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Marketing new technology to small businesses? New data from Wells Fargo and Gallup’s latest Small Business Index offers some insights into the extent to which these businesses are upgrading their systems and software. In their survey of more than 600 small business owners, Wells Fargo and Gallup found that 48% had over the past 2 years upgraded to new software for their businesses’ computer systems.

More than one-third (37%) had digitized their businesses’ record management services, moving from physical files and records to a digitized source.

Some small businesses also report having invested in an app or other mobile optimization capability for their company website (24%), while one-fifth had expanded the e-commerce presence of their business. However, for the time being relatively few offer ways for customers to order (26%) or pay for (28%) products or services using their smartphone or computer without having to deal directly with the firm’s employees.

Finally, a small number (15%) of small businesses report having introduced over the past couple of years a marketing automation tool to automate marketing efforts.

Previous research from Salesforce indicates that small businesses spend about 15% of their annual budgets on technology. Price is by far their most important factor when making price decisions.

More recently, a survey from the SMB Group notes that in small businesses, the Business Owner or President is the most likely to take on technology decision-making. The Owner or President identifies the need three-quarters of the time, while making the final purchase decision for 78% of the respondents. The in-house IT department’s role is greatest (decision-maker one-quarter of the time) when it comes to evaluating different solutions.

What Upgrades Are Small Businesses Planning?

Looking to the year ahead, few small businesses responding to the Wells Fargo and Gallup survey are likely to hire an outside company or consultant to advise on their businesses’ technology needs (15%) or to add or update their digital payment options (22%).

And given that half have already upgraded their business software, enthusiasm for doing so in the next year (29%) is fairly limited.

By contrast, a majority (53%) are likely to change or update their businesses’ website in the coming year, while 51% plan to increase their online presence through online marketing and social media sites.

Separate results from the survey indicate that small businesses are most likely to have an active social media presence on Facebook (53%), though fewer than half (44%) have an active social media strategy.

Social media is considered most important for acquiring new customers (54% citing as at least somewhat important), marketing to new and existing customers (53%), advertising the business (52%), increasing revenues (49%) and communicating with current customers (45%).

About the Data: The results are based on telephone interviews conducted in early October with 602 small business owners.

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