Top Trends for Small Business Marketing 2012

White Paper

Small businesses have limited budgets but big ideas, so they have discovered the secret to making a little go a long way. By turning to low-cost marketing methods, these businesses yield amazing results. This Quantum Leap Marketing white paper summarises results from small business marketers who are capitalising on a range of marketing solutions including social media and online events.

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Primary Marketing Tactics in 2012

When asked about their planned marketing tactics for 2012, 70% of small businesses indicated they will be using referrals to get more leads and new clients. Interestingly, 51% indicated that they will be using email marketing, 42% will be using social media marketing, while roughly one-third will be using events of some type like Webinars, live seminars or trade shows. These statistics are signifi cant when one considers that the average small business will actively use multiple ways of generating business. Companies are looking to aggressively recruit for new customers in 2012, and many are increasing social media marketing to do it.

Success Criteria for Marketing Campaigns

When asked about the ways they judged the effectiveness of their overall marketing activities, 54% cited the Number of Sales or Sales Opportunities Generated.

Forty-two percent cited Total Revenue Generated and 39% Number of Leads Generated. Only 5% reported that they do not measure or track the effectiveness of marketing tactics.

Where marketers may have been more concerned with leads in the past, they’re looking at the number of sales and sales opportunities now.

Small business marketers appear to be much more focused on the bottom line in 2012. Where marketers may have been more concerned with leads in the past, they’re looking more at sales opportunities and revenue now.

Marketing Tactics Looking Forward in 2012 and Beyond

When asked which marketing tactics were going to be used MORE in 2012, the following tactics were highlighted:

  • Referral Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Partner or Affiliate Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Website/Brochureware
  • Webinars

The following tactics will be emphasized less this year by small business marketers:

  • Website Marketing
  • Direct Mail
  • Telemarketing

The general trend appears to be away from more expensive, less effective tactics, and towards less expensive, more effective ones. Notable is that smaller organizations are de-emphasizing website marketing tactics like Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click Marketing. This is more indicative of spending increases in previous years, than an abandoning of these strategies for 2012.

Email and Social Media Marketing Dominate the Technology Spectrum for SMBs in 2012

When asked which marketing technologies will be used in 2012, 2 in 3 small businesses will use Email Marketing while just under 60% will use Social Media Marketing. Web Conferencing and Webinars, Website Content Management, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will also be used by just under 50% of small businesses.

With Social Media Technologies, LinkedIn is the clear winner for 2012, with over 72% usage. Also popular is Facebook with 54%, and YouTube, Twitter, and Blogs are used by about 4 in 10 small organizations. Both online and social media marketing are clearly strong as smaller companies try to reach buyers with the media they are consuming, and search for both cheaper and more effective channels of promotion.

Online and social media marketing are clearly growing as smaller companies search for both cheaper and more effective channels of promotion.

Online Marketing Spend Continues to Increase

Forty percent of small businesses are increasing their online marketing budget, while 39% plan no change in online budget over 2011.

Summary of General Marketing Trends for Small Businesses

Almost all small business marketers measure the overall effectiveness of their marketing; they have taken this feedback and, fueled by external pressure to add revenue in 2012, are increasing their activity and spend in the online and social arenas.

Events continue to be successful for smaller businesses; as these businesses grow their email marketing lists, social media followers and reach, they are able to better take advantage of Webinars to help turn email opt-ins and social media reach into leads and sales. The next section will outline how small business marketers view Webinars in 2012.

Small Business Webinar Trends in 2012

Here are trends in how marketers view Webinars for lead-generation objectives.

Number of Marketing Webinars per Year – 2011

When asked how many marketing Webinars their organization held in the past year, 52% of marketers said they held no events, while 21% reported that they held 3 or fewer Webinars.

Significantly, 7% said that they held online marketing generation events at least every month.

Projected Number of Marketing Webinars per Year – 2012

When asked how many marketing Webinars their organization plans to host in 2012, 41% of marketers said they are planning between 1 and 6 events, and 9% plan at least a Webinar every month.

