An interesting piece of research from the folks at Borrell Associates this morning that concerns how small and medium businesses are using digital channels. Given that nearly every local business seems to have a website, I wasn’t surprised to read that over half of SMB online marketing dollars are spent supporting what the survey calls “web presence.” This is their site design and maintenance, hosting, as well as their social media management. What I hadn’t thought about was the study’s conclusions as summed up in this post:
Digital advertising is yielding the spotlight to digital services. The emerging lesson, concludes the study, is that the Internet is actually not much of an advertising medium after all.
That was an “ah-ha!” moment for me. Then again, I can’t remember the last time I clicked on a web banner and unless I’m searching with an intent to buy immediately (as opposed to just conducting research), I generally ignore the PPC ads that seem to surround everything. As it turns out the average U.S. small/medium business spends $17,000 on online services, compared with $6,800 on online advertising, hence the conclusion about it not being a medium. Then again, there is a big division even within this group since those with fewer than 50 employees will spend less than $500 a year, while a mid-size business with more than 50 employees will spend an average of $63,000. The little guys spend a higher percentage of their budgets on web hosting and their site (make sense since this is the one indispensable element in my opinion) as well as email and SEO (getting found is always important!). Once the budgets grow the companies can afford to branch out into other areas (blog management, analytics, etc.).
The report concludes by noting that, as the web becomes more of a basic marketing tool for business, the importance of online support services will grow as well. The midsize and larger companies are likely to internalize services that they once contracted out. Those larger companies will either assign SEO and social media management tasks to existing staff, or hire fulltime experts in digital marketing
I’ve seen that occur with some companies for which I’ve worked. Here on the screed we probably don’t think about the interwebs as a service-driven space and probably spend too much time on it as a medium I’m going to rethink that based on this study since many of the folks who contact me fit the small and medium business category. What do you think?