One in four small to medium sized businesses in the UK are using social media to connect with customers, according to new research published today.
A survey entitled ‘How Do Small to Medium Businesses Market Themselves?’ from Daryl Willcox Publishing has revealed that 27% of those questioned used social media platforms such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook and online forums as part of their marketing activity. In total, 285 companies ranging from 1 to 250 employees took part in the research.
The respondents, who represent over 80 industries including catering, health and fitness, construction, automotive, property, education and finance, also used a range of external marketing services to increase their online presence.
Over half had paid for services such as email marketing and search engine optimisation. Nearly a fifth had invested in external PR services.
Results showed that over three quarters of businesses were confident when using the internet to interact with existing and potential customers. Half were very confident, while a further 35% were fairly confident.
“This survey shows that small and medium businesses are showing real imagination when it comes to choosing marketing techniques,” said Daryl Willcox, founder of Daryl Willcox Publishing.
“Many are embracing social media and combining this with more traditional marketing methods. Companies realise the importance of being visible online and are recognising the benefits of having an up-to-date digital presence.”
When looking at the use of trade publications, 88% said they read relevant publications like UTalkMarketing to keep up to date with developments and competitors in their industry.
The ways trade publications are influencing businesses range from putting new business processes in place (32%), training staff in new areas (21%), targeting new customer demographics (27%) and implementing new technology (28%).
Some 40% of those who took part in the research said they had advertised in trade publications.
However, direct mail was the most widely used medium to publicise services - 60% of businesses said they marketed themselves this way. Some 43% used press release distribution services, while 35% had taken out newspaper advertisements.
The survey found that a quarter of businesses regularly communicate with customers; informing them about offers and services every week. 23% of those surveyed contacted customers every month, and a further quarter every few months.
Over half (57%) agreed that informing their customer base of new products, services and changes was very important, with a fifth stating it was quite important.
Almost all (97%) of the businesses surveyed had a website, with 2% planning on introducing an online presence. Only 1% didn’t have a website and were not intending to build one.
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