4 Local Advertising Trends You Should Know

03/09/2017 05:15 pm ET

Today’s digital marketing environment is crowded and complex. Between a growing number of providers and exploding scope of services and tactics available, business owners are increasingly challenged to find the right marketing partner to meet their needs.

This is especially true for small and medium businesses (SMBs). SMBs have long relied on local marketing to generate new customers and revenue streams. Yet these days, many SMBs say they are unsure of how to find trustworthy partners who are committed to their long-term success.

So how can digital marketers cut through the clutter? Here are 4 key SMB advertising trends to keep in mind:

1. Small business churn rates for agencies are high.

Marketing and advertising agencies have one of the highest annual churn rates by media category, ranging between 40-50 percent, according to LSA’s SMB Advertiser Churn: New Data for an Old Industry Problem report.

For agencies, minimizing churn is key to your company’s growth. Attracting new customers costs significantly more than retaining existing customers, and the probability of selling marketing to existing customers is significantly higher than selling to new customers.

2. Small business digital spending is expected to increase in 2017.

SMBs recognize the importance of digital marketing in attracting customers and creating revenue – and they’re increasing marketing budgets accordingly.

A recent survey of 200 US-based SMBs conducted by GetResponse, an email marketing platform, found that 70 percent of SMBs would increase their digital marketing budgets in 2017. Of those businesses, 30 percent said the budget would increase considerably.

An increase in SMBs’ digital marketing budgets presents an opportunity for digital marketing agencies to grow their partnerships with their clients. A clear understanding of budgets can help agencies be a trustworthy partner delivering services that clients can afford.

3. Many small business digital marketing strategies aren’t diversified.

Although the digital marketing budgets of SMBs are increasing, SMBs are typically more selective in which media or strategies they use. Due to both time and budget limitations, they are likely to stick with marketing products or services they are familiar or feel comfortable with.

This presents an opportunity for digital marketing agencies to help SMBs step out of their comfort zone and introduce new strategies and tactics for them to connect with consumers across multiple channels. Tactics to consider include marketing on social networks, mobile marketing, email marketing, video production and search/content, which GetResponse’s survey of SMBs found as the areas of digital marketing most likely to drive growth in marketing budgets in 2017.

It is important to keep two things in mind when introducing new marketing ideas to SMBs: (1) Marketing budgets may be increasing, but SMBs are still budget-conscious; and (2) A SMBs’ marketing lead may wear multiple hats and split time between marketing and other functions. Therefore, it is important to clearly present the value of any new strategies and tactics and how they benefit the business.

4. Small businesses are increasingly seeking marketers who are verified by a third party.

The crowded digital marketing environment makes it challenging to find reputable digital marketing partners. Thrive Analytics/LSA’s “Local Pulse Report” found that more than four in 10 SMB owners say that finding a digital marketing partner who can deliver ROI is a challenge and 38 percent say they face hurdles in identifying a partner they can trust.

Certification and verification of digital marketers’ business practices – such as LSA’s digital marketer certification program – give SMBs the assurance they need to select partners who adhere to standards and are focused on long-term success.

SMBs seek marketing partners who stand behind the claims and representations discussed during the sales process and follow fair and reputable business practices. These practices include, but are not limited to: scope, quality and consistency of services; cost; pricing transparency; hiring and training practices; service agreement and contract controls; security and privacy; and return on investment.

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