Keep the conversations going in 2020!
Small businesses need to keep an eye on two emerging trends changing the face of marketing; AI (artificial intelligence) and Conversational Marketing. It may seem overwhelming, if you do this then you’ll stay competitive. Try one or two of the new marketing tools and get a better understanding of the new marketing theories.
Here are four do-able marketing trends for your small businesses to undertake in the coming year.
1) Conversational Marketing
Conversational Marketing is a new practice catching on like wildfire for marketers in 2020. Drift, creators of an online conversational marketing platform, is first to take credit for the term Conversational Marketing. Other online platforms are entering the arena at warp speed, making Conversational Marketing accessible for even the smallest of businesses.
” Conversational Marketing is a one-to-one approach to marketing that companies use to shorten their sales cycle, learn about their customers, and create a more human buying experience.” (Drift)
Engage, understand, and recommend are the three key concepts you should keep in mind. It’s about always being on, always being there, always knowing who your customer is and always being ready to help. The bottom line, because of real-time technology growth, customers will continue to demand more from you in 2020!
HubSpot (originators of Inbound Marketing) has refined Conversational Marketing and introduced a new “Flywheel Marketing” concept, where the customer is at the center. This is an evolution from the old “funnel” marketing that your sales team and you might be familiar with from the past. HubSpot applies three principles; attract, engage and delight. (HubSpot) In short, it’s all about talking to your customers, knowing their needs and meeting those needs even quicker than before!
Small Business Takeaway:
You, the ‘human’ small business owner, will be talking less and less to customers. More often it will be technological marketing tools who are talking to your customers, in place of you, in real-time, and sometimes out of your control. And Conversational Marketing theory is born from this progression.
Trends #2-#6 are ways you can keep up and implement Conversational Marketing in your small business in 2020.
2) Live Chat & Chatbots
Let’s talk about customer service functionality on your website. Customer support, one-on-one conversational software, when properly used on your business website, offers a positive impact on sales. Live chat and ChatBots are two types you should research, either one will be sure to support your small business growth in 2020.
Live chat provides real-time customer support on your website with human resources involved. Live chat is an awesome tool when used appropriately, it is most liked by consumers, and growing in popularity. However live chat demands people, time and money. Live chat requires either an in-house customer support team or a budget to pay an outside team. Software and maintenance can be costly and time consuming for a small business, but very worthwhile if you have the budget!
• Today, 41% of customers expect live chat on your website (Forrester)
• 51% of consumers are more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they (The Daily Egg)
• 79% of consumers say they prefer live chat functions because they don’t have to wait on hold (Acquire)
Chatbots are the second best, and most popular, for small business websites, because they are operated without human supervision. Chatbots are customer support interactions carried out by a machine that can translate customer questions and respond. Chatbots provide customers with quick access to information, ease of use, in a cost-effective way for small businesses. Depending on how much you want to spend on software, programming and sometimes monthly fees, there are many levels of Chatbot sophistication you can load onto your website.
The most economical and simplest Chatbot is the one I have running on this website. (see bottom right corner) Facebook has provided an easy to use messenger bot for businesses. And it’s free! Big businesses like Whole Foods, Sephora and Budweiser are using Facebook messenger bot. They use more complex tools for building Facebook Messenger bots. See my list below. On my site, I used the simplest (and free) tool out there. Contact me to find out more.
• 80% percent of businesses want a chatbot in place by 2020 (Oracle)
• 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger each month (Mobile Monkey)
Small Business Takeaway:
Automated customer support tools on your website are what customers will be expecting in 2020. Try to implement one, no matter how complex or simple. Make sure it meets the needs of your customers, does not frustrate them, and most importantly, delights! Call me to find out how.
3) Customer Reviews
Reviews benefit your small business and your customers too. It’s a win-win. The more reviews your product/service has, the more your online footprint improves, and the more growth your business will have in sales. Here are the reasons online reviews are essential to your brand in 2020:
• 92% of people will hesitate to complete a purchase when there are no reviews (Fan Fuel)
• 94% of consumers typically read written reviews (Fan Fuel)
•Google Reviews received more reviews than any other site, with 68% of consumers reading their reviews (Review Tracker)
Clients always ask me, “How do I get my business ranked higher on a search page?” My answer, “Get LOTS of positive (5-star) customer reviews on your Google Business profile, this is the most effective way to improve your business search ranking.” The more reviews you have the higher your page rank. Buying Google Ads is the second easiest way to get ranked higher, but you need to pay for this.
Customer reviews on your website also improves SEO and if you have an eCommerce site you can not compete if you don’t have reviews. When you post reviews new customers see you as trustworthy. They are essential to buyer’s decision making, increase sales, and give you an opportunity to respond to your customers. Continue the conversation, encourage repeat purchases and nurture advocates.
Always encourage happy customers to write reviews. Send them an email asking them to write a review. Often if you don’t ask, they won’t write one. Listen to your customers and always respond to a review; both negative and positive. Again, it’s all about creating the conversation!
Small Business Takeaway:
Positive Google Reviews boost your ranking on a Google search page. Reviews benefit the customer research and buying phase. Encourage consumers to talk about your products and services. In this age of Conversational Marketing, let them do the work of selling for you! Call me to find out how.
4) Google Ads Smart Bidding
As I mentioned above, the second-best way for a small business to rank higher on a Google search page is to purchase Google Ads. Pay advertising is powerful and can be costly for small businesses if they aren’t careful. In my opinion, Google’s new Smart Bidding is the best bet for capturing the attention of a targeted audience and driving them to your website.
“Machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in each and every auction.”(Google)
Machine learning is the future of search, and Google’s supply of data continues to expand alongside their AI research. The positive reviews about Smart Biding are growing with comments like, “awesome,” “clever use of automation,” and “you’d be a fool not to give it a try.” Give Google Ads Smart Bidding a go if you need that extra boost in your local SEO.
Small Business Takeaway:
Small businesses have small budgets and paid advertising can get costly. If your marketing budget has room for pay-per-click, then spend your money where you’ll get the biggest reach, Google. Call me to find out how.
About Smart Bidding (Google Ads Help)
And Finally, 2020 Promises to Bring a Bright Future for Small Business Growth
The good news is that there are many predictions for small business opportunity growth in 2020. According to the Intuitive 2020 Report, “By taking advantage of real-time manufacturing, virtual stores, web access to a global market, and the marketing reach of mobile technologies, a small business can start-up and perform more like larger firms than any other time in history.”
Small business owners must continue to be aware, flexible and adapt to new marketing trends and technologies in order to stay competitive and retain customers. Try one or two of the trends mentioned above and your business will be sure to benefit in the coming new year. Happy New Year!