Despite a lack of investment in marketing technologies and staffing over the past two years, many small businesses are now stepping up investments in digital channels such as social media, search, and online advertising, according to a survey from Network Solutions and the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.

Websites are the cornerstone of digital marketing for small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), the study found: 56% of surveyed small-business owners say they have a website, up 10 percentage points (PPs) (or 21.7%) from the 46% that said so a year earlier.

Meanwhile, more small businesses are embracing social media and search to drive traffic to websites, according to the survey:

  • 31% of small businesses now use some form of social media, up 7 PPs (29.2%) from the 24% that did so in December 2009.
  • 27% have a search engine optimization plan, up 8 PPs (42.1%) from the 19% that did so in the previous year.

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