Marketing / Digital Marketing

Top 5 Findings to Read: 2017 Small Business Marketing Trends Report

Updated: Dec 11, 2023 · 3 min read

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As a small business owner, your job description includes, well, everything. Between overseeing sales, operations, human resources, finance and more, it’s easy for marketing to unintentionally take a back seat to everything else.

To find out where small businesses are succeeding in marketing—and where they’re struggling—Keap surveyed 1,000 small business owners from across the United States about their goals, tactics, and challenges for 2017.

You can download the 2017 Small Business Marketing Trends Report to see the full results, as well as analysis and advice from leading digital marketing companies Keap, Aimclear, Buffer, Content Marketing Institute, Moz, and Wistia.


1. Many small business owners aren’t ready for a digital world

Nearly one in five small business owners don’t plan to use any digital marketing at all in 2017. Fortunately, digital marketing tactics have never been more accessible to small businesses. By embracing tools and tactics like social media, marketing automation, search engine optimization (SEO), and digital advertising, small businesses can grow and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

2. Almost half of small business owners are not just the chief executive officer but also the chief marketing officer

Almost half of small business owners (49 percent) handle marketing on their own. Only 22 percent have the help of staff members, and 22 percent hire contractors for all or some of their marketing efforts. 

Unsurprisingly, small business owners don’t have time for marketing. Finding time and resources is the No. 1 marketing challenge respondents say they’ll face in 2017.

3. Marketing is a mystery to many small business owners

Forty-seven percent of small business owners don’t know if their marketing efforts are effective. And 10 percent of small business owners know their marketing efforts aren’t working.

Perhaps that’s because not enough small business owners are embracing tools that can help them measure the return on their marketing investments. In the survey, less than 39 percent of small business owners use a website analytics tool, while only a quarter use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track their interactions with prospects and customers.

4. The average small business marketing strategy isn’t diversified

Most small businesses lack a digital marketing strategy that can help them nurture and connect with customers on multiple channels. Less than half of respondents use tactics like digital advertising, SEO, content marketing, and video marketing. And less than one-third plan to spend more on those tactics in 2017.

5. Most small business owners still haven’t embraced email marketing

Only 44 percent of the small business owners we surveyed plan to use email marketing in 2017. But simply sending more email shouldn’t be the goal. Rather, small businesses should aim to tailor their email marketing to specific customers and their stages in the buying process. To make email marketing more personalized (and therefore more effective), small businesses should consider marketing automation software—a tool used by less than 11 percent of respondents. 

See yourself in any of these statements? If so, it’s time to start planning how you can do better in 2017. Check out the 2017 Small Business Marketing Trends Report to learn:

  • How marketing automation can help you create more connection in less time
  • Harnessing the power of personalization in your email marketing
  • Ways to fight the drop in organic social media reach
  • How to structure your content marketing to accompany your prospects through the whole buyer’s journey
  • Ways to beef up your SEO and be found where prospects are searching
  • Affordable and manageable ways to get started with video marketing
  • Starting small but precise in digital advertising
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