Small business owners, I have to hand it to you: you’ve been juggling a lot all on your own.
In addition to all the work of, you know, running your business, there’s a very good chance you’re handling all your marketing by yourself, too.
How do I know that? Last month, LeadPages teamed up with Infusionsoft to release the 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report, based on a survey of 1,026 owners and managers of small- and medium-size businesses from across the U.S. Among other illuminating findings, the survey discovered that 47% of respondents were solely responsible for their marketing.
When you’re that busy running and marketing your business, it can be hard to find time to look around and analyze what your peers and competitors are doing. What tactics are they finding to be successful? What strategies no longer work? And what can you do to gain a competitive edge?
One way to find out: read our full 12-page report and our companion piece, “9 Ways to Be a Superior Small Business Marketer in 2016.” Click below to get both delivered straight to your inbox:
While those two reports are zipping toward you, check out some of the most surprising statistics from the survey and see how you stack up to the average small business marketer in 2016.
Surprising statistic #1: 1 in 5 small business owners doesn’t use digital marketing yet.
As ubiquitous as the internet is, and as mobile-connected as most U.S. consumers are, a significant chunk of small business owners aren’t even trying to reach customers online.
What are they waiting for? We’d need to do more detailed research to find out. Lack of time or tech knowledge may be one perceived barrier. But, as the next stat shows, these non-digital marketers may not know how to judge whether new tactics are worth trying.
Surprising statistic #2: 49% of small business owners aren’t sure if their marketing efforts are effective, and 14% know they’re not.
That’s right: a distinct minority of small business marketers are using tactics that they actually know to be effective. Half are fumbling in the dark (and one hopes the unlucky 14% are planning to make some major changes in 2016).
It’s notoriously difficult to track the return on investment in offline advertising techniques, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that figure included the same population that doesn’t use any digital marketing. But what’s going wrong for the rest?
Some suggestions emerge when we examine the particular digital marketing tools small business owners are using.
Surprising statistic #3: Most small business owners maintain a website—but fewer than half do any online marketing beyond that.
By and large, small business owners recognize that a website is a crucial marketing asset. 72% of respondents have a business site, and 51% will budget more to maintain or improve their site this year.
But digital marketing adoption drops off swiftly from there. The next largest group, including 43% of respondents, run online ads, whether social, search-based, or otherwise.
Where is that ad traffic going? Most likely, it’ll go to their home pages: only 22% use focused landing pages or other purpose-specific pages. If you’re running targeted ads with a specific call to action, sending people to click around your main site misses a major opportunity to inspire sales and opt-ins.
Lack of landing page awareness may be part of a larger trend. You probably won’t set up landing pages unless you’re looking for leads—and not everybody is.
Surprising statistic #4: 1 in 2 small business owners cares strongly about driving sales in 2016, but only 1 in 3 will pay much attention to lead generation.
Unsurprisingly, sales are a top focus for small business owners using digital marketing this year. More surprisingly, an equal number of respondents will primarily use digital marketing just to get their company’s name and basic information out there.
Advertising of the second type is less likely to contain a strong call to action, and its impact—real as it may be—will be difficult to track. It will certainly be more difficult to track than marketing designed to capture leads, which was named as a main goal by only 34% of respondents.
Without leads, you’re just shouting your message across the internet and hoping someone hears it; when someone does show up, you probably won’t be quite sure how they arrived.
As important as revenue and profits are, you’ll have a hard time optimizing your marketing to bring in more money if you can’t collect and track leads.
However, online lead generation can be complex. And as we’ll see, many small business owners don’t have the tools to make it manageable.
Surprising statistic #5: Half of small business owners use 2 or fewer software platforms or applications in their marketing.
Despite the rapidly proliferating number of digital marketing tools out there—many of them aimed specifically at small businesses—most small business owners maintain a very small digital toolkit. Set up a website and one social media profile, and you’ve reached the upper limit of complexity half of small business owners are willing to handle.
Of course, no one should go out and buy software they aren’t going to use. But in order to get insight into the success metrics that let you truly know whether your digital marketing is working, you’re going to need an easy way to access basic data such as conversion rates. And that’s very difficult if you don’t have even a single app or software program that performs those calculations.
Put the whole picture together, and any one of these statistics becomes less surprising on its own. Pressed for time and wearing many different hats, many small business owners tend to stick with what they know—even when they know what they’re doing isn’t optimized to get results.
But the picture isn’t entirely gloomy. It also means small business owners have a world of marketing opportunities available that they just haven’t tapped yet.
They just need to decide to seize them. And with tools like LeadPages® and other DIY-friendly software platforms on their side, seizing those opportunities should be much easier than continuing to struggle with tactics that only sort of work.
Interested in more insights on the state of small business marketing today? Click to download the full 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report along with our companion piece, “9 Ways to Be a Superior Small Business Marketer in 2016:”
Were you surprised by any of these statistics? Tell us why (or why not) in the comments.