Small businesses prefer old-school methods to social media marketing

Radhika Sivadi

2 min read ·


In-person interaction is most effective marketing method, survey says

Despite the plethora of digital marketing methods available—from email, to websites, to online advertising, to social media—the old-fashioned in-person interaction is still the marketing approach that most businesses consider to be the most effective.

The small business marketing and social media company Constant Contact polled more than 1,000 members of its Small Biz Council. Its findings, published yesterday, reflect the responses of 728 business owners—280 B2B (business-to-business) operations, and 448 B2C (business-to-consumer) companies.

From a list of nine marketing-communications-related small business worries, including securing funding, 70 percent of respondents named "how to attract new customers" as their top priority. Cash was their second greatest concern—45 percent of respondents admit to losing sleep to thinking about how to get more of it. (More than half of all respondents, however, said cash flow is no problem right now, and 63 percent of B2B companies are in that healthy position.)

Asked to name the number-one most effective marketing method, more respondents chose "in-person interactions" than any other approach. B2B companies are even more enthusiastic about doing business the old-school way—59 percent of B2B operators said face-to-face is the most effective way to promote their business. Second and third most effective marketing tools, respectively, according to respondents, are websites and direct mail.

Email marketing ranked fourth, with one in five business considering it their most effective strategy. But respondents aren't totally stuck in the past: Traditional and online advertising are even less favored methods of marketing nowadays—only 17 percent consider them the best approach anymore.

Still, only one in ten respondents consider the newest approach, social media marketing, to be effective. Among that group, Facebook is overwhelmingly the top tool. Survey respondents who ranked social media among the three most effective marketing methods were asked to rank the best-known social media tools on effectiveness. Seventy-five percent ranked Facebook number one. Twitter was favored by 7 percent of respondents, and among B2B respondents Linked In was more popular, with 11 percent ranking it most effective. Only 3 percent or fewer respondents considered Pinterest, Google +, or Yelp to be effective. Among B2B marketers, 6 percent like YouTube.

But a lack of success with social media marketing might be linked to a lack of familiarity with the medium. More than 60 percent of B2C businesses and nearly half of B2B businesses said they need help with social media marketing activities. Sounds like an opportunity for a small business.

Find more data from Constant Contact here.

What's your preferred method of marketing? Do you agree that social media is a less effective tool than in-person contact? Tell us in the comments.

Radhika Sivadi