THE BLOG
06/03/2016 10:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reality Check: Small Businesses Must Be Using Social Media

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Image source: PhotoDune

According to the 2016 Small Business Technology Impact Study, small business owners should have a business website and social media involvement if they want to be successful. The study, which was conducted by Time Warner Cable Business Class, examined the ways in which consumers decide which businesses they'll choose to buy from.

"It's no secret that small business owners are hungry to get a prospect's attention, while keeping their current customers coming back for more," said Chase Sagum, CMO at BestCompany.

The study will be eye-opening to small business owners who take it seriously enough to ramp up their online presence to help them connect with consumers.

The 2016 Small Business Technology Impact Study Findings

Small businesses need to have a solid online presence if they expect to be successful. 36% of people surveyed in the study indicated that they might choose not to do business with those small businesses that have no website. This is true for many industries.

Small businesses need to be active on social media. It's crucial to respond to critical reviews to keep customers. The study found that close to one in five respondents will avoid small businesses that are unresponsive to critical comments about the business.

The age of your customers should determine the ways you communicate to them online. The survey indicated that millennials typically want to know who the owner of a business is, more so than older customers. 73% of people in the 18- to 34-year-old segment want to see a business owner's photo with the company's history on its website. 63% of people 55 and older feel that the owner's photo and company's story is important.

Keeping data safe plays a big factor in customer retention. A high majority of the survey respondents - 79%, in fact, - indicated that businesses need to do whatever it takes to protect the financial data of its customers.

Further complementary findings were uncovered in the 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report, which was conducted by Infusionsoft and Lead Pages. Some of the most noteworthy findings of this survey include:

Small Businesses Still Lacking Digital Marketing

Many small businesses are surprisingly lacking in digital marketing. The Marketing Trends Report found that almost 1 out of 5 small businesses had no plans to invest in digital marketing of any kind in 2016.

Many of them have a hard time charting their return on investment. Almost 50% of respondents of the Small Business Marketing Trends Report indicated that they have no idea what their ROI is. 14% of the respondents said that know they aren't receiving an acceptable ROI on their digital marketing.

Many have a hard time with customer follow-up. Very few of the respondents to the Small Business Marketing Trends Report keep their customers' contact information to refer to at a later date. The report also found that most small businesses do not use customer relationship management software or keep an email marketing list.

Many small businesses lack effective marketing software. The Report also found that 41% of small business owners have utilized just one or two marketing software applications.

A few more noteworthy stats from the Small Business Marketing Trends Report include:
  • Around 50% of small business owners are increasing their spending on their websites this year
  • Around 50% of small business owners are spending more on their online marketing and advertising
  • Around 25% of small business owners are increasing their spending on direct mail and print advertising
  • 14% of small business owners are increasing their spending on person-to-person marketing and telemarketing
  • While almost 60% of small businesses have a social media presence, fewer than 50% are producing other types of content for lead generation
Bottom Line

These recent survey findings can help empower small business owners to rethink their strategies and start thinking critically about how they invest in social media so they can continue to gain more customers.