Mid-market companies are investing more effort and capital into enhancing their digital marketing strategies. New software solutions, data analytics and cost-effective tools are enabling them to compete on a global scale through the web, mobile devices and digital media.
Seventy percent of participants in a 2016 GetResponse survey (of 200 SMB decision-makers) said their digital and web-based marketing budgets will increase in 2017. Approximately 60% of those increasing their budgets said they plan to expand their social marketing spending. Half also said they plan to increase their spend on mobile marketing, and more than 40% said they would increase their spend on email marketing.
Simon Grabowski, CEO of GetResponse, told AdWeek that while mid-market companies might have smaller budgets than big brands, they still need to employ the latest digital strategies. “Mobile marketing is increasingly important given the surging content consumption numbers across smartphones and tablets. And social media use has grown only in tandem with mobile consumption, as the most popular platforms are mobile-first,” said Grabowski.
The GetResponse survey also found that more than a quarter of respondents were planning to invest in online video production, and in content creation and management.
Bringing ideas to fruition is a challenge
Despite enthusiasm and awareness of the need to go digital, many mid-market companies still struggle with implementation. A survey by Magento and the National Center for the Middle Market found that mid-market managers acknowledge their challenges. Sixty-three percent of respondents said that while digitization is “extremely important,” half of those said their strategies were “average” or “far behind.” Ninety percent of mid-market companies said their last digitization project was a success, but nearly a third said their ROI fell short of expectations. Respondents also admitted that individual digitization projects were not always incorporated into an overall digitized business strategy, and roughly half said they were only “somewhat satisfied” with their outcomes.
Tom Shapiro, CEO of marketing agency Stratabeat, told the National Center for the Middle Market there are a number of effective digital marketing strategies mid-market companies should consider. He said companies should start with customer experience marketing that focuses on providing a better customer experience throughout the journey. They also should implement data-driven marketing that leverages data to continually test, refine and optimize their performance and return on investment. Experiential marketing also can help mid-marketers create a bond with their audience members on a personal level. Finally, he says “technology-based marketing” can offer a significant advantage for nimble mid-market companies, as many large organizations still have significant investments in legacy systems. Shapiro says “it’s critical that mid-market companies crystallize marketing strategies that get more bang for the buck” and that those strategies need to “work across audience segments, across the competitive landscape and evolve with ever-changing customer needs.”
Mid-market organizations also can benefit from having a chief digital officer to guide digitization principles. Chief Executive reported that companies like Starbucks, L’Oreal, Motley Fool, McDonald’s and Burberry now have executives whose role is solely dedicated to creating and implementing digital strategies. Peter Bowman, chief digital officer of the Internet Advisory Board, said the time has come for organizations to “get their online house in order” and that mid-market companies need to develop a practical digital strategy to “executive in online with fewer mistake and more performance-oriented results.”