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Small businesses pouring more cash into their digital marketing budgets

(BUSINESS) Small business owners in the US are shifting their focus and their funds

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2017 and the budget shift

According to a January 2017 study conducted by Thrive Analytics, 40% of small businesses in the US plan to increase their digital marketing budgets this year–and this could be their key to massive growth.

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The modern customer journey begins with an online search. A business can be right down the street, but without a solid presence online, it might as well not exist. Getting that competitive edge online comes at a price, putting many small businesses at a disadvantage.

Until now.

Things are looking up

Encouraged by the current state of the economy, small business owners have been more willing to loosen their purse strings and leverage the power of the world wide web.

Recent research reveals that SMBs (small to medium businesses) will be pouring more of their overall marketing budget into all areas of digital marketing–from social media to mobile, video, and search engine marketing.

Social media is already one of the most widely used marketing methods for small businesses, and 56% of SMBs plan to up their social media budget this year. However, more than 30% are also going to focus on digital advertising and search engine optimization (SEO).

Whether you’re a dentist, a realtor, or a traveling theater troupe, chances are your prospects are looking for you online–88% of US adults (not just Millennials) used the internet in 2016, and that number has only been growing each year.

The struggle to go digital

Money isn’t the only obstacle between SMBs and digital marketing. All of the time and effort involved in developing a successful online strategy are also hard to come by.

According to InfusionSoft, 49% of small-business owners are doing all the marketing for their business, and only 22% have hired marketers.

Even with room in the budget, tackling a whole new vein of marketing and advertising is difficult with a limited staff, especially without a full understanding of what exactly needs to be done: 10% of small business owners say the most challenging part about digital marketing is understanding tactics and trends.

Leap of faith

Sometimes the best way to learn something is just to jump right into it, and for many small businesses, the stable economy is just the push they need. For those that are making the leap into digital marketing this year, here’s the breakdown of their main focus areas:

Mobile: more than 50%
Online video: 48%
Paid search: 47%
Event marketing: 47%

With the right approach, a little money can go a long way. Looks like 2017 will be a big year for small businesses.

#DigitalMarketing

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

Business Marketing

Get a personalized daily checklist for your digital marketing strategy

(MARKETING NEWS) For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an digital marketing strategy, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit. This app can help.

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Check!

There is no doubt that starting your own business can be overwhelming. Along with promoting your business at events, meetings and in person, digital marketing strategies play a key role in the success of a company. For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an online presence, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit.

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Simply creating a website and Facebook page for your business is not enough. However, software tools can help simplify digital marketing. ClearPath is a tool that organizes and creates tasks to optimize your online marketing. By creating to-do lists for you based on your online marketing strategy, you can focus on the areas of marketing that improve your business, all the while receiving useful tips and advice.

How does ClearPath work?

Using ClearPath is pretty straightforward and only requires one prerequisite. Before beginning, you must have a website. If you are already lost, don’t panic. ClearPath can help you develop an online presence. Once your website is linked up, you get to choose the marketing channels that you would like to focus on. These include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email, social, content, analytics, local, pay-per-click (PPC) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Again, if you are lost, ClearPath is there to help you strategize.

After ClearPath analyzes your site, they start sending you customized tasks based they believe can improve your online marketing.

As you finish each task, you can simply check it off and it will disappear. New tasks will appear each day, and some may even repeat as they need to be updated.

A great start

Whether you are well-versed in digital marketing or not, staying updated with the newest ways to optimize your business online is a constant struggle. Tools like ClearPath give people a place to start. Although I don’t think it can supplement an active and experienced digital marketer, it is a tool that can help small businesses that cannot afford to add to their team yet. At the end of the day, it aims to save you time. And since time is money, your business will hopefully be more profitable.

ClearPath is currently in beta. Check out their website to learn more.

#ClearPath

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Business Marketing

Dolce & Gabbana apologize for racist ad, just in time for the holidays

(MARKETING) Dolce & Gabbana stepped in it, and are apologizing, but many aren’t in the mood to accept their words.

