merchantcircle-small-business-marketing-by-channel-dec11.gifFacebook advertising (23%) trails only print newspaper (25%) and direct mail (24%) in terms of small business marketing adoption, according to a survey released in December 2011 by MerchantCircle. Data from the “Merchant Confidence Index” survey indicates that group deals (12%) are also growing in adoption, ahead of online newspaper (11%), but behind PPC and SEM (18%).

Groupon Leads, But Google Gains

26% of respondents who have offered group deals report having used Groupon, ahead of LivingSocial (21%) and the defunct Facebook Deals (22%). Although Google Offers (19%) has been used by the smallest proportion of small businesses, it is slated for the most growth: 32% say they plan to use the service in the future, double the amount who plan to use LivingSocial, and also more than those expecting to use Groupon (26%).

Local Pay-Per-Lead Also to Grow

merchantcircle-business-categories.jpgLocal pay-per-lead appears poised for growth in some key business categories: among financial services respondents, 61% say they would purchase leads, while a significant amount of small businesses in the home improvement (40%), construction (38%), and automotive (33%) industries also indicate a willingness to do so.

PPC ad adoption is most widespread in the automotive industry (20%), with the home improvement (17%), and construction (17%) industries not far behind. These industries also make up the top 3 adopters of group deals, at 10%, 8%, and 4%, respectively. Meanwhile, more than 1 in 5 small businesses in the financial services category have used Facebook ads, ahead of the home improvement (17%), automotive (14%), and construction (12%) verticals.

SEO Most Important Channel

When asked what channel they would choose if they had to put all their marketing time and budget into only one, most respondents chose search engine optimization (32.9%), far ahead of traditional media (19.7%), social media (16%), and paid search advertising (9.8%). Even so, Facebook (not Facebook ads) was the most common marketing tool, used by 70% of the respondents, with only Google (55%) and LinkedIn (52%) also being used by a majority. Just 32% reported using Twitter.

According to a November 2011 report from Constant Contact, among the small businesses that reported using social media, Facebook was the tool of choice, with 96% reporting its use and 86% of those rating it as effective. However, Twitter was found to be quickly gaining ground, with 76% reporting use, up 27% from 60% in Spring 2011. 60% of those using Twitter found it effective, an increase of 28% from 47% just 6 months earlier.

About the Data: The Merchant Confidence Index survey was fielded online between November 8, 2011 and November 28, 2011, and sent to a random sample of MerchantCircle’s member base of over 1.6 million local business owners. There were 2,540 total responses from local business owners across the US.

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