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Small Businesses Favor Tactics that Balance Customer Attraction, Retention

Small business websites widely seen as most effective marketing technology

Small businesses, frequently strapped for both time and cash, often need their marketing dollars to work double time—using the same resources to attract new business and retain loyal customers.

Online marketing service provider Constant Contact conducted a survey in October 2012 of 1,305 small businesses and nonprofits from its customer base to see how different tactics and channels balanced customer acquisition with customer retention.

Respondents were most likely to say that their website struck an effective balance: 77% said the site was well-suited both to engaging existing customers and attracting new ones. A majority of respondents felt similarly about their blog (69% said it was effective at both tasks) and their social media marketing efforts (60%).

Among the different tactics, the greatest percentage of respondents, 45%, cited email marketing as a customer retention tool, and another 50% said it was effective at both customer acquisition and customer retention. Daily deals and online ads were seen as primarily suited to attracting new customers, although 11% said that daily deals were not effective either at attracting new customers or engaging current ones. Small businesses were also skeptical of social media monitoring tools: 25% said they felt they were not useful for either customer attraction or retention.

Having a mobile-friendly website was also seen as a crucial piece of the puzzle for small businesses: 79% said it was effective at attracting new customers and keeping current ones happy. Another popular mobile marketing option for both new and old customers was accepting mobile orders, although 11% said that it was not useful for either customer segment. Maintaining accurate mobile listings was also seen as an effective marketing tactic, particularly for attracting new customers.

But despite the fact that small businesses were largely optimistic about the effectiveness of online and social media ads, a minority were putting them to use. According to Constant Contact, 29% of respondents ran online ads in October, with another 13% planning to do so in the next six months. On the social media side, 25% were running ads when the survey was conducted, and 18% planned to do so in the near term.


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