Tech giants like Google have been working on SEO vs SEM, but a recent survey from BrandMuscle suggest that paid search isn’t as big of a priority for small businesses compared to other means of marketing.
The marketing firm surveyed about 1,000 small businesses to see what their primary marketing approach was, and, to their surprise, it wasn’t part of the SEO vs SEM issue, but rather, it was social media advertising. Continued in their 5th edition of ‘State of Local Marketing’, the data, which was acquired from the survey population of franchisees, dealers, retailers, as well as channel partners, with73% of them only operated a single location, with 50% of these small businesses having less than 5 employees.
The report is fairly lengthy, containing detailed information on the data collected by the surveyors. One of the most notable trends shown by the data is that, for small businesses, social media advertising was a greater priority than paid-search by a large margin. The latter ranks 9th on their list, with even traditional print being higher on the priority list. Only display advertising and mobile-targeted display ads ranked lower on the list.
BrandMuscle also asked their respondents which marketing tactics they perceived as the most effective. The winners were the businesses own sites and Facebook, which was then followed by email. SEO and paid search were seen as fairly effective, but not as much of a priority as the top tactics.
SEO was once the top marketing tactic for small businesses, but it wasn’t considered as a choice due to the fact that it was overshadowed by organic social media.
Previous surveys made by third parties noted of how small businesses were confused in their perception of social media, but new evidence suggests that a major driving force behind small businesses driving their marketing strategies was competition, though this doesn’t fully account for the notable gap between paid search and paid social in BrandMuscle’s survey.
BrandMuscle’s survey notes that the disparity might be due to the fact that small businesses might not fully grasp consumer behaviour, and are falling back on old perceptions in order to drive their marketing.