Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Addressing the “social” side of your group…

I know what you are thinking…Sharon you are market researcher at heart, where are your stories with a market research flair?

Ok, since you asked, here are some great market research statistics about the impact Americans think the internet has had on group participation.  In this survey, the Pew Internet Project asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies.

Following are the percentages of Americans that say the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to do the following:

  • Communicate with members: 68% of all Americans (internet users and non-users alike) and 75% of internet users said that
  • Draw attention to an issue: 62% of all Americans and 68% of internet users
  • Connect with other groups: 60% of all Americans and 67% of internet users
  • Impact the society at large: 59% of all Americans and 64% of internet users
  • Organize activities: 59% of all Americans and 65% of internet users
  • Raise money: 52% of all Americans and 55% of internet users
  • Recruit new members: 51% of all Americans and 55% of internet users said that.
  • Impact local communities: 49% of all Americans and 52% of internet users
  • Find people to take leadership roles: 35% of all Americans and internet users

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Small Business Owners Are Getting Onboard…

If you read my blog long enough, you will see that I have a special place in my heart for small businesses.  And, since I am all about social media…well let’s just say the statistics I am about to share are right up my alley.

According to January 2011 report by eMarketer and to data from Ad-ology:

  • Over half of small businesses (55%) believe that Facebook is beneficial to their business (29.7% believe that Facebook is very beneficial)—up from 33% last year.
  • Just under a third of small businesses believe that LinkedIn (33%), twitter (32%, up from 18% last year), and YouTube (31%) are beneficial to their business.
  • Small businesses also feel that buying group sites are beneficial:  Yelp (18%), Groupon (16%) and LivingSocial (14%).

And why do small businesses find social media so darn beneficial to their business?  Read on.

  • Lead Generation (57% say it is beneficial for this activity)
  • Listening (54%)
  • Keeping Up with the Industry (53%)
  • Improving Customer Experience (52%)
  • Competitive Intelligence (52%)

 While I wish that the percentage saying very beneficial was higher for “Improving Customer Experience”, it is good to see that the majority of small businesses find social medial at least somewhat beneficial to their business.

So small businesses are getting onboard with social media and getting the benefit from social media.  How about your business?

Happy Marketing!

The Numerati are watching…

Who or what are the Numerati you may ask?  Well they aren’t a religion nor are they Santa Claus, but they know when you are sleeping and when you are awake (whether you have been bad or good is up to you and your conscious).  Just ask Stephen Baker

Marketing has certainly reached a tipping point as it relates to targeting.  No longer do we have to develop large targeted advertising and marketing campaigns…thanks to the Numerati.  Okay, back to my original question…who are the Numerati?  They are the technological and statistical gurus who have figured out how to target us without asking us one single question.  Can’t be?  Read on.

Ever wonder how it is that while surfing the web you are consistently receiving banner advertising that seems to be targeted to what you are currently shopping for?  How about online advertising that pops up on your favorite news website for things you are vaguely interested in based on your hobbies?  To use a phrase from Hawaii Five-O last night…you know what they say about coincidences…they take a lot of planning.  And the Numerati do nothing but plan…how to reach you.

Without getting into a lot of techno babble and market research geek, the Numerati are the folks that take volumes of behavioral data from the web and, through the use of some pretty sophisticated modeling and programming, determine what online advertising should resonate with you.   

The Two Main Benefits:

  • It can help you quantify a hard to define/segment market—it goes beyond the typical demographic and psychographic variables
  • Behavioral targeting can significantly reduce the cost of sale (new and ongoing)

The Drawbacks:

  • It’s a model…and models can be wrong
  • There is too much junk out there for a meaningful conclusion for targeting
  • We are lazy and ADD (attention deficit disorder) surfers…not everything we search or click on is meaningful to us.

Marketing is truly at a tipping point.  Soon I wont even have to think about or desire anything! The Numerati will tell me what I want and make it very easy to buy it!

Happy Marketing!

Insurance Marketers: Fish Where the Fish Are!

Based on the new report by eMarketer: Shopping for Insurance Online: A Multichannel Quest, it’s clear that the insurance industry has finally gotten on the digital bandwagon.   And, it’s about time.  While much of what eMarketer measured was likely personal lines insurance marketers selling easy to price auto and home policies (like the GEICO and Progressives of the world), it is important to take note of the shift in marketing tactics—whether you are a consumer or an insurance agent.

So why are they on the digital bandwagon?  Their market is of course!  This research does present some good news for agents—that is that much of the insurance market still wants them involved and they remain the main go to method for buying insurance.  I have seen this in my research as well, though the reliance on the agent channel is much stronger in the commercial lines business than the personal lines business. 

