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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

Customize and schedule your URL all in one place with URLcast

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Need a hand with marketing your latest URL? URLcast.io seeks to simplify the sharing process by bringing helpful link interactions together.

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Laptop on desk with man typing, open on blog custom URL page

Something that has become commonplace in our tech-heavy world is making URLs easier to click, read, and navigate. That’s why we turn to places like Bitly and Tiny URL to make URLs shorter and more customizable for blog and social media posts.

We also rely on tech to help give us a hand with other tech. An example of this includes using TweetDeck to schedule Tweets or using a number of platforms to schedule Instagram posts. Anything to make our online lives easier.

Now entering the URL realm is Urlcast.io, which comes equip with scheduling capabilities, donning itself as “the URL scheduler.” It works in 4 simple steps: Have an idea, schedule said idea, share that idea, and finally, play the waiting game.

Here’s how those 4 steps play out: First, find your idea and, when you have an online resource that you’d like to share, you can then set the URL to be scheduled for a release of your choosing. So, you will use the tool to create an online waiting room that people will be able to visit until the time that has been scheduled.

Next, write a catchy title and decide on a publication date. With this information, a new page is generated just for you with the title you have chosen and a countdown until the day you have chosen.

Then, share the new URL with your audience and your waiting room with everyone you want, every time they visit it, they will be able to see how much time is left for the big moment.

Finally, wait for that moment. Everyone who visits the new link will be able to see your waiting page until the date and time you have chosen is reached; when that time arrives, they will be redirected to the original link, leaving it uncovered.

This is a good way to build momentum around a marketing or PR campaign – or would be useful when something is embargoed. This also could be useful for ticket sales and the like.

On Urlcast’s website, an FAQ asks the developer what the future plans are for the tool. The answer? “The countdown page is very simple, currently it consists of a title and a countdown to the date you have selected. In the future we would like to add more features, like being able to change the background colors or add an image, a chat and a place to add posts and notifications to those who are waiting for the release time to arrive.”

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Business Marketing

How to be the best potential employee in your job hunt [INTERVIEW]

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Struggling in the job hunt? You’re not alone – but Nicole Clark, a Senior Professional in HR, has some advice to help you stand apart from the crowd.

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Interviewer writing on clipboard talking to person across a table during their job hunt.

The job hunt is a journey not often enjoyed by the potential employee. It can take a lot of searching, a lot of resume tweaking, and a lot of interviewing, in order to find a good fit. Sometimes, it takes more than that, and you need a little insight from an expert about how to go about the job search. Luckily, we have Senior Professional in Human Relations (SPHR), Nicole Clark, on tap to give us the inside scoop.

Taylor Leddin: What’s the number one thing a HR specialist looks at when reviewing a candidate?
Nicole Clark: When reviewing a candidate’s resume, it’s always imperative to ensure they have the fundamental skills needed in a position. When I move forward with conducting a phone screen or in person interview, it’s always important to ensure they’re a good fit from a cultural standpoint. Every company has its own unique culture and it’s important for hires to fit that culture otherwise it will eventually lead to issues down the line. With that being said, every candidate has their own personality and unique traits that they will bring to the role. However, the best hires are those that are able to make strong individual contributions while also working well within a team setting, which is why cultural fit ends up playing such an important role.

TL: What’s your biggest pet peeve with the job application process?
NC: My personal pet peeve is when candidates are not honest about their salary expectations during the beginning stages of the interview process. It’s frustrating when a candidate is in the final stages of an offer being made and they suddenly have high earning expectations that are not aligned with the company’s salary structure. I do not at all mind when candidates negotiate and are aware of their worth, but it’s a different story when all of the sudden candidates are asking for way more money than what we initially discussed. It’s important for candidates to be honest throughout the process about their expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page.

I also find it disheartening when candidates are only focused on the benefits and perks of the position as opposed to their job responsibilities. I understand that benefits are important, but it’s a red flag when candidates are asking me about how many days off they are going to receive during the initial phone screen. It makes me question candidates’ work ethic and also their priorities. I enjoy taking time off too, but those benefits will be discussed when the timing is appropriate, so it’s best to let the company lead that discussion when the timing is right.

TL: What advice do you have for people currently on the job hunt?
NC: Searching for a job is not easy and it can be a very demoralizing process. I think it’s important to not limit yourself during the initial application process. When I was job searching, I would apply to as many jobs as possible even if they did not appear to be “perfect” on paper. Every interview you have is good practice and allows you to better understand what exactly you are looking for in a position. Also, it’s important to remember that there is no “perfect” job! Every job is going to have downsides, but the best jobs are those where you enjoy both the work and the people who you are working with.

TL: Since you’ve been on both sides of the interview table, what would you say is the most important thing about interviewing?
NC: To me, the most important thing about interviewing is to be yourself and to remember that you’re interviewing the company too. While they are looking for the best person for the role, you’re also looking for the best position for the next step of your career. It’s important to ask questions and really understand the role that you’re going to have in the company. While it’s completely understandable to be nervous during the job hunt, it’s important to remember that they want to find the best person for the position and for them to do so, they need to really meet the real you.

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Business Marketing

How becoming better listeners eliminates our culture’s growing isolation

(BUSINESS MARKETING) We have all be frustrated by someone who doesn’t listen to us; so why not make sure that you are taking the steps to not be them, and be better listeners.

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good listeners breed good listeners

We all want the same thing: to be heard. In this digital age, we’ve created an endless stream of cries for attention via comment sections, forums, and social media feeds—shares, retweets, tags, videos, articles, and photos. Worse, our words echo in our digital bubbles or specific communities, doing nothing but making us lonely and isolated. However, in the midst of a divided political climate, we can all stand to strengthen our ability to listen.

Me? A bad listener? What are you trying to say? I got enough flaws to worry about and don’t wanna hear about another skill to improve. Oh, the irony.

“Bad listeners are not necessarily bad people,” assures Kate Murphy in her new book You’re Not Listening. “Anyone can get good at it. The more people you talk to, the better your gut instinct. You’re able to pick up those little cues. Without them, you’re not going to get the full context and nuance of the conversation,” she says in an interview with The Guardian’s Stephen Moss.

Our bad listening aside, we can all remember a time when we weren’t treated with the attention we craved. Moments where you’d do anything for the person you’re conversing with to give a sign of understanding—of empathy—to validate our feelings, to acknowledge the vulnerable piece of ourselves we’ve entrusted to them is cared for. Nothing is worse when we’re met with blank expressions and dismissive gestures or words. These interactions make us feel small and lonely. And the damage can stay with us.

So what can we do to ensure we’re the listeners we’ve always wanted from others? Being a good listener does take time, energy, and tons of practice. There are easy tips to keep in mind:

  1. Show you care by making eye contact and putting away your phone.
  2. Patience. Everyone opens up on their time.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Yes/no responses inhibit the flow of conversation.
  4. Repeat what you’ve heard. This clarifies any misunderstanding and validates the speaker.
  5. Give space. Let the conversation breathe—silent pauses are healthy.

By becoming better listeners, we show care. We become curious about and empathetic towards others, leaving our bubbles—we become a little less lonely.

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