A new survey released today by Alba SEO, indicates that traditional marketing is no longer a priority for smaller businesses, with the majority favouring cheaper, online methods to promote their businesses.

traditional marketingAlba’s survey found that over 76% of small businesses that took the survey, do all their marketing online, with only 14% still using traditional marketing methods such as advertising, events or direct mail. The average spend on marketing ranges from £500-£5000 a year for smaller businesses, with the vast majority spent on online methods.

Alba’s survey suggests smaller businesses are turning to digital marketing because they get a better return on their investment (over 70% agree with this), with 47% of respondents saying online marketing was cheaper than traditional methods. As a proportion of total annual revenue, just over a quarter of respondents (28%) said online marketing contributed between 30% and 50% of their annual income, while 10% said it contributed up to 100%.

Other benefits included feeling they have more control over their marketing, finding it easier to target customers and measure success.

The most popular online marketing method for smaller businesses is social media, with over 80% of respondents using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to market their businesses. SEO is also increasingly popular, with 60% using optimisation methods, followed by content marketing (52%), email marketing (47%) and social media marketing (33%).

SEO produced the best results according to a third of small businesses, followed by social media marketing and content/in-bound marketing.

The majority of businesses (62%) are doing online marketing themselves to save money, with just 14% outsourcing it.

Despite the obvious trend toward digital marketing, not all companies found it easy. Many businesses felt online marketing was too time consuming (48% agreed), while 20% of respondents struggled to keep up with digital marketing technology and methods. Other issues were the complexity of online marketing (14% agreed) and not being able to tell if it’s helping the business (14% agreed).

The results of the survey mirror recent reports siting the decline of traditional marketing agencies, particularly advertising. In 2017, advertising companies including Interpublic, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP, all suffered poor financial results and rating downgrades. This was due to what was described as a “difficult time for the agency holding companies,” as a result of slowing underlying business growth and the fragmentation of media.

Caroline Phillips, managing director of Alba said:

“Over the past ten years, we have really noticed a surge in demand for digital marketing services, particularly smaller businesses looking for SEO to improve their search ranking. You only have to Google marketing to see how much the digital sector has overtaken conventional methods – it’s hard to find an agency or professional these days who provides conventional marketing services. Advertising is still there but much of it is online these days – Google ads, play per click are the premium choices for smaller businesses because it’s affordable and easy to measure. There will always be a place for print and broadcast advertising, but it will be the larger companies with bigger budgets that will add these to their marketing mix. Its digital all the way for SMEs.”