The Top Online Marketing Activities for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses


Emarsys, a leading provider of cloud marketing software for B2C companies, has released the results of its in-person and online survey of 254 retail professionals published in partnership with WBR Digital. Key findings include SMBs (businesses with revenues of $100 million or less) in B2C retail are developing omnichannel strategies around proven success, are spending more time preparing for the critical holiday shopping season, and are attempting to bring more advanced technology to the fore, and keep pace with omnichannel innovations by linking the digital experience with the brick-and-mortar experience, while investing in mobile commerce capabilities.

The SMBs of today are in an interesting position – despite their size, they can still benefit from similar marketing strategies and technologies being deployed and used by larger organizations. Through omnichannel digital strategies, companies such as Amazon continue to raise the bar around convenience, customer retention, and fulfilment. SMBs have not only recognized this, but in 2016, they are seeking to further adapt the way they operate to suit the omnichannel paradigm.

Per the survey results, marketers from SMBs listed the top online activities and their impact on acquisition and retention. Email marketing lead both acquisition and retention as a primary driver. Also listed are organic search, paid search, social media, retargeting, affiliate marketing, mobile marketing, and comparison shopping engines.

SMB Marketing Retention and Acquisition

Based on the findings of top retail SMBs surveyed:

  • 81% of SMBs still rely on email as a driver for customer acquisition, and 80% for customer retention
  • 73% of retailers rank email as a top budget item, with one in five ranking it as a top priority to invest
  • SMBs saw gains in major KPIs: conversion rates increased by 72%, average order value increased by 65%, and repeat customer purchases increased by 58%
  • 70% of SMBs begin holiday planning no later than July
  • 54% of SMBs identified cart abandonment emails as the most successful marketing tactic and site-based recommendations came in second at 47%

We found that SMBs are nimble and quick to respond in today’s competitive retail environment. SMBs seek agile platforms that are quick to implement and easy to use.  SMBs like Cheaper Than Dirt!, Rawlings, and Scrubs & Beyond have turned to Emarsys to see an immediate ROI, remain competitive and connect with their customers at the right time on the right channels. Additionally, SMBs are leveraging insights on customer behavior to create a seamless shopping experience for customers across devices and channels. This is evidence that SMBs are focused on customer retention – something the bigger players need to consider. Sean Brady, President of the Americas, Emarsys

For this survey, Emarsys partnered with WBR Digital who surveyed retail professionals from a variety of B2C industries responsible for their firm’s marketing, e-commerce, sales and operations. In-person surveys and interviews were conducted on-site at the 2016 eTail West conference

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