Marketers from small-to-midsize companies are taking greater advantage of modern marketing techniques and are more reliant on key digital marketing activities than marketers overall, according to a new study by BtoB Magazine — SMBs: Maximizing Synergies in Technology, Branding, Customer Interaction.
BtoB's study, sponsored by Oracle Eloqua, was based on an online survey fielded in May and June 2013 that generated 204 responses from companies with annual revenues of $25 million to $200 million. Industry groups represented include: technology companies made up 28% of all respondents; 17% were non-tech manufacturers, 13% publishers and 7% financial services companies. Advertising, engineering, construction, architecture and transportation companies also participated.
Most SMB marketing teams are lean with budget constraints. But they rely on proven technologies to help them figure out what's working and not, in terms of marketing activities and ROI. This reliance has grown in the past three to four years as more SMBs advance in their modern marketing competencies.
In the study, SMB marketers were asked to compare how they stack up against a hypothetical best-of-breed modern marketer while rating a number of aspirational marketing capabilities. Both SMBs and marketers overall reported having a way to go before reaching ideal status. Worth noting, technology competencies identified by marketers — for example, analytics, conversion methods and targeting — were valued more highly by SMBs than by marketers overall.
4 Takeaways for SMB Marketing Teams and Partners:
1. Being aware of SMB uniqueness; learning from others- There are significant differences between the ways small-to-midsize marketers approach their challenges, markets, customers, vendors, and internal stakeholders. SMB marketers who are aware of these differences are not settling for a narrower set of channels, or avoiding the lessons from enterprise peers. They are, however, aware of what is working for SMB marketers, and in particular how these marketers view their greatest opportunities in the future to become more advanced Modern Marketers.
2. Becoming risk-averse through technology and collaboration-SMB marketers have relatively small budgets and teams. They maximize resources and navigate with little margin for error. This is one of the key reasons SMB marketers are more reliant on marketing technology. They recognize the value of technology, and are avid users. Within larger SMBs with established IT departments, marketers collaborate with their IT peers to realize even greater technology-driven business benefits.
3. Taking advantage of expertise in the broader community- Partnerships can be the key to SMB marketing success, as marketers collaborate within and outside their companies. SMB marketers rely on trusted vendors — experts they perceive as committed team members. SMB marketers who seek out vendors for their sense of teamwork, honesty, and professionalism — in addition to product features — will leverage a much greater circle of marketing expertise than they otherwise could organize.
4. Driving sales and customer experiences- SMBs see their roles as distinct from other companies. Technology enables them to be more successful, and they rely on many third parties to help increase sales and improve customer experiences. This is why SMB marketers say the implementation of Modern Marketing best practices will help to increase revenue performance and differentiate with preferred customer experiences.
Erick Mott is a social business leader at Eloqua. He has 20 years of experience at Oracle, Ektron, Sitecore, Lyris, Habeas, Nokia, creatorbase, Mark Monitor, Cisco Systems, GlobalFluency, Sun Microsystems, Philips NV, Elm Products and CBS TV. He is a patent holder with agency, Fortune 500, media, and startup company expertise. Connect with him on Twitter @erickmott.