SMBs Slow to Adopt Digital Marketing Tools; Not Sure About Social Media

November 16, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Email | Local & Directories / Small Biz | Paid Search | PR | Search Engine Optimization | Social Media

SMBs are using a number of different tactics to draw new business, according to [download page] a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Act-on Software, but digital marketing continues to take a backseat to tried-and-true face-to-face tactics. Asked which techniques they use to acquire new customers, at least half indicated they were using 14 of the 15 identified. Leading the pack are personal relationships and networking (95%), tradeshows and industry events (89%), and in-person events (86%). Content marketing is also popular (83%), as is print advertising (77%) and PR (74%).

The most popular digital tool is SEO, used by 73% of respondents. Beyond that, SMBs are using a variety of digital tactics, including email marketing (72%), social media marketing (69%), digital advertising (61%), webinars (58%), and PPC (50%).

Social’s Worth Still Hasn’t Been Proven

The relatively low figure for social media adoption is surprising, and lower than in recent research.

Still, there seems to be a perception among SMBs that social media has not yet proven to be useful. For example, among the Act-On Software survey respondents using social marketing, 81% are using Facebook – but about 40% of those say they don’t know if it’s working. Similarly, 74% are posting on Twitter – but more than one-third of those are unsure of its usefulness.

Getting More Leads A Prime Challenge

The report – “Driving SMB Revenue in a Tough Economy” – also finds that the top marketing challenge for SMBs is converting more leads into opportunities, cited by 41%, slightly ahead of closing more deals from existing lead flows (39%). What’s interesting is that marketing programs aren’t being found to be prime contributors to the sales pipeline. In fact, most respondents said that less than one-quarter of their leads are attributed to a marketing program. The average contribution of marketing programs to that sales pipeline is 35%.

The study suggests that SMBs aren’t making enough use of marketing automation – only about 1 in 5 said they had implemented software that automates marketing and lead management processes. That compares to 56% who have implemented CRM technologies, and is despite other findings showing a correlation between use of marketing automation and revenue growth.

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