Some 81% of women business owners (WBOs) say they're optimistic about their business performance in 2013 (66% of WBOs are more optimistic than they were last year), and 73% plan to invest more in marketing in 2013, according to a survey conducted by and National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

Asked about their marketing investments in 2013, more than one-half (54.3%) of WBOs cite their website as a "very important" priority, 35.9% cite social media marketing, 35.7% cite search engine optimization (SEO), and 19.9% cite mobile as a very important investment priority in 2013.

Below, additional findings from and NAWBO.

Hiring is up: 38% of WBOs plan to invest more in new talent in 2013 than in 2012, and 54% plan to keep hiring investments at about the same level.

Websites Most Valuable Tactic

Asked which marketing tactics provide the greatest value for their business, 52% of WBOs rank website design and maintenance as "very valuable." Social media and SEO together rank second (37.9%), followed by email marketing (25.2%):

Future of Marketing in SEO and Social Media

WBOs are betting on social media and search: 44.4% say social media and SEO are the "future of small business marketing," 15.4% say that distinction goes to website design and maintenance, and 11.2% say the future of marketing is in mobile:

LinkedIn and Facebook Top Social Channels

Among WBOs, LinkedIn (27%) is the most valuable social media platform, followed by Facebook (26%), YouTube (18%), and Twitter (17%).

Other key findings:

  • 85% of WBOs say more women will become entrepreneurs in 2013 than in past years.
  • WBOs' top challenge is finding new customers (39.3%), followed by the state of the economy (17.0%) and generating revenue (16.1%).
  • The top four issues keeping WBOs up at night are the state of the economy (57%), health insurance cost and affordability (40%), business tax issues (36%), and access to a quality workforce (36%).
  • Obamacare is not a job killer: 71% of WBOs say the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have no impact on the way they do business.

About the data: The 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses survey was conducted in partnership with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), among 552 women business owners (WBOs) across the US, from December 14, 2012 to January 4, 2013.

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Women Business Owners Upbeat, Boosting Marketing Spend

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.