Small Business Marketing Trends

Small business owners juggle many jobs in keeping their businesses afloat. One of these is often marketing. A review of small business marketing trends indicates nearly half (47 percent) of small businesses take a Do-It-Yourself approach to marketing.

The State of Small Business Marketing

One study showed digital marketing struggling to become a small business owner priority. Nearly one in five small business owners surveyed by Infusionsoft and LeadPages (I&L) had no plans to use digital marketing in 2016.

This reluctance is all the more surprising considering many business owners mentioned tracking return on marketing investment as a challenge. Some 14 percent of the I&L respondents knew they weren’t marketing effectively while nearly half said they didn’t know if they were or not.

Tracking results could be easier for small businesses with software applications that help in marketing. Some 41% use one or two applications. Another 26% use three or four. Meanwhile, some 42% used email exclusively to manage their customer contact information.

Every dollar spent on a CRM system yields an average return of $8.71. — Nucleus Research.

Related reading: Content Management for Small Businesses: Does My Business Need a CMS?

Still, email marketing was also underutilized in the I&L study. About 60% didn’t use email marketing and less than half had an email list prospective customers could opt into.

Small Business Marketing Trends

The majority of SMBs, whether their annual marketing spend was $25,000 or more, identified Facebook, direct mail and a website as top advertising and promotion channels, in a BIA Kelsey report. About half of those in the I&L survey planned to invest in their small business websites.

Small business marketing trends

Related reading: Best Practices for Small Business Websites

48.2% of SMBs purchase online ads themselves — BIA Kelsey

Additionally, small to mid-sized businesses are using social media more than any other channel, according to respondents in BIA Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor Wave 19. Of the full sample, 73.2%, or 738 SMB respondents, said they use social media for advertising or promotion.

Social media monitoring was top ranked by SMBs in a BIA Kelsey study as a marketing tool they planned to begin using. Customer ad analytics and business software followed the practice of aggregating, analyzing, monitoring and engaging in online conversations about companies, brands, products, competitors and industry topics of interest.

Related reading: Best Practices for Social Monitoring

Further, of the small business owners using social media, less than half were creating any other kind of content to help drive leads and sales.

Small Business marketing trends

This even as driving sales was identified as a top priority for using digital marketing:

Small business marketing trends goals

Nevertheless, downloadable content is gaining traction as a brand building and sales generating tactic. Further, even small businesses are looking to build relationships with audiences with personal communications and marketing efforts that actively engage the audience.

Small Business Marketing Challenges

Beyond the challenges of limited budget and human resources to accomplish small business marketing goals, owners and operators identified other struggles:

  • Turning leads into customers (19.6%)
  • Generating web traffic (17.9%)
  • Finding time/resources for digital marketing (17.9%)
  • Turning web traffic into leads (17.4%)
  • Retaining customers long-term (9.9%)

Related reading: B2B online advertising and search marketing tips

Plus there is the need to stay abreast of new technology and customer expectations. Looking ahead to 2017, small business owners can expect to account for:

  • shift from desktop to mobile with mobile search becoming the norm and a mobile-centric strategy becoming a necessity
  • e-commerce expectations with mobile wallets and buy buttons gaining traction
  • embrace of apps — A recent Gallup poll states that 75% of Americans check their mobile devices at least once per hour, and 90% of that time is spent using apps.
  • continued demand for relevant, valuable information in email campaigns
  • mounds of available data to make sense of customers and discover business opportunities
  • customer demand for locally relevant, specifically targeted marketing communications

With fresh attention paid to marketing that matters, small business owners may be able to push the Index of Small Business Optimism back into the black. The index fell 0.3 points, another monthly decline, in September 2016. At four points below the 40 year average of 98, hardworking SMBs are due an outlook improvement.

Related reading: B2B Marketing Statistics
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Small Business Marketing Trends Sources:
BIA Kelsey. (2016). Highlights of the Upcoming Wave — LCM Wave 20. https://www.biakelsey.com/research-data/local-commerce-monitor/
BIA Kelsey. (2016). SMBS That use Social Media for Advertising and Marketing — LCM Wave 19. https://www.biakelsey.com/research-data/current-research/smbs-use-social-media-advertising-marketing-lcm-wave-19/
Dunkelberg, W.C. and Wade, H. (2016, September). NFIB Small Business Economic Trends. https://www.nfib.com/assets/SBET-September-2016.pdf
Jones, M. (2016, October 5). 10 Small Business Marketing Trends to Prepare for in 2017. https://www.smarthustle.com/small-business-marketing-2017/
LeadPages & InfusionSoft. (2015, December). 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report. https://leadpages.s3.amazonaws.com/2016%20Small%20Business%20Marketing%20Trends%20Report.pdf?es=h6up02kiyvthu5czhyjhskwn4apebq7l




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