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Marketing Channels: The Good, The Bad, and The Outdated


Survey Reveals How Small Business Owners Plan on Marketing Their Business in 2016

“Should I invest in mobile advertising or radio ads? Do I need an email marketing service if I have a digital loyalty program? How do I know if my marketing efforts are working?” These are just some of the questions that small business owners have to wrestle with on a daily basis. Small businesses today are presented with a wide array of options when it comes to marketing themselves. To get more insight into how small business owners plan on marketing their business in 2016, Belly, a digital loyalty platform, conducted a survey of 432 businesses.

47% of respondents said that they plan on spending more money on marketing their business in 2016 as compared to 2015. But how do they plan on spending that money? Below is a breakdown of the different marketing channels that business owners projected they would use this year.

Social Media Channels

In first place, coming in at 76.8%, is social media advertising. Social media advertising can be a great, and often cost effective, way to market a small business. “Likes” on Facebook can increase brand awareness, and can also be a good tool for reputation management. If you pay to advertise on Facebook, you’ll be able to track how many people have viewed and clicked through your Sponsored posts, so you can at least have some high level data which shows how your efforts are performing. A simple tweet about a new menu item or special of the day is a quick and efficient way to give your customers lightning-speed updates about your business. A shocking 20% of time spent online is spent on social media sites, so it’s no wonder that small businesses are looking to capitalize on their customer’s infatuation with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like.

The second most popular marketing channel in 2016, according to the survey, is the use of a customer loyalty program. Customer loyalty programs really have a start to finish way of tracking their own effectiveness with concrete and quantifiable data. Customer visit history, return rates, and rewards redemption history are all usually available with the click of a button. What’s more: if small business owners decide to send an email campaign or offer through their loyalty program, they can track open rates, click through rates, redemption rates, and return rates.

This attention to detailed tracking and reporting is not available with more traditional, old-school marketing channels, such as direct mailers, coupons, or local newspaper and magazine ads. However, 20% of businesses surveyed plan on using direct mailers, 36% plan on using coupons, and 29% plan on using newspaper/magazine ads. With these types of channels, it’s unclear who exactly is receiving these offers. Are these new customers? Existing customers? It’s difficult to find out, and therefore difficult to segment these large populations into smaller groups that can be marketed to effectively. It’s also next to impossible to track the effectiveness of these print focused channels. Cashiers can collect print ads and coupons and count them up at the end of the day, but beyond that, there’s no way to tell if these customers are coming back as patrons after that initial visit.

Each small business is unique, and as such, their marketing strategy should be a distinct blend of marketing channels that work together to advertise the business, and ultimately attract and retain customers. It’s important to track and analyze tangible results of a marketing strategy, so I suggest turning away from print ads, coupons, and direct mailers, and walking towards the light that is

Guest BloggerAuthor bio: Melanie Jucewicz is a Senior Account Manager at Belly who enjoys helping small businesses leverage their loyalty platform to engage and retain existing customers. In her spare time, Melanie speaks French whenever and wherever she can, travels the world, volunteers for her alma mater Grinnell College, and cheers for her beloved Chicago Blackhawks.