I’m a stats junkie – I love reading articles that show trends and especially ones that correlate with the world view we have working with small local businesses and local digital publishers. But, if I’m totally honest, it seems that we can make any result we want a reality in the digital marketing space, given the nuance of the space and the way a question is asked. We’re particularly interested in studying how small and local businesses view brand awareness vs. lead generation and how it pertains to their marketing spend.
For example, David Card wrote recently about some new surveys coming out of Street Fight. They do great work and I enjoy their research. With that said, some of the preliminary results of the Q1 Survey had me asking some questions about the data.
Local merchants’ most effective marketing tools and tactics
The top four results of this question were Facebook/Social Media (62%), Email Marketing (42%), Direct mail (22%) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO, 18%). Makes sense, but here come the questions:
- How is effectiveness being measured?
- How often are these channels used?
- What is the criteria of success?
- How much money (on average) is spent on each and how much revenue (on average) is returned from that spend?
Aren’t these questions critical to understand? Does effective also imply easy? Or is effective directly attributable to revenue?
Local merchants’ most effective social media marketing tactics
The top 6 results were Free Facebook site (41%), Paid Facebook advertising (39%), Instagram (33%), YouTube/Facebook videos (28%), Twitter (27%), LinkedIn (17%). Even more questions:
- A free Facebook site – is this effective or simply the fear of missing out?
- Paid Facebook ads – how much are they spending, on average? I’ve read that over 65% of all small businesses have placed a Facebook ad, but isn’t that like asking how many people have purchased a candy bar at a drug store?
- Instagram/Twitter – who are using these? We have found Instagram to be popular with restaurants and photographers, but few others. Twitter? 27% sounds really high – what’s the use case(s) here?
- Videos – how long are the videos? Home grown or professionally produced?
- How are all these channels measured for effectiveness? Again, what’s the metric for “effective?”
Where is the puck going around brand awareness and lead generation?
This is where I find this research most helpful. Where do we think marketing is going? In this regard, there were some interesting insights:
- Marketing via messaging is just getting started. I would love to see a deep dive in this area. It looks like it is the next big up-and-comer in the local marketing space
- Social Media may be a branding exercise, not a huge lead generator. This is huge if it’s true. I would watch carefully the churn of local businesses using social media if this is the case. Small and local businesses wants leads much more than branding
- Coupons, not beacons. This is great for lead generation, if true. Again, let’s do a deep dive on this!
Our strong opinion is that there needs to be a specific focus on brand awareness vs. lead generation. These are the two main results of a marketing campaign, and when questions are asked of small businesses specifically, the interviewer should make sure they capture which aspect of marketing the business is looking for, and which ones they think their efforts are effective for. Bizyhood is considering doing this type of survey in the future, stay tuned!