Significantly, close to one in four said that they had no plans as of the survey period to hold a Webinar in 2012. Still, compared to numbers from 2011, close to 25% of SMBs are adding Webinars to the marketing mix this year.

Average Registrants at a Typical Marketing Webinar

Eighty-four percent of business marketers reported an average registrant count of 50 or fewer at their marketing Webinars.

In the survey, only 11% reported more than 100 registrants at their average marketing Webinar. In addition, small business marketers estimate that roughly 50% of registrants attend their live webinar. When calculating the number of leads from each small business marketing Webinar, it is best to use the registrant number because at registration rich data like email address, phone number, title and purchasing role are often captured.

The next section will cover many of the reasons why business marketers view Webinars as a key strategy to leverage social media and email marketing for more leads and sales.

Webinars That Work for Small Business

The Webinar is becoming a more popular communication medium for small business marketers. This medium can be intimate, educational, convenient for both presenters and attendees, highly interactive, and provide rich data that helps qualify registrants and attendees as hot leads.

The importance of Webinars is only increased with the continued use of email and online marketing and the recent adoption of social media marketing for small business. Small business marketers can both promote their Webinars through these channels to get new followers and opt-ins, and also use Webinars to nurture their existing contacts into leads and sales. The Webinar medium can be viewed in either a live format, where viewers can participate in the excitement of a live event and ask the presenter(s) questions, or through an on-demand recording, which they can access and view at their convenience.

Here is a summary of some of the important components of small business Webinar success.

Accomplish Your Most Important Small Business Marketing Objectives

Webinars are fl exible in that they help small businesses accomplish a variety of marketing objectives. Listed below are the diverse marketing objectives for small business Webinars and the reported reasons these marketers hold their events.

Note the most popular reason for holding Webinars is to Educate Prospects or Customers. This is followed by Generating New Leads, Positioning in the Marketplace and Nurturing Existing Leads into Sales

Increase the Number of Registrants at Each Event

Webinars enable small businesses to hold marketing events for small groups or for audiences of thousands, and the cost of a Webinar per attendee ends up being a fraction of the price per person of an in-person event.

This flexibility and scalability allows a higher percentage of the event budget to go into higher value activities such as marketing to get more registrants (sales leads). As small businesses build their social media channels and email marketing lists through 2012 and beyond, they will be able to create more Webinar leads and attendees for virtually zero incremental costs.

In addition, Webinars offer the opportunity to feature your best speaker in the presentation, or bring in an outside speaker with a big social media following or email list, which will likely increase the quantity of registrants at the Webinar and the results from it.

Having Buyers in the “Room” – High Quality Sales Leads and Return on Investment (ROI)

Webinars can be a very effective way to get a quantifiable return on investment (ROI) from your marketing dollars and overall resource investment. This comes partly from having buyers in your virtual seminar room. As reported in the survey, just over 30% of small business marketers reported that Webinars produce the highest quality of leads of any online marketing tactic. In addition, about the same 30% report that Webinars produce more value for the company than most other online marketing tactics. Unfortunately, 43% of small businesses still don’t track or compare the relative effectiveness of individual marketing tactics; these small companies should track their marketing campaigns in order to see which tactics are the best performing before deciding how to spend their marketing dollars. Researched marketing tactics will help small businesses generate higher ROIs even from unchanged marketing budgets.

Additionally, with Webinars small businesses are better able to capture rich-data about their potential buyers throughout the Webinar lifecycle. At registration, small businesses choose what information they want to capture from their Webinar registrants. Generally,this includes information like the person’s business title, email address, physical address, phone number, role in the buying process and company. So before the event even takes place, you have captured lead information.

