Taking a deeper look at the 2014 BrightLocal survey on SMB Internet marketing released a month ago can provide additional useful insights about how small and medium businesses are utilizing Internet marketing. While 736 SMBs completed the survey, this analysis focuses only on those industries that had a minimum of 20 respondents to ensure more reliable results. This reduced the sample size from 30 industries to 15 industries.

While all the industries represented in the survey reported allocating a portion of their marketing budget to Internet and/or mobile marketing, these expenditures were the highest percentage of the budget for Web Designers and Marketing businesses at 70% and 57%, respectively. Industries represented at the bottom of the list were:

  • Retail – 25%
  • Interior Design – 25%
  • Pet Services – 27%
  • Financial – 30%

The differences between those allocating the most funds to digital marketing and those allocating the least could boil down to the return they see from their marketing efforts, their understanding of the various digital channels or how confident they are in the effectiveness of digital marketing channels.

When asked whether they would increase their spending on Internet marketing in the coming year, respondents provided mixed data that didn’t rely on how much they were already spending. For instance, respondents within the low-spending Retail and Insurance industries were very likely to increase their spending over the coming year, while respondents who spent even less on Internet marketing, Construction and Mechanics, were unlikely to increase their spending.

Interestingly, the high-spending respondents in the Marketing industry were the most likely to increase Internet spending in the next 12 months.

The BrightLocal survey also looked at the effectiveness of Internet marketing at attracting new customers. Again, results were mixed. Respondents in the following industries reported that their Internet marketing efforts were effective or very effective:

  • Medical – 93%
  • Real Estate – 93%
  • Marketing – 87%

Conversely, the following industry survey respondents reported their efforts were not effective:

  • Financial – 40%
  • Tradesmen – 33%
  • Legal 31%

Based on these findings, it’s unsurprising that 47% of Tradesmen and 23% of Legal respondents reported no interest in increasing their Internet marketing budgets in the coming year.

Oddly, respondents in the Insurance industry are extremely likely to increase their spending in the next 12 months despite only 15% of respondents reporting that these marketing efforts were very effective.

BrightLocal’s survey then asked about how SMBs felt about Google+ Local and Google My Business. Industry respondents who were positive about these services included:

  • Cleaning – 64%
  • Medical – 61%
  • Marketing – 60%
  • Web Design – 60%

Those industry respondents with the most negative feelings about the services included:

  • Insurance – 31%
  • Real Estate – 29%

It bears mention that the Pigeon update hit the Real Estate industry hard, causing a loss of local traffic that is likely a factor in how they feel about new offerings from Google. In addition, less than 40% of the respondents within the Financial and Interior Design industries reported positive sentiments about either service.

Across the board, respondents in every industry reported confusion about these Google services and whether they could benefit their business.


Anderson, Myles. SMBs Divided on the Effectiveness of Google My Business; Search Engine Land. February 10, 2015.