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Small Business Marketing in 2017

SMBSmall business owners are pioneers. Experts in their designated fields, they wear many hats in their pursuit to create the businesses they’ve envisioned. Multi-tasking comes with the territory for small business owners. Managing, creating, leading, and delegating are all commonplace in the small business landscape. But what about marketing?

Marketing is an essential function for any business, regardless of size. Being able to generate solid leads while gaining and retaining customers is vital in keeping a company competitive. But with small business owners already juggling various roles throughout their enterprises, how do they keep up with the ever-changing marketing trends vital to the success of their business? Insight into this challenge—and more—is exactly what we found in the “2017 Small Business Marketing Trends Report”. Let’s explore.

Overview of Report

In the 2017 Small Business Marketing Trends Report, over 1000 small business owners were asked questions about their marketing efforts for this year. These questions included goals and challenges, tactics and priorities, as well as trends and opportunities. While some of you might ask why the survey didn’t include the CMO of the small businesses polled, as it turns out, 49 percent of CEOs in small businesses also happen to be in charge of their marketing efforts.

SMB Marketing Trends Report

Figure 1.

With so many small business owners handling their own digital marketing along with various other functions of business, challenges are going to arise. Among those polled, finding time and resources for digital marketing was listed as the biggest challenge small business owners will face in 2017. Converting leads into customers came in as the second biggest obstacle. Surprisingly, over 17 percent said they wouldn’t be using digital marketing this year. For small business owners to increase revenue and drive sales, digital marketing offers immense potential.

SMB Marketing Trends Report

Figure 2.

Digital marketing strategies can be difficult to implement since “digital” is so far-reaching in today’s world. Perhaps that’s why the report found such a sharp divide among small business owners about the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts.

How sharp of a divide? Over 43 percent of small business owners believe their marketing efforts are effective, while just under 47 percent said they didn’t know. Being able to quantify the ROI of digital marketing could save small business owners time, while simultaneously helping to identify the best implementation strategies for big-picture of marketing initiatives.

If there’s one digital marketing tool small businesses are comfortable with, its social media. Almost 70 percent of those polled listed social media as a digital marketing tactic they plan on using in 2017. Social media marketing is effective, don’t get me wrong—but reaching customers on different levels helps to elevate sales, too, and the report shows small business owners have room for improvement here.

SMB Marketing Trends Report

Figure 3.

After social media, the numbers drop dramatically. Less than half small business owners polled said they planned on using email marketing, digital advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO) in 2017. This is a problem. Although marketing budgets might be constrained for small business owners, having a well-rounded strategy—especially one with a fine-tuned digital component—is key to staying competitive.

How Small Businesses Can Improve Their Digital Marketing

Finding time and resources to pursue the desired digital marketing channels will always be a challenge. Finding and using the right digital marketing tools, though, doesn’t have to be. What many small business owners don’t realize is that digital marketing software is available to them. We’re not talking about antiquated digital marketing technology, either—we’re talking the same technology large corporations use.

In fact, companies like Infusionsoft offer small business software which combines marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM), and e-commerce tools, all in one platform. Tools like these would allow small business owners to evolve their digital marketing strategies, branching away from (without eliminating) such a heavy reliance on social media.

With more platforms and better technology, small business owners would spend less time on digital marketing, while reaching more potential clients, and in turn, making more money.

Are you surprised by the results of the report? Will you be using digital marketing for a small business this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts and concerns in the comments below.

Photo Credit: investmentzen Flickr via Compfight cc

Eric Vidal
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