Capture Selling Data during the Webinar

Then during the event, through the Q&A panel, in-session polls, and post-event surveys, small businesses can capture attendees’ answers to questions, the questions they asked, their attentiveness rating during the Webinar, and their responses to the in-session polls and post-event survey in order to qualify attendees as hot leads. Because all in-session polls and post-event surveys are entirely customizable, small businesses decide which information is most valuable to request of their Webinar attendees. So, for example, you may ask your attendees what solution they are already using to fi nd out how many of your competitors’ customers are in your session. Or, at the exit poll, you may directly ask whether attendees want to be contacted after the session to help you identify hot leads. You determine which information is most valuable to you.

For simplicity’s sake, some Webinar technologies even allow you to automatically integrate Webinar data directly with marketing automation technologies through APIs (Application Program Interfaces) for increased accuracy of data, easy lead follow-up, and time savings. APIs save marketers the time and hassle of having to manually enter the rich data they collected from their webinar series into their marketing automation software like Eloqua, Marketo, or Hub Spot, for example.

The data collection, interactions and features associated with Webinars are what make Webinars such a great tool for collecting rich and organized data that can help small businesses determine their hottest leads. Every interaction that happens during a webinar – from registration to the postevent survery – is captured to help marketers close more deals.

Dramatic Cost Savings over In-Person Events and Trade Shows

By their nature, Webinars save signifi cant time, travel, and costs that in-person events and trade shows require. Smaller businesses in the survey estimated they save an average of $47,692 marketing dollars a year by doing fewer in-person events and more Webinars.

Getting More Small Business Marketing Leads and Sales Conversion from Social Media and Online Marketing in 2012

With the projected increase in social media and online marketing tactics such as marketing via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, as well as more established media such as email marketing and Webinars, there will be more requests for the attention of your prospects in 2012, so it is important to understand best practices that leading organizations large and small have found profitable.

While each organization has a unique set of circumstances to consider for their marketing efforts in 2012, small business executives and marketers have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on these newer forms of media to tune up their marketing engine and master the ability to gain more customers and sales in any environment.

Key Recommendations for Small Business Marketing Success in 2012

Some key recommendations for small business marketing success in 2012 are:

1. Build Social Media and Online Contacts and Get Permission to Market to Prospects – Permission Marketing is not just for building an opt-in email list or Twitter following, although that is a big part of it. Getting prospects onto your list at different stages of the information gathering or buying process will open the door to many more potential buyers and help you build a large marketing list. For example, invite LinkedIn connections to your next webinar to turn those connections into customers.

2. Take Advantage of Effective Online and Social Tactics and Technologies – Those small businesses that are able to take early advantage of marketing opportunities online and in social channels will gain a competitive edge. Likewise, it is easier for smaller companies to adopt and benefi t faster from new technologies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Automated Follow-up Campaigns with CRM, and Email Marketing because they are more fl exible and nimble than larger companies.

3. Even in Our New “Social World,” Build Your Email Marketing List, Now – Email marketing offers a fast, cheap, and effective way to reach prospects, clients, or infl uencers. Those small businesses that build and cultivate a relatively large email list will lower their cost of conversion and be able to create sales quickly through relatively aggressive email marketing campaigns. For example, the majority of Webinar registrants still come from a simple email invitation.

4. Consider Webinars in the Social Media Marketing Mix – As discussed above, Webinars help smaller businesses, regardless of their size or market share, expand their market reach and compete on a level playing fi eld with all competitors. Your own, a partner’s, or a speaker’s social media marketing channels are all great avenues for Webinar promotion.

5. Track and Improve – One of the many benefi ts of online and email marketing is it is easy for small businesses to track the results from each marketing campaign, repeat what works, and improve over time. Make sure your organization is still focused on ROI when using newer media and technologies.


Small business executives and marketers are increasingly using social media and online marketing to generate leads for their organizations. More are taking advantage of these marketing technologies such as Webinars in 2012 than ever before, and organizations are also increasing the average number of online events they will hold. Webinars are allowing marketers to reach more prospects, leverage the rich data that the Webinar process provides, and deliver more qualifi ed leads to sales.

This white paper has presented some insights into these trends and also shared ideas about how to get more leads and sales from your own online and social media marketing and Webinars. Try some of the best practices put forth here and reap the rewards in your own organization.

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