WALTHAM, Mass. — To ring in the New Year, Constant Contact Inc. offers some 2013 predictions related to small business marketing. With the economy still knee-deep in recovery mode, the firm, which provides a digital marketing platform, said small business owners will turn to social and mobile marketing tools to bolster their bottom line.
The emergence of SoLoMo — the integration of social media, local merchants using location-aware technology and mobile device usage — is increasing the ability of merchants to tailor marketing efforts to individuals to increase engagement.
“We live in a world that’s more social, more ‘all-the-time’ and interactive than ever before,” said Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. “That’s both good and bad. On the plus side, the new tools we have at our fingertips, coupled with the predisposition of our audience to engage, presents a fantastic opportunity for small businesses.”
Goodman said 2013 will bring innovation that integrates marketing channels and helps small businesses market like the big guys. He added that it will be easier than ever for businesses to engage their audience while driving real and measurable results.
The following is Constant Contact’s 2013 predictions:
1. Successful e-mail marketing equals socially-integrated, permission-based campaigns
While many have predicted the untimely death of e-mail marketing, in reality, e-mail is expected to grow, meaning more people will have an e-mail address in 2013 than in 2012. It will remain the preferred method of communication among consumers, and will continue to be their preferred marketing channel because they have control over it. They also can choose to act on it, ignore it, delete it, or opt out of it. That said, e-mail recipients will become even more discerning when it comes to what they allow in their inbox. If e-mail is sent on a haphazard schedule, looks amateurish, or regularly contains content that doesn't interest the recipient, they'll opt out and never return.
Additionally, the power of video in e-mails will continue to grow in 2013, as will integration with social channels. However, if e-mail isn't truly permission-based, it will be harder than ever to make it to the inbox.
2. Mobile search on aggressive upward trajectory
Mobile search continues to aggressively trend upward, with millions of Americans shopping by browsing hundreds of directories, websites and mobile apps that provide local business info. In fact, for the first time, mobile storefront views surpassed web views, according to a recent study of more than 10 million storefront views on Constant Contact’s SinglePlatform. The analysis was conducted in the fall 2012.
Small businesses have no choice but to embrace mobile search, distributing their information across the most popular apps and featuring mobile-optimized websites so potential customers can view their information easily. The restaurant category has been ahead of the curve on this front but expect to see other small business categories follow suit in the coming year.
Sixty-two percent of @SinglePlatform NYC storefront views (menus, products, services) in fall 2012 viewed on a mobile device. @SinglePlatform: top locations for viewing menus both online and on mobile devices include NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, DC, and LA.
3. Events as gateway to engagement marketing
In-person and online events will play a more prominent role in driving customer engagement, with their full impact no longer limited to what happens onsite. Small businesses and nonprofits are increasingly looking at their events with a wide lens, bringing into focus the role they play in their overall marketing efforts.
Small businesses will leverage social and mobile strategies so their events can serve as a catalyst for ramping up social influence.
Mobile influence growing with small business event planners, with 81 percent planning to increase mobile use for events in 2013, according to the @ConstantContact survey.
4. 2013 will be the year of the local merchant
Last year saw all too many small businesses get “had” by deals that just aren’t designed for their success. Fortunately, we’ve learned from those mistakes and, rather than running from the category altogether, small businesses have learned how to make deals work. Chief among the lessons learned: the power of controlling the deal.
Social sharing and third-party endorsements will make loyal customers the best advocates for deals in 2013. Consumer targeting of deals will evolve beyond city and basic demographics to tailored personal preferences.
5. Social media marketing as a business-critical activity
Over the past five years, we have witnessed small businesses’ attitudes toward social media evolve from dismissive passivity to cautious curiosity. Despite larger brands’ exuberant embrace of social engagement, most small businesses have been slow to implement social as a primary channel in their marketing mix. In 2013, there will be a significant transition as small businesses approach social media marketing as a business-critical daily activity. Small businesses will begin to see the value these channels bring to their businesses, and learn how to measure it.
By the end of 2013, more small businesses will be using social media marketing to drive business, according to the firms study results. So, expect to see social content everywhere you turn thanks to proliferation of social media tools.