Whether you run a dog grooming business or a small legal firm, it’s common for small business owners to struggle with their marketing strategies. More often than not, their approach ends up looking more piecemeal than they would have liked. Instead of a single, cohesive approach, small businesses may have different tools for managing different campaigns. It’s meant to be collaborative in theory, but there are too many gaps to make the strategy worthwhile in practice. Having the right marketing software is a way to bring all of your efforts together, so you can see what’s working and what could use some work.
The Benefits of Software
The best marketing platforms for small businesses can benefit you in a number of ways:
- Reduced Costs: CRMs, scheduling tools, search tools, email managers: all of these marketing programs can be difficult to manage. Plus, if you’re paying for them individually, you’re almost certainly throwing money away. The right local marketing tools will track your efforts from one dashboard. (Think of it as the equivalent of buying in bulk at the store.)
- Easier to Measure: It can be tough to determine what your performance is for your marketing campaigns. Some strategies take a while to catch on, others contribute to your ROI even when you can’t draw a straight line from one to the other. A good marketing platform gives you the opportunity to see exactly what’s going on in real time, so you can set the metrics that make the most sense for your organization. For instance, if you don’t see at least double your ad investment after 5 months, you’ll pull the plug on the spending.
- Streamlined Workflow: Create and publish your content in one place, update your business directories, and plan out your content calendar in advance. The right small business marketing platform makes it easy to connect with your audience. If your content isn’t getting a response, you can easily tweak and adjust your messaging so you can garner some real engagement.
5 Key Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Marketing Platform
There are multiple factors to think about when deciding on a local marketing platform, but some should weigh more heavily than others. We’ll look at the major points of consideration and what questions you should ask before settling on one or the other.
1. AI: Can Your Marketing Software Automate?
Artificial Intelligence is meant to simplify your life, not add headaches to it. Even as tech progresses at a rapid rate, there are still plenty of businesses that ask their employees to perform rote, manual tasks. To add insult to injury, these manual tasks aren’t helping anyone. Employees could otherwise use their time to come up with creative ideas. Companies are opening themselves up to liability if there are mistakes made during the process. AI can set up these tasks so they run according to your parameters. It takes the onus off of employees so they can do their jobs.
AI algorithms in marketing software are also there to help you identify new trends in the marketplace. As you examine each one, you can determine whether they’re worth your time and effort to pursue. For instance, you might see that video content has a better chance of being watched if it’s under a certain time limit, or you cash in on a trending topic that’s related to your field. As you search, you want to do more than just check off certain boxes. Marketing doesn’t have terms that have been systematically defined over years of back-and-forth. Just because a platform claims they have a certain AI feature, doesn’t mean the functionality is anywhere near the same as another platform — even if they’re both labeled with the same name.
2. Publishing: How Easy Is It to Go from Idea to Publish?
Creating content isn’t just about hitting a few key search words. It’s finding the right images, posting the right videos, and giving customers the information they really need. With all of the words written about modern content creation, it comes down to an age-old rule: The more interesting the content, the more chances you have of being discovered by your target demographic.
With the best marketing platforms for small businesses, you can manage the entire content creation from one place. From the idea to the final publication, you have full control over what you say, how you say it, and how it’s displayed. Whether it’s a single photo or a series of how-to videos, you can ensure that your messages are coming across the way you want them to.
3. Reporting: How Well Can You Measure Across Platforms?
Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Business Profile: business owners across the spectrum would be forgiven if they let one or more of these platforms lag. The truth is that many people don’t track their marketing across platforms because it’s simply too much work.
Small business marketing tools don’t just make it possible to create content with ease, they make it possible to create the right content for the right platform. From there, these tools can help you track how each piece of content is performing and give you insights into why some posts do better than others. The truth is that even platforms that don’t seem to yield results may harbor more potential than you think.
4. Connections: Does Your Platform Integrate with Your Systems?
The mere mention of new software can strike fear in the hearts of business owners and employees alike. Having to transition to a new way of doing things may sound great in theory, but the wrong local marketing platform will cause more trouble than it solves. Whatever tools you’re using, the platform will need to integrate with them so there are fewer hiccups along the way. Whether it’s software or hardware, there are local marketing tools that were designed to work with (rather than against) what you already have.
We won’t lie, there will be a learning curve when it comes to adopting the new platform to your business. The goal is to keep that learning curve as manageable as possible. When you choose an intuitive tool, you have a much better chance of getting the results you’re looking for. We recommend choosing software that has enough flexibility to upgrade both with your business and with the times. You should also know what kind of support you’ll be getting from the software company. If their response times are questionable before you purchase, imagine what they’ll be like after the deal is done.
5. Accessibility: How and Where Can You Use the Platform?
In an age of working from home, accessibility has become a front-and-center topic for businesses. People might work from their office computer as well as their home computer and tablet. They may need to make a few quick adjustments to a campaign on their phone while they’re out. They may even need to work on public computers if they can’t access wi-fi or their own devices in an emergency.
As we argue over things like VPNs and encryption, the fact remains that you need a marketing platform that can be accessed on more than one device. While you’re looking for the right software, keep in mind the nature of technology. For instance, mergers don’t always make for better integration. Just because a marketing company has purchased another for its technology doesn’t mean the technology will seamlessly flow together. In many cases, these companies are just as separate as they were before they became affiliated with one another. In practical terms, that can mean integration for one component of the software pairs perfectly with your system, while another causes endless crashes.
Request a Demo of Surefire’s Business Intelligence Marketing Software
When you’re looking for the best marketing platforms for small businesses, Surefire Local provides software that is as reliable as it is practical. From data protection to ongoing support, this is a platform that gives your team everything it needs to succeed. Create content, track how they’re performing, and automate all of the processes that are stealing time from employees.
Scheduling a demo with us can reveal not just how the different features work and whether they’ll integrate with your systems. You can use this time to explore how the platform can fit into your organization. If your marketing team has certain pain points, like having a difficult time finding certain information, you can see whether the platform can actively address these concerns or not.
Searching for a marketing platform should be treated with the gravitas it deserves. This is a decision that will affect not just your team, but also your customers and bottom line. Surefire Local has built our company with the goal of helping local businesses succeed, and we’re confident that our business intelligence marketing software can stack up. We invite you to see for yourself.