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A new study focusing on small businesses in the US reveals that a huge number of small brands are working without any sort of plan for their marketing.

The survey from Outbound Engine asked 350 small and medium business (SMB) owners about a number of areas, including revenue growth, stress, their biggest hurdles, their marketing strategies, and more.

Of the business owners surveyed, approximately half of all SMB owners do not have a marketing plan for 2019 and are unlikely to create one.

Small Business Marketing Struggles

The lack of marketing plans in the survey is largely attributed to an increase in small businesses being overwhelmed or working with limited budgets.

According to the report, 62% of SMB owners say they are as or more stressed about their business this year compared to last.

Further, the study finds that:

  • 25% of SMB owners surveyed are unsure of how they plan to grow their business in 2019.
  • More than half (55%) of SMB owners spend less than 5% of annual revenue on marketing.
  • More than 58% of SMB owners spend five or fewer hours on marketing each week.
  • 86% of respondents say they prefer to spend their time on other business activities rather than marketing.

Small Changes Lead to Big Rewards

While the study shows that many businesses feel lost or unable to focus on their marketing, it also reveals that investing just a little more time or money can pay dividends and reduce business stress.

According to responses about last year performance, small increases in marketing investment led to more revenue growth for SMBs in 2018. Additionally, spending just 5% more time on marketing was tied to increased revenue growth.

This is reflected in the finding that 81% of respondents who invested between 5% and 10% of annual revenue into their marketing reported revenue growth in 2018. Meanwhile, only 50% of respondents who invested less than 5% of revenue into marketing saw growth.

The full report is available in PDF form here.

LinkedIn isn’t like most social media platforms out there. You can’t just transfer the same strategies and types of content you post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter over to LinkedIn and expect people to be interested.

This is because people don’t use the platform the same way they use other social networks. Obviously, they approach the platform with a more professional, reserved presence that speaks more to their career goals and market knowledge than personal photos from vacations or the latest memes.

Still, LinkedIn can be an incredible tool for growing your business, whether you are in a B2B industry or primarily provide services or products to consumers. The key is knowing how to change up your typical social media strategies for the new platform.

Thankfully, Leisure Jobs has created a detailed cheat sheet which breaks down everything you could need to know about how to do LinkedIn right. It includes every area you could imagine, including personal profile construction, business listing strategies, some quick secrets to standing out from others on the platform, and much, much more.

You can see the infographic below, or check it out here for the high-resolution version.

A new survey sheds some light into the real reasons why consumers like, share, and follow brands on social media.

As Yes Marketing reports, their survey of 1,000 consumers reveals:

  • 63% of consumers follow retailers on social to learn about sales.
  • 60% follow retailers to keep up with new products.
  • 29% follow to show support for the retailer.
  • 23% follow because the retailer shares funny and interesting information.
  • 23% follow because the retailer has a positive reputation
  • 16% follow because they agree with the retailer’s stance on social and political issues.

When it comes to specifically why customers engage with content from retailers on social media, here’s what people had to say:

  • 36% engage with content because the retailer promises a discount for sharing the post.
  • 36% engage in order to share a product update or sale with their followers.
  • 35% engage because they agree personally with the content of the post.
  • 30% engage because the post is funny or interesting.
  • 29% engage in order to share positive feedback with the retailer.
  • 20% engage in order to share negative feedback with the retailer.

As for which demographics are active on which social networks, the respondents broke down as follows:

  • Gen Z consumers are more likely to have YouTube (77%) and Instagram (77%) accounts than a Facebook account (74%).
  • Millennials (89%) and Gen X (88%) are most likely to be on Facebook.
  • More Gen Z consumers (56%) are on Twitter compared to Millennials (50%) and Gen X (39%).
  • Snapchat is the least used social network among all respondents (30%), followed by Twitter (36%).
  • Only 11% of respondents are not on any of the major social networks.

Get the full report here to learn more.

A new survey of US consumers has some surprising findings about what customers expect out of business websites.

The results from 1,013 respondents between the ages of 18-60 show that consumers have high expectations when it comes to how frequently your website is updated, what features are implemented, and how you are advertising your business online.

