Wasp Barcode recently conducted a survey of 1,000 plus startups and small businesses, covering everything from expected revenue growth to staffing and hiring, confidence in the economy, and IT spending trends in 2015. One insight that stood out was that almost half of the small businesses surveyed are currently engaged in email marketing campaigns (standing at 46 percent). This was second only to social media marketing (at 61 percent), and beat out such traditional and digital marketing strategies such as print advertising (37 percent), direct mail (32 percent), search engine optimization (30 percent, blogging (19 percent), online ads or Internet pay per click (12 percent), and product/customer videos (9 percent).

There were several takeaways from the survey helped explain the popularity of email marketing. Here are some of the most interesting:

  • Small businesses aren’t spending a lot on marketing these days. In fact, according to the Wasp Barcode survey, most businesses spend less than 4 percent of their revenue on marketing (with 56 percent investing less than 3 percent and only 34 percent investing more than 4 percent). Of those, 19 percent don’t invest in marketing whatsoever. This is significant, as email marketing can be conducted on a shoestring budget. Many email service providers are free, and the most a small business will usually pay is around twenty dollars a month.
  • Most small businesses rate email marketing at the easiest to execute. According to the survey, 54 percent of respondents rated email marketing as the most effective among all digital marketing forms, with only 11 percent finding it the most difficult. In terms of effectiveness ratings, this was followed by website/blogs at 48 percent, SEO at 47 percent, social media at 43 percent, content at 38 percent, paid search/PPC at 24 percent, mobile/SMS at 9 percent, and ecommerce at 8 percent.
  • Email marketing promotes customer retention. According to the Wasp Barcode survey, small businesses are very focused on improving customer experience and promoting customer retention, with 56 percent reporting their top strategy for promoting revenue growth as “improve existing customer experience and retention). Additionally, 45 percent reported that they were focused on a strategy to “invest in new customer acquisition activities and methods.” There are a wide range of surveys out there that demonstrate the ability of email marketing to achieve these goals:
    • Gigaom Research’s 2014 “Workhorses and Dark Horses: Digital Tactics for Customer Acquisition” report: Email marketing is by far the most effective digital marketing program for retention (with a 56 percent rating compared to a 37 percent second-place rating for social media marketing).
    • Marketing Sherpa 2015 survey: According to this survey of 2,000-plus American adults, email is the preferred communication channel for most consumers, with 70 percent reporting that this is their preferred marketing method.


Rampton, John. “7 Reasons Why Email Marketing Is Smart for Small Businesses.” The Next Web News. 7/22/15.

Wasp Barcode. “State of Small Business Report.” 2015.