2020 Small Business Marketing Trends Report

Chapter 01: Introduction

When people hear “2020” they typically think of vision and/or of the past, as the term is often linked to the clarity of hindsight.

But here, as part of this important report, “2020” is all about a vision of the future, within the fresh calendar year upon us, and how small business owners can thrive throughout it by using savvy, popular and effective marketing techniques.

It’s undeniable. Marketing, much like technology, is evolving at a rapid pace. Today’s entrepreneurs have so many more tools and options—including software such as Keap Grow, Keap Pro and Infusionsoft by Keap—for helping them establish their brand and for promoting it than they had just months ago. Recently, there have been exciting advancements in marketing automation, customer relationship management, and analytics, to name just a few.

With that in mind, we present Keap’s Small Business Marketing Trends Report for 2020, which is intended to serve as a resource for those entrepreneurs looking to drive more business through enhanced and consistent marketing in the new year (and beyond). It includes intriguing survey results, crisp statistical analysis and invaluable insight from marketing experts on the latest trends.

Chapter 02: Methodology and takeaways

In October 2019, Keap surveyed self-identified small business owners via an online questionnaire that featured queries about marketing in 2020.

The results of the polling are featured throughout this report via individual graphics.

NOTE: While not all respondents answered all of the questions, each question received at least 463 answers. Also, respondents were not necessarily customers of Keap, and the survey did not identify Keap as a sponsor.

Here are just a few compelling takeaways from a glance of the survey results:

  • Shockingly, nearly half of respondents said they “did not know” if their marketing efforts are effective

  • Developing a marketing plan ranked last among the top marketing goals for 2020

  • Finding time and resources for marketing will be the greatest marketing challenge among respondents in 2020

  • Word of mouth/referrals are king when it comes to how respondents primarily market their business

  • While almost half of respondents use Facebook for marketing, very few are utilizing other popular and wide-reaching social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Chapter 03: Survey results and analysis

Let’s examine the survey results…

Question:

With a tip of the hat to “None of the Above,” “Driving Sales” was the most popular answer to the question about the top marketing goal for 2020, as 24% of respondents checked the driving sales box. This should not be a surprise. What is somewhat shocking is that very few (6.9%) voted for “Building brand awareness.”

It’s important to remember, as noted in a recent Keap.com blog, that ignoring your brand identity only causes more headaches in the long run.

Per the blog: “In order for small businesses to compete, you must create and cultivate emotional connections with your audiences through your messaging, marketing, and engagement. Your brand is the most valuable asset in your business, and when it is done right, the benefits and ROI are measurable and immediate.”

Question:

The answer “Finding time and resources for marketing” collected the most votes (other than “Not applicable”) to the question regarding the biggest marketing challenge for 2020; nearly one in five of the respondents picked this option.

Keap CEO Clate Mask says that obstacle must be conquered:

“The biggest challenge that business owners face generally is ‘How do I find the time to do everything I need to do?’ That's why it's so important that you be intentional about it and say, ’OK, I know I feel like I have no time to work on marketing, but I'm going to put one hour on the calendar on Wednesday or two hours on Friday to work on it’ … What happens is they put in a little time there and then they start to think, ’Oh, maybe I should put a little more time, a little more time, a little more time.’ But if you don't put it on the calendar, you won't do it. If you put it on the calendar, and you make that a priority, you stick to it.”

Question:

For better or worse, small business owners tell it like it is. At least that’s the logical conclusion to be drawn from the results of the survey question worded: “Are your marketing efforts effective?”

Get this: a little more than half of the respondents declared “I don’t know” (43.6%) or “No” (7.5%).

Here’s Clate Mask’s advice to that group of frustrated marketers:

“You don't have to be a world-class marketer to grow your business. You just have to be willing to work at it, to try and to learn. I'm under no delusions that all small business owners want to be marketers. I know that most don't, they just want to serve their customers. But a good business owner is going to serve their customer (and) learn. They're going to spend a little bit of money to acquire more customers and learn from that, and adjust and get better.”

Question:

Half of the entrepreneurs surveyed reported being do-it-yourselfers when it comes to marketing their small business.

On the flip side, 6.5% reported they don’t market their small business at all. Yikes!

Kudos to those who market by themselves or from within their company for taking the initiative, although it’s really not as hard as it seems.

As stated in Keap.com’s guide to digital marketing, it’s pretty simple: find the right customers, give them helpful content, and then call them to action.

Question:

When it comes to marketing, nearly half of the small business owners surveyed listed good, old-fashioned “Word of mouth/referrals” as their primary tactic.

Isn’t that shocking as we enter the third decade of the 21st century? Well, in a video produced specifically for this report, Keap CEO Clate Mask says, “It doesn't surprise me a bit...”

Question:

Thirty-six percent of respondents revealed they’re not using popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and/or Pinterest as a marketing tool(s) regularly.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

This one’s a no-brainer. Social media has proven to be an effective avenue for digital marketing. From free accounts to paid advertising, it’s an ideal option for increasing visibility of a company and for gaining a loyal base of followers/customers.

Question:

“Social media is a great strategy for digital marketing as long as you prioritize which platforms you use,” writes Jeff Cole, in a recent blog for Keap.com. “Don't try to adopt every possible form of social media; instead, do the research and really think through which platforms are best for your small business's unique needs.”

Question:

Collecting contact information from leads is a critical step in making a sale, but most potential customers are reluctant to provide businesses their personal data. While popular among respondents (see above), simply asking for contact information in person or on the phone probably isn’t the best way to go about it.

This is where a lead magnet can be very effective.

As stated in Keap.com’s “The small business guide to capturing leads,” people are more willing to share their contact information if they receive something in return, like a piece of content, a discount, or an experience.”

Question:

Automation can be a game-changer for small business marketers but only 13.4% of respondents believe it’s the best way to optimize their marketing efforts in 2020.

“Automation will continue to be a point of emphasis for small businesses in 2020,” said Matt Shealy, the President of ChamberofCommerce.com, which specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. “Specifically, chatbots are a resource that not only allow businesses to engage customers in real time without the cost of additional resources but will be leveraged to drive customer acquisition.

“The biggest growth opportunity in this area is using Facebook Messenger marketing to engage prospective customers in real time through Messenger. Instead of driving potential customers from Facebook to a landing page, you’re able to start conversations with them at the exact time they are interested in your product or service.”

Chapter 05: Conclusion

So the experts agree small business owners must keep pace with today’s technology and understand which advancements and which marketing tactics will work best for their company. However, marketing a small business can be a challenge for owners, many of whom have no passion for and/or experience in this important field. Some even desperately cling to the label of novice, relying on their products and/or services to somehow market themselves.

Clearly, that’s not a blueprint for success. Small business owners must not ignore marketing! If you are one of those who still believe you can and get away with it, you need to bury that antiquated and ineffective mindset in 2020. Make doing so a resolution.

Here’s one last insightful quote from Rob Stevenson, the host of our exclusive Marketing Report video and a Growth Marketing Manager at Keap:

"Small business marketing can be boiled down to one thing: consistency is key. No matter what you do, small business owners have to keep doing it, day after day, week after week, month after month. Marketing is not a sprint, it's a marathon."

With that in mind, let 2020 serve as your starting line!

NOTE: This report was compiled by Dave Vest, a writer and editor at Keap.

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