Don’t settle for duct tape when you need a screwdriver.
I learned that at the tender age of nine when I needed to tighten the screws on my skateboard. I couldn’t find a screwdriver anywhere in my dad’s tool box, so I grabbed what I thought was the next best thing – duct tape.
I learned a critical life lesson just minutes after my repair job. As the wheels fell off and I went flying through the air, I realized how important it was to use the right tools for the job.
Duct tape had always been helpful for me, but it definitely wasn’t the right tool for the skateboard job.
Survey reveals small businesses aren’t always using the right tools for their marketing efforts
Marketing tools are always helpful for small businesses, but according to the 2016 State of Small Business Report, companies aren’t always using the right tools for the job.
Especially when it comes to social media and marketing.
One in five small businesses do not use social media at all, and of those that do, 45% use it to promote specific products or services, and 38% use them to share information about promotions, sales or discounts. Other uses include:
Social media is a great tool, but it’s most effective when it’s used for the right job – relationship building.
Since its inception, social media has been all about personal connection, entertainment and conversation. It’s never been about sales, and frankly, users find advertising and sales pitches very annoying.
“People are being sold on social as a place to generate leads, but it’s really a place to build loyalty, answer customer service questions and to build a community,” social media strategist Ted Rubin said in Forbes.
In attempts to build a community, 38% of small businesses use social media to gain likes or fans. In the early days of social media, this was a great approach, but the value of likes and fans has fallen dramatically thanks to platforms’ changing algorithms that determine what these folks see on their news feeds. In reality, less than 3 percent of your fans or followers will ever see your business’s posts in their news feeds. That means that only 30 of your 1,000 Facebook fans will ever see your post, and only a handful of them will take the time to click on it.
It’s better to collect email addresses rather than likes and fans. Why? Email marketing, which is used by 54% of small businesses, allows you to communicate directly with ALL members of your audience, not just the miniscule few selected by a social media app.
How small businesses are using their websites
A business website is another great marketing tool, and it’s most effective when it’s used for the right job – sharing the information people need.
Think about why people come to your website.
They come to learn about your products and services, look for a job, make a purchase, or leave feedback.
Unfortunately, many small business websites are not set up to meet those needs. The State of Small Business Report revealed 51% of small businesses use their website for marketing, and 62% of them provide visitors the opportunity to learn about their goods or services on the site. However:
- Only half provide company locations, phone numbers and email addresses.
- Only 32% of small businesses give website visitors the opportunity to purchase a product or service.
- Only 35% give them the opportunity to apply for a job.
- Forty-nine percent allow them to contact sales or customer service.
To make finding information even easier for online audiences, small businesses should also optimize their sites for better visibility on search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is used by only 25% of small businesses, which means there’s a lot of small businesses not showing up on Google searches – and that’s rather tragic because 97% of consumers search online for products and services.
Other marketing tidbits from the 2016 State of Small Business Report
- Involve employees: Thirty-three percent ask employees to share business content on their personal social media accounts.
- Use of Facebook: Facebook use fell from 79% in 2015 to 70% in 2016. Use of other social media apps is as follows:
- Personal touch: Showcasing employees in marketing materials can help personalize your business and boost employee morale, but only 30% of small businesses do so.
- Use of video: Eleven percent use video in their marketing efforts.
Get more information
You can learn more about what small businesses said about their marketing practices by checking out the State of Small Business Report.
In addition to marketing data, the report also contains information about small businesses’ perceptions about other topics including growth, hiring, the economy, business challenges, government involvement and technology use. The information was taken from a December 2015 online survey of 1,102 small business owners and leaders.