SMB Marketing Poll: Social Media Marketing Effectiveness Is Overrated


The lastest Opportunity study examines the most popular marketing tactics bring used by small business owners around the world. Opportunity polled our community of over 500,000 self-identified small business owners across a variety of industries and locations.  94% of respondents worked for companies with less than 50 employees (73% with less than 10).


Overall, social media was proven to be the most popular form of marketing by the SMB market (small to mid-sized businesses) as over 80% of those polled claimed to perform social media marketing within the past 12 months. However despite it's growing popularity, only 15% of those polled claimed social media marketing has been effective. In other words, 85% of SMB's participating in social media marketing actually find it ineffective!

Ranking just behind social media marketing in popularity was email marketing, where 70% of SMBs indicated they have run campaigns within the past year.  Falling much further behind was content marketing and search engine marketing  which was used at a much lower rate of 36% and 30% respectively. Surprisingly, despite record earnings from the likes of Google and Facebook, Pay Per Click (PPC) was reported to be the least utilized form of digital marketing used by a mere 15% of our respondents.  TV/Radio advertising came in last with less than 5% of responents claiming to participate in these traditional forms of advertising.


When asked about which social media platforms were used the most by SMB's, LinkedIn and Facebook were the clear winners with 92% and 82% participation rates among SMB's.  Following these two large networks were Instagram (25%) and Pinterest (17%).  Interesting, Snapchat (which recently went public) reported only a 4% participation rate among SMB's - reinforcing the platforms current popularity among primarily teens.


In addition to online efforts, SMB's continue to leverage traditional marketing tactics as well. Networking proved to be the most popular form of offline networking as 77% of respondents claimed this tactic to be quite effective. The second most popular form of offline marketing used by SMB's was word of mouth (65%) - which was also determined to be the most effective form of marketing based on SMB's claims of it having the greatest ROI.

Less than half of SMBs (46%) pay to attend or sponsor events/conferences to market their business.  Least popular were direct mail and print advertising where only 30% and 20% of SMB's claimed to allocate a portion of their marketing budget to these traditional tactics.


Nearly half (50%) of SMB's polled reported an average marketing budget of only $200 USD per month.  Almost one-third (31%) of those polled allocated up to $1,000 towards their marketing efforts.  A majority of SMB owners (70%) claimed to handle their marketing efforts in-house and more specifically by the business owner themselves.  Only 6% of SMB's outsource their marketing efforts to a third party. 


Social media marketing may be all hype.  Because of it's low barrier to entry (low cost) and the fact that a majority of SMB's have very small marketing budgets, social media marketing offers a perceived value. However, a vast majority of those claiming to use social media have detemined it to be quite ineffective.  Despite the attention paid to social media companies and popular social networks, offline marketing tactics such as networking, referrals, and good old fashioned word of mouth continue to provide SMB's with the greatest ROI.

Datasource: Opportunity

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