Another SMB survey conducted in January by Network Solutions, based on interviews with 500 business (headcount <100), featured a wide range of findings about technology adoption and marketing practices. I highlight a few of them below. (Most of the findings are verbatim. I have edited for length in some cases.)
Not keeping up with larger competitors:
A key challenge faced by small businesses is positioning their enterprises as having the same capabilities as their larger competitors. Only a third (33%) feel they are successful competing with the big companies, compared to almost half (47%) a year ago.
Internet increasingly important:
- 42% consider [the Internet] highly important to their success, compared to only 33% back in June.
- Over half of small businesses (56%) now have websites, up from 46% a year ago.
- 55% update their websites less than once a month, and 26% update them no more than once a year.
- 27% of small businesses have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan, up from 19% a year ago.
Social media adoption gaining; tied to website investment
- Social media is now used by almost a third of small businesses (31%), up from 24% a year ago and 12% two years ago.
- Most commonly used social media sites are Facebook (used by 27% of all small businesses) and LinkedIn (18%).
- 62% of social media users feel their use of this medium has no effect on their web investments, while 27% believe it will result in greater spending (only 9% would spend less or forgo their website)
Perceived value and performance of social media:
- Objectives/uses: staying engaged with customers, developing higher awareness of the company, and identifying and attracting new customers.
- 63% of owners feel it has helped make their customers more loyal
- 56% feel it has taken up more time than they expected.
- 25% of small business owners estimate that their investment in social media has made a profit while 15% estimate they have lost money; the remainder (46%) feel they broke even.
- Often social media has fallen short of expectations (36%) vs. exceeded expectations (9%)
Social media on mobile devices:
- Of those who use social media already, 47% use social media to send text messages to customers
- 47% use their mobile devices to respond to other people’s comments on social media sites.
Mobile marketing farther out for SMBs:
- Most owners consider mobile marketing to be “ahead of its time” (24%) or “cutting edge” (36%).
- 15% of small business owners believe that mobile marketing would be “extremely” or “very valuable”
- 20% feel it would be “somewhat” valuable.
Almost half (48%) of owners consider being listed on an LBS site to be at least somewhat valuable to their business:
- 19% have already done this
- 33% will have done so in two years if owners carry out their plans
Despite the claim that these findings are weighted to be “representative” of all SMBs, there is no truly “representative” sample of SMBs. Different surveys generate different percentage outcomes.