SMEs more confident than ever in 2018 says new survey

Junior developers & business analysts tipped for 2018’s top jobs
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New research shows UK SMEs are more confident than ever in 2018 and 41% plan on using their agility, innovation and strong customer relationships to reach ambitious targets. Instant Offices’ Head of Marketing John Williams asks, is your business ready to keep up?

Quick Marketing Wins

Marketing trends and predictions all point to the importance of agile strategies capable of responding to audience behaviour in real-time, and UK businesses agree that staying close to changing customer demands is key to driving growth. With this in mind, now is a great time to consider whether your marketing strategy is aligned with your goals.

1. Review to Become More Strategic

Thanks to Google’s strict algorithms that focus on high quality, relevant content, a digital marketing strategy requires far more than just a few blog posts and SEO. It is important to include the right mix of channels, platforms and services.

According to the Smart Insights Managing Digital Marketing Report in 2017, 49% of businesses are doing digital marketing but without a solid strategy in place, while only 34% say their digital marketing strategy is integrated into their marketing strategy. This data proves that, although many businesses are investing in paid, owned and earned digital media, they don’t have a well-planned approach that integrates each for maximum impact.

Begin your strategic planning by assessing your previous marketing strategy, what went well, and what could be done better, then plan a new strategy with realistic goals and expectations.

2. Know Your Competitors

Knowing your audience is not enough. You also need to know your competitors. Study their strengths and weaknesses and use the findings to inform your strategy. A thorough competitor analysis is a quick way to accentuate any of your own brand weaknesses or shortcomings, as well as the quick wins that can be gained from working on them.

3. Focus on Client Retention

Don’t spend so much time focusing on client acquisition that you forget about existing clients.  Retaining clients is essential for revenue and growth, but is also critical for a strong referrals network, which is one of the most proficient ways to grow a business. To fully benefit from this, develop a customer referral program that offers existing customers anything from free products to a free month of service for referring new customers.

It is important for brands to be seen as personable in order to attract returning customers – and this is where engagement comes into play across all marketing channels.

Customers like to feel a close involvement with brands and receive recognition for this brand affiliation; this is why competitions, loyalty programs and surveys have always been so successful. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools in the marketing arsenal and can result in rapid, valuable growth within your customer base.

4. Publish Great Content

The power of great content cannot be proclaimed enough. According to the latest stats, small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than those without. Additionally, content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing, and it costs less.

Additional insight into the value of content shows that UK marketers only ‘somewhat committed’ to content marketing reported just a 5% success rate in business, compared to the 38% of the ‘most committed’ marketers.

Publishing content is impactful and does not drain resources. If you’re an adept writer, either create market-related content yourself or get one of your team members with great writing skills to show you what they can do. If you have the budget, it’s preferable to hire an experienced copywriter to help you produce valuable, well-researched and insightful content that could be shared online and earn your company a reputation as being a thought leader in your field.

5. Become Social Media Savvy

Having active social media accounts is pretty much a given for businesses these days, not only as a tool to promote brand reputation but also to drive traffic to websites. Social media business pages not only help you engage with your customers, but help you rank well in Google’s search results. According to recent findings, around 40% of UK businesses still aren’t using social media to engage with their audience in 2018, which means they could be missing out on valuable opportunities. This seems all the more amazing when the vast majority of these tools are almost entirely free to use.

Create business accounts on all the most influential social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn, while Pinterest and Instagram should be considered if your business is image-oriented.

6. Dabble in Data

Web data refers to any type of data that can be pulled or researched on the internet. This might be published government data, competitor data, or anything on the web that is accessible to the public and not stored on an internal database. Making use of data is important for 2018 and any business that can tap into any kind of data, should.

Data is critical to gaining an understanding of the wider market and your businesses role within it. Web data can be used to monitor competitors, generate leads, track potential clients and customers, track potential partners, and more. Additionally, SMEs are in a unique position to harness the power of big data even more so than large businesses due to their agility and ability to act on insights faster.

As with social media, many of these data tools such as Google Analytics, Search Console or Twitter Analytics are completely free to use.

7. Apply for Industry Awards

Most industries have business awards that are open to self-nomination and submission. Winning an industry award is a significant element of brand advocacy that could and should be used to attract new customers. Being an award winner or nominee can boost your credibility in the industry and, in an age where web users are increasingly accustomed to reading online reviews, third-party advocacy of your product or service is critical to success.