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The challenge with these reports is that they’re typically very enterprise-focused. In my work as a small business marketing consultant, I’m much more interested in what these findings mean for small business leaders. With that in mind, here’s a look at what entrepreneurs can learn from this report.
1. Email is still king
Every year, you hear plenty of people predicting the death of email. Well, email marketing continues to shine — in fact, it was the single best performing channel in 2021. If you’ve scaled back on email, or it just hasn’t been a priority for your business, now’s the time to start investing.
2. But, you need to think beyond email blasts and newsletters
Gartner notes that respondents mentioned challenges “in aligning their email strategy with the right messaging.” This is why you need to create more sophisticated nurture campaigns (also known as “drip emails”) that are closely aligned to the problems and challenges your customers experience — and how you uniquely solve them.
Most of the time, small businesses only do basic email marketing, like sending a monthly newsletter plus an occasional list-wide “blast” when they have something big they want to say. Buyers today expect more, and if you don’t provide that, one of your competitors will happily do so and take the business from you.
Related: Why You’re Using Drip Emails All Wrong (and What to Do Instead)
3. It’s time to diversify your marketing mix
Your current marketing plan may focus on a small handful of areas. Many small businesses I work with are doing a few foundational tactics, like trade shows, emails and social media; maybe they also have a blog where they occasionally publish an article. It’s great to start somewhere, but the most successful companies are diversifying where they’re spending their time and money.
So, how do you decide what to try next? A good guideline is to start by looking at what you’re already doing that’s working best. Then, think about what marketing tactics you can use that would supplement them. For example, if you do a lot of trade shows, you could start doing more content marketing — so you can offer your eBook or whitepaper to people you meet at the show. If social media is working really well, try another angle you’re not already doing, like creating video content or posting polls to get even more engagement.
Related: 5 High-Impact Marketing Tactics To Drive Sales For Your Software Company
4. You probably don’t understand your customers well enough
Of the dozens of small businesses I’ve worked with, I can count on one hand those who put in the effort to deeply understand their customers. Without a deep customer understanding, you are going to spin your sales and marketing wheels without getting results. Every customer has different needs and desires, and you can’t just guess them. Take the time to step back and deliberately understand customers by creating buyer personas. What you learn from this process will increase the results you get from your marketing efforts.