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Small businesses are more interested in social today. The challenge is finding the right mix of content and advertising, do it yourself and managed service, that maximizes the opportunity for local businesses.

A panel today at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local conference, “Social-Local: Boosting Sales and Engagement,” took a whack at these questions. The session featured Joel Hughes, SVP, Strategy and Emerging Businesses, Constant Contact, and Chris Marentis, CEO, SureFire Social.

Hughes: Constant Contact is a big name in the SMB space — millions of very small businesses use their low cost email marketing services. The company is following its customers into social media marketing, and feels it is getting a grip on the right mix of services to drive results.

“Email marketing is something SMBs have traditionally understood,” Highest said. “Social media has become a very hot area for small businesses.”

ConstantContact has spent much of this year testing a “recipe” for small business social marketing success. The recipe that is emerging is a combination of content (postings) plus ads and campaigns in different combinations.

“SMBs want do it for me (DIFM). Getting them started is a big piece. Many will start with DIFM, and move to DIY (do it yourself). Others will want to maintain outsourcing.”

Marentis: Marentis’ company is focused on the national-local opportunity, helping national marketers engage with local customers through franchise or dealer networks.

“We like to focus on idea of working with national businesses have an opportunity to harness the power of independent businesses they rely on for volume (franchisees, dealers, etc.),” Marentis said. “This requires integrating services, and that is more than a dashboard.”

Marentis offered a case study, Gutter Helmet, a company that offers gutter protection services (which he concedes is about as boring a category as they come). He said the company was able to drive down its cost per lead substantially using an integrated program that included content marketing.

“They were paying $90 a lead (driven mostly by PPC),” Marentis said. “Now paying $20 a lead, and organic is driving more than 55 percent of their site traffic.”

He said businesses need to begin understanding that content marketing is not a cost, but an investment. And measuring and attributing results is key to that education process.

“The key is measurement, so you can show them what they are getting out of it.”


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