Here are some interesting stats from a Sept 2010 CMO Council Study:

  • According to the CMO Council, agents (both captive and independent) are the predominant channel for purchasing insurance policies (62%) among US consumers.
  • Only 12% purchased their policy online
  • Only 2% bought through email

 So if you are an insurance agent, what does this mean?   First, a small sigh of relief; but second a need to get on the social bandwagon.  An old adage in the marketing world (and other places) is “fish where the fish are”… it is clear that some parts of your market can be reached and “netted” through your online and social media presence.  Why not fish where the fish are today and tomorrow?

Happy Marketing!

Business Owners: Wake Up and Smell the Facebook!

If I had a dime for every time someone said, “you can’t make money from Social Media” I would probably be on a beach somewhere having a Cosmopolitan. 

After giving the person the lecture on the fact that social media marketing is “social” first and “marketing” second, I tell them you can make money on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you just haven’t educated yourself on how. 

Don’t believe me?  Chew on this…according to eMarketer, U.S. marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year, about a 55% over their 2010 spend.  And, eMarketer expects this number to reach $4 billion by 2012.   

So are all these people wasting their money?  Well some clearly are, but for many not.  It can be much, much cheaper to build brand awareness among and engage your audience through social media than through traditional advertising such as TV and Print.

So why is Facebook so important?  Well, in a few words… over 175 million people (log in every day to Facebook).

So why now for Facebook?  Get in early (or should I say less late).  If you check the online advertising costs for Facebook, you will see that some markets (based on their cost per click) are relatively untapped.  Why not get your product or service in front of your markets now before someone else does?

Like it or not, Social Media and Facebook are here to stay (at least for now).  You need to jump in before it’s too late. 

Happy Marketing!

Engage much? The best bloggers do…

According to eMarketer and Blog2Print, about one-quarter of Fortune 1,000 companies will maintain a public-facing blog this year for marketing purposes.   The big guys are doing it and guess what?  You can too.  The great thing about blogging and social media is that you don’t have to have a huge marketing budget to engage your target market in social media.  You just need to spend the time to find and engage your market.

So what do the big guys believe makes a great corporate blog?  It’s:

  • An engaged community—which you can achieve through remarkable content (46%)
  • Daily postings/consistency (26%)
  • Sharing relevant information (10%)

So why do the big guys blog?  According to those Fortune 1,000 CMOs surveyed by Blog2Print, it’s for the same reasons why us small guys and gals blog: 

  • It’s the cost of doing business (50%)
  • To gain clients/customers (20%)
  • To become the authority (18%)

So what’s the key to successful blogging?  For most, it’s an engaged community and remarkable content.

Happy marketing!

Small businesses are getting it!

Those that follow my blog know that small businesses are near and dear to my heart—more specifically, their feelings about and usage of social media.  And, ofcourse, so is measurement/data. 

Given this, I am happy to report that yet another study has been completed on the usage of social media by small businesses.   According to research conducted by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, small-business adoption of social media marketing seems to have plateaued at 24% after experiencing double digit growth over the past few years.  That said, small businesses are reaping the benefits of their efforts.

The study of US small businesses found that those that do market via social media primarily use Facebook (82%), and that the most common activities are maintaining a company page on a social network and posting status updates or links to interesting content. About half of businesses that used social media also monitored brand chatter on social networks.

While the performance of the social media channels they used didn’t always line up with their expectations, the performance of the social media tactics employed by small businesses was relatively effective; particularly as it relates to staying engaged with current customers (65%), increasing brand awareness among targeted audiences (64%), and identifying and attracting new customer (53%).

Performance of Social Media Tactics, June 2010 (% of US small businesses)

So what business objectives have small businesses achieved through social media?  The usual: 

  • Connecting with customers through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Increasing traffic to the company website through Facebook
  • Increasing traffic to the company website through LinkedIn
  • Increasing customers following the company on Twitter

While small businesses seemed to have been more successful in achieving relationship and brand building objectives through social media, about one-third have achieved sales leads through Facebook (36%) and LinkedIn (35%).  Far fewer, only 16%, say they have achieved sales leads from Twitter.

Business Objectives Achieved via Social Media, June 2010 (% of US small businesses*)

While small businesses are achieving the benefits of social media, they are experiencing some of the downsides of being so visible—online criticism.  The percentage of small businesses saying their business had been criticized online nearly doubled (to 29%) since December.  That said, only 1% of small businesses said their image was hurt more than it was helped by social media, a decline from last year (6%).

While the percentage of small businesses using social media may have plateaued (for now), the report does show us that even small businesses are reaping the rewards of having a social media presence and strategy.

Happy marketing!

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