Social media is an important online marketing channel for US small businesses (SMB’s). It is for many SMB’s a great equalizer in the competition with larger companies because it is relatively inexpensive to access and execute without high expenses. It is therefore not surprising that more than half of SMB’s surveyed by Vistaprint Digital revealed that social media is their primary digital marketing channel, far more than company websites and online advertisements. But is it also the most effective digital marketing channel in terms of generating ROI? Apparently not according to a poll conducted by the NYAMA/BrandSpark American in partnership with software provider Depresy. The latter reported that email marketing, by far, outperforms social media when it comes to ROI.
SMB Digital Marketing Channels
In September last year, Vistaprint Digital surveyed 1,000 US SMB’s to find out how business owners and marketers at businesses with less than 10 employees were using online marketing and maximized ROI. The survey revealed that 86% of the participating SMB’s were marketing their businesses through online and offline marketing channels. An online presence was very important to slightly more than half (52.7%) of SMB’s. Nearly one-third said that it was important. Overall, SMB’s understood that an online presence is essential if they want to expand their customer base beyond their neighborhoods.
More than half (53.3%) of the survey participants said they primarily use social media to market their businesses online. Another third of small business owners and marketers said they mainly use their company websites to promote their businesses. Other digital marketing channels like online display advertising and directory listings fell far short with only 6.6% and 5.0%, respectively, among those who participated in the survey.
Interestingly, the priority of digital marketing channels varies by gender, with female SMB’s more likely to name social media as their main online marketing channel, while men seem to rely more on the company website as their primary marketing channel. Surprisingly, email marketing – another popular digital marketing channel with a relatively low barrier of entry – was not included in the Vistaprint survey.
Email Marketing ROI
In a recent survey conducted by New York American Marketing Association (NYAMA) and BrandSpark, in partnership with software provider Depresy, among more than 650 US marketers, email marketing was rated the preferred digital marketing channel. 84% of survey participants said email marketing was their main digital marketing channel, followed by social media (77%). In 2016 email marketing was rated by far the most effective digital channel in terms of generating ROI by nearly one-third of the survey participants, according to the Depresy survey data, followed by paid search (19%) and social media (17%).