From time to time I address the current situation of the SMB (small and medium business) as it relates to Internet marketing as a whole. It’s an interesting study because while the vast majority of the companies in the US fall into this category (some estimates place it as high as 95%) they are the least understood of all businesses as it relates to Internet marketing.
An article from eMarketer (hat tip to Mike Moran) takes a look at just how this group is trying to catch up with big business tactics as it relates to their use of e-mail and social media to help their businesses grow. From the looks of things there may be some traction this year but it has been slow in coming.
A survey of small businesses by e-mail marketing company AWeber found the most common tactics implemented last year were tweeting e-mail newsletters and sending out blog entries to e-mail lists. Fewer than four in 10 small businesses were engaging in those activities, and only about one-quarter had e-mail sign-up forms on their social profiles or links within e-mail messages to follow them on social sites.
The findings for 2009 can be seen below.
Moving forward however there appears to be a much greater interest in seeing these two marketing efforts be utilized more, especially together.
Many more small businesses have plans for the coming year, and more than three-quarters consider integration of e-mail and social at least somewhat important. A majority plan to allow users to sign up for e-mails directly from social media sites like Facebook. This tactic allows e-mail marketers to grow their lists—cited as the top benefit of integrating social and e-mail by one-third of respondents—by allowing consumers to use their channel of choice and sign up on their own terms.
Here’s the chart showing the rest of the findings.
Considering how most SMB’s approach search marketing, especially paid search, this combination makes sense. You don’t have to be in competition with the bigger brands with the deepest pockets in the e-mail / social media arena. As a result, your money and your resources can go a lot further. In this economy, this is critical for sure.
Also, most SMB’s real strength is cultivating existing customers who can then spread information about that business via word of mouth. The referral coming from a trusted source is the SMB’s best friend for sure. E-mail and social media are the best avenues for these types of businesses to do this. This has come after years of trying to get new customers through paid search and seeing conversion rates that just couldn’t support the expense.
So what works best with SMB’s in your opinion? Have you found the same success when combining e-mail and social media?