Small businesses are still in the ‘letterbox marketing era’, says Salmat

Letterboxing remains the most popular marketing tool for Australian small businesses as most of them neglect online media, Salmat has found in a survey on SME marketing behaviour.

While just over half of Australian businesses with up to 25 employees plan to increase their spend, most lack the time or resources to plan and monitor their campaigns, putting them at a disadvantage to bigger and better resourced competitors, the direct marketing company found.

The company’s survey painted a desperate picture of Australian small business marketing – while 51% said they would increase their marketing spend in 2017, only 23% reported that they can afford having a person dedicated to marketing.

The report found not having enough time or knowledge were major barriers to small business owners improving their marketing skills, based on the 250 small business marketing decision makers surveyed in the report.

“Time and resources are the biggest challenges small companies face, meaning that marketing activities sometimes fall by the wayside,” said Salmat head of marketing, Ben Hillman. “It’s impossible to do everything, so small businesses should focus their energies on planning and evaluating their current marketing activities so they know what is and isn’t working.”

Of the channels small businesses plan to invest in for the first time this year, the survey found letterbox drops comes out on top (13.9%), followed by events or trade shows (12.7%) and websites (12.3%).

“It is not surprising to see small businesses turning to letterbox as a new channel, as most small businesses rely on the local community for sales. Letterbox is an effective way of engaging a highly targeted local audience through the use of targeting tools that enable granular targeting based on more than 50 variables ,” said Hillman.

The survey also found a gap between investments in websites and search engine marketing or optimisation. While small companies spent most of their budget on their websites in 2016 (57.5%), only 7.1% and 2.4% respectively invested in SEO and SEM.

“SEO and SEM is often viewed as complex by small businesses, which stops them from using these tools,” observed Hillman.

Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns is also a challenge many are facing with only 52% of small businesses saying they measure their campaigns often against 75% for mid-tier businesses. The two main barriers were the lack of time (44%) or knowledge (18%).

“To get the most out of their marketing, small businesses must understand their target audiences to craft relevant campaigns. When planning a campaign, be sure to consider what your competitors are doing, and what data you can access about your customers and potential customers,” said Hillman.


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