Chicago (PRESS RELEASE – June 11, 2011) – Affinity Express Inc., the leading offshore, onshore and onsite provider of high-volume print and interactive advertising and marketing production solutions, with hundreds of multi-media publishing, marketing services, retailer and other clients, released the results of its survey of small- to medium-sized business (SMB) customers to measure their use of online advertising and marketing tactics.
Around 70 SMBs responded to the survey and 63% and have used online advertising or marketing for their business. Website and landing pages is the most commonly used tactic used by 77% of respondents, with email marketing following closely (73%). Half of the respondents use social media marketing (50%) and around one-third use search engine optimization (31%) and online catalogs (27%). Channels like display ads (23%), blogging (23%), search ads (19%), and mobile (15%) are less explored.
An interesting find is the low use of search engine optimization compared to the prevalence of websites and landing pages as a marketing tactic. This indicates that SMBs are focusing efforts on developing websites and landing pages, but not on optimizing those pages to get found in search results.
Sales is the Most Important Online Marketing Objective
Sales is the most important focus for a small business owner (36% voted it the most important objective of their online advertising or marketing activities), and drives her marketing strategy. However, 23% respondents indicated that brand awareness was most important. Less important are lead generation (14%), lead nurturing (9%), customer service (9%), reputation management (5%), and customer lifetime value (5%).
Only 12% SMBs Consider Online Marketing Very Effective
The focus on sales might be partly why SMB owners don’t rate online tactics as very effective. Only 12% consider online advertising and marketing very effective and 44% admit it is somewhat effective. 36% rate online tactics somewhat ineffective for their businesses, while 8% consider it very ineffective.
Search Engine Optimization is the Most Effective Online Marketing Tactic
Even though search engine optimization isn’t used by many SMBs, it emerged as the most effective tactic with 33% voting it very effective. Website and landing pages are at a distant second (16%), followed closely by email marketing (15%), online display ads (13%), search ads (13%), online catalogs (13%), and mobile (12%). Surprisingly, social media marketing (9%) and blogging (6%) are considered least effective.
Cost and Lack of Resources Are Significant Challenges
The biggest challenge that SMBs face with online marketing is the high cost of external resources (27%), followed closely by insufficient expertise (25%) and lack of measurable ROI (25%). Lack of in-house resources is the most significant issue for 20% of respondents and lack of buy-in from management is only an issue with 2%.
SMBs Manage Online Marketing In-House or Through DIY Services
57% respondents have internal teams manage online advertising and marketing and 48% use online do-it-yourself services. 22% use outsourcing providers, 4% use freelance providers, and 4% use Affinity Express, who only started offering online advertising and marketing production to this category in 2011.
84% Respondents Will Use Online Marketing in 2011
Despite the perceived low effectiveness of online marketing, 84% respondents say they plan to use online marketing in 2011.
Respondents’ Business Size
Almost all the survey respondents are owners or employees of a small business, with over half of the businesses employing 2-10 people and 26% employing only one person. Only 8% of the businesses have more than 500 employees. 5% each have 11-100 and 101-500 employees respectively.
About Affinity Express
Affinity Express is the leading business process outsourcing company that is 100% dedicated to interactive and print advertising and marketing production solutions and one of the Global Services 100 for 2010. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Affinity Express has more than 900 employees and maintains production centers in Pune, India and Manila, Philippines. The company is the only multi-shore BPO in the outsourced graphic production space, which offers disaster recovery and business continuity planning for clients. Affinity Express delivers services 24 hours per day and six days per week, executing designs in more than 30 software packages and multiple platforms. The company manages its unique creative process with a continuous improvement approach based on Lean Six Sigma, so that clients receive reliable output with fast turn times for their mission-critical digital files. The comprehensive, customized advertising and marketing production solutions of Affinity Express help clients lower operational costs, generate higher profits and gain a competitive edge, without having to invest in establishing and maintaining these capabilities internally.
At the end of 2006, LiveIt Investments, Inc., the holding company for Ayala Corporation’s investments in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, acquired 99.95% of Delaware-incorporated Affinity Express. Founded in 1834, Ayala Corporation is the oldest business house in the Philippines and one of the largest conglomerates in the country. Ayala Corporation and its listed subsidiaries have a combined market capitalization of approximately $15 billion.
For more information about Affinity Express, please visit www.affinityexpress.com.