Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may not always have the same resources as their larger counterparts, but that doesn’t mean the importance of digital marketing is lost on them. And as the cost of digital marketing tools drops, SMBs are moving fast to incorporate them into the overall marketing mix, according to a poll of digital marketing decision-makers in the US conducted in March 2013 by marketing software company Vocus and Inc. Magazine.
SMBs kept their goals for digital marketing simple: Driving sales and increasing brand awareness were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. But SMBs also have ambitions to use digital tools to help drive customer engagement and reach new customer segments.
The top three tools or solutions used by SMBs for digital marketing were websites, used by 86.6% of respondents, social media (77.3%) and email marketing (65.8%). These digital marketing tools were also deemed the three most effective tools in the same order, with 33.9% reporting success with websites, followed by social media (24.9%) and then email (19.6%).
The survey also found that SMBs were most often assigning no more than one full-time employee to digital marketing duties, with more than one-third of firms staffing at that level. Almost three in 10 companies tasked between two and five full-time employees with digital marketing work, with much smaller numbers of companies staffing above that level.
For SMBs lacking staff and other resources, social media seems like a no-brainer. The back-end infrastructure is taken care of by someone else at little or no cost to the business—although properly maintaining a social media presence requires an investment of time, if nothing else. A January 2013 survey from online magazine Social Media Examiner found that the greatest percentage of SMB marketers worldwide (89%) had found social media helped them to gain exposure, and also increased their web traffic.