Lack of Affordable Resources is the Biggest Challenge SMBs Face with Online Marketing
But first, some more data. We asked our respondents about the challenges they face in online marketing.
28% said that their biggest challenge is the high cost of external resources, and 25% each felt they lacked expertise in new technologies and that they couldn't see the ROI. Another 20% didn't have the in-house resources they needed.
Look at these answers again and you get the single biggest cause why SMBs are struggling with online marketing: a lack of access to affordable, expert resources that would help them harness online tactics more effectively.
So how are these businesses currently handling their online marketing? Here are the answers. 57% SMBs have internal team members handle online advertising and marketing, and nearly half use some sort of online DIY service. 22% use outsourcing providers, while 4% use freelance providers. A very few use Affinity Express (which is because our online services are offered through partners and not directly to SMBs). None of the respondents reported using an ad agency.
Now, to answer the question I posed at the beginning of the post: how can SMBs overcome these challenges and start using online marketing effectively?
First, educate yourself. As I mentioned in my last post, there are tons of articles online about using SEO, social media and other online means for marketing. You don't have to be an expert, just learn the basics: For example, read how to create a Facebook page. Learn what title tags and image tags are and how you add them. Find out how to create a Google Places page. You don't have to do all of it at once, but if you start putting in a couple of hours every week, you might see significant results.
Second, find a partner. You can't do everything and it's a waste of your time to try. Find a trusted provider who can give you just the services you need—no frills, and at a price you can afford. So many newspapers, for example, offer ads on their websites and will design them for you (usually through a third-party provider like Affinity Express). For example, we work with Journal Register Company to provide their customers with video services apart from all our other online advertising and marketing services.
43% of consumers now research online before making a purchase. 94% report that research positively influenced their decision to make a purchase. Whatever your product or service, you need to establish the best possible presence online or it is likely the research your potential customers conduct will turn up competitors instead of your business.
So, are you ready to have your customers find you online?