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Segmentation, Relevance Needed to Market to SMBs

Marketers must make better use of data about their small-business customers

It’s a basic rule of marketing that knowing your customers is key to targeting, reaching and pulling them in. But when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which make up a large chunk of all firms in North America, many marketing executives don’t know as much as they could.

Research from the CMO Council and Penton Media conducted in Q4 2013 found that just half of senior marketing executives in North America felt they had good data on SMBs’ transactions, behaviors and customer support issues. And that was the most common piece of marketing knowledge cited.

Nearly four in 10 respondents said they had only basic customer contact information, only 15% used social media to learn more about SMBs, and just 8% said they had 360-degree views of their customers.

These marketers were still making efforts toward segmentation and personalization, however. Most were using segmenting and targeting to connect with SMBs, and 40% were attempting more personalized and relevant communications. But how well this can be done without more data about SMBs is debatable.

“Many large organizations see the SMB community as one big group, without segmenting within it,” said Liz Miller, vice president of the CMO Council. And there are valid reasons for this. “As many businesses start as fail, and it’s very difficult to deal with databases with so much churn,” Miller noted. “But marketers could be delivering the same types of data-driven, personalized and relevant messages to SMB decision-makers as to others in large organizations.”

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