SMBs Up Email Marketing, Social Media Spend

Last week StrongMail released the results of its 2012 Marketing Trends survey [PDF] and gave us all a quick glimpse into where marketers are looking to spend their marketing dollars in the upcoming year. Four areas were highlighted as the biggest points demanding more attention and dollars in 2012. What were they, you ask?

  • 60 percent of respondents will raise email marketing budgets.
  • 54 percent will invest more in social media.
  • 37 percent will increase mobile and search budgets.

If you’re a loyal reader of Small Business Trends, seeing those four take top honors probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. They’re four of the areas we talk about most here on the site. Glad to see we’re on to something.
Something else that didn’t come as a surprise: seeing small business marketers investing more dollars in email marketing campaigns than in social media campaigns. Because email is still easier for most SMBs to understand, track and associate ROI to, it is an investment they’re more comfortable with.

When it comes to the types of email marketing campaigns SMBs are looking to invest in, 44 percent said they would increase batch promotional programs, 39 percent will increase newsletters and 35 percent will spend more on lifestyle programs.

Interestingly, it seems SMBs are looking to combine their two favorite marketing programs, with an impressive 68 percent of respondents saying they will look to further integrate their social media marketing directly into their email programs to increase their bang for their buck. As we often refer to social media and email as marketing’s Batman and Robin (read that post for tips on how to integrate them), it’s encouraging to see SMBs looking for ways to use them together. It’s a sign that SMBs are moving attention and dollars in the right direction, combining what’s always worked with newer marketing options.

What are SMBs looking to get from their email marketing efforts? Topping SMB goals are:

  • 48 percent: increasing subscriber engagement
  • 44 percent: increasing segmentation and targeting
  • 32 percent: increasing email opt-ins (subscribers)

Of course it won’t be all email marketing in 2012. When it comes to social media, 39 percent of small business owners will be looking to strengthen their Facebook campaigns, 25 percent will focus on going viral and social media management technology, and 24 percent will increase their Twitter marketing.

One area that won’t be getting as much attention as I would have imagined is mobile. Only 37 percent of respondents will increase their mobile spend, with 29 percent saying they’ll look to invest in apps.

Overall, StrongMail’s survey of 939 executives gives us a good look at some of the areas that will see the largest investment in 2012. It is worth noting that, according to the survey, an overwhelming 92 percent of businesses plan to increase or maintain their marketing spend in 2012. So there are no shrinking budgets here. Business owners understand that the way to increase profitability is to build awareness, be present and go after the customers they want to sell to.

What do you think of the StrongMail survey results? Does it mirror how you’ll be spending your marketing dollars or are you skeptical of their data?

Sound off in the comments.


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

7 Reactions
  1. I’m not surprised that SMBs are putting their efforts into email and social media before mobile. Mobile still scares a lot of them because they don’t understand how to make a mobile-friendly version of their site/content. Technology usually scares people until they get more familiar with it and luckily we’re seeing more SMBs that are familiar with email marketing and social media now.

  2. Maybe one should look at another marketing opportunity and that is the emails we all send from our corporate email addresses every day. I represent a company that has developed a solution for just those emails and thus this post.
    The basic idea behind WRAPmail is to utilize the facts that all businesses have websites and employees that send emails every day. These emails can become complete marketing tools and help promote, brand, sell and cross-sell in addition to drive traffic to the website and conduct research. WRAPmail is available for free at
    WRAPmail also helps search for missing children with every email sent by incorporating an optional RSS feed from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children

  3. I agree with Robert – SMBs will go where the technology is easiset to use and the cheapest to deploy. Most owners don’t have a lot of time to screw around with technology as much as they’d like, or just don’t have knowledge to use it!

  4. As a small business we realized early in our endeavors that if we were to succeed in the long term that we had to put about 60% of our efforts into our email marketing. It’s the way you will have long term profit. The money is in the list as the gurus say.