For anyone involved in running an SME, understanding how small businesses are marketing themselves can be invaluable. An awareness of where the bar is set can help you direct your own marketing efforts. And with that in mind, we’ve put together five key statistics that we think SME owners should know.

1. 76% of UK businesses are run by the owner alone

This may not sound like a marketing statistic, but bear with us.

The term SME covers a lot of territory, with the upper limit usually defined as 250 employees. However, most are much, much smaller than that. In fact, according to the FSB (Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses), 76% of all UK businesses are run by the owner alone. That’s a staggering 4.3 million one-man bands.

What’s that got to do with marketing? Well it means that for the majority of SMEs, the owner is the marketing team. When considering your own marketing options, it’s worth considering that most of your competition probably have very limited time and resources. Individual circumstances will of course vary, but it means that with a little creative outsourcing, you don’t necessarily need a huge marketing budget to have an impact.

2. Only 49% of SMEs know whether their marketing is actually working.

Now granted, these figures are from US-based SMEs from a survey carried out in 2016. But based on our own experience, we have no reason to suspect there are big differences in the UK today.

The fact is that many SMEs remain very uncertain about marketing. Bluntly, they’re not sure how to do it and they’re not sure how to measure if they’re doing it right. We think there are two take-home messages from this. Firstly, if you’re not confident about your own marketing efforts, you’re not alone. Secondly, with a relatively low bar, any SME that invests time in becoming marketing-savvy is likely to have a substantial competitive advantage.

3. Just 18% of SMEs have mobile-optimised websites.

In 2017, £27 billion of purchases were made from mobile devices in the UK. That figure is projected to rise to £43 billion in 2020. Yet less than 1 in 5 small businesses have websites that are optimised to display on these devices.

When viewed on a phone or tablet, non-optimised websites may have limited functionality, display poorly, or simply be unreadable. Whichever it is, the user’s response is predictable: they go somewhere else. Fast.

Consumers expect websites to be mobile-friendly, and the statistics suggest that taking care of that now will put you ahead.

4. Twitter is fourth place in the social media race.

Most SMEs now recognise the importance of engaging with social media to promote their brand. Although many assume that Twitter is the optimal platform for spreading the word, it’s worth comparing the little blue bird with its rivals.

Recent controversies aside, Facebook still dominates the social media game, with 1.9 billion users each month. YouTube takes second, with around a billion monthly users. Instagram occupies third, with 700 million users. Twitter actually trails the field with 328 million users.

But before you abandon your Twitter account and invest all your time in Instagram, think carefully about your audience. For example, Instagram is more heavily used by women under 35, whereas Twitter is frequented more by 18-29 year-old men. Then there’s LinkedIn to consider…

Given that social media is so time-consuming, the message is that it pays to think carefully about where to invest your energy. A consultation with a good marketing expert can help you set up a strategy and focus on the most appropriate channel for your needs.

5. Only 38.9% of small businesses run a blog

Blogging has multiple benefits for small businesses. Updating your website with fresh, relevant, original content is one of the very best ways to improve its ranking with search engines. And when it’s done well, blogging is a way to showcase your expertise in, and enthusiasm for, your chosen field. Yet an analysis by Turner Little revealed that fewer than 40% of small businesses are blogging regularly, compared to over 80% for larger businesses.

So why aren’t more small business owners doing it? In most cases, it’s a question of time and writing skills. Composing a blog post takes time, and with micro-businesses, that’s something that’s usually in short supply. But even when time is available, many SMEs don’t have staff with the necessary writing chops. After all, if the last time you had to write something to ‘educate and persuade’ was in a school English exam, even writing a short post can be a daunting proposition.

Get on track with your marketing

If there’s a theme in our statistics, it’s that SMEs often struggle with marketing. They know they have to do it, but they often lack the time, resources, skills and confidence to do it justice. Against this backdrop, those SMEs that develop a coherent marketing strategy, and then follow it through, are likely to reap the rewards.

MV Marketing specialise in flexible and affordable marketing solutions for small businesses, including strategy and planning, PR and content writing, social media management and email marketing. Contact us today to find out what we can bring to your business.