|The largest online network of local business owners in the U.S. shared results of its quarterly Merchant Confidence Index survey of over 8,500 small to medium business owners. The data reveals that these enterprises are gravitating towards simple, low-cost online marketing methods such as Facebook and other social media, as well as towards tried-and-true methods such as search and email marketing. The research also demonstrates that while new marketing services such as mobile marketing and group buying are generating significant buzz in the media, local merchants have yet to tap these unproven marketing methods.
Darren Waddell, Vice President of marketing at MerchantCircle, says "Online marketing continues to be a challenge for most businesses, the marketing methods. gaining the most traction are... ones that offer simplicity, low costs and immediate results."
With huge consumer adoption, ease-of-use and low barrier to entry, Facebook continues to be a popular way for merchants to market their business, with 70 per cent using the social network for marketing, up from 50 per cent one year ago. 37 per cent rate Facebook as one of their most effective tools, almost tied with Google search (40 per cent) as one of their top three most effective marketing methods. 40 per cent of local merchants say they use the twitter the microblogging platform to build awareness and community around their products and services.
Tried-and-true online methods trump new, unproven approaches. Three of the top marketing methods for businesses, social, search and email, are cited as being the most effective, with 36 per cent putting social networking in the top three, 40 per cent citing search and 36 per cent choosing email marketing.
Over the course of 2010, use of print advertising dropped by 33 per cent (from 40 per cent), use of print Yellow Pages declined 18 per cent (from 45 per cent), and use of direct mail decreased 26 per cent (from 39 per cent).
Many of these methods, though, continue to deliver results for local merchants. 24 per cent say that coupons or direct mail are still one of their top three most effective marketing tactics, 23 per cent say print Yellow Pages are a top three tactic, and 20 per cent put print newspaper and magazine ads in the top three as well.
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