7 Marketing Technology Tools Small Businesses Should Know About


It's All in the Numbers
Fans of the TV show Mad Men know that the world of advertising and marketing was once dominated by creative types who were always trying to come up with the perfect slogan to pitch their products. That world has changed. Of course there are still lots of creative people involved in marketing, but the field is becoming increasingly dominated by people who work with numbers.

Companies like Varick Media Management, recently profiled in the New York Times, are developing new ways to use statistics to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts. In a recent ad campaign for Vespa scooters, Varick placed 27 different ads on a variety of websites. Some ads focused on price, while others highlighted the fun of owning a scooter. Some offered a free T shirt; others offered zero-interest loans. The ads used different shapes and different illustrations. After the campaign had been running for a while, Varick was able tell its client which ads were most effective by counting clicks.

This kind of statistical approach doesn’t just measure an ad’s effectiveness. It also tells a marketer what type of person is viewing an ad, at what time of day, and on what day of the week. This information allows marketers to adjust their campaigns on the fly as they learn what’s working and what isn’t. It also allows them to try out different approaches before they make major investments in TV or print campaigns. For example, which works better in an ad for sunscreen: a little girl or a woman in her twenties? Statistics from Internet advertising can help marketers choose which one to use.

Marketing technology is not just for major corporations with million dollar ad budgets. Small businesses can also play this new numbers game. Here are some of the tools that are currently available:
  • Web analytics. Many software companies have developed tools to help marketers collect and analyze data on how visitors interact with their websites. For example, an analysis might show which landing pages encourage visitors to make a purchase.

  • CRM. Customer relationship management (CRM) uses software tools to help a company keep track of its customers — who its best customers are, what they buy most often, what new products they might be interested in.

  • Online surveys. These powerful tools can give marketers vital insight into what customers value and how they make purchasing decisions. Online surveys are an efficient way to profile different categories of customers and identify their needs.

  • EMM/MRM. Enterprise marketing management (EMM) uses software tools to manage and measure all aspects of a company’s marketing efforts. The goal is to determine which efforts are producing the greatest return on investment. Marketing resource management (MRM) is a part of this effort. It allows a company to manage and coordinate it marketing resources.
  • SEO. Search engine optimization is a method of bringing more visitors to a website by using appropriate key words. The goal is to move the site closer to the top of lists generated by search engines such as Google.

  • Media buying. Companies such as Mediabank help marketers use their data to make media buying decisions. These firms also offer software to help marketers track the effectiveness of their ads.

  • Social bookmarking. Sites like delicious.com allow people to share their lists of bookmarked sites. People can check out their friends’ lists or search lists by key words called “tags.” Marketers can encourage visitors to bookmark their site on shared lists, gaining broader exposure for their site and attracting more visitors.
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5 Recent Marketing Trends - Survey Says


marketing trendsMarketers face some tough choices in these challenging economic times. How much of their budgets should they devote to new advertising options such as social media? Is this a time to cut back on marketing budgets, or should marketers spend more to compete for scarce consumer dollars?

A recent marketing survey conducted by Adweek provides some useful insights into what experts in the field are thinking and doing right now. Participants were given a menu of responses to the question, “How will the economic downturn most affect advertising?” The response chosen most often (by 30% of participants) was that marketers will “use better targeted ads to improve return on investment.” A smaller number (22%) said that advertisers would spend less. Apparently most people in marketing believe that cutting back on advertising is not an appropriate way to respond to difficult economic conditions.

The Shift to Online Advertising
The survey results also showed a strong interest in Internet advertising, with 23% of participants saying that the most important marketing trend is that “the shift to online would accelerate.” Another 15% of participants believed the most important trend was that “ads will follow traffic to social media.”

Despite these results, online advertising still represents a fairly small slice of the advertising pie. According to the latest figures from Advertising Age, Internet advertising receives only about 10% of advertising dollars, compared to more than 40% for all types of TV advertising. The research service eMarketer predicts that Internet advertising will continue to grow at a steady rate, and by 2013 will represent 15% of total spending.

