While many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have been quick to embrace free postings on social media networks, a quarter of those active on social networks expect to spend more money to advertise on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in 2014, according to a report from Ad-ology Research.
The company’s Small Business Marketing Forecast indicated small-business owners still have plenty of work to do when building up an online presence.
For instance, 31.1 percent of the 1,169 small-business owners and marketing decision makers surveyed said they still don't have a website, and of the nearly 70 percent that do, more than 60 percent of them are not optimized for smartphones.
In addition, just 8.9 percent of SMBs are currently using online or mobile video, and nearly 40 percent said they have no plans to use customer testimonials in their marketing efforts in 2014.
"The larger the business, the greater the use of advertising and targeted marketing tactics like email blasts," C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research, said in a statement. "Small businesses with at least 25 employees aren't necessarily using social media to avoid advertising. They're more likely to actually advertise on these networks."
Nearly 80 percent of social SMBs plan to spend the same or more advertising on social media networks. While nearly 41 percent do not currently use promoted posts or sponsored tweets, 13.8 percent of small-business owners plan to spend more on these platforms in 2014, according to the report.
About 40 percent SMB owners who spend at least $1,000 per year on advertising indicate they will invest more in advertising in 2014, and nearly 21 percent of SMBs said they will allocate more funds to direct mail.
Other forms of advertising expected to see the greatest increases in 2014 include display banner ads, online video, mobile advertising, and suburban and community newspapers.
The survey also indicated email marketing continues to be a priority among small businesses. More than three-fourths (78 percent) sent email blasts to clients and prospects in the past year, and nearly 20 percent plan to send even more in 2014.
Use of an email service or platform such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, for example, continues to rise, with nearly 42 percent using an email platform – up from 31 percent last year.
A similar BIA/Kelsey report released in August 2013 revealed SMBs are increasingly settling in to social media platforms like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter to promote their businesses.
Nearly three-quarters of SMBs surveyed (72 percent) said they were employing such platforms, and more than half (52 percent) of SMBs surveyed have a Facebook page for their business. Another quarter said that they have a Google+ Local page.