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Online Marketing Success for SMBs

A study from Forrester Research, provided by Act-On-Software, found that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) who have adopted digital marketing techniques have experienced “significant” business benefits and a higher return on marketing investment (ROMI).

Due to a current economic uncertainty, many SMBs have reportedly struggled with growing their business. In fact, during this most recent recession, the report found that “establishment deaths” outpaced “establishment births” by 37 percent. In addition, consumer spending fell by almost 8 percent and budgets were cut in response to a weakened economy.

However, of the 208 marketing decision makers in SMBs surveyed, 56 percent said they beat their goals and grew revenue faster than their plan. So, what exactly are these top performers doing differently from their competitors?

Well, according to the findings, top performers did not reactively cut their marketing budget in the wake of a slow economy. Instead, 35 percent of respondents surveyed said they kept marketing budgets steady, and nearly twice as many increased budgets.

Additionally, top performing SMBs said they are investing more in both program spend and staff. Approximately 61 percent of SMBs surveyed said they spend more on marketing than large enterprises, and they have one marketing staff member for every $65,000 in marketing spend.

“The ‘great recession’ revealed a new model for the successful small business, where the journey for nearly every purchase today begins with a Web search,” said Act-On-Software in a company release. “Those SMBs who have adapted their marketing practices to changing buyer behaviors and have embraced online marketing are the new generation of top-performing small and medium businesses.”

Additional findings from the study include:

  • Popular marketing techniques such as print advertising, seminars, and trade shows are actually both time- and dollar-intensive. High-performing SMBs are less likely to engage these techniques and of those surveyed, 95 percent said personal relationships/networking is their main tactic when acquiring new customers.
  • Marketing automation software correlates with higher performance in SMBs, as stated in the release. According to findings, nearly 75 of those who use marketing automation reported higher than estimated revenue growth.

During the study, Forrester found that respondents split into two different groups: Those who exceeded their estimated revenue growth in the previous year, and those that either came out even or missed their goal. According to the report, 56 percent of respondents landed in the first category and are referred to as “top performers.”

Key recommendations from top-performing marketers, as stated in the report, are:

  • Don’t cut your marketing budget even in a downturn economy. Top performers in the SMB market said that maintaining or increasing investment will pay off in revenue performance.
  • Managing every lead and taking it seriously is important to a SMBs success. Marketers should manage every lead, vetting, qualifying, and nurturing prior to handing the lead to the sales department.
  • Start adopting digital marketing techniques. Don’t just use old techniques such as print advertising and trade shows. By using online marketing techniques, you can save money and reach a broader audience.
  • Don’t be afraid of social media. According to the top performers, stop thinking about social media and start thinking about social marketing. It’s an essential part in generating their “lead-to-revenue management process.”
  • Use marketing automation to complement your CRM. Marketing automation systems help SMBs minimize managerial overhead when executing, monitoring and nurturing sale leads.

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