For SMBs, a Path Toward Digital - eMarketer

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For SMBs, a Path Toward Digital

Smaller businesses adopting a multichannel approach

October 25, 2012

Today’s small and medium-sized businesses are well aware that, in the modern marketplace, to ignore digital channels is to be left out in the cold. This growing certainty is reflected in data from a Q3 2012 survey of 300 SMBs in the US conducted by market researcher BIA/Kelsey, which found that 40% of small and midsized firms planned to increase their digital spending budget within the next 12 months. In sharp contrast, a mere 3.7% said they planned to decrease digital budgets.

Change in Digital Marketing Spending According to US SMBs, Q3 2012 (% of respondents)

But SMBs are not just bumping up digital spending—they’re also spreading it out over an increasing number of channels. These companies recognize that their potential audience is increasingly fragmented, and are responding by adopting a multichannel approach. According to the survey, back in 2007, smaller companies used an average of three media channels. This year the average jumped to 5.8 channels, almost doubling over a five-year period.

Average Number of Media Channels Used by US SMBs for Advertising and Promotions, 2007-2012

Facebook has also emerged as a favored digital channel among these smaller businesses, likely due to its low cost barriers and ease of use. In fact, 52% of SMBs said they used Facebook for advertising or promotional purposes, making it more popular for marketing than newspapers (31%), community sponsorships (27%) and email marketing (25%).

Marketing Channels Used by US SMBs, Q3 2012 (% of respondents)

But SMBs appear to be slow in developing a strategy for mobile marketing. The research found that only two in 10 small or medium-sized firms currently employed a mobile marketing strategy. About half had learned about or heard of mobile marketing, but didn’t use it, while three in 10 hadn’t even heard of the approach.

Experience with Mobile Marketing According to US SMBs, Q3 2012 (% of respondents)

Despite all the attention paid to the “social, local, mobile” (SoLoMo) movement, SMBs are failing to recognize the benefits of linking mobile with local, an especially important element for small businesses.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Video Turns Online Apparel Shoppers Into Buyers” and “Canada's News Audience Seeks Varied Sources.”


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