The Fight for Leads: How Marketing Agencies Help SMBs

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Rarely do local merchants have the time available, let alone sufficient knowledge and expertise, to manage every aspect of their businesses. With so many new digital marketing technologies being introduced into the market each year, savvy business owners are increasingly relying on marketing agencies to attract, engage, and track qualified leads.

Marketing solution providers are experts at implementing the latest digital marketing technologies so they can help businesses achieve their marketing goals much more quickly, and more cost effectively, than business owners could on their own.

The problem is, most local merchants don’t realize this, and they’re skeptical of the perceived cost of hiring outside agencies. According to a recent survey, just 18% of small businesses work with marketing consultants or agencies, with the vast majority of businesses (64%) still handling marketing tasks in-house. Franchise owners are more likely to adopt the services of a marketing agency, with 70% of franchisees surveyed by BIA/Kelsey indicating that they work with an agency or platform company.

Local merchants face an onslaught of pitches from agencies and consultants. So, how do the best local marketing agencies stand apart? The key seems to be giving businesses access to digital technologies that are too challenging or time consuming for the business owner to manage on his or her own, and then offering high-quality tracking metrics to show the actual number of calls, emails, and sales that result from each digital platform.

According to a 2015 survey of small business owners, three of the most effective marketing channels are SEO, local directories, and email marketing. Call tracking has also become a valuable addition for agencies looking for ways to prove their worth to the businesses they represent, with 31% of businesses saying that phone calls are now the most valued success metric.

Here is a deeper look at the most popular technologies and strategies being used by marketing solution providers today.

Tactics

SEO
The majority of small businesses (54%) now have websites. With so many DIY website builders on the market, merchants are less interested in how to create a website than they are how to promote it. It can be disappointing for a business owner to spend hours of his time, and potentially thousands of dollars, on a website that doesn’t attract any leads. This is where SEO services come into play.

Marketing consultants that offer SEO services can quickly help businesses make the necessary adjustments to get their websites on the first page of Google results. In many cases, this can be achieved by making simple changes, like consistently using the same formatting for the business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP) and making quick meta data adjustments. By adding call tracking numbers and using them the right way on those same websites, marketing solution providers can measure the effectiveness of their SEO campaigns and demonstrate the value of their services to anxious SMB clients.

Local Directories
Online directories, like Yelp, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, and Angie’s List, can be especially valuable for businesses looking to attract new leads, but most local merchants don’t know how to capitalize on these directories for their own benefit. For example, most merchants don’t realize that the business data they include in offline publications, like the phone book or print newspaper listings, could surface in an online directory. This becomes a bit more complicated if phone

Marketing consultants can work with their clients on building consistency across all local online directories. By adding trackable links and phone numbers to those listings, agencies can also help businesses determine which local directories are funneling the highest number of leads their way. This information can then be useful as the business decides where to invest its advertising dollars.

Email Marketing
Email marketing is huge within the local merchant community. This is due largely to the low cost and ease of use, and also because of how easy it is for merchants to track the results of their campaigns. Fifty-four percent of marketers rate email as the most effective type of digital marketing and the least difficult to execute, and 89% say email is their primary channel for lead generation.

The role that agencies and consultants have here is to help clients improve the results of their email campaigns. That could mean using UTM and Google Analytics to measure traffic, customizing more aspects of the emails themselves, or adding tracking links to measure how many calls result from each campaign.

Call Tracking
Call tracking solutions can help agencies deliver real results to their business clients. By measuring the right call tracking metrics from search, digital, and offline campaigns, and automatically showing certain tracking numbers to the right audiences, agencies can provide their clients with real data on the effectiveness of their campaigns. With this data in hand, clients are then able to see the value of the advertising they are doing with the marketing agency.

White-label call tracking solutions allow for a seamless branding experience for agencies with multiple clients. Agencies can even create custom subdomains, where clients can access their own data in real-time, allowing businesses to make smarter decisions and drive better ROI.

Marketing solution providers have a unique set of challenges when it comes to attracting, engaging, and tracking leads for their local merchant clients. By using the right technologies, and taking advantage of proven strategies, these providers can instill confidence in their clients and help those businesses make more informed advertising decisions.

 

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