Yelp SMB Survey: 75% on Social Media, Focused Most on New Customers

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Last month Yelp released the results of a survey of 901 of its own small business members. I missed the release at the time so I’m circling back to it.

Among other things, the survey asks questions about 2016 revenue expectations. It also wants to know which candidates respondents are likely to support and so on. I’ll skip those questions and responses.

Below are the questions and answers that caught my attention. It should be emphasized that these respondents are not randomly selected SMBs; they’re Yelp members and so perhaps more digitally savvy than average.

Q: Which of the following, if any, do you currently use when marketing your business?

  • Social media platforms — 75%
  • Consumer review platforms — 48%
  • Search engine advertising — 48%
  • Customer relationship management tools — 32%
  • None of these — 9%

Comment: the number of businesses with a social media presence (probably Facebook) far exceed the number doing SEM. However this question did not ask specifically about social media advertising.

Q: How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement – digital marketing has helped my business acquire new customers.

  • Agree strongly — 43%
  • Agree somewhat — 42%
  • Disagree somewhat — 9%
  • Disagree strongly — 6%

Comment: 85% of respondents believe that digital marketing is beneficial vs. 15% who do not. No surprise here.

Q: In which of the following ways, if any, is digital technology helping your business succeed?

  • It helps me attract new customers — 71%
  • It helps me build relationships with existing customers — 43%
  • It provides access to real-time customer feedback — 35%
  • It helps me grow my business efficiently — 32%
  • It provides a cost-effective way to manage non-core elements of my business, such as accounting — 21%
  • Other — 1%
  • None of these — 11%

Comment: The majority appear to believe that digital media are most useful for new customer acquisition. However most SMBs probably get the bulk of their revenues from existing customers. A meaningful minority (43%) do see digital marketing as a tool to build and strengthen existing customer relationships. But a large group of these respondents don’t apparently recognize the ways that digital tools can help with loyalty and existing customer frequency.

Q: Which of the following is the biggest advantage of running a small business?

  • Doing something I love — 31%
  • Having the flexibility to work how I want — 21%
  • Making a difference in my community and local economy — 19%
  • Being my own boss — 16%
  • Controlling my own financial destiny — 10%
  • Other — 2%

Comment: Many people go into business for themselves for reasons that have to do more with lifestyle issues than making money. That proposition would seem to be validated by the hierarchy of responses above.

This raises the question about how much these businesses want to grow and how willing they are to spend on marketing or how critical they view marketing to be overall.

The majority of these respondents do seem to recognize the importance of digital media and marketing in general. Yet their degree of commitment to digital marketing is unclear. Someone may have a Facebook Page or claimed a Yelp profile but still not advertise.

Your thoughts? Anything jump out at you or that you find interesting here?

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6 Responses to “Yelp SMB Survey: 75% on Social Media, Focused Most on New Customers”

  1. Marketing Day: Top 10 YouTube Ads In December, Display Ad Report & Content Marketing Tips | Internet Marketing says at

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  2. Scott Barnett says at

    It would be interesting to see / ask how these businesses measure the effectiveness. For example, the 85% that say digital marketing has helped them acquire new business – do they know exactly how much new business they have acquired, or is it a “gut feel?”

    As with most things, we find that when we show concrete data, it can tend to differ quite a bit with assumed results.

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    I think gut feel is still is the order of the day

  4. Scott Barnett says at

    I agree, and that’s gotta change….

  5. Larissa says at

    Interesting as usual Greg. I would like to see a breakdown of what social platforms they are using (although we know the leader is probably FB), and it would be interesting to see how much of this digital activity is DIY or whether they pay/willing to pay/planning to pay for certain managed digital services.  

  6. Greg Sterling says at

    In terms of the traditional SMB market, more than 60% – 70% are doing self-management. It’s a different question about whether they’re effective . . . And social media is one of the areas that SMBs feel reasonably capable of managing themselves. That probably does not extend to ads, however.

  7. Jessica Meyer says at

    Yelp suffers due to the issues with the business owners and the fake reviews from the past.I think they won’t be able to recover and to increase the potential they have,because many people just don’t trust them.The business representatives would prefer marketing on platforms like Swarm/Foursquare,Customerso,Pinterest,Google Places,etc.Yelp is more for the kids now.

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