What Consumers DON’T Want in a Website

Of the respondents, more than 80% say they view a brand more negatively if their website is out of date. Additionally, 39% of consumers say they would reconsider buying a product or service if the website isn’t current.

The issue of advertising is also a prickly subject for consumers, based on the survey results.

Less than 10% approved of brands showing ads on social media based on a person’s browsing activity. Meanwhile, approximately 26% feel negatively about ads appearing on their social media feeds based on their browsing or device history – saying it is an invasion of privacy.

On the other hand, 41% of consumers say they don’t mind if websites keep personal data, but only if it is secured on used exclusively to improve the user experience.

Overall, consumers are largely conflicted. Approximately 50% of respondents say that they like the convenience of brands keeping data for to improve ads and user experience, but they are concerned about how else it might be used.

What Consumers DO Want in a Website

In general, consumers say ease of use should be the top priority in making their online experience better.

Approximately 50% of the respondents said they prefer user-created content like reviews and photos to help inform their purchasing decision.

Meanwhile, 25% say their favorite website feature is receiving a reminder when they have left a product in their shopping cart.

Perhaps surprisingly, a major feature desired by users is an on-site search engine. Nearly one-third of respondents say they are put-off if a site does not have a search box, while more than 40% say a search box is the most important feature on a site.


The survey includes a number of interesting findings about consumer behavior and desires online covering a wide range of topics. You can read all the details from Blue Fountain Media here.

 

Twitter wants to help you plan out your marketing for the year with a new, free calendar with tips and ideas for your 2019 marketing strategies.

The calendar identifies the biggest, most hotly anticipated events of the year so you can plan your marketing ahead of time.

Additionally, Twitter provides some extra motivation to tweet during these big events with an estimate of the number of Tweet impressions each event is expected to draw.

The calendar doesn’t just highlight the obvious holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s day, either. It includes niche holidays such as Talk Like a Pirate Day, major sporting events like the March Madness final game, and cultural events like Coachella.

No matter what industry you are in, you are bound to find exciting opportunities to make your mark somewhere among the major and minor events.

For example, running accessory brands may plan their marketing around some of the major marathons included on the calendar – like the Boston Marathon which is predicted to drive an estimated 73 million tweet impressions.

Meanwhile, bars or restaurants may be more interested in taking advantage of the quickly approaching National Pizza Day on February 9th and National Margarita Day on February 22th, which are estimated to inspire 34 million and 14 million tweet impressions respectively.

View and download Twitter’s 2019 Marketing Calendar here.

A new survey shows just how prominent voice search is becoming in the journey from shopping to purchase.

According to the latest survey from Chatmeter, approximately 90% of smartphone owners say they use their device’s virtual assistant. More importantly, a large group of those are specifically using voice search to look for local business information.

Approximately 40% of smartphone users specifically say they “use voice search to ask for directions, an address, or business hours for a nearby location.” Additionally, more than a quarter of consumers say their “number one use for their voice device is to find a local restaurant, show, or business.”

This reinforces recent statements from prominent figures in the world of search, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who said: “local mobile searches are growing faster than just mobile searches overall, and have increased by almost 50% in the last year.”

One of the biggest uses for virtual assistants is also making in-person purchases or to visit new businesses, with almost 90% of users saying they turn to virtual assistants for driving directions.

While the rise of voice search will likely have huge ramifications for how we understand and optimize for online searching, these findings actually reinforce the importance of optimizing local listings on both desktop and mobile devices.

For example, a business’s Google My Business listing is responsible for providing all of these types of information, including giving directions, facilitating phone calls, and providing business hours.

Google My Business is already an essential part of establishing your business within your local industry and finding new customers nearby. Now, it is also becoming a necessity for helping voice search users find your business when they are ready to take action.

Not long ago, it seemed like every business website had a “Testimonials” page filled with reviews and references from either past-customers or fellow members of their industry. If you have a keen eye, though, you might have noticed these pages are slowly falling out of use in favor of posting your Google, Yelp, and other online reviews on your site.

The practice has led to some confusion, as many experts claimed putting your own online reviews from across the web on your site could be potentially dangerous for search engine optimization. There have even been suggestions it could lead to Google penalties.

