A new survey of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) revealed plans for increased spending on internet marketing in 2015. Administered by BrightLocal, a local SEO company, the survey found that 37% of SMBs planned to increase their internet marketing spend, compared to 21% the previous year.
“There has been a 16% rise in SMBs that plan to increase their internet marketing spend over the next 12 months, giving those of us involved with local search/marketing a positive indicator for our businesses in 2015,” wrote BrightLocal CEO Myles Anderson. In addition, 47% of businesses are unsure about whether they will change their spend level in 2015, “so maybe this figure of 37% will actually increase if business conditions are positive in 2015,” he added.
SMBs are increasingly praising the effectiveness of internet marketing, according to the survey. Three-quarters of the survey respondents found it effective or very effective at attracting new customers, compared to 68% a year ago. In addition, only 4% of SMBs do not have internet marketing of any kind, as opposed to 8% last year.
Despite the increasing affinity for internet marketing, the survey found that half of SMBs spend less than $300 per month on internet or mobile marketing, a similar figure from the previous year. In addition, 64% of businesses surveyed handle it in-house instead of using a marketing consultant or agency. Regardless of whether they use an outside marketing company, more than a third of companies (35%) are contacted every day by a consultant or SEO agency.
Word of mouth was pegged as the top marketing channel (28%) to bring new leads and customers, followed by SEO (20%), online local directories (15%) and email marketing (10%). “With word of mouth considered such a powerful means to reaching new customers, some SMBs may continue to rely on word of mouth rather than open their wallets and spend additional budget on online marketing,” wrote Anderson. “But I think this represents a solid business case for consultants/agencies who offer reputation management services. This is an extension of word of mouth with customers sharing their experiences online as opposed to verbally. The impact of a great reputation which is shared widely online can earn businesses lots more customers.”