Inexpensive, modern grassroots marketing techniques—both online and offline—have grown to be among the most popular for small businesses.
Nearly 60 percent of small businesses surveyed plan on spending as much in 2012 as they did in 2011 or more on online marketing efforts, according to the 2012 "AT&T Small Business Technology Poll."
Inexpensive, modern grassroots marketing techniquesboth online and offlinehave grown to be among the most popular for small businesses in the past several years likely due to ease of use and general affordability, according to the study. While 79 percent of small businesses surveyed are using word-of-mouth to promote their business, 63 percent are using their company Websites and 39 percent are using social media channels, according to the report.
The "AT&T Small Business Technology Poll," a national survey of more than 1,200 small businesses with two to 100 employees, also found that 25 percent of small business owners using location-based services believe that the application is important for sales generation, compared with just 2 percent in 2010. Since 2010, the use of location-based social channels, such as Foursquare, among small business owners has nearly doubled from 5 percent to 9 percent.
Among small business owners that are using wireless mobile devices, those in the education and nonprofit fields are accessing social media at the highest rates, 50 percent and 52 percent respectively, compared with a national average of 43 percent. Three-fourths of small businesses surveyed have a Website, about the same as last year, with nearly a third (31 percent) having a mobile Website (i.e., one designed for viewing on a smartphone).
In todays market, small business owners need to maintain a competitive edge, and with a variety of low-cost resources available, small businesses can easily deploy complex marketing campaigns that span all media and audiences, said AT&Ts vice president of small business product management Ebrahim Keshavarz.
Small businesses with a LinkedIn presence increased from 25 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2011, a jump of almost 25 percent, while small businesses with a Facebook presence increased slightly from 41 percent in 2010 to 44 percent last year, while those with a Twitter presence dropped slightly year-over-year from 19 percent to 18 percent. While LinkedIn has always been a popular resource for recruiters, small-business owners are increasingly using the social forum for networking with other businesses and gaining awareness from other businesses and consumers in the local community.
Only 4 percent of small businesses are using daily deal sites (i.e., LivingSocial, Groupon) for marketing purposes, led by leisure, tourism and lodging businesses, of which 14 percent are using these sites. Of those businesses using daily deal sites, more than 90 percent are running promotions at least several times per year. Male business owners are more likely to rely on their company Website for marketing than female owners (65 percent versus 58 percent), while female business owners are more likely to rely on social media than their male counterparts (48 percent versus 34 percent).
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.