What Marketing Execs Are Saying
The consulting firm Anderson Analytics recently surveyed members of the Marketing Executives Networking Group to learn what they considered the top marketing trends for 2009. More than half of those surveyed thought their budgets would decrease because of the ailing economy. Survey results focused on these five trends:
  1. Insight and innovation are more important than ever. Participants cited the need for more effective market research to communicate the right message to the right customers.
  2. Customer satisfaction and customer retention were cited as the two most important issues for marketers, followed by return on investment, brand loyalty, and segmentation. Apparently marketers are focusing more on keeping the customers they have than on finding new ones.
  3. There is less interest in environmental issues. Global warming fell significantly as a topic of interest to marketers. “Green marketing” also lost ground. Marketing executives seem to feel that in tough times these topics take a back seat to economic concerns.
  4. Marketers are “sick” of hearing about social media. Although marketing executives recognize that social media have become extremely popular, they seem to think they have been over-hyped, at least in terms of their marketing potential.
  5. Boomers are still the most promising target for marketers. Baby boomers may be getting gray, and many are retiring, but they still represent a vast, lucrative market. Some are tech savvy and some are not. The challenge for marketers is to choose a medium and a message that will appeal to such a large, inherently diverse group.
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5 Tips to Improve Employee Satisfaction Surveys


employee satisfaction surveysSavvy managers realize that employees are a vital source of information about what’s working well in the business and what needs to be improved. A growing number of businesses are using employee satisfaction surveys to identify both problems and opportunities. Surveys can also give managers useful ideas about how to improve the job satisfaction of employees and boost employee morale.

Human resource surveys can be valuable any time, but they are especially worthwhile when:

  • A business is growing rapidly and job responsibilities are frequently changing.

  • A business is experiencing a high employee turnover rate, which may be a sign of employee dissatisfaction.

  • A business is plagued by excessive rumors, which may signal a lack of trust among employees or poor communications from management.

  • A business is planning a major reorganization or other change that may create anxiety among employees.

Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of employee surveys.

  1. Incorporate surveys into your planning cycle
    You can learn a lot from employee surveys, but you need to make sure the information is available when you need it. For example, if you make budget decisions in April, you might want to conduct a survey in January so that you will have time to analyze the results before you make decisions on how to allocate resources. In scheduling surveys, work backwards from the time when you will need to use the results.

  2. Use existing templates to develop survey questions
    Developing survey questions does not need to be a difficult or time-consuming task. You can use Mineful's Employee Satisfaction Survey Templates to sample questions on common employee concerns, including such things as:

    • Compensation
    • Health benefits
    • Having adequate resources to work efficiently
    • Retirement benefits
    • Opportunities for professional growth
    • Communication with management

    It’s easy to customize these questions to meet your specific situation.

  3. Keep survey responses anonymous
    Employees need to feel confident that their responses to a survey will remain anonymous. If they fear their responses may be used against them, they will not respond candidly. Avoid asking too many demographic questions, such as, “How long have you been in your present position?” Employees may fear that their responses to these questions will enable you to identify them.
  4. Use online survey software to boost value and efficiency
    Online survey software offers a convenient, efficient way to conduct employee surveys. Online programs such as Mineful’s make it easy to try out questions on a representative sample group. That will enable you to fine tune your questions and determine how to analyze the data you collect. These programs also make it easy to create charts and graphs to clarify your findings.
  5. Always respond to survey results
    Employees will be more willing to take part in a survey if they feel that you are prepared to act on the results. David Chaudron, an expert on human resource management, makes this point simply and clearly: “Never survey without acting”. Many businesses distribute a summary of survey results and an indication of how they plan to respond to employee concerns. Of course, sometimes you may not be able to give employees the response they were hoping for. Still it is important to let all employees know that you take their opinions seriously and that they are making an important contribution to the decision-making process.
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