The Frugal Marketer: SMBs Spend Little On Email, Study Finds

First, the positive news: email is one of the top three digital channels used by small businesses, according to How Small Businesses Invest In Retail Marketing In 2018, a study released last week by Clutch.  

But only 36% of the 351 firms surveyed will invest in email this year, compared with 54% that plan to spend on websites and 51% on social media.

The sums are negligible, anyway: the average digital spend — for almost half — is $10,000, showing that SMBs have “small or non-existing budgets,” Clutch writes.

Of course, not everyone is in that small category:

Of the businesses polled, 25% will invest from $10,000 to $100,000 in digital, and 8% say they will shell out $1 million on this year. The survey includes firms with 500 employees or less.

Why is email lagging? It could be that firms have already developed their capability and don’t need to spend more. Again, email is their third channel choice, with 39% using it versus 62% for websites and 61% for social media.



By the way, these firms are “everyday businesses,” to use the term coined by Janet Attard, according to Clutch.

So how are they doing the little they do in digital? The survey found that 43% rely on in-house help, but Clutch warns that they may be overextending themselves.

Companies tend to keep things in-house when they have a consistent level of marketing support from employees familiar with the brand, it adds.

That said, 39% have some form of marketing software, which they use mostly for analytics and/or CRM. Another 32% employ freelancers or consultants, and 23% work with marketing agencies.  

In-house, 30% have one employee working on digital, and 28% have two. Only 16% have five or more. 

What can they do to build up their email? 

“A comprehensive email marketing strategy might include a weekly or monthly newsletter with relevant articles and a new product roundup, as well as eye-catching copy on basic emails like sales confirmations,” Clutch writes.

Case in point: TopatoCo, an e-commerce platform for independent creators. It uses subject lines like “"Someone's about to get a package from TopatoCo!", in shipment tracking emails.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other dismal facts:

80% fail to invest in content marketing. 

AR/VR is used by only 10%.

All things considered, Clutch remains an email advocate. It concludes: “Small businesses that don’t use email marketing are missing a key opportunity to connect with the people most invested in their products.”




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