Small Business Marketing Tactics Revealed in Infusionsoft, LeadPages Study


In December 2015, marketing automation technology company Infusionsoft, along with LeadPages, a maker of landing page software, conducted a marketing tactics survey of more than 1,000 small businesses across the U.S. regarding their use of digital marketing and published the findings in the “2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report.”

The report created from the marketing tactics survey covered five main topic areas:

  • Goals and Priorities. What small business owners hope to achieve with their marketing in 2016;
  • Challenges. What small business owners are struggling with and seek to improve in 2016;
  • Tactics. What tools and techniques small business owners are trying out (and succeeding with) as they move toward their marketing goals;
  • Opportunities. What advantages small business owners can seize in 2016 that will help them reach their goals and get ahead of the competition;
  • Trends and Predictions. Trends that Infusionsoft and LeadPages predict will come to the forefront of small business marketing in 2016.

“We took our two companies collective knowledge and databases and put together a piece that had some solid research behind it, which we feel will be helpful for small businesses,” said Jake Johnson, managing editor at Infusionsoft, in a telephone interview with Small Business Trends. “The report highlights the fact that digital marketing is changing and that small businesses need to focus on these changes to achieve success going forward.”

Top Insights Gleaned from the Marketing Tactics Survey

Small business marketing can be a lonely job. Nearly half (47 percent) of small business owners handle marketing efforts on their own, the report found.

marketing tactics survey who does your marketing

Digital marketing is far from universal in the small business world. One of the more surprising findings from the survey was that nearly one in five small business owners does not plan to use digital marketing at all in 2016.

Tracking the return on their marketing investment is a major struggle for small business owners. Nearly half of those surveyed said they do not know whether they are marketing effectively, and 14 percent know they aren’t.

“This is an analytics issue,” Johnson said. “Many small business owners don’t know what tools are available to them and how to properly set up and interpret their data streams.”

Following up with leads and customers is also a tough task. Twenty-one percent of small business owners don’t store contact information anywhere while only 24 percent use customer relationship management (CRM) software and 20 percent use an email marketing service provider. Forty-five percent don’t maintain an email list to which prospective customers can opt in.

“I would suspect that most small business owners are focused on a few tactics they’ve learned — social media postings, blogging, etc. — but don’t have an overall marketing strategy for executing their digital marketing tactics,” Johnson said.

Most small businesses still use a fairly unsophisticated digital marketing stack. Forty-one percent use only one or two software applications in their marketing, and another 26 percent use three or four.

About half of small businesses plan to invest more in their websites in 2016, and half plan to increase their web advertising budgets. But that doesn’t mean that analog marketing tactics are dead. About a quarter of small business owners plan to spend more on print ads or direct mail, and 14 percent will spend more on telemarketing or in-person marketing.

Fifty-eight percent of small business owners are using social media in their marketing, but less than half are creating any other kind of content to help them get leads and sales. 

marketing tactics survey for social media

Digital Marketing Goals and Priorities

Goals

In 2016, small businesses say they plan to look at digital marketing primarily to meet goals at the top and bottom of the customer acquisition funnel. Fifty-one percent of respondents named “driving sales” as a top goal for their digital marketing while nearly as many (48 percent) chose “building brand awareness or conveying information.”

marketing tactics survey marketing goals

“This heavy focus on the top and bottom of the funnel suggests that many small business owners may be missing opportunities to improve other parts of their customer acquisition and retention process,” Johnson said.

Priorities

The survey asked which marketing channels small businesses expected to budget more for in 2016. Fifty-one percent listed improving their website as a top priority.

Small business marketing priorities

“Given the number of companies who named building brand awareness or just conveying information as a top marketing goal, it makes sense that 51 percent of small business owners planned to spend more money improving their websites in 2016,” the report said.

The overarching theme, according to Johnson, is that small business owners want a “slick-looking website,” but what they need is a sales and marketing strategy to accompany the site.

“It’s of no use building a website if you don’t have a sales funnel and a tech stack that integrates with it,” Johnson said. “There is now enough scale and options for small businesses to put together the technology to make the site work from a sales perspective. You can take a beautiful website and make it do something useful for you.”

Opportunities for Small Businesses

The report emphasized five areas where small business can utilize digital marketing technology in 2016:

  • Content marketing;
  • Customer relationship management;
  • Email marketing;
  • Landing pages;
  • Marketing automation.

“We see some small businesses starting to use these techniques, and feel that most should do it,” Johnson said. “Our customers who have implemented these practices are experiencing measurable growth as a result.”

Trends and Predictions

Regarding trends and predictions, the report recommended that small businesses focus on:

  • The use of paid social placement and mobile friendly assets;
  • Understanding the website is a sales tool, not just a marketing brochure;
  • Integrating all technology to serve the sales funnel seamlessly;
  • Establishing KPIs for data and acquiring the knowledge and tools to derive conclusions from that data.

Johnson concluded by saying, “It can be easy for a small business owner to read a report like this and feel overwhelmed. The key is to focus on one or two aspects initially, do some testing, see what works, and then iterate from there.

Click here to download the marketing tactics survey and report. Visit the Infusionsoft and LeadPages websites to learn more about what each has to offer.

Image: Infusionsoft, LeadPages

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Paul Chaney


Paul Chaney Paul Chaney is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. He covers industry news, including interviews with executives and industry leaders about the products, services and trends affecting small businesses, drawing on his 20 years of marketing knowledge. Formerly, he was editor of Web Marketing Today and a contributing editor for Practical Ecommerce.

9 Reactions

  1. This is a great article…!! Thanks For posting..!!

  2. Thanks for sharing informative stats of small business

  3. This is some great data, but I’m still blown away that 1 in 5 SMBs aren’t planning on doing any digital marketing. The barriers to entry are so low and (when done correctly) you have the ability to know exactly what it’s delivering. However, with so many reporting they don’t know if their marketing is effective I can see the disconnect.

    • Paul Chaney

      Robert, that is a surprising statistic to be sure. I think the disconnect comes in small businesses not understanding the value online marketing can provide and how to go about implementing comprehensive marketing strategies. There is still much room for education.

  4. Aira Bongco

    Really interesting study you have here. It is sad to know that most small business owners are doing their marketing all by themselves. I guess that there is a limit on the budget in that aspect.

  5. On that first pie chart, who is the 6.5% who doesn’t know who is doing their marketing? Marketing costs should be very closely watched as a small business.

    Interesting info, thanks for publishing.

  6. Brett, there are some interesting stats in your article. The marketing “space” is certainly moving. The biggest issue for small business is to latch on to something that will convert to customers and I still think that there may be a danger of ‘standing in too many canoes’ – which is a good way to finish up in the water with the crocodiles! Good to try a few things and see what works, though.

    • Paul Chaney

      Love the analogy, Rodney. That’s not one I had heard before but it is certainly applicable to small business marketing.

  7. I’m surprised to see that so many business owners are choosing not to use digital media marketing. It’s such a helpful tool, and it can be a cheap way to market your business. Thanks for sharing the survey!

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