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GUEST COMMENT Demystifying marketing: how small businesses can tap into big audiences

Marketing holds the key to levelling the playing field for SMEs in ecommerce

SMEs are a powerful presence in today’s retail landscape. Among the headlines predicting doom and gloom on the high street as multiple retailers resort to store closures and restructures, the good news story is that SMEs and independents are thriving – opening new stores in their hundreds during difficult economic times.

Naturally, owners of these businesses want to capitalise on a climate that is clearly favouring the original and personal – which means finding the right means and channels to let consumers know what their business is bringing to the table. But a problem facing many SME owners is that they are simply too busy running their businesses to have time to focus on marketing.

Big retailers are increasingly investing in automating processes for their marketing. They debate the advantages process automation could bring to call centres, replacing service staff with chatbots and bringing in agencies to deliver programmatic ad campaigns en-masse.

Access to these tools has been restricted to brands with big teams and deep pockets – but it’s becoming increasingly easy for smaller businesses to tap into effective tools.

Google’s Smart Campaigns, for instance, uses machine learning to make life easier for smaller retailers by helping them build unique, tailored ad campaigns. The tool sets goals that are defined by your business, rather than by marketing jargon. Owners can target growing footfall or increasing sales and the software will build relevant ads, based on the information available on the company’s website or Google My Business listing.

It can also generate suitable keywords, bids and ad placements automatically. Google Ads has a plethora of options which empower advertisers to fine-tune with granular detail, which is a great option for larger advertisers. Smart Campaigns is built for businesses with less time on their hands, helping ensure valuable time and energy is never lost.

That’s why with Smart Campaigns businesses can choose the goals they care about most, so they make the most of their resources and give the best experience to customers. Say, for example, a retailer knows they can deal with an increased level of customer enquiries best over the phone, rather than in-store. They can create ads that are most likely to generate incoming phone calls.

Machine learning takes these goals and sets about delivering results, automatically creating sample ads in minutes that appear across search and more than three million websites and apps in the Google Display Network. That ad campaign doesn’t just sit there, either. The machine learning engine keeps assessing performance, analysing the alternatives and optimising the ads to deliver campaigns that are tailored precisely to that company’s needs.

For many small retailers across the country, business is still a purely ‘bricks and mortar’ experience. But even for businesses that live offline, it’s important to recognise the role of clicks in driving visits to the bricks. This is why it was important for Smart Campaigns to work for businesses that don’t even havewebsites. It will create and host automatically generated and fully-optimised landing pages that match the ad creative with all the measurement and reporting systems built-in.

This allows businesses with no online presence to advertise and drive website visitors to your telephone lines and stores, by using ad extensions that prioritise maps and ‘Click to call’ options.

Small businesses understand the power of the internet to drive revenues, even if they’re not online themselves. Being able to access that vast audience in the most effectively targeted way possible is essential. The frustration is that many have neither the time nor the opportunity to delve in as deeply as they might want to. Now even the smallest SME can access the vast pool of data and learning within Google to target the most likely buyers, making the most of their budgets and their time.

Image: Fotolia

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