Half of Small Businesses Spend Less than $300 Per Month on Online Marketing

BrightLocal (an online seo analytics tools provider) recently released their annual internet marketing survey of small- to medium-sized businesses. Their survey covered more than 736 small businesses. These are all employers that have less than 50 employees to be qualified as respondents. 

Top Takeaways from the Survey

We see that more small businesses plan to increase their online marketing budgets compared to last year. I know that’s always a question: Is online marketing still an exciting new thing? Is It still a growing space? This data says: yes, it is. Thirty-seven percent say they will be increasing their online marketing budgets this year, which is a 16% increase over the answer to that question at the same time last year. 

More Small and Medium Sized Businesses Sites are Optimized for Mobile

We’ve been blogging about this for over a year (how important this is – See last month’s blog for more details), and, indeed, 66% said their sites are now mobile ready compared to 59% last year. That continues to be a big growth area for small businesses. 

There was also a question about how much businesses are spending on marketing as a whole. It’s interesting; only 16% are spending more than $1,000 a monthEighty-three percent are spending less than $1,000, and, actually, a whopping 70% are spending about $300 a month.  4% don’t do any online marketing at all.

Channels That Are Most Effective

In terms of channels, when people ask, “What is the most effective way of bringing in new business?” Again — this is overall —28% said word-of-mouth, 20% said SEO, 15% local directories, and 10% email marketing. It’s really interesting to see that 28% word-of-mouth, which confirms that you still need a good brand and you still need good customer service, which gets you that word-of-mouth referral.

Top Three Priorities

In terms of priorities — in terms of how businesses are measuring the results of their marketing — 31% said incoming phone calls is the number one priority, 20% said website traffic, and 20% said search rankings in terms of their top three priorities. Again, those phone calls — a live customer on the line [is] still the most important thing, even if you have many page one rankings. People are measuring and looking for phone calls.

In-house versus Outsourcing

In terms of in-house vs. outsourcing – Eighteen percent said they outsource their SEO needs. That’s compared to 15% last year. Sixty-four percent are doing online marketing in-house compared to 68% last year. So a little tick up in people outsourcing — maybe some of the complexities that Google has continued to roll out and the number of different platforms out there — have made people think, “Maybe I need some help doing this.” Only 29% said they understand internet marketing and are doing it themselves compared to 40% last year. In terms of satisfaction with their outsourcer, 75% rated their consultant or agency positively.

The Top Things that SMBs Look for In an Agency

The top three things they’re looking for in an agency are: low cost, and a solid reputationSEO has gotten so much more complex as Google has introduced algorithmic changes. It has pushed us to new and cleaner approaches. People are finding it more complex and wanting to hire an expert. The more that SEO merges with PR activities and press releases and traditional marketing and branding — that makes sense — it’s just a harder thing to do in-house. 

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