It's a cutthroat business landscape out there. To get the word out and put their small businesses on the map, marketers are increasingly turning to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
Social media's immediacy, reach and tracking capabilities make it an ideal promotional platform. This year, 58 percent of the 350 small businesses surveyed by Clutch said they planned to increase their social media marketing budgets.
"Small businesses preparing to invest more in their marketing and advertising need to dedicate a portion of their marketing budgets to promoting posts on various social platforms, even if it means producing more focused posts less frequently," wrote Michelle Delgado, marketer and content developer at Clutch, in her report.
Plus, small business owners don't have to spend a fortune advertising on social media.
"Luckily for small businesses, putting money behind a social media advertising campaign doesn't have to break your budget, added Delgado. "In an explanation of how a Facebook campaign functions, Facebook suggested $15 as a reasonable budget for a single ad."
After social media, small businesses plan to spend more on their websites (56 percent), email marketing (39 percent) and search engine optimization (SEO, 35 percent) in 2017. On the SEO front, more than half (52 percent) of small businesses are focused on improving their local search rankings.
An Eye on Mobile
A third (33 percent) of respondents said they plan to devote a more of their budgets to building a mobile app.
Last month, another Clutch report revealed that more than two-thirds (67-percent) of small businesses plan to build a mobile app, up from 42 percent last year. "The percent of the US population with smartphones is continuing to rise," said Ryan Stevens, research manager at Clutch. "Due to this, apps are increasingly proving themselves as an ideal marketing channel for small businesses."
Nearly half of all small businesses (49 percent) plan to increase their marketing and advertising spending this year, Clutch discovered.
Thirty-six percent said they plan to increase their budgets by 11 percent to 30 percent, while nine percent expect to spend 31 percent to 50 percent. Only four percent of respondents said they are increasing their spending by more than 50 percent. A third of small businesses said they expect their marketing and advertising spending to remain flat in 2017.
When it comes to digital marketing, few small businesses go it alone. Eighty-percent of those polled said they work with at least one agency.
Although hiring an agency may seem like a luxury for new businesses, there are still budget-friendly ways of capitalizing on their expertise, Delgado noted.
"Despite the fact that newly-formed or bootstrapped small businesses likely won't be able to invest in a full partnership with an agency, it doesn't mean that agencies' insights are completely out of reach," she wrote. "Even a few hours or sessions of consulting with an established agency can help ensure a small business' marketing and advertising plan doesn't go off the rails."
In general, entrepreneurs are optimistic about their companies' ability to rack up more sales this year. A majority of the small business owners and managers polled by Clutch expect an improvement in the bottom line, which can contribute to other parts of a business.
"Optimism primes small businesses to be more willing to take risks and bet on their own success. Of the small businesses surveyed, over half (59 percent) expect to see revenue growth in 2017," stated Delgado. "A quarter (25 percent) of small businesses expected their growth to remain approximately flat, while relatively few reported uncertainty or anticipated a decrease in revenue."