|Small businesses missing marketing opportunities|
Small businesses are depending mainly on traditional communications channels to market to customers and prospects, not tracking results and missing opportunities to incorporate multi-channel communications to increase those response rates and get customers.
Such are the findings of a Small Business Marketing Survey recently conducted by Pitney Bowes Inc.
The survey of more than 750 of Pitney Bowes small business customers was conducted with the goal of finding out more about the customer communications channel preferences and marketing tools used by small businesses and to determine if small businesses are fully leveraging the tools they have in place.
"A surprising number of businesses are not tracking results of communications they send to customers and prospects, particularly through direct mail and email," says Justin Amendola, vice president, global SMB digital strategy, Pitney Bowes. "This is a big missed opportunity for businesses [that] could instead help their business grow by using any of a number of affordable, easy-to-use communications tools to deliver and measure their marketing programs."
Pitney Bowes uncovered several opportunities for small businesses to leverage existing and new marketing strategies to grow their businesses.
· Measurement: Most small businesses are not measuring the success of their marketing campaigns. They're not using readily available metrics to understand channel effectiveness. Seventy three percent of respondents fail to measure their email marketing metrics, while 80% fail to measure their direct mail or traditional mail metrics.
· Digital and social media channels: Small businesses heavily rely on traditional channels for customer communications and may be missing opportunities to use newer tactics such as social media. Email is the most used channel, with 46% of respondents using it as their primary channel for business communications, followed by phone (22%) and direct mail (11%).
· Multi-channel approach: Businesses are slow to take advantage of the power of integrated marketing and new channels. Of the larger businesses surveyed (50-100 employees), none listed social media as their primary channel. Those that did list social media as their primary channel tended to be businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Most notably, of those small businesses, the highest proportions were those less than 10 years old. By incorporating a multi-channel communications approach, businesses may see increased response rates.
· Email: While businesses use email as their most important communications channel, the number of businesses leveraging the medium for marketing purpose is still fairly low. Respondents' primary reason for using email was for basic correspondence related to ongoing business (59%); however, the number using email for sales and marketing is still fairly low.
· Traditional mail: Businesses are already communicating with customers using physical mail, such as invoices and statements; however, only a small percentage of businesses are using that traditional mail for sales and marketing. Only 18% of respondents are using it for business development/marketing and 20% are including product information/updates.
Given that bills and invoices are guaranteed to reach current customers, it offers a low-cost and highly effective option for deliver marketing messages and promotional offers.
[This article was posted on September 25, 2012, on the website of ABA Banking Journal, www.ababj.com.]
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