A recent survey conducted by Bright Local offers important insights into small and medium business (SMB) attitudes toward Internet marketing and the amount of time and money they are investing in this area. The main upshot of the survey is that SMBs tend to be either small or very small businesses with modest marketing budgets, and thus owners tend to do as much marketing work as possible themselves. These limited budgets are the biggest reason why SMBs don’t tend to hire marketing service providers, although owners are well aware of the growing importance of digital marketing. Here are some details on the main takeaways from the survey.
Smaller Business Sizes Equal Smaller Marketing Budgets
- Of those businesses surveyed in the Bright Local SMB Internet Marketing Survey 2014, 58 percent had 0 to 3 employees and 85 percent had 10 or fewer employees. Marketing budgets reflected this, with 70 percent allocating less than $500 per month to both online and offline marketing and 83 percent less than $1000 per month.
- The percentage of this limited budget that’s allocated to Internet marketing varied quite a bit among respondents, but half of SMBs reported that they spent less than 30 percent of their marketing budgets online.
SMBs Overall Find Internet Marketing to Be Effective
- Despite the low spend, SMBs on average gave high ratings to the overall effectiveness of Internet marketing practices, with 51 percent rating online methods as more effective than offline methods and 75 percent reporting that they believed online marketing was either “effective” or “very effective.” Of those surveyed, 20 percent cited SEO as the most effective means of gaining new customers and 28 percent rating word of mouth as the most impactful.
- There is a trend toward SMBs increasing digital marketing spend. Of those included in the survey, 37 percent planned to increase their spending in the coming year.
- The most important measure of Internet marketing success for SMBs was phone calls to the business (at 31 percent). Other important indicators to small business owners included website traffic and search engine rankings (both at 20 percent).
The Majority of SMBs Still Prefer to Handle Digital Marketing on Their Own
- According to the Bright Local survey, 64 percent of all SMBs handle their Internet marketing efforts in house, with only 18 percent using a marketing consultant or agency. This may very well be because smaller SMBs are likely not fully aware of the value Internet marketers can provide, such as citation building and other less well known services.
Rollison, Damian. “Survey Highlights the Challenges of Marketing to Smaller SMBs.” Street Fight: Inside the Business of Hyperlocal. 1/21/15.