Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2022-12-07
When it comes to customer acquisition in the B2B sector, it’s common to target big business prospects first. But getting a foot in the door at larger companies can be complicated, with a long sales cycle to boot. That’s why overlooking small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is a mistake. In fact, for many companies, the fast track to real business growth starts with effectively connecting with SMBs.
There are more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S. These companies have fewer than 500 employees and make up 99% of all businesses, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. These so-called “small businesses” do big business and represent a valuable revenue source in 2023, even with a recession looming.
The needs of SMBs and the way they do business—including buying—can be very different from enterprise organizations. If you want to target SMBs successfully you need to understand their needs and how best to reach and engage with them. Here are five essential strategies for success:
Post-pandemic SMBs want a personalized approach.
Recent data shows that, overall, small businesses have survived and bounced back from economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, SMB proprietors’ income increased even above the inflation rate. While the expected economic recession will certainly impact all businesses to some degree, the SMBs with staying power already know how to adapt in a downturn and will still have business needs—perhaps even new needs—including ones your solutions may solve.
SMBs operate differently and have distinct needs compared to larger businesses: they need a tailored approach, both in how you target them and the offers you present. Because there are so many new operating models in the post-pandemic business world, there are often new pain points that need solutions -- and prospects that could benefit from what you offer.
Keep in mind, price is not always the most important element for SMBs in choosing a vendor. They may be smaller but they want solutions that drive efficiency and are worth the investment. In survey results from Accenture shared by Forbes, SMBs say they want high-quality products intended specifically for them, not just rebranded or pared-down enterprise solutions.
Instead of just offering the same solution on a smaller scale, consider adapting your product or service offering to meet the needs of your SMB prospects. This requires that sellers think like SMBs do to understand how solutions designed for enterprise businesses may be failing them.
They’re harder to reach.
Customer acquisition campaigns targeting SMBs, especially given the economic challenges of the past few years, can be challenging. To start, SMBs tend to change personnel and email addresses more frequently than larger organizations. As well, they often rely on public email domains instead of a corporate domain. Along with the pandemic, tracking down the best contact in an SMB can be exacerbated by layoffs and events like the Great Resignation. In 2020 alone, OMI purged over 6 million businesses and 13 million contacts (10%) from our database, largely as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
As such, high quality third-party data is a must for reaching SMBs at scale. Look for a provider with a database large enough to reach a variety of contacts and one that is updated with routine data cleansing. That way you know your acquisition campaigns are reaching a relevant audience of valid contacts at active businesses. At OMI our SMB prospect data includes more than 100 million qualified decision-makers and has a 95% email validity guarantee for 30 days.
They trust their peers.
The Accenture studies also state that 58% of SMB decision-makers consulted peers about their enterprise product purchase decisions. Additionally, 80% of businesses say that interactions with peers improve their business outcomes. Testimonials and reviews from similar businesses are critical to moving SMB prospects through the funnel.
Expect a faster sales cycle.
The smaller size of SMBs typically indicates a faster sales cycle, as there is less red tape. This is a big benefit of targeting SMBs, as you can potentially close more sales, faster. It also means if you reach the right decision-maker, it’s imperative to keep things moving with the right information and resources—on their timeline. Give them the information they want with triggered email sequences and self-serve options so they can gather facts, metrics, and other decision-making data without delay.
Be prepared for data privacy changes.
Lastly, the unknown future of data privacy applies to SMB acquisition campaigns as well. The removal of third-party cookies and new, changing regulations means marketers targeting SMBs need acquisition strategies that maintain data privacy.
Look for solutions that don’t rely on cookies but still enable a highly targeted reach, such as opted-in third-party data or intent monitoring, which can identify SMB prospects who are already looking for similar solutions and may be in-market.
Anonymized data strategies also offer an effective approach. Identity graphs pull data from multiple quality sources and anonymize the profiles to ensure privacy. Using the identity graph, marketers can build their custom SMB audiences and then take the anonymized IDs from the graph to a demand-side platform (DSP) to deliver the ads. In line with the identity graph movement, OMI’s specialized SMB and medical market database of 60 million-plus records is available on the LiveRamp RampID graph.
At OMI we’ve always focused on SMBs and have built the world's largest U.S.-based SMB database. OMI’s database maintains consumer privacy, with an estimated 90% of email contacts opted in. Contact us today if you’re ready to target and reach SMB customers.
Did you know? Over 75 million of OMI’s 100 million manager- and professional-level and above contacts are matched to the LiveRamp RampID graph, including 65 million records from our SMB and medical market databases. Contact us today to learn more about building a custom audience.
At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.