featuring the Top 2017 Goals, Challenges, and Tactics
In October 2016, Infusionsoft surveyed a panel of 1,009 self-identified small business owners via an online questionnaire they accessed with a mobile device. Here are the key findings of their survey:
Many small business owners aren’t ready for a digital world. Nearly one in five small business owners (17 percent) don’t plan to use any digital marketing tactics in 2017.
In many small businesses, the CEO is also the Chief Marketing Oficer. Almost half (49 percent) of small business owners handle marketing efforts themselves.
Marketing is a mystery to many small business owners. Forty-seven percent of small business owners don’t know if their marketing efforts are effective, while 10 percent know they aren’t.
The average small business marketing strategy isn’t diversified. Fewer than half of respondents use digital marketing tactics including email marketing, content marketing, digital advertising, and SEO.
Small business owners say they don’t have time for marketing. Of the many challenges small business owners face in their marketing efforts, respondents said finding time and resources for marketing is the greatest.
Gaining and retaining customers are the top marketing goals. Nearly 31 percent of small business owners identified driving sales as their No. 1 goal in 2017, while 23 percent said they need to keep the customers they already have.
Small businesses are getting more social (but mostly on Facebook). Social media is a top digital marketing priority for small business owners, with 56 percent planning to invest more in 2017. For most, social media means Facebook: Nearly three-quarters of respondents regularly use Facebook, but less than half use any other social platform.
Small business owners haven’t embraced tools that can aid their marketing efforts. Nearly one third of small business owners don’t use any marketing tools, while less than half use apps that can help them with social media management, website analytics, customer relationship management, and more.
Top Sales and Marketing Goals for 2017
Unsurprisingly, what small business owners (and our clients) want most is more business, both from new and existing customers.
1. Driving sales is the top marketing goal for 2017, shared by 31 percent.
2. Retaining and re-engaging customers is second at 23 percent.
3. Building awareness or conveying information to capture leads at the top of the sales funnel is third at 14 percent.
4. Gaining efficiency and saving costs is fourth at 11 percent.
5. Lead capture is fifth with 7 percent stating it as their top goal.
Top Sales and Marketing Challenges for 2017
The top five challenges are:
1. Getting the work done.
The most difficult aspect of digital marketing is simply getting the work done. Nineteen percent of respondents named finding time and resources for marketing as their top challenge for 2017. Perhaps that’s because nearly half of small business owners handle marketing on their own—which means marketing isn’t the only area of the business they oversee. Forty-nine percent of small business owners are the sole marketers at their companies, while only 22 percent have the help of staff members and 22 percent hire contractors for all or some of their marketing efforts.
2. Converting leads into customers.
For 18 percent of respondents, the greatest marketing challenge is converting leads into customers, a problem that speaks to their top goal of driving sales.
3. Generating quality web traffic. Without quality web traffic everything comes to a standstill. Fifteen percent of small business owners cited this as their top challenge.
4. Digital marketing itself.
For 10 percent of small business owners the greatest challenge is understanding marketing tactics and trends.
5. Capturing leads.
This is cited as their top challenge by 8 percent of respondents.
It’s worth mentioning that 17 percent of business owners don’t plan to do any digital marketing in 2017.
And because small businesses struggle to use and understand digital marketing, it’s no surprise that less than half of them find their marketing efforts effective. Forty-seven percent of small business owners don’t know if their marketing strategy works, while 10 percent know that it doesn’t.
Top 7 Tactical Priorities for 2017
1. Social Media Marketing
If there’s one aspect of digital marketing that small business owners are getting the hang of, it’s social media. For small businesses, social media is both the No. 1 digital marketing tactic and the No. 1 area for marketing investment in 2017, with 70 percent of respondents planning to use social media and 56 percent increasing their social media budget.
Although small businesses are investing time and budget into social media, their use of social media is mostly limited to Facebook—a platform that has increasingly reduced the reach of organic content from businesses in favor of personal and paid posts. While 72 percent of small businesses regularly post on Facebook, less than half use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest.
2. Email Marketing
With the exceptionally high return on investment offered by email marketing it’s no wonder that 44 percent of small business owners cited it as a top tactical priority.
3. Digital Advertising
At 42 percent digital advertising is a close third priority. This ties in with the top goals of driving sales and using retargeting to retain and re-engage existing customers.
4. Search Engine Optimization
To get organic traffic from search engines you need to be found when prospects are searching. Small business owners realize this and 39% of them are making it a top tactical priority.
5. Sales and Marketing Automation
This is no surprise since gaining efficiency and saving costs is ranked as the fourth most important goal for 2017. Also, most small businesses have already adopted sales and marketing automation to some degree.
6. Content Marketing
At 27 percent content marketing is sixth on the priority list. Again, this is no surprise because most small businesses have already invested in a mobile friendly website and a variety of campaigns to help prospects learn before they buy.
7. Video Marketing
According to Cisco, 82 percent of internet traffic will stem from video by 2020. But most small businesses aren’t part of the trend. Only 23 percent of small businesses surveyed create video to attract customers, making video slightly less popular than direct mail (used by 24 percent of respondents).
Digital marketing is constantly changing. But with those changes come many opportunities for small businesses to connect with more customers—and get ahead of the competition.
Now more than ever, small businesses have access to the same digital marketing tactics used by the most successful corporations, including marketing automation, CRM, social media, SEO, content marketing, and digital advertising.
By embracing these tools and tactics, small businesses can grow and thrive in an increasingly digital world.
Compare your own goals, challenges and priorities with those listed above. If there are similarities you’ll gain a lot from the rest of this series. Your next email will be in your inbox within two business days. Be on the lookout for it.
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Credit for the statistics in this article goes to the October 2016 Infusionsoft survey.