The business landscape is constantly evolving due to the emergence of new technologies and trends as well as changes in consumer behaviour. Against this backdrop, the challenge for SME marketing teams is to remain both relevant and competitive, and so attract new customers while retaining existing ones.
Here are five strategies marketers cannot afford to overlook in the pursuit of customer growth:
1. Mobile apps
At the end of 2016, mobile marketing research produced by comScore showed that a prediction back in 2008 by Mary Meeker, which stated that mobiles would overtake the use of fixed internet by 2014, had come true. Globally the number of mobile users, as opposed to desktop users, went past what was called the “mobile tipping point” in 2014. Fixed Internet global user rates started to flatten out in 2015 but the mobile user rate went on an upward trajectory to nearly 2,000 million users.
The rate of mobile technology development is having to keep up with the demands of global consumers. Businesses should now be way past the point of just having a mobile friendly website when it comes to mobile devices and marketing. Getting a mobile app is going to be the one thing that a business needs to invest in if they are going to do anything mobile related in 2017. In the past this has been restrictive, especially for the small to medium enterprises (SME), due to the cost, but there are a number of reasonably priced and appropriate options to get your company mobile centric this year.
Ensure that you are offering mobile payment options because consumers want to tap and order, and tap and pay, and if you can advertise this as an option, you will not be losing out on much needed revenue. Plus it’s a great marketing tool as well.
One of the up and coming trends is the rise in mobile-only apps. Looking at the increase in downloads of apps these are certainly in the forefront so a mobile app, not available on desktop computers, like for example Facebook is, can be a really great way for an SME to market themselves. If you can offer support, trialling or development opportunities to an app developer, it could be even more cost effective in the long run.
2. Understand and use segmentation
A customer can be anyone and anywhere on today’s global marketing platform. Having a small consumer base means a business knows its customer base very well and is quick to react if there is a problem. As customer numbers increase it is not realistic to expect customer relationship managers to monitor all events and interactions in order to ensure a positive experience for all. As the consumer base grows a marketing team has to use customer segmentation to manage customers at scale.
Ensure that segmentation is part of the marketing strategy, by dividing consumer base into separate segments based on their characteristics. These can be by size, by industry sector, geographical area, consumer activity and so on. Use this information to scale and target your marketing message by sending out to one whole segment rather than separate individuals, leading to economy of scale.
3. Invest in good SEO content and ROI
Google have upped their content algorithms, searching out poor and badly written content as well as plagiarised articles. This means they are checking regularly over a period of weeks and months, and their preference is for the longer 800-1000 word articles. This will demonstrate that a business is prepared to look at topics or blogs and articles in more depth.
Newsworthy items, high quality information and relevant links, in fact anything that is going to provide a service or “go to” page for the consumer and that will enable a business to grow their online audience is a must for 2017. Google have also announced that they are making their search index “mobile first”, so keep an eye out for some big changes.
Build in an evaluation of your business’s content marketing and understand the return of investment or ROI in this area. As there is going to be more focus on “rich” content it is important to know that the company is getting a good return for its investment, and hitting the spot as far as getting consumers onboard is concerned.
4. Behavioural email marketing and spam
There are still a number of companies who are not taking a strategic approach to email marketing and this is tantamount to leaving a lot of untouched revenue out there. As David Newman remarked, “Email has the ability many other channels don’t; creating valuable, personal touches of scale.”
The ongoing battle for attention when it comes to the customer means that if you have an email contact for them, you should use it appropriately. Improve the design and layout of emails (link to the brand as always) and personalise your approach. Use emails to deploy an invitation or link to the next big marketing campaign you’re running in 2017.
Combine this with a link to larger channels such as social media to supplement your efforts and use creative visual graphics and animations. More importantly, as 2017 is the year of clamping down on junk email and spam, make sure you have a marketing tool that will help break through the blocks.
5. Hands free search
Finally, voice activated search optimisation such as Amazon Echo, or Windows Cortana, is really taking off for 2017. Along with Google Home, these home connected devices are bringing something very new to the table and as yet there is not very much data or analysis out there to review. Keep in the loop as more information comes out because your marketing department will need to think about voice driven search functions as we get further into the New Year.
About the Author
Sal Salvatore is the Director of Minipack, a specialist in packaging machines and the original inventor of the Hooded Shrink Wrapping Machine. As one of Australia’s longest trading companies, Minipack certainly understands the importance of innovation and keeping abreast of trends when it comes to marketing strategies.