategy-specific content for each of these strategies, but also in segmenting your customer’s database and automating the marketing processes based on various customer’s information and data you collected.

Via smartly executed email, SMS and content marketing campaigns, you will be able to get more conversions, increase the loyalty and build stronger relationships with your customers.

Low budget online marketing tips for quick wins

You’re ready to put your digital marketing strategy to the test, but you don’t want to, neither can you afford to break the bank.The good news is there is a lot you can accomplish with little to zero cost using online solutions to reach mass audiences. According to research, Americans alone spend, on average, 24 hours a week online. That’s more than half the typical work week. This mass audience across a digital landscape translates to multiple touch points and maximizes your opportunity for conversion.

If you’re looking for fresh ideas and quick wins, this list was made for you: Read more

Are QR codes still relevant in 2018?

Ever since they were introduced to the world of marketing and consumer advertising, QR codes have been praised as a very convenient way to increase conversion rates by bringing the potential customer to the company website immediately. Moreover, they play an important role in more targeted product and loyalty marketing.

Despite this, we can also often find articles criticizing it. A simple Google search into QR codes will give you different claims that “QR codes are dead” for years now. But why is that? Is it the technology itself, or are businesses failing in using it the right way?

As the stats about its popularity and efficiency from the different markets in the world can significantly vary, the answer we seek is probably hiding in the latter. Read more

Are bulk texting campaigns spam?

It’s all in the numbers. On average, marketers witness a 98% open rate with SMS, and 90% of text messages are opened within 3 seconds. This means that for a business trying to get a message into its customers hands, quite literally, bulk SMS campaigns may be the best way to go. But, how do you ensure that when you send mass messages, they aren’t perceived as spam?

Here are some best practices to optimize your bulk SMS marketing campaigns to make them feel personalized, drive sales, and connect with your customers at the right time. Read more