With smartphone penetration reaching an impressive 80% in the small-business community, interest in mobile marketing is mounting: 21.8% of small-business decision-makers say they plan to dedicate more resources to mobile marketing in 2012, up from the 12.6% who said so a year earlier, according to a report by Ad-ology Research.

In addition, one in five surveyed SMB decision-makers (small- and mid-sized businesses; defined in the study as organizations with fewer than 100 employees) plan to develop a mobile app in 2012:

Below, additional finding from Ad-ology's annual Small Business Marketing Forecast.

Social media has reached a tipping point: Only 10% of small-business decision-makers say they will not use social media in 2012, down from the 24% who said so in 2011. Moreover, one-half of small businesses plan to spend more time and/or money on social media in 2012.

Small businesses are using a variety of social media channels, but Facebook is the most widely used, and appears to be the most effective: 

  • Facebook is ranked as the social media site most beneficial: 86.8% of small-business decision-makers use the social networking site for marketing with 77.3% saying their efforts are very or somewhat beneficial for business. 
  • Twitter penetration has reached 71.4% in the small business community with 56.0% saying Twitter marketing is very or somewhat beneficial.
  • Google+ penetration (64.3%) is already rivaling LinkedIn (66.9%) in the small business community; 53.2% of small-business decision-makers say their efforts with Google+ are very or somewhat beneficial, while 51.2% say the same about LinkedIn.

Though more than six in ten (61.6%) small businesses use YouTube, only 45.0% rate the video-sharing site as very or somewhat beneficial. 

Small businesses have been slow to adopt Foursquare (only 40.3% have done so) and only 24.1% report the geo-location platform as very or somewhat effective.

For the first time, "improving the customer experience" was ranked as the top benefit of social media marketing efforts, according to the study.

Among other key findings among surveyed small businesses: 

  • Online video is set to grow: 22.2% of small-business decision-makers say they plan to increase spending on online video, up from the 18.4% who planned to do so in 2011.
  • Daily deals: 22.7% of small businesses plan to increase budget for daily deals, with Groupon and Living Social being the most popular providers.
  • Budgets: 28.6% of small-business decision-makers plan to increase budgets for direct mail in 2012; 45.3% plan to increase their overall advertising spend in 2012, with just 3.9% planning to decrease.

About the data: Ad-ology Research surveyed an online panel of 1,010 US small-business owners, October 25-31, 2011. The full 51-page Small Business Marketing Forecast report is available for purchase through the Ad-ology Research Store

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Small Businesses to Ramp Up Mobile, Social Marketing in 2012

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