Small-business owners are often constrained by limits on resources as they balance different needs competing for a slice of finite budgets. But new research from business and marketing services provider G2 Crowd found that despite potential financial restrictions, marketing remains a priority for these decision-makers.
In March, G2 Crowd surveyed small-business owners and managers in the US. (The company defined a small business as one with 250 or fewer employees.) Some 24% of respondents said they planned to prioritize investments toward marketing and advertising in 2017. That was more than the number who planned to concentrate funds on other areas such as sales personnel, new facilities, and software and other IT systems.
Social media platforms have emerged as popular marketing channels for small businesses, according to G2 Crowd’s poll. It revealed that 80% of respondents used Facebook for marketing purposes, while a little more than half (51%) turned to Twitter. While it’s possible that small businesses are buying ads on these platforms, it’s more likely they’re using low- or no-cost functions like Facebook Pages and tweets to connect directly with their customers.
More expensive digital marketing initiatives, such as Google’s search marketing tool AdWords and banner ads, were used by significantly fewer small businesses. In addition, traditional media like newspapers, TV and radio were similarly used by a small minority of respondents. And ad agencies were used by less than 10%.
There may be other good reasons that small-business owners are sticking with Facebook. Nearly four in 10 respondents (38%) named the platform as their most successful marketing channel, G2 Crowd found. But 29% also named it their least successful marketing avenue—more than any other option in the survey. That could simply be a reflection of the fact that Facebook is used so much more than any other channel.
An April poll of US small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) from Netsertive found that many attributed sales conversions to Facebook. Some 41.5% credited the platform as the best social network for driving in-store sales and foot traffic, more than named LinkedIn (11.1%), Twitter (8.9%) or Instagram (5.9%).
Facebook’s offerings also align well with the types of marketing content SMBs worldwide plan to use more often this year, according to Social Media Examiner. The firm found that three-quarters of SMB marketers it polled in January expected to deploy more videos on social media, while 61% foresaw increased use of live streaming.
Facebook may also remain popular as a marketing tool with small-business decision-makers simply because they are bereft of other good options.
“[Marketing technology] vendors don’t focus enough on smaller companies, largely because of the assumption that they’ll spend less on sophisticated marketing tools,” said Michael Fauscette, G2 Crowd’s chief research officer, in an August interview. “Many campaign management tools, for example, tend to target the upper mid-market and beyond, so smaller companies are quite underserved in this area.”