I have often wondered, for all the talk of importance of social media marketing today, of how affordable and accessible internet marketing has become, what really lies at the heart of marketing efforts of most small businesses? Are small business owners really convinced on the potential online marketing holds for them? And what are the likely key internet marketing trends in this sector. These are just some of the questions that have been answered by a survey by SiteApps, conducted across 245 U.S small businesses in January this year. Take a look at the infographic below and then let’s review some of the key findings of the survey that show why small businesses are struggling to keep up with the web evolution.
Growing businesses feel inundated with technology changes. More than 50% of businesses surveyed felt they are unable to keep pace with changes in marketing technology taking place around them. The obvious reasons for not being savvier in internet marketing tactics were:
- time and money involved in implementing the change
- the lack of technical expertise
- lack of awareness of what marketing tools were out there.
‘Website’ is the preferred marketing tool, but is not being leveraged to the extent possible. Small businesses view their website as the best marketing investment. Yet, here too they fall short in being able to fully leverage the potential of their websites as 75% of the respondents do not use web analytical tools and 60% of those who do use these tools feel that they simply weren’t getting information that is actionable.
Social media ranks low as a marketing tool, but Facebook rules! Only a small percentage of businesses surveyed felt that social media, as well as review sites like Yelp, were effective. But, when it comes to small businesses, Facebook rules the roost with 41% stating they used the platform as part of their social media strategy, which is significant since 47% of the respondents were not using social media at all.
Small businesses keen on ramping – up online presence in 2013. Notwithstanding the fact that 51% the respondents didn’t view social media as a reliable online marketing tool, looking ahead, 47% of the respondents were convinced of its potential in driving sales. This optimism has been boosted by emergence of new online payment options, cloud sales software, e-commerce platforms and flash sale sites. While 70% of the online marketing budget would still be diverted on developing website personality and performance, 18% of the online marketing outlay of small businesses is expected to be towards ramping up of social media capabilities.
As smaller businesses invest more of their time and efforts on marketing products online, they should not make the fatal mistake of failing to also improve their customer service. After all while the web makes it easier to reach customers, it also exponentially increases the risk of bad publicity from a single poor customer experience.