3 thoughts on “What’s in store for small business in 2013?”

  1. Great info Mark, thanks for sharing this. AWeber, being an email marketing company, offers a compelling and legitimate argument to use permission-based email as part of the marketing mix – and I wholeheartedly agree. However, I believe that the greatest impact to business in 2013 will be mobile. Smartphones today account for 25% of visitors to a website so it is crucial that businesses have a mobile-ready component to their website. No one can afford to ignore 1 out of 4 visitors to their website, and that number will only increase.

    Especially in our area where we see millions of tourists and our frequent Canadian visitors, and of course our local residents – they’re using their smartphones to shop, find businesses, etc. Adapting to and leveraging mobile IMHO is the #1 priority of Flathead businesses to ensure a successful 2013.

    To most, mobile was an afterthought a year ago, but today it is the predominant conversation I have with customers. What say you? Are you seeing the same thing from your customers?

    1. Tom,

      Thanks for joining the conversation here.

      Being accessible on mobile devices is clearly important for tourist-oriented businesses, as is having a coherent presence on food / lodging / entertainment / shopping related services that cater to mobile (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Urbanspoon, FoodSpotting, etc).

      In fact, I’ve been suggesting that local businesses monitor their presence on these sites (as well as reward active users) for several years now. Between columns in the Beacon, here in the blog and speaking gigs at E2 (Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur), various chamber meetings and brown bag lunches for business owners, mobile and active mobile social review site efforts have definitely been part of the conversation for the last several years.

      2-3 years ago when the iPhone hadn’t made it to the valley but plenty of iPhone-toting tourists were visiting here – it was a particularly tough point to get across because few locals were using these devices and as a result, they weren’t on most people’s radar tourism-wise. Nowadays, it’s a bit easier since Montana business owners can see/touch/feel these devices.

      The Meeker report that I blogged about a week or 2 ago offers more hard evidence that mobile is growing faster than ever. Certainly those businesses with websites need to be paying attention to how those sites function on mobile devices – as well as traditional browsers. The ones without websites or presence on the obvious review services have additional work to do.

      But…I caution business owners not to think that any single media – email, mobile, blog, traditional ads, etc – is the silver bullet. No single media – and that’s what these platforms really are – is the single “do this to succeed” solution for most businesses. Business owners need a coherent marketing/media strategy that matches their market and measures response so they can react/plan accordingly.

      Businesses have to ask themselves – what happens AFTER THE CLICK. There’s far more to a customer relationship than a single random mobile lookup in Yelp, Urbanspoon or what not. That’s where a lot of folks fail to follow up and retain a connection after the new customer’s first visit – and *that* is where email vendors like AWeber become important.

      1. Hello again Mark,

        You are spot on, “What happens AFTER THE CLICK” is where many companies stumble. Especially smaller companies without the dedicated (trained) staff to manage their Internet involvement. That dovetails with your other statement, “But…I caution business owners not to think that any single media – email, mobile, blog, traditional ads, etc – is the silver bullet.”

        Bingo! I don’t do as many speaking engagements as I used to do (by design), but one of my fundamental talking points is that “there is NO silver bullet”. From an SEO perspective, it always surprises me to see which component Google seems to latch on to regarding SERPS. I have some clients that rank well based on a few optimized images, others with detailed content and still others by leveraging YouTube or Pinterest, etc. The strange thing is that two similar campaigns will cause the sites to rank differently for unique reasons.

        Since we can’t predict which component will get Google’s attention (that elusive silver bullet), it is necessary that we do everything possible. Good SEO, social involvement, autoresponders/email, video, strategic linking, etc. When a company understands this and continues the effort after I’ve said goodbye, they will always do well.

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