Is Social Media an Effective Marketing Tactic for Businesses in Kelowna?Social Media is a hot marketing topic this year in Kelowna! The number of inquiries we get about using social media for marketing has quadrupled in 2011. We have seen some media coverage in the traditional press too (see Face to Face is a click away). In the past year, we've had a chance to leverage social media as a marketing tactic for a number of businesses in Kelowna have witnessed very positive results in general. This article digs into some stats about social media's effectiveness vs. other forms of online marketing. It's interesting to see how the different tactics stack up, as well as the shifts over the last year. In a recent survey by eMarketer.com, small to medium businesses (SMB) in the U.S. were asked several questions about their online marketing efforts and their effectiveness. Small Business Still Prefer "Traditional" Online Marketing Tactics From the survey, SMBs are still more likely to say they found new customers by using websites (85.8%), over email (74.3%), and search marketing (74%). Web sites are considered a more "traditional" online marketing tactic and are well entrenched in the marketing programs of most companies whether a site operates as an online brochure, order system or supports the full sales cycle. Is Satisfaction in Online Marketing Decreasing? Despite the rise in use of online marketing, SMBs surveyed indicate that satisfaction with many of these channels is decreasing. Specifically, large decreases in satisfaction were seen in audio podcasts (-53%), webcasts/webinars (-44%), Twitter (-38%), Linked In (-36%), Banner/display ads (-34%) and Blog (-32%). Are Internet Users Changing Their Behaviour? While new online marketing programs by inexperienced marketers are going to be less effective, this doesn't account for such a huge decrease in so many of the online marketing tactics. Instead these decreases suggest a change in behaviour by Internet users in obtaining information. This change in behaviour is both a reflection on the increased maturity of the average Internet user, the amount of time users are willing to spend looking for something, as well as the ever increasing use of mobile Internet devices.
- Users are more aware of paid advertising including banner/display ads and search marketing (PPC);
- Users are less tolerant of lengthy sales pitches such as podcasts and webinars however informative. Instead users are turning to quicker ways to obtain the information they need, often on a "just-in-time" basis.
- Use of mobile Internet devices has increased to the point where users aren't looking for information until they actually arrive at their destination, often using tools like Gowalla and Foursquare which alert you to sales and deals near your current location. This focus on location based marketing is also seen in the popularity of coupons like Groupon and Twongo, as well as the increased use of Google Places.
It's Free, right? Since many of the new digital marketing channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on are seemingly cheap, small and medium sized businesses in Kelowna should certainly consider them. Beware that "cheap" and "free" are not really good descriptions of these tools. Your time is worth money! Here's a few pointers to get started...
- Create clearly defined goals for your online marketing plan
- Identify your audience (Hint: Use the marketing channels, tools, and websites that your customers are ALREADY using)
- Understand that social media is a 2-way communications channel... it's a party line, not a megaphone
- Do a batch process (eg. write a whole week's worth of content for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn on Monday morning and schedule the release using a tool like Hootsuite)
- Measure the results (Who is clicking on your links in the updates? Do people ask more questions? Do they call for an appointment? Do they walk in the door?)
- Integrate social media efforts with things like blogs posts, email blasts, in-store contests, special events, radio, print, and video
- Consider hiring a company if your time is better spent elsewhere!