In November 2014, the SEO service BrightLocal conducted a survey, asking small- and medium-sized businesses about their views on internet marketing. Released in January 2015, the survey immediately attracted attention from SEO experts and marketing agencies due to its information on spending and efficacy. The research showed that 75% of the businesses who responded to the study believe SEO and internet marketing is “effective” or “very effective,” promising news for an industry that is constantly being dismissed as a dying trend. However, many people who read the results were confused by how these businesses planned to spend their marketing budgets on these tactics: the survey found that 34% of respondents allocated less than 10% of their budgets on online marketing, while only 29% spent more than 70% of their marketing funds on digital methods. If companies find that internet marketing is effective, why aren’t they investing more in these services?
Industry experts, including BrightLocal CEO Myles Anderson, theorized that this decision could be caused by a number of different reasons. For example, the survey also showed that 64% of business owners conduct their internet marketing themselves, meaning further investment may not be feasible. Moreover, online marketing isn’t applicable or effective for all businesses, and accessing innovative solutions can be financially challenging. Now, BrightLocal has released further research on the survey’s data, yielding some potentially definitive answers behind the discrepancy.
According to the new research, size is often a determining factor behind how much a business is willing to spend on internet marketing: larger organizations are more likely to spend money on these services, while smaller companies are less assertive, more uncertain, and more likely to confidently state that they will not increase their spending. These smaller businesses made up the bulk of the survey respondents, which could explain the confusing data.
Bigger organizations are also more likely to see results from their investments. BrightLocal reports that 94% of small and medium businesses with 50 or more employees called internet marketing “effective” or “very effective”; in contrast, 30% of survey respondents running businesses on their own said the practice was “not effective.” This means that many people are missing out on the benefits of professional SEO by trying to market themselves.
“When it comes to SEO, there are so many strategies and techniques like broken link building and the skyscraper technique, just to name a couple,” says Brad Gerlach, SEO Advisor, Local Mixed. “On top of that there is content creation, research and outreach necessary for a successful SEO campaign. A business owner should be focused on the day-to-day operations instead of learning a new trade chasing link prospects. They will save time and money in the long run by allowing a professional SEO agency that has the resources to put together a winning SEO campaign.”
BrightLocal’s latest research has yielded some helpful information, which may explain why online marketing success doesn’t always lead to increased spending. However, a number of questions remain. Are companies feeling uncertain due to external factors, shifts in the industry and bad press? Do they simply think that the current return on their investment is adequate? Only time and further research will tell.