Now, you can breathe easy and share your online reviews with pride, as Google webmaster trends analyst John Mueller has confirmed that it is totally fine to highlight your reviews on your company website – with one exception.

While posting your reviews on your website is acceptable, Mueller warns that you can not use review structured data on these reviews.

As Mueller explained on Twitter:

“From a Google SEO point of view, I don’t see a problem with that. I imagine the original is more likely to rank for that text, but if you use that to provide context, that’s fine (it shouldn’t be marked up with structured data though).”

Mueller then went on to explain that review structured data is intended for reviews “directly produced by your site” and using them on third-party reviews on your own site would go against Google’s guidelines.

in a year full of scandals and congressional inquiries, people appear to be changing how they use Facebook.

A new study from Pew Research Center shows that a huge portion of users has taken steps to reduce their usage and increase their privacy within the past year.

Interestingly, the findings show that users are specifically ditching the Facebook mobile app, with more than a quarter of US adults deleting the app on their phone. Even more have gone on a trial separation by taking a break from the platform entirely.

Among the findings of the study are several notable discoveries, including:

  • 54% of users have adjusted their privacy settings
  • 42% have taken a break from checking Facebook for several weeks or longer
  • 26% have deleted the Facebook app from their phone
  • 74% have done at least one of the above

These numbers on their own are very concerning for Facebook, but they become even more illuminating when broken down by age group. The survey shows that young Facebook users are widely stepping away from the platform or restricting their privacy.

Among users aged 18-29, 44% have deleted the app, compared to just 12% of users over the age of 64. Similar shifts were found among those who have changed their privacy settings.

Notably, there was no significant difference between the ages of those who have taken a break from Facebook.

The survey was conducted between May 29th and June 11th this year, after news broke about Facebook’s involvement in the collection and selling data on millions of users by Cambridge Analytica.

While these trends are certainly eye-raising, it remains unclear exactly how Facebook’s scandals have actually affected the company. The company’s latest quarterly report indicates the average daily users in North America has remained steady throughout the year.

Google is testing making Posts from Google My Business listings more prominent in search engines, with a unique tab that can appear directly within local search results.

The tab will appear when you either search for a specific business or keyword that includes businesses that have created Google Posts.

As many smaller businesses with Google My Business have yet to take advantage of Google Posts, the new tab gives those who are sharing Posts a spotlight to shine with engaging content and high-quality images.

Likewise, I expect Google is hoping for the inclusion of Posts within the search results will boost the number of listings who are creating and sharing posts through GMB.

The feature is obviously in early testing as some have noticed changes to how the Posts can appear within the tab.

While Matt Southern from Search Engine Journal was able to view two separate carousels (one horizontal and one vertical) of images when viewing the Post tab, others (including myself) are only being shown a single vertical feed of Posts.

The tab is also currently limited to mobile searches and does not show up on desktop versions of Google.

Many think that B2B marketing requires a completely different approach than marketing from a business directly to consumers. There is the belief that they B2B audiences don’t use social media or Google the same way that other audiences do and that you have to use a more “old-school” approach.

However, a new survey from Clutch shows that B2B audiences are just as, if not more likely, to use search engines and social media to find business information as other demographics.

The survey of 384 consumers of online business content found that 87% frequently find business content using search engines, 85% use social media to find business content, and 75% encounter content most frequently on company websites.

The findings show that it is more important than ever for B2B-focused companies to modernize their marketing techniques and connect with clients through popular platforms like Google and Facebook.

As part of ensuring they are working with only the most reliable businesses, B2B customers extensively research the companies and products they need online as part of their purchasing process.

They also widely use the internet to keep up-to-date with the latest trends and news in their industry, providing ample opportunities for businesses to advertise and market themselves in their niche.

According to the survey, nearly half of B2B audiences primarily read business content online to stay aware of the latest happenings in their industry. The second most common reason was to inform their purchasing decisions.

The big takeaway here is that B2B marketing shouldn’t be stuck in the past. Purchasers are incorporating modern sources of business content and doing an increasing amount of their business purchasing online. Unless, you’re making your brand a part of those online conversations and research, you’re missing a chance to bring in customers looking for the products and services you offer.