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Small Businesses Moving to Digital Marketing

Small Businesses Moving to Digital Marketing Leslie Van Zee
Small and medium-sized businesses are beginning to realize that digital marketing and online advertising are important tools in achieving success. In the past, many small business owners had ignored digital media, and they were subsequently left in the cold as young and middle-aged customers flocked to competitors making use of this avenue.

A new survey based on data from 300 small and midsized businesses in the third quarter of 2012 was recently published by BIA/Kelsey, a distinguished local-media research firm. One of the top findings of the survey was that 40 percent of these businesses are planning to increase their budgets for digital marketing sometime in the next year. While 40 percent is not a majority, only 3.7 percent said they planned to decrease their budgets for online advertising. In the survey, 48 percent of business owners said they would maintain the same budgets, and 8.3 percent were not sure if their budgets would go up, go down or remain the same.

One of the major reasons why many small businesses are increasing spending for online advertising is that there is a wide variety of legitimate online channels through which to market every type of company. Most businesses claimed that their budgets for online marketing would be spread across multiple channels. Also helping the trend is the availability of assistance from digital agencies that specialize in online display for small business, such as Vantage Local.

Business owners have slowly begun to understand that their potential customers are not available through a single website. The customer bases of most small businesses are spread through a variety of channels, and missing one of them could make a big difference in how many new customers are acquired in the coming year. In 2007, small businesses engaged in digital marketing through an average of three channels, but according to the new survey, the average channels being used per business was 5.8. This means that the number of online channels used for advertising by the average small business has nearly doubled in the past five years.

The online channel rated as the favorite among the small businesses surveyed is Facebook. Over 52 percent of businesses used Facebook for promotional purposes, which puts it above most other forms of marketing, such as the following:

• Newspaper advertising – 31 percent

• Community sponsorship – 27 percent

• Email marketing – 25 percent

The slowest sector in small-business advertising is mobile marketing. Although mobile marketing is becoming a trend, only one in five small businesses in the survey had any type of mobile marketing strategy in place, and about one-third of respondents had never heard of mobile marketing.

Leslie Van Zee is passionate about entrepreneurship and understanding what makes small businesses successful.  An avid fan of lean startups, she makes sure to get out of the building as much as possible in her role as manager of marketing...

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