Search engine optimization (SEO) is a low priority for most SMB’s and social media is still too complicated to implement and maintain. These are the key finding from a new survey by Web.com, among 300 small business owners (SMB’s) with between 1 and 500 employees, on how they use online channels to grow their revenues and build their brands. Although SMB’s are often categorized as businesses employing between 1 – 500 employees, in reality 90% of SMB’s have between 1 and 4 employees and spend, on average, annually $5000.00 on marketing.
SMB Expectations And Plans For 2017
The Web.com survey, which was conducted after the November 2016 election, revealed that two-thirds of SMB’s expect the US economy to improve in 2017 and that 86% believed they will be able to grow their business revenue this year. A 2016 mid-year SMB economic study by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) also reported that 6 in 10 SMB’s are optimistic about their future revenue growth. Many SMB’s (45%) are looking for new advertising and marketing strategies meet their goals. Full infographic at the end of this post.
Slightly more than two-thirds (66%) of SMB’s participating in the Web.com survey believed that having an online presence will help them grow their business revenue and attract new customers, but only half (54%) indicated they were very confident that their business’ online presence in 2017 will live up to their expectations. This is no surprise when 42% of the survey participants reported that they don’t use a robust website and social media to market their businesses.
When asked about the biggest challenges they face with their online presence in 2017 the responses highlighted that creating high-quality content for effective social media and organic search engine optimization presents a heavy burden for the vast majority of SMB’s.
Although the majority of SMB’s were aware of the potential impact online marketing can have on their businesses 43% indicated they didn’t have plans to change or improve their online presence in 2017.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a low priority for most SMB’s. Only 17% of the survey participants said they plan to add SEO to their online marketing strategy in 2017. A meager 5% considered SEO a high priority despite the fact most online research by consumers starts with a search at Google, Bing, Yelp or other local online directories. 6% of SMB’s surveyed by Web.com said that implementing SEO is a challenge for their businesses.
The low interest in SEO is most likely due to the increased complexity of local SEO and the fierce competition among local SMB’s for a top-spot in the local 3-pack, Local Finder, and local organic search results.
Nearly 9 in 10 SMB’s (88%) participating in the Web.com survey reported they were using social media and more than half (54%) said they plan to invest in social media in 2017. Some 85% of survey participants admitted they had faced challenges and/or barriers when using social media to market their businesses. 14% of SMB’s said they were overwhelmed with the ongoing maintenance required to keep social media profiles/pages up-to-date. Another 15% was concerned with risking their reputation on certain sensitive issues. 13% didn’t understand how social media would help their business and 10% felt they did not have the skills and resources to set-up social media profiles/pages.
Social Media Platforms
When asked which social media platform was most effective for their business, survey participants ranked Facebook as the most effective, followed by Twitter, ahead of LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Snapchat. Yelp, eBay, YouTube, and Tumblr were mentioned as playing a role in the overall online marketing effort.
Facebook has been consistently rated the most effective social media platform for SMB’s. Another recent survey identified the best social network platforms for promoting an SMB business online. 45% of survey participants rated Facebook as the preferred social media platform. Additionally, 25% of survey participants said LinkedIn produced the best results for them and 23% said Twitter did. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of SMB’s that answered the Web.com survey said they were still using their personal social media profiles to market their businesses, instead of a social media business account. 16% said that they were on social media, but didn’t have a business website to drive referrals to.
8 in 10 SMB’s (81%) participating in the Web.com survey felt they were doing a good job keeping their online assets secure with a 4 to 5 point rating on a 5-point scale where 5 indicates “most secure”. An overwhelming majority (81%) felt their web pages were secure or very secure. However, with so many security breaches that are often go undetected these days, the real question is – do SMB’s actually know whether they are at risk or not.
Outsource Versus In-house
What many SMB’s have in common are modest levels of marketing expertise, technological know-how, and resources. Small business owners are often forced to juggle many roles, needing to be experts in everything from IT to customer service to serving as chief marketing officer for their businesses. More than two-thirds (68%) of SMB’s surveyed by Web.com said they handle the implementation and maintenance of their online presence in-house, compared with 22% who said they outsource this work to an agency or consultant. 9% said they were relying on family and friends to set up their online marketing channels and build their websites.
SMB Competitiveness With Big Business
SMB’s often beat big business when it comes to personal service and customer experience. The Web.con survey revealed that nearly half of the participants said they felt they had an edge over larger companies because they had a personal connection with customers. But the survey also highlighted the areas where SMB’s struggle to compete with larger companies. The biggest threat from large businesses is their ability to offer a better price, their speed in responding to customers and their wider reach.