One in four small to medium sized businesses in the UK are using social media to connect with customers, according to a survey by Daryl Willcox Publishing.
The survey revealed that 27% of those questioned use social media platforms such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook and online forums as part of their marketing activity. 285 companies ranging from 1 to 250 employees took part in the research.
When looking at the use of trade magazines, 88% said they read relevant publications to keep up to date with developments and competitors in their industry. The ways trade magazines are influencing businesses range from putting new business processes in place (32%), training staff in new areas (21%), targeting new customer demographics (27%) and implementing new technology (28%).
The respondents, who represent over 80 industries including catering, health and fitness, construction, automotive, property, education and finance, also used a range of external marketing services to increase their online presence. Over half had paid for services such as email marketing and search engine optimisation. Nearly a fifth had invested in external PR services.
Results showed that over three quarters of businesses were confident when using the Internet to interact with existing and potential customers. Half were very confident, while a further 35% were fairly confident.
“This survey shows that small and medium businesses are showing real imagination when it comes to choosing marketing techniques,” said Daryl Willcox, founder of Daryl Willcox Publishing. “Many are embracing social media and combining this with more traditional marketing methods. Companies realise the importance of being visible online and are recognising the benefits of having an up-to-date digital presence.”
40% of those who took part in the research said they had advertised in trade magazines. However, direct mail was the most widely used medium to publicise services – 60% of businesses said they marketed themselves this way. 43% used press release distribution services, while 35% had taken out newspaper advertisements.