AtYourBusiness.com (AYB) provides small businesses with employee management solutions such as health insurance, payroll processing, workers comp, background checks and more. One of the challenges AYB faces is communicating to the diverse group that makes up the world of small biz.
Says AYB’s Director of Marketing Josh Johns: “Just as consumers aren't a monolithic group, neither is small business. Many small businesses align themselves more closely with industry groups than with businesses that happen to be the same size as theirs. So one of the challenges is whether to spread the net with a general small business message, or be more focused and speak to businesses by sector. No matter which way you go, getting the attention of busy business owners isn't easy. So we're also looking to reach them through their office managers” since they “are the ones actually handling a lot of the tasks we can automate.”
AYB decided to try using 10 banners to reach their target audience during the second quarter 2000. The banners were created by an outside agency which also did the media buys. The banners ran on AOL, Bankrate.com, Microsoft’s bCentral, AdSmart’s SOHO channel, Snap.com and Zoom.
Of the 10 banners, the one featuring free staff background checks was the clear winner. “We hit something of a homerun with one of our first online banners.” The banner reads: ‘Congratulations!’ ‘You just hired someone you know nothing about’ ‘Three months free background checks from AYB’”
In fact, employee background checks have turned out to be one of the strongest tools on the site.
AYB got “over a 1% clickthrough rate, and under a $3 cost-per-clickthrough rate, on some sites” for the second quarter campaign. “Our lowest costs, however, have not always resulted in our best conversion to membership, or generated the most leads. We were somewhat skeptical when we undertook our online advertising, having been told that banners were played out. But we have been pleasantly surprised by the results. As a result, we are pursuing an online strategy as an integral part of our marketing strategy.”
Of the 10 banners tested, “none of them were bombs.” However, the banners that were formulated around paperwork and how AYB could lessen the load didn’t pull as well as expected.
AYB currently is using a payroll banner to alert site visitors to the company’s latest promotion – the “You can do your payroll in Hawaii” sweepstakes where three lucky people will win Hawaiian vacations (yes, AYB is giving away three grand prizes. They’ve upped the ante, folks). This follows the recently concluded $50,000 Personal Assistant Sweepstakes. AYB plans to make sweepstakes a regular promotional feature.
NOTES: AYB is using a mix of online and offline marketing to reach its target audience. The company has tried to market “not by business type, but by the way business owners manage their businesses. For example, we advertised online, on small business sites, with a small business message. But we obviously were limiting ourselves to business owners who use the Internet to run their business or gather business information. For more traditional small businesses and to reach specific market segments, we are turning to trade shows (currently, we are exhibiting at a show for licensees and franchisers, whose ranks are made up of small business owners), business breakfasts on topical management or HR issues, and other presentations in conjunction with some of our partners.”
AYB is ready to roll out its first offline campaign, which will use direct mail and newspaper ads in two target markets – Austin TX and Washington, DC. It will be an umbrella campaign that will explain the range of AYB services.
And look for an upcoming campaign that will focus on voluntary insurance services that AYB will be offering soon. The company already has an array of regulated insurance services offered through USI Insurance Services, Aetna and United Healthcare.
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