When asked "what keeps them up at night," 80% of the respondents said attracting new customers; 52% said finding better ways to encourage customers to refer their business; and 48% said not having adequate cash flow to run their businesses effectively.
To address those issues, a greater number of small businesses are adding social media to their marketing arsenal. Of the 1,500-plus respondents to the survey, 73% are currently using this form of marketing, and among that group, 80% reported that their usage of social media marketing has increased in the past 12 months. Of the 27% not already using social media for marketing purposes, 62% said they will be using it at some point in the next year.
Of social media's "Big Three," Facebook was cited most by respondents, with 95% saying they use it and 82% saying they find it to be an effective tool. Twitter and LinkedIn were neck-and-neck, with 60% citing the former and 58% citing the latter. For both Twitter and LinkedIn, 47% of respondents said they find the social media site effective for marketing. Video sharing tools such as YouTube were mentioned as well--by 45% of respondents--and nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) find video sharing to be effective.
"What's important to note, though, is that social media is not replacing other types of marketing, such as email, website, and event marketing," said Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact, in an interview. "Of respondents, 91% still use email marketing, for example."
Email, in fact, remains the killer app, Schmulen said, pointing out that 83% of survey respondents said that checking email is the first thing they do when they go online. Among those surveyed, 72% said they check email six times or more each day; only 13% said they check Facebook that frequently.
"Ultimately, social media is just one component of an effective, integrated marketing strategy," said Schmulen. "As our CEO Gail Goodman likes to say, email marketing lights the fire; social media marketing fans the flames."