Apple vs. Facebook Battle Shines Light on Opportunities For Small Businesses

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“Standing up to Apple for small businesses,” declared a Facebook ad in The Wall Street Journal in the latest clash in a long-running feud between two of the world’s most valuable companies. That ad was part of a massive campaign against Apple’s decision to allow users to opt-out of tracking if they so choose, which Facebook claims will diminish small businesses’ ability to target clients. But this battle royale holds a larger lesson for small businesses: instead of fixating on customer acquisition, customer loyalty should be top priority.

A significant investment with little return

62% of small businesses fail with Facebook ads, and the reasons experts give are understandable. They point out that many small businesses have too small a budget, don’t approach a Facebook ad campaign with a plan, and *shocker* don’t have the necessary time to write copy, put together compelling visuals, or identify the correct audience. Solving these issues will either take money that they can’t afford to spend or time to develop the required skills that few if any small business owners possess. And to add further insult to injury, when it’s all said and done, even if a business perfectly executes, few can claim that the payoff was worth the time and money spent.

When the payoff is worth the price

Acquiring a customer is between five and twenty-five times as expensive as retaining one, and increasing retention rates by 5% pays off handsomely, with profit growing anywhere from 25% to 95%. However, it’s not hard to see that small businesses often lack the expertise and time necessary to execute a compelling customer loyalty program. Yet when facing those business challenges with a loyalty program already in place, the cost vs. payoff is considerably different – loyalty promises far more revenue potential.

Embrace tech, but keep it simple

The customer loyalty solution is straightforward – automating customer loyalty with a third-party AI-driven platform, yet pitfalls remain. Businesses must identify the type of loyalty program that’s right for them – coupons, memberships, etc. Different approaches can produce vastly different results. Likewise, any solution chosen should enable a small business to target the right customer at the right time with the right deal. And perhaps most importantly, business owners must make sure that the solution they choose is easy to implement and operate; otherwise, all the bells and whistles are meaningless.

The unprecedented loyalty environment

Two massive developments make customer loyalty more timely than ever during Covid-19. The first is the monumental shift in purchasing habits, with e-commerce up nearly 50% year over year. That warp speed development in online purchasing means that customers break their routines and try out new options frequently. Second, many of the stores that customers traditionally shopped at still haven’t fully adapted to the shift, even Amazon has experienced shortages. This means that habits change even more and buyers often give local options a chance. Adding to that opportunity is the fact that once restrictions lift and long-shuttered physical stores open back up, the same re-evaluation of routines is set to occur. This is a rare opportunity for local businesses to keep those newly introduced customers coming back.

Facebook and Apple will undoubtedly continue to battle it out for billions, and the argument of concern for small businesses that use Facebook ads won’t go away anytime soon. Yet Facebook’s accusation should be seen as a call to action, rather than a stressful development. This renewed focus on Facebook ads should make small businesses re-evaluate the value of one-time customer acquisition vs. repeat business. Now more than ever, small businesses need to get it right, and luckily they have that opportunity now, all that’s left is to seize it.

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