The majority of small businesses, 76 percent, agree their ideal marketing mix includes a combination of physical and digital communications, according to a new survey from Pitney Bowes Inc., Nearly three quarters surveyed, 72 percent, say they would do more of it if they had the right customer communications management tools.
Five hundred small business owners in the U.S participated in the survey. Of those 500, 74 percent had nine employees or fewer. The survey also found that those businesses sold products and services online were much more likely to embrace digital communications compared with those that don’t sell online.
“Customers want to be reached through more than one channel,” said Debra Thompson-Van, Vice President of Marketing at Pitney Bowes. “Yet, channels in use two to five years ago are still being used today. There’s been no drop in the use of traditional marketing.”
Thompson-Van said that this is because different marketing communications serve different marketing purposes. Direct mail and advertising are proven methods that work that also reach a broader audience. Email marketing and social media are cost-effective and easy to use, but are also better are targeting individuals.
Pitney Bowes also noted that 12 percent of respondents added mobile marketing in the past year, and another nine percent added QR codes. Thompson-Van said this wasn’t bad for marketing methods that weren’t even being discussed 12 months ago.
“There’s an interest of combining the physical medium with the digital medium,” she said. The most common ways SMBs are doing this is by adding QR codes to direct mail and to business cards. Thompson-Van also recommends that SMBs combine direct mail and email marketing.
“Send an email and a hard copy at the same time,” she said. “It increases the likelihood of your message getting across, and response rates go up because of it.” An example of this combination is in health care, where a doctor can send an email about test results while using direct mail to send the actual reports.
“It’s far more effective than just doing one or other other,” Thompson-Van said.
Pitney Bowes also has released a suite of products to help SMBs embrace the newer marketing platforms and to reach these customers effectively. These resources include the pbSmart Connections, the pbSmartPostage, and pbSmart Essentials, a new small business blog.
“Small business owners are increasingly challenged to effectively communicate with their customers and prospects in ways they want to be reached. As a result, businesses are recognizing the requirement, and opportunity, of adding new customer communications channels. However, they need tools that are easy to implement and more information on how to use them to help build their business,” said Thompson-Van. “Our focus is on providing them the tools and guidance needed to get them passed those hurdles and effectively manage their customer communications.”