If you run a small business and feel like you can’t keep up with all the new marketing opportunities you are supposed to embrace, don’t feel lonely. Recent research from two digital marketing services used by thousands of small businesses, Infusionsoft and LeadPages, reveals that most small business owners feel overwhelmed by the opportunities and believe they are under-performing in their use of them.


Nine survey answers that reveal small business owners need help in becoming better marketers

It’s not for the lack of tools and platforms that small business owners and managers believe they are missing the mark on marketing. One estimate suggests that from 2014 to 2015, the number of marketing technology companies almost doubled, from 947 to 1,876. Recently, Infusionsoft, a small business marketing management platform and LeadPages, a platform used for digital lead generation and subscription campaigns, sponsored a survey in which more than 1,000 small businesses answered a set of questions that reveal how small business owners feel about their marketing effectiveness and use of digital marketing tools.

Responses to the following nine questions provide insight into how overwhelmed small business owners feel about their marketing. They also suggest there are great opportunities for companies that focus on educating and inspiring small business owners with the skills and confidence they need to reach new customers and build deeper relationships with the customers they already have.

(The full report can be found here: The 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report.)

Are your current marketing efforts effective?

48.5% | No
37.6% | Yes
13.9% | I don’t know

SmallBusiness.com Observation: If your response is, “I don’t know,” chances are your current efforts aren’t effective. Thus, only 37 percent of the respondents believe their current efforts are effective.

Who manages your marketing?

46.8% | I do (the owner)
23.5% | Someone on my team does
17.3% | We do some in house and contract the rest
6.5% | I don’t know
6.0% | A contractor, agency or third party

What kind of marketing channels do you currently use?

71.6% | Company website
43.3% | Digital advertising and social media
40.1% | Email marketing
29.9% | Print advertising and direct mail
26.4% | Landing pages or purpose-specific web pages
22.0% | Telemarketing and in-person marketing
13.3% | None of the above

SmallBusiness.com Observation: A respondent could choose more than one channel, but it’s insightful to see how many said their website is their primary channel of marketing. They realize that Facebook or Twitter or traditional forms of marketing should be secondary to the direct-to-customer opportunity that comes with creating your own place on the web.

What kind of content does your company create to help get customers?

57.8% | Posts on social media
42.6% | Email marketing
36.4% | Publish blog posts or articles
27.8% | Create other kinds of content
22.6% | Don’t create content in order to get customers
19.9% | Send direct mail (print-based direct marketing)
16% | Offer downloadable content on web pages (e.g. white papers, ebooks)

SmallBusiness.com Observation: One thing this question reveals is how broad the term “content marketing” is being applied by small business owners. Almost 58 percent consider posts (and tweets, we’re assuming) on social media sites are “content.” Most “content marketing experts” define social media marketing as being something different than content marketing.

What do you use to store contact information for your leads and customers and follow up with them?

42.4% | Contacts feature of business email service (like Gmail or Outlook)
24.0% | Customer relationship management (CRM) tool
20.6% | Don’t keep track of this kind of information
19.4% | Email marketing service (like MailChimp, Emma)
16.4% | Use a different kind of system

SmallBusiness.com Observation: The need obviously exists and there are plenty of platforms that would help small businesses. Helping small business see beyond the tools and helping them reap the benefits is a great opportunity for the platform companies.

Do you have an email list that prospective customers can subscribe to (or “opt into”)?

45.9% | Yes
45.4% | No
8.7% | I don’t know

If you are planning to use digital marketing in your business in 2016, what will be your primary goals?

51.3% | Driving sales
48.4% | Building brand awareness or conveying information
34.1% | Collecting leads
30.0% | Retaining customers
27.5% | Running promotions
21.8% | I won’t be using digital marketing in 2016
15.7% | Gaining efficiency with marketing automation

In 2016, which marketing channels (if any) do you expect to budget more for?

51.0% | My website
51.1% | Digital advertising and social media
25.4% | Email marketing
23.4% | Print advertising and direct mail
21.9% | Landing pages or purpose-specific web pages
13.6% | Telemarketing and in-person marketing
19.2% | None of the above

Of the following options, what is the biggest challenge you’ll face in your digital marketing in 2016?

19.6% | Turning leads into customers
17.9% | Generating web traffic
17.9% | Finding time/resources for digital marketing
17.4% | Turning web traffic into leads
17.3% | I won’t be using digital marketing in 2016
9.9% | Retaining customers long-term


(Photos: ThinkStock)