Study Says SMBs' Top Marketing Growth Areas Include Mobile, Online Display and Paid Search; More than 80 Percent of SMBs Using Social Media 

KETTERING, OHIO-    February 9, 2016 -  

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to be optimistic about the economy and their sales outlooks over the next 12 months, according to Thrive Analytics' 2016 Local Pulse Report™. The bi-annual study of more than 1,100 SMB owners revealed that local marketing budgets continue to rise with 42 percent of SMBs increasing, up from 35 percent during the same time frame as last year. Top growth areas include mobile marketing (49 percent) up from 34 percent last year, online display (44 percent) up from 33 percent last year and paid search (44 percent) up from 33 percent last year.

"Digital media continues to be SMBs' main focus when it comes to marketing, especially with newer businesses. However, older and more established businesses continue to see value in traditional forms of marketing too," said Jason Peaslee, managing partner of Thrive Analytics. "As SMBs view local advertising as a more strategic source of leads and essential for keeping up with competition, more dollars are being invested across a growing number of channels."

Social Media is now a must-have for local business marketing
While only 60 percent of SMB survey respondents have a website, 80 percent use social media including Facebook (70 percent), Twitter (32 percent) and LinkedIn (26 percent). SMBs expect social media to generate leads (70 percent) build awareness (57 percent) and engage their customers (57 percent). Only 19 percent of SMB respondents have paid for social media advertising.

"Many SMBs are now considering social media a standard component of their marketing mix, since many view it as a "free" source of leads. About half of businesses still report that their biggest challenge with social media is the lack of time to manage social channels properly," added Peaslee.


SMBs' ad measurement varies based on business type
Although measurement of marketing initiatives varies based on the business type, the most important factors when measuring advertising performance include Calls (43 percent), Foot Traffic (38 percent) and Number of Appointments (35 percent). Nearly 75 percent of SMBs report that they do not use technology to measure advertising performance, but more than half track leads by asking customers directly how they found their business.

Mobile represents a high growth area for SMBs
Almost half of SMBs respondents (49 percent) report that mobile marketing represents the top growth area in terms of marketing, but nearly half of their websites are still not mobile optimized and most do not have a mobile strategy. Additionally, SMB adoption of mobile payments continues to lag, as only 38 percent of businesses can accept mobile transactions. SMBs do recognize mobile payment technology is important with 23 percent stating it will have a significant impact on their business in the next few years. 

Thrive Analytics' 2016 Local Pulse Report™ is a comprehensive bi-annual study covering SMB marketing tools like social media, ratings and reviews, mobile payments and mobile marketing. Offering historical data for the last six years, the report also focuses on marketing budgets, technology adoption, challenges & opportunities for marketing service providers, satisfaction levels with products and more.

Other critical study findings from the 2016 Local Pulse Report™ include:

  • SMBs will allocate on average 14-15 percent of their total expenses to marketing related activities.
  • Currently 36 percent of businesses utilize online ratings and reviews, marking a modest 20 percent year-over-year growth rate. 
  • SMBs biggest hindrances to growth include lack of funding (43 percent), lack of resources (32 percent), and not investing enough in marketing (29 percent).

Local Pulse Report™ Methodology
The full study, with historical data from the last six years, is available to Thrive Analytics research subscribers and is available for purchase. Data highlighted in this release was from Thrive Analytics' bi-annual Local Pulse survey conducted on small businesses and fielded in January 2016 through Thrive Analytics' Connected Experience Panel™. More than 1,110 small businesses responded to the survey. 

About Thrive Analytics

Thrive Analytics is a leading local search and digital consulting firm specializing in combining targeted marketing research and data analytics with actionable customer engagement strategies for improved business results. With clients spanning leading national brands as well as publishers and agencies serving the small business community, Thrive Analytics pairs proprietary market research services and data analytics tools with time-tested business insights and methodologies to help organizations measurably improve customer experience, loyalty and sales results. Founded in 2010, Thrive Analytics is a privately held company headquartered in Kettering, Ohio.


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