Small Business Spending on Digital and Social Still Growing

2011 Outlook for Small Business Digital Marketing

Just received some updated statistics on Small Business advertising spend from the 2011 Outlook report from Borrell Associates. Borrell surveyed over 2,800 Small Business owners to find that, of the 84 percent who will spend on digital, 53 percent plan on increasing their budgets in 2011. Money invested in website development, social media and e-mail marketing will grow more than 30 percent in 2011. On the flip-side, local print media, newspapers, directories and radio will continue to get squeezed out of the budget with double-digit cuts across the board from most SMB’s.

According to the report, Small Business represents a huge growth market, and accounted for over 70 percent of all online advertising expenditures last year. Social media is especially interesting for SMB’s and most are interested in Facebook, Twitter, location-based services, and daily deals platforms. I think YouTube also makes sense for the right kind of small business so I’d expect to see some interest and spending there as well. It was interesting that Borrell did not include any data related to YouTube or Mobile marketing strategies. Despite all of the buzz around mobile and video, it seems that small business owners just have not caught-on the way larger brands and retailers have.

Potential Pitfalls

Despite all the data suggesting growth and willingness to spend, the reality is that there is still a lot of confusion as to who to work with to make all of this happen. There is so much noise in the market right now, with average small business owners getting 22 new media advertising pitches a month. These pitches range from local boutique agencies to national solutions like Yodle, ReachLocal and Web.com. It is this noise and shear amount of options that paralyzes decisions makers. With so many so called experts and best-of-breed technology platforms to review and analyze, making a decision alone can take several weeks.

Furthermore, many Small Business owners still lack a real understanding of digital. Website analytics, social media insights and search engine marketing tactics are still fuzzy. Due to this minimal amount of knowledge, SMB’s must trust the provider they partner with to do the right thing. Unfortunately, most of the “big-boys” of SMB marketing are focusing on market share and not the quality of the products or services they provide. This mentality leads to less than stellar results for business owners and a burned relationship for the provider – which ultimately hurts the perception of every SMB marketing company.