Report: Small Businesses Avoid Digital, Social Marketing

Report: Small Businesses Avoid Digital, Social Marketing

Social media and digital marketing are receiving considerable attention and visibility as highly effective, must-have marketing tactics, particularly for larger enterprises. However, a report from Brandmuscle reveals that many smaller local affiliates are slow to adopt social and digital media because of concerns about complexity. Instead, they are favoring some (but not all) of the more established marketing tactics (e.g., local events, direct mail, and coupons).

The report surveyed hundreds of local dealers, agents, and franchisees across a wide range of industries and asked them to share insights on their local marketing experiences. Brandmuscle, a local marketing automation platform provider, compared the results to those identified by tracking more than $2 billion in co-op and channel investments made by Brandmuscle clients over the past 3 years. The result is a comprehensive national survey on the current state of local marketing across social media, digital media, print media, direct mail, events, and more.

Highlights of the report (available as a free download) include the following:

1) Some established marketing tactics are highly rated

  • Local affiliates deem some of the most tried-and-true marketing tactics as most effective. In terms of overall satisfaction, top-rated tactics include local events, coupons, billboards, and email.
  • The most frequently used tactics are coupons (83%), direct mail/postcards (81%), local events (79%), email (72%), and website (72%).
  • Least frequently used marketing tactics include daily deals (29%; e.g., Groupon), magazine advertising (45%), billboards (45%), non-traditional advertising (47%; e.g., pizza box toppers, gas pump toppers, vehicle wraps) and TV (50%).

2) Traditional media leaves many local affiliates dissatisfied

  • "Old media" is taking it on the chin when it comes to performance. The lowest rated tactics are magazine advertising, newspaper advertising, and Yellow Pages.
  • Old media costs big money. "Expense" is the top reason local affiliates are shying away from TV, billboards, radio, newspaper advertising, and Yellow Pages listings.

3) Digital and social media adoption still lags

  • Adoption rates for digital and social tactics remain relatively low: 40% of local affiliates don't use keyword search, 37% don't use Facebook, and 57% don't use Twitter.
  • New media are too complicated and time-consuming. Affiliates cited complexity as the top reason they don't invest in Twitter, Facebook, online advertising and online keyword search.
  • Despite a relatively high adoption rate (72%), one of four local businesses we surveyed (28%) still don't have a website.

4) Local marketing budgets are growing

  • Marketing budgets are growing, with 33% of respondents saying that their budgets are increasing by more than 10% and more than half (52%) saying their marketing budgets will remain about the same.
  • Overwhelmingly, businesses are using marketing to generate new business: 83% say the top reason is to generate new leads and new customers.


"Consumers are shifting the way they make purchases with some reports estimating that as many as 80% begin their search for products and services online," said Clarke Smith, chief strategy officer for Brandmuscle. "According to our study, the primary reason local affiliates avoid online marketing is because it is 'too complicated or time-consuming.' Marketers are in a unique position to help their local affiliates make the journey to online marketing, which when executed correctly can be both cost-effective and measurable - two key considerations when attempting to maximize the ROI of smaller budgets."

Brandmuscle helps national brands capitalize on opportunities and local market conditions with brand-compliant, customized marketing across all media and formats. For more information call 866-464-1307 or visit

Published: October 29th, 2014

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