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Personalizing Ads Can Boost Marketing for Small Businesses Tailoring ads to customers is in the tradition of the local shopkeepers who knew their customers by name.

By Andre Bourque Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Each year, Small Business Week gives small business owners the opportunity to flex some muscle and show consumers what they have to offer. With more small businesses competing for attention, it's important that entrepreneurs take every chance they have to get the word out.

"While advancements in technology have certainly made communication easier in many regards, they have also brought some unique problems," says Drew Hendricks, CEO of Infographics.Space. "While the Internet is a great tool for engaging customers in content and conversation, it's also added noise. Instead of merely manning the phone lines and answering emails, organizations must respond to social media posts on dozens of different networks and outlets, seek out customer testimonials, and produce fresh content on a regular basis."

This year during Small Business Week, small businesses should focus on ramping up their marketing efforts through personalization. As popular as these efforts are for larger organizations, local businesses can gain an edge by including information specific to local events and issues with their customer interactions. Here are three major areas of concentration that can provide a big boost to a business's bottom line.

Related: Personalized Marketing Is No Longer a Luxury

Personalized email.

Despite relatively new marketing channels available to small businesses -- like SEO, online ads, and social media -- email is still the number one driver of revenue. In fact, according to DMA, for every dollar invested, email marketing generates a $40 ROI. The problem is, while we used to get excited for the "you've got mail!" chime, email inboxes have become increasingly crowded. It's it difficult to capture a customer's attention.

Personalization has always given small businesses an edge over their much larger competitors. A small shop owner could easily remember the names of all of his regulars, while a startup ecommerce business could likely add personal notes to each shipment. But as small business grow their customer base, it is hard to scale the customer experience without the right technology.

Today, sales and marketing technology tools, like Hatchbuck and others, allow small businesses to scale while maintaining their personal touch through personalized email marketing. A small business can segment their list by region and create emails that reference local events or issues that are important to locals. Or, if customers have existing relationships with an employee, emails can be sent directly from that employee to make it seem as though it was composed personally to each one. When customers receive an email from someone they know personally that contains content that speaks to them, it's far more likely to be effective than an impersonal email.

"At the core people are still human," says Sergio Desoto, owner of Desoto Consulting. "We desire to receive a hug or a thank you note every once in a while. With all the automation tools out there today we tend to forget that basic principle. Hatchbuck keeps it personal. It allows my clients and me to deliver personal messages in a massive and truly engaging manner. I call it #HatchbuckHugs."

Related: Perform Powerful Personalized Marketing in 4 Easy Steps

Localized social media.

More than ever, it's important that businesses stand out on social media. Each message is surrounded by posts from businesses, friends, and family members on a consumer's newsfeed. A small, local business can gain the edge by incorporating localization into its efforts. The neighborhood diner can reach out to local residents, referencing the weather, big local events, or causes specific to the community.

Some areas now have dedicated Facebook pages, whether for an entire city or a neighborhood within that city. Local businesses should join as many of those pages as possible and regularly reach out to customers through those venues. Business owners will need to carefully check to make sure such posts don't violate the Terms of Use, but if your posts offer special deals for members of that group, they'll likely welcome them happily.

Related: Google Launches Program to Help Small Businesses Become More Visible

Ad retargeting.

Retargeting is an important part of many big-business marketing strategies today because brands leveraging ad retargeting see click-through-rates (CTRs) 3-10 times higher than the industry average. It's important that small businesses work this into their own campaigns to avoid missing out on a potential opportunity. Customers are growing accustomed to seeing ads specific to their own interests, to the point that generic ads are losing their effectiveness. Technology is making it easier for even small businesses to utilize this strategy, giving them the personal edge that helps them remain competitive.

However, it's important that local businesses make an effort to take their retargeting efforts to the next level. Instead of simply presenting ads for products that a customer has purchased before, retargeted ads can address upcoming events and local issues, just as email and social media marketing did. As a result, customers will feel as though an ad was sent to a small community of customers, giving it a personal touch that much larger businesses can't offer.

For Small Business Week, entrepreneurs should rethink their marketing strategies and find ways to localize their personalization efforts. The result will be campaigns that reach out to customers on a personal level, improving conversion rates and creating loyal customers in the community. When executed with the right personal touch, these campaigns will have the same effect as greeting a customer by name when he walks through the door.

Related: How to Market More Effectively by Following Your Customer's Trail

Andre Bourque

Cannabis Journalist | Tech Evangelist Covering High Growth Trends

Andre Bourque (@SocialMktgFella) is a cannabis industry consultant who frequently writes about cannabis trends for Entrepreneur. He is a tech industry influencer and freelance journalist covering high-growth industries.

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