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August 5, 2013

Small businesses expanding with mobile

Study finds that small and medium businesses are embracing mobile and social platforms.

By Ben Sullivan

Local Commerce Monitor’s latests findings into an ongoing study of advertising behaviors of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) have indicated that SMBs are increasingly embracing mobile and social platforms for improving operational efficiencies and promotion.

The findings show that mobile payments are gaining significant traction with SMBs, with 40% of those surveyed stating that they now accept payments at the point of sale with a mobile credit card reader attached to a smartphone or tablet, with a further 16% plan to add this capability to their businesses within the next year.

The studies also indicate that SMBs are turning to mobile to get customers through the door, with 32% of those surveyed using some form of mobile advertising to promote their businesses, up from 28% in 2012.

Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey: "Mobile continues to make impressive inroads into the SMB market, as both a marketing vehicle and as an element of the business infrastructure.

"A closer look at the data shows adoption of mobile and social varies across SMB industry sectors. The LCM data reveals professional and home and trade services are embracing mobile in a big way, with service providers essentially becoming walking POS terminals."

Nearly three-quarters of SMBs surveyed (72%) indicated they are using social media to promote their businesses. In addition, 52% of SMBs surveyed have a Facebook page for their business and 25% have a Google+ Local page.

"Together, mobile and social tools are transforming the way SMBs acquire and retain customers." added Marshall. "With the heavy use of social media, SMB marketing is quickly becoming a two-way engagement rather than a one-way promotion."

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Many SMBs gave themselves high marks on their level of social engagement. When asked how "engaged" their businesses are with their customers on social media (eg. responding to online comments, regular blogging or tweeting, regular updating of their Facebook page, offering a loyalty programme), 66% stated they are "extremely engaged" or "very engaged."

Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) is BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing tracking survey of small and medium-sized businesses conducted online with research partner Ipsos. The survey measures where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving.

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