Branding even for small businesses

​Small business owners are growing savvier by the year, learning as much as they can about internet marketing to maximize return on investment (ROI). While branding may not have been a top priority in the past, entrepreneurs have learned that consistent tone of voice and regular marketing collateral can drive online sales higher on a month-by-month basis. The quarterly American Express Small Business Monitor report found that 93 percent of SBOs say having unique branding is more important for the success of their operations than ever before.

The study also noted that 51 percent cite branding as critical to customer acquisition. To understand the strategies many SMBs are using to generate leads online, the report evaluated common channels, and found that social media and content marketing are the most used tactics. Seventy-three percent of business owners report using social media content to drive chatter on the web and gauge sentiment. Approximately 52 percent of SMBs use their websites to build their brand voice and authority in their fields.

It’s hard to deny that​ ​sites have become the cornerstone to any strong web presence, and SMBs will continue to see ROI when they optimize website content for search and readability. American Express Canada Vice President Athena Varmazis says, “It’s refreshing to see business owners placing an emphasis on branding since it’s their platform to tell their business’ story with current and future customers.”

Small business must develop strong websites, but they can’t neglect marketing practices that help drive traffic from channels back to their landing and product pages. The U.K. Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report for 2013 asked respondents about their marketing budgets for the next 12 months. The goal: To determine which practices will receive the most investment to close out the year. According to the data, 24 percent of surveyed business owners will funnel money toward paid search campaigns – the largest average budget uptick. SEO (18 percent), social media marketing (11 percent) and display advertising (11 percent) trailed behind.

What’s impressive about these two separate studies is how progressive many businesses have become in the past year. Small business owners have embraced new challenges in web marketing with open arms, and their drive has helped them take advantage of tactics like content marketing and PPC strategies. As SMBs grow more confident in their abilities as marketers, the stronger their unique branding efforts will become, and higher their profit margins will soar.