Are They Kidding? Survey Shows Small Businesses Prefer Social Over Email

Are They Kidding? Survey Shows Small Businesses Prefer Social Over Email

Small business owners just don’t get it. They prefer social media to email, and that’s where they’re putting their minuscule marketing budgets, according to a study by Ripl, a provider of mobile application software.

When respondents were asked about the most important apps and software tools for engaging new and existing customers, only 17% cited email tools. In contrast, 55% listed Facebook tools, 43% opted for Instagram, 19% for Twitter and 41% for creative and graphic design. 

And when it came to ranking channels by importance, email was a distant third behind social media posts (not ads) and the company Web site/blog. When indexed with 1.0 being the top score, email pulled .29 compared to .69 for social posts and .55 for websites and/or blogs.

On the positive side, email beat out paid ads on social media, texts  and messenger apps, paid ads on Google, and print, radio, TV ads. It also beat coupon mailings.

But it also came in third, behind social media posts and the Web site/blog for connecting with existing customers. And when the SMBs publish content, it’s most likely to be on Facebook Business, or their personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Email is near the bottom of this list, just above “other.”

Ripl concludes that “U.S. small businesses overwhelmingly view the large social media networks as their more important business awareness and customer engagement channel.” And they’re devoting their modest budgets to digital marketing software tools and online ads.

But they’re making a mistake, for email delivers the highest ROI as many surveys show.  MediaPost's Sean Hargrave recently wrote, " a marketer is six times more likely to get a response through an email than a social post. It must surely help that an email list belongs the brand, whereas Facebook controls how many of a brand's followers get to see each post." In light of that, what are small business owners thinking?

hat are they thinking?“What typically holds a small business back from implementing an email marketing program is the investment it will take to implement it, the time it will take to set it up, and the knowledge and skills to keep it going,” Rhonda Bavaro recently wrote on 

She added: “Because of their limited financial and human resources, small businesses must work smarter, not harder. That’s why marketing automation, which includes email marketing, makes sense for small businesses. Once marketing automation is set up, it’s fairly simple to maintain. Compared to TV, radio, and direct mail, it’s an affordable marketing solution that allows you to reach the right audience at the right time.” 

She’s right. Meanwhile, Ripl reported that 61% of those polled spend from $1 to $100 per month on marketing tools such as apps and software. And 47% spend the same on online advertising (i.e., Facebook and Google), and 65% spend nothing at all on print, radio and TV ads. They spend similarly small amounts on trade shows and memberships.

What are they trying to do? Small businesses cited these goals as key to their marketing strategy:

We’re glad to see that email plays a role with that.

Ripl received more than 370 responses from small businesses in the United States. Each has 100 or less employees.