In our Locals Only column on Search Engine Land this month, I shared five key takeaways from BIA/Kelsey’s DMS ’11 conference that are relevant to local business owners in the process of planning their 2012 marketing budgets.
My takeaways include:
1) Small businesses are increasingly investing advertising dollars online
Total small business ad spending for online media increased to almost 40% of total ad spend in the fourth quarter of 2010, up from 22% in the third quarter of 2009, according to BIA/Kelsey’s Charles Laughlin. It’s safe to say that small businesses should be putting a heavy chunk of their advertising dollars into the online space in order to keep up with competitors.
2) Small businesses are juggling marketing tools
With so many tools at their disposal, small businesses are especially struggling with how to manage social media channels and print media based on changing consumer behaviors. Since a growing number of platforms provide unique opportunities for businesses to reach target consumers, small businesses should explore an integrated approach that targets the widest number of customers possible.
3) Once websites are covered, mobile-friendly sites are next
With the number of mobile Internet users set to surpass desktop users by 2015, according to BIA/Kelsey, the emphasis is increasingly on ensuring that websites can be viewed as easily on mobile as they can at the home or office computer. Small businesses should look at ways to optimize their sites for mobile over the next year to make sure their customers can easily view them on-the-go.
4) Daily deals are hot, but customer retention and deal fatigue are issues
Daily deals will be a $4.2 billion market by 2015, according to BIA/Kelsey, but so far some small businesses who have tried them have had limited success retaining participating customers over the long-term. AT&T’s Todd Rose, who runs AT&T’s Deal of a Day offering, says capping the number of deals per merchant is sometimes necessary as well to keep consumers interested. Small businesses should ask daily deals providers to offer information on the type of return on investment they should expect – both for the deal and in the weeks and months following.
5) Use specific criteria when choosing local ad partners
Small businesses need to take a long and hard look at the characteristics of the advertising partners they work with to make sure they’re choosing the best solutions possible.