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5 Ways SMBs Can Engage with Customers Using Paid Search

Here are five ways today's consumers are evolving and strategies small and medium-sized businesses can use to reach and engage them via paid search.

Paid Search Marketing for SMBs

Technology is in a constant state of flux and evolution, and the way consumers interact with technology affects how they search and inevitably, how they purchase goods and services.

Like tech, nothing stays the same in the world of marketing, least of all the consumer.

As new strategies, analytics, and search features are rolled out, let’s not forget the most important piece of the purchase journey – the people.

Winning the hearts and minds (and dollars) of consumers today is going to require a reevaluation of who they are and what they expect from you.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to stay on top of trends and continue to evolve their marketing strategies to reach their ideal customers.

Whether your marketing goals are to drive foot traffic to your business, make the phone ring, or sell your products online, it’s critical to have a cost-effective digital marketing strategy that reaches the right audience and delivers measurable impact.

Here are five ways the consumers of today are changing, and how you need to change your marketing perceptions to reach them.

1. New Audiences Are Emerging & Demand Your Attention

New audience segments are gaining ground.

Just check out these statistics from Accenture.

  • 31% of women out-earn their partners and influence 83% of all U.S. consumer spending.
  • LGBTQ buying power in the U.S. is currently over $1 trillion.
  • Minorities are predicted to represent 34% of total buying power in the U.S. by 2021.
  • By 2020, U.S. millennials will hold 30% of overall buying power.
  • Gen Z is on track to influence 40% of consumer spend in 2020

What Does This Mean?

It’s time to develop new value propositions, marketing strategies, and consumer experiences that satisfy the unique needs of these sub-groups.

Embrace this changing consumer landscape by taking the time to understand them and change your approaches to best suit their lifestyles and expectations.

It’s important to keep in mind diverse audiences and make sure that you’re marketing is inclusive.

Inclusive audience marketing removes the barriers to help us as marketers reach more people.

2. Consumer Loyalty Isn’t so Loyal

Most consumers aren’t waiting for a bad experience before they switch providers, they are just waiting for a better experience.

In fact, 44% of customers would leave current providers if an alternative, comparable provider appeared.

What Does This Mean?

You’ve got to up your game to not only convert but retain customers.

Maintaining the same customer experience without consistent improvement won’t keep people coming back for more.

New consumers expect value beyond your product or service.

On-demand interactions and seamless transactions are the standard. Anything counter-intuitive or clunky is going to be left in the dust.

3. Technology Is Part of Who They Are

For many of these emerging audiences, technology is embedded in who they are.

They’ve always had a computer in their house, they possibly were even given a smart phone as a pre-teen, have been saying interacting via voice with their phones for years, and now with smarter digital assistants.

Those born into the digital age of search expect a more nuanced and tailored experience – and they don’t want to look too hard for it.

They also expect near immediate delivery and will easily shift brands to accommodate their time-sensitive requests.

What Does This Mean?

New consumers appreciate innovation and convenience. They thrive in mobile environments and expect their physical and digital purchase journeys to effortlessly intersect.

Cross-over should be inherently built into your marketing funnel resulting in a streamlined experience no matter where the customer is.

4. Deep Personalization Is an Expectation

New consumers expect every experience with your business to be hyper-relevant and personalized. This idea moves past developing a “unique” experience, becoming more of a “me” experience.

Consumers who are immersed in tech are more willing to share private, identifiable information for a more personalized experience with your product or service.

Consumers expect to be recognized and provided a level of engagement that is conversational, friendly, and familiar. They aren’t interested in telling you what they need, because you should already know.

With this expectation of personalization, it’s also important to take into account privacy considerations where data is involved. Consumers are also concerned about data privacy, so you should be, too.

What Does This Mean?

Companies can stay relevant by reimagining themselves as more of a person than a product or service.

Use the data these new consumers are so willing to share to build living profiles of customers, using that information to tailor every consumer touchpoint to be all about them.

Make sure to take appropriate steps to keep privacy top of mind as you’re handling customer data though, as data privacy is a concern of many consumers.

5. The Consumer Decision Journey Is Evolving

The consumer decision journey has become more complex with an increase in touchpoints and engagements with brands across the journey to purchase.

There are many factors that influence a customer’s decision, and there isn’t a single formula to reach them.

Understanding the consumer decision journey can help you better market to your customers to reach and engage with them along that journey.

What Does This Mean?

Take the time to understand your customer’s buyer journey.

Use the improved understanding to market more closely to the journey that you customers take for improved efficiency in campaigns.

Evolve with Your Customers

Winning the new consumer requires more than just creating experiences. It’s about:

  • Understanding who they are.
  • Meeting them where they are.
  • Creating relevant experiences to meet their rising expectations.

Customer-centric marketing strategies can help you continue to reach your target audience.

It is incredibly important to stay up to date on trends that are reshaping the expectations of your consumers.

Whether you’re a small or a medium-sized business, take advantage of some of the simple, powerful ways you can take action today with your PPC campaigns to up your relevancy, adapt your strategy, and deliver what these emerging audiences need.

More Resources:

Category PPC
Kenneth Andrew General Manager, SMB Sales and Strategy at Microsoft Advertising

Kenneth Andrew is the general manager of SMB strategy and sales at Microsoft Advertising, working globally to help SMB customers. ...

5 Ways SMBs Can Engage with Customers Using Paid Search

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