In the competitive markets where most small businesses operate, it pays to keep an eye on the competition. There’s more to keeping track of the competition than copying popular ideas (e.g. Burger King’s Rib Sandwich response to McDonald’s McRib). Learning how other companies are spending their advertising budgets can provide insights into what the best ways to reach potential customers are. A recent survey from Bright Local sheds a lot of light on this topic. This post will review the research findings and how small business owners can use the information to their advantage.
The study, which was done with cooperation from ChamberOfCommerce.com, surveyed 20,000 small businesses in the US to see what some of the trends were regarding their spending levels and feelings about their advertising. The study’s 13 questions fell into two categories. First, the researchers sought to “explore the current scale of internet marketing amongst small & medium businesses, what works for them and their opinions on how this might change in the future”. The second aim was to see “how many SMBs use internet marketing consultants and agencies and how effective these working relationships are.” The surveys were conducted in October 2013, making this the most recent large-scale study of small business sentiments to be released.
One key takeaway from this study is that small businesses are using marketing. Only 4 percent of those surveyed the spent nothing on marketing every month while nearly 40 percent said they were spending more than $250 a month on marketing. Some beginning small business owners make the mistake of not investing enough into their advertising and marketing. Waiting until later to start professionally marketing a business is a good way to ensure their is no later for the business. As the research shows, the lion’s share of businesses are investing in marketing. Any business that isn’t places itself at a huge disadvantage with their competitors.
The research also makes a strong case for the growing importance of internet marketing. Most businesses have seen the value in internet marketing. Only 12 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t spend any money on internet or mobile advertising. Keep in mind that 4 percent of those surveyed spend nothing on marketing at all. On average, businesses spent about 46 percent of their marketing budget on internet and mobile channels. This clearly suggests that small business owners believe that internet and mobile marketing are good investments for reaching potential customers.
Another key finding of the study is that SEO remains extremely relevant and useful for small businesses. Following Word of Mouth, Search Engine Optimization was ranked the second most effective channel for bringing in new leads and customers. This fits in with the another result of the survey where 68 percent said internet marketing was either ‘quite’ or ‘very effective’ at attracting customers.
As was mentioned earlier, the study shows that more businesses are paying attention to the prospects of mobile marketing. This is also confirmed by the fact that 60 percent of the small businesses in the study said their website was mobile compatible. The importance of ensuring a site is mobile compatible can’t be stressed enough. A study from RKG that reviewed search results from the second quarter of 2013 showed that one in four of the clicks from Bing, Google, and Yahoo came from mobile devices. Businesses with a site that isn’t mobile ready risk losing 25 percent of the customers who wanted to view their site just because it can’t be viewed on their device. Just as it’s necessary to ensure that a webpage works on Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari, it’s important to ensure that pages can be seen on phones and tablets.
“Mobile is probably growing faster than anyone in the room expects,” said Matt Cutts from Google. “Mobile traffic to Google will surpass desktop traffic to Google pretty soon – not in weeks or a few months, but soon.”
The internet and communications technology is constantly changing and business owners need to pay attention to the latest trends or risk being left in the dust of their competitors. Investing in the marketing and advertising for a business is just as important as investing in infrastructure. The results from this recent study show that almost every small business owner is investing in their marketing. And not only that, the growing importance of internet and mobile marketing is also clear from the data. The way an organization markets itself to the public and how effectively they find new leads is the ultimate deciding factor on the success or failure of the company. Field of Dreams had it a little messed up. Building a perfect product means little if no one knows its there. If you market it, then they’ll come.