Very Small Businesses to Increase Online Marketing Efforts

Even the smallest business operators are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A significant minority of businesses with 4 or fewer employees says the economy has somewhat improved in the past 12 months. As a result,  these small businesses plan to increase advertising, especially online, this year.

The results of the first quarter Merchant Confidence Index (MCI) survey indicate that nearly 44% of very small businesses are looking for a somewhat improved sales picture in the next 3 months. However, only 18.5% say they will increase headcount. While 59% plan to keep their marketing budgets level, another 23% will somewhat increase their advertising expenditures. Note that just over half of these businesses spent $2,500 or less annually on advertising.

These business operators believe the following marketing strategies have been most effective:

  • Search engine marketing 40.2%
  • Creating a profile on a social network 40.2%
  • Email marketing 35.8%

These respondents appear to be particularly interested in online marketing. Here are the percentages of businesses who say they are using specific online tactics:

  • Facebook 70.3%
  • Google 66.2%
  • LinkedIn 58.2%
  • Google Places 51.4%
  • Yahoo 49.2%
  • Yahoo Local 45%
  • Twitter 39.8%
  • Citysearch 39.3%
  • Yellowbook 39.5%
  • Superpages​.com 33.3%

In addition, the 2 most likely online strategies that these businesses plan to investigate in the near future are YouTube (16.4%) and Groupon (13%). It may be that smaller businesses perceive online advertising to be less expensive than traditional advertising or they may believe digital marketing is more effective. Either way, they are committed to continuing their shift into the digital arena.

[Source: The Merchant Circle Blog. 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.