AT&T Poll Reveals Importance of Online Marketing for Small Businesses

Sixty percent of small businesses surveyed plan on spending as much or more in 2012 as they did in 2011 on online marketing efforts, according to the 2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll.

Inexpensive, modern grassroots marketing techniques both online and offline have grown to be among the most popular for small businesses in the past several years likely due to ease of use and general affordability.

While 79 percent of small businesses surveyed are using word-of-mouth to promote their business, 63 percent are using their company website, and 39 percent are using social media channels.

The AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, surveyed more than 1,200 small businesses with two to 100 employees nationally, and revealed several interesting statistics on company’s uses of social media.

Since 2010, the use of location-based social channels, such as Foursquare, among small business owners has nearly doubled from 5 percent to 9 percent. Small businesses with a LinkedIn presence increased from 25 percent in 2010 to 31 percent in 2011. Small businesses with a Facebook presence increased slightly from 41 percent in 2010 to 44 percent last year, while those on Twitter dropped slightly year-over-year from 19 percent to 18 percent.

One in four small business owners using location-based services believes that the application is important for sales generation, compared to just 2 percent in 2010.

Male business owners are more likely to rely on their company website for marketing than female owners 65 percent vs. 58 percent while female business owners are more likely to rely on social media than their male counterparts 48 percent vs. 34 percent.

Among small business owners who are using wireless mobile devices, those in the education and nonprofit fields are accessing social media at the highest rates, 50 percent and 52 percent respectively, compared to the national average of 43 percent.

Three in four small businesses surveyed have a website, about the same as last year, with nearly a third having a mobile website one designed for viewing on a smartphone.

"In today’s market, small business owners need to maintain a competitive edge, and with a variety of low-cost resources available, small businesses can easily deploy complex marketing campaigns that span all media and audiences," said Ebrahim Keshavarz, AT&T vice president of small business product management. "That’s why we’ve created simple solutions like the AT&T Messaging Toolkit, which enables customized marketing programs that can be shared via multiple mediums at once, whether it be Facebook, SMS, email or more."

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