Social Climbing: SMBs Now Choose That Channel Over Email

Small businesses have fallen for social media. Their spending on that channel now tops that of several other outlets put together, according to a study by DesignRush.

Of the firms surveyed, 50% list social media as their leading  marketing expense. Social is followed by email (19.2%) and offline advertising (18.6%). 

Social plays an even greater role for the smallest businesses — 61% spend the most on it. The study attributes this to the low cost of Facebook ads — as little as a dollar a day, it says.

This year, social will also dominate, with 48.1% planning to increase their spend. In contrast, only 12.2% will increase their email budget. 

Why is social now No. 1? For 54% of firms surveyed, social pulled a higher ROI than any other channel in 2018. Companies that make between $1 million and $5 million saw ROI of up to 64%, the study says.

This flies in the face of just about every other survey we have seen — most say email delivers the greatest ROI.



Email works well because the email address has already been captured — you’re not simply prospecting. 

Also, it’s not clear whether this report includes transactional emails, or only promotional. Ecommerce firms rely heavily on email for notifications, order confirmations and updates. This requires a certain investment. 

DesignRush surveyed 150 ecommerce firms. Most of the firms surveyed had 10 employees or less, and almost half pull in less than $500,000 a year in sales. A small number top $40 million.

Overall, 52% of the respondents plan to boost their marketing budget in 2019. In contrast, 20% will reduce their spend, and 28% will hold, according to the study. The most prevalent increase will be between 1% and 10%.

To handle all this, 23% say they will add staff, while 68% say they will not.

Of those surveyed, 52% expect sales increases of between 1% and 20%. Another 10% predict higher increases.

Here’s one more key finding: Over 70% plan to work with a marketing agency in 2019, up 6% from 2018. The growth in agency use will not be in email or offline, which will are flat, but in social media.

In a slightly contradictory finding to the one listed above, the study says that offline advertising, email marketing and agency use has stagnated — only 13% of respondents consider one of those to be their primary investment.

In 2019, 32.1% of firms will assign their email marketing to an agency, versus 48.2% for social media.

The study also predicts an uptick in work with SEO and PPC agencies. 

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