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Mere hours before the models were set to walk down the runway, Dolce & Gabbana cancelled their “Great Show” in Shanghai amidst a fervent backlash against racist marketing for the show. Several models and celebrities had threatened to boycott the show, forcing its cancellation.

The show was called a “Tribute to China,” and, according to brand founder Domenico Dolce, was supposedly “created especially with love and passion for China.” Unfortunately, Chinese critics weren’t feeling the love.

The backlash arose from a video ad, called “Eating with Chopsticks” that was posted on Dolce & Gabbana’s Instagram. The video, which has since been removed, featured a Chinese model using chopsticks to eat Italian foods such as pizza and spaghetti. Critics say that the ad relied on condescending stereotypes and was disrespectful to Chinese culture.

To make matters worse, a leaked screenshot of private messages sent by Stefano Gabbana showed the designer making disparaging remarks about the critics. Gabbana claims that his account was hacked and that he did not send those messages.

Three days after cancelling the show, Dolce and Gabbana issued a video apology via Instagram, promising that “We will never forget this experience and it will certainly never happen again.” stating “We love your culture and certainly have much to learn. That is why we are sorry if we made mistakes in the way we expressed ourselves.”

Many critics were unconvinced by the delayed apology, and are committed to boycotting D&G. A photoshopped D&G logo reading “Dead & Gone” with a poo emoji has surfaced on social media as many fashion fans believe that the outrage sparked by the racist ad will effectively kill the brand in China and other parts of Asia.

Estelle Chen, a French model of Chinese descent who has walked the runway for D&G in the past, responded directly to the designers’ apology. “You don’t love China, you love money,” she wrote. “China is rich yes but China is rich in its values its culture and its people and they won’t spend a penny on a brand that does not respect that.”

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Business Marketing

Ad agency crafts cheeky Amazon ‘apologies’ to rejected cities

(MARKETING) Famed Austin ad agency, Jessee McGarrah crafts hilarious “apologies” on behalf of Amazon, and they couldn’t be more perfect.

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It’s finally official: in case if you’ve been living under a rock, Amazon’s HQ2 will be split between Crystal City, Arlington, VA and New York City, shocking no one.

Cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Pittsburgh competed for the coveted HQ2 spot with generous tax incentives, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo even said he’d change his name to to “Amazon Cuomo” if that helped New York’s case. Given the circumstances, there are bound to be some hurt feelings among the rejected cities.

For the 17 “finalist” cities that didn’t make the cut, the Austin-based ad agency, McGarrah Jessee created apologies from “Alexa,” on behalf of Amazon for each city. Even though the apologies aren’t actually from Amazon, you can still add the feature to your own Alexa through the Skills & Games menu.

Alexa’s apologies to each city are surprisingly snarky and on-point. Take LA, for example:

“Los Angeles, hi, you look terrific. Absolutely stunning. Have you been at spin class? No? Spin class is so last year? You’re already on to the next spin class? Look, you didn’t get the part. What?! No. It didn’t have anything to do with you…you’ve never done sequels well…and we need HQ2 to be a hit.”

The HQ2 announcement (or rejection) was no surprise to Austin residents, as many were actively campaigning against HQ2, citing infrastructure issues and rising housing costs. This still didn’t stop Alexa from sarcastically mentioning Austin’s love for tacos and artisanal graffiti. Ouch, but also…well played. She even asked: “Can you Prime Now us some Franklin’s? For old time’s sake?” Don’t make this harder than it has to be, Alexa.

Alexa definitely goes for the “sorry, not sorry” approach, and we’re here for it. On that note, McGarrah Jessee’s latest shenanigan reminds us of the importance of humor in advertising and not taking one’s business, or city, too seriously.

As customers increasingly value authenticity and humor in marketing, this is a tactic to keep in mind as you’re advertising your business. Alexa’s language was funny, sarcastic, but not caustic: a unique balance to strike when writing copy.

It’s obvious McGarrah did their research, resulting in some solid inside jokes and zings to each city, and it paid off.

Check out all 17 of the apologies here:

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