Small businesses find promotional marketing methods the most effective, but email and search rank at the bottom, according to a recent report. The study suggests that a lack of understanding, tracking methods, and use of analytics are contributing factors.
In fact, company Web sites rank 45%; social media, 39%; print Yellow Pages, 26%; email marketing, 15%; and search, 15%, according to finding in The Local Search Association's 2015 Small Business Outlook report. The findings show SMBs perceive digital as being more effective in generating leads by less sophisticated media types.
Many marketers at small businesses, along with those running large search organizations, have told Search Marketing Daily that platforms are getting more complicated to use, rather than less. The report finds less than 30% of small businesses use Web site analytics, call tracking, or coupon codes.
Some 75% say they don't have time to use more tracking methods. About 66% say they lack the knowledge or expertise, and 18% of small businesses admit to not tracking anything. This is more than double the percentage from 12 months ago.
Despite a harsh learning curve, the report, which surveyed more than 700 SMBs, shows that one in three plan to increase their marketing budgets during the coming year.
Perhaps Google's push to promote small, local businesses continues to impact a more positive view of the economy by small businesses. Some plan to do more with marketing budgets this year. About 25% more small businesses expect the economy to improve in the U.S. and 19% expect their sales to improve during the next twelve months, compared with their expectations in the prior year.
During the past year, the number of small businesses that expect marketing budgets to increase rose 52%, but only 9% plan to spend less on marketing activities during the next 12 months compared with 28% two years ago, according to the report. Most are putting their money into proven media and better performance such as mobile and online display advertising.
The report also finds that for every dollar of expense, SMBs spend 14 cents on advertising. Planned growth areas include -- but are not limited to -- Web sites, social media, mobile advertising, display advertising, paid search, and search engine optimization.