Survey: Facebook Top SMB Marketing Tool, Google Offers Coming on Strong

MerchantCircle, which is now owned by Reply.com, has released the results of its latest merchant confidence index. Originally conceived to assess SMBs’ perceptions of the economy and their top business challenges, the survey is a great barometer of SMB marketing attitudes and tactics. (Disclosure: I have contributed a number of questions to the survey over time.)

The survey was conducted last month and received roughly 2,500 responses from SMBs drawn from Merchant Circle’s 1.6 million member database. Almost 80% (78%) were from companies with fewer than four employees. Only 1.7% of responses came from merchants with more than 50 employees. The headcount distribution of businesses in the sample is directionally consistent with US Census data.

Just under half of the respondents (48%) saw the business climate as weaker, while 52% said it was improved to varying degrees. Only 21% of these businesses said they were going to decrease marketing spending. Most were going to hold the line (57%) or increase spending (29%). The majority (63%) of these SMBs said they spent $2,500 or less on marketing annually.

Social networks and Facebook Ads

The top promotional tool was Facebook followed by Google. However this is not Facebook Ads; more on that in a moment.

In terms of Facebook advertising, 78% of these SMBs had not tried it. Of the 24% that had, a majority said they would use it again.

The top three reasons among the “wouldn’t use it again group” were:

  1. Didn’t acquire customers
  2. Too expensive
  3. Low CTR

Deals and the Rise of Google Offers

In this sample 88% of respondents had not offered a daily deal (7% of this group planned to in the next six months). Among the group of respondents that had done a deal in the past, 75% said they would do it again. That’s a significantly larger number than in the past and positive news for daily deal vendors generally.

The top three reasons for not offering a deal again were:

  1. Ineffective for customer acquisition
  2. Too expensive
  3. Lost money

This group may not be representative of the marketplace as a whole in terms of the deal vendors used, but here are the data:

  1. Other — 43%
  2. Groupon — 26%
  3. Facebook deals — 22%
  4. LivingSocial– 21%
  5. Google Offers– 19%

Which vendors would these SMBs use again? Google is the winner:

  1. Google Offers — 32%
  2. Groupon — 26%
  3. Other — 25%
  4. LivingSocial– 16%

Cost, local targeting and reach were the top criteria identified in choosing a deals vendor.

Mobile Marketing

Finally, 15% of these respondents said they had a persistent mobile presence in the form of a mobile website (12%) or an app (3%). Other efforts being pursued by 13% of respondents included SMS, mobile search and mobile couponing. However 72% said they were not doing any mobile marketing or advertising at all. But that’s a significant improvement from February of this year when 83% said they weren’t doing anything in mobile.

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One Response to “Survey: Facebook Top SMB Marketing Tool, Google Offers Coming on Strong”

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