What Is The Potential For Growth In SMB Online Marketing?

The handful of SEM companies that we work with at Palore make millions of calls to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) every year. This raises the question of whether the market for SMB online advertising is saturated, and how much room there is for growth.

A good (albeit somewhat simplistic) way of answering that question is by looking at how many SMBs are currently marketing themselves online, and more importantly, how many are not. It is this latter group, local business owners who still don’t advertise or otherwise promote themselves online, that defines the room for growth in this industry.

In this post, I will share some statistics on what local businesses from two categories – dentists and limo drivers  – are currently doing in one small US market. The following charts present their online activity, based on a project we ran in the Alexandria, VA area, covering over 60K businesses. The data covers these local businesses’ activities on the top search engines, Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) and local search sites.


Limo Drivers

I’ll start with some definitions: “Widely listed” means businesses that appear (even as free listings) on at least half of the leading search engines, IYPs and local directories. “Have website” means businesses that have their website listed on one of the above directories (there may be additional businesses with websites, but these did not appear on any of the main directories.) We assume that the other labels are self explanatory.

The blue section shows how many businesses fall into each category, while the orange section shows the portion of businesses that do not – for example, 48% of Alexandria dentists have a website, while 52% do not.

Obviously, there is more to online marketing than being widely listed and having a website – there is a myriad of effective techniques, from adding a video to properly optimizing your site for search engines. However, this snapshot does capture only one aspect of online involvement by these SMBs.

Getting back to the original question, I would argue that if the orange areas  represents the growth opportunity for both SMBs and marketers, then the answer is a resounding “Yes”, and further, the growth opportunity in online marketing for SMBs is significant, and “No”, the market is still far from being saturated.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Small Is Beautiful


About The Author: is CEO at Palore, a provider of local businesses' advertising data and information on their online activity. He also blogs at The Palore Blog. This column is researched and written by the marketing department at Palore, which is led by Hanan.

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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com nickstamoulis

    Great article and I tend to agree with you. I think the issue with many small businesses (limo and dentists) is they too often still don’t view the web as a customer/patient and revenue generate vehicle since so much of online marketing/advertising is intangible (not like traditional marketing). Over time I think that the various small business online marketing sectors will grow…

  • http://www.frankthinking.com FrankReed

    First, it took three log ins before I could post a comment – just and FYI

    As for small business online marketing? I think the pure numbers are a bit misleading. Those who are not doing it have an inordinate fear of wasting already scarce resources by going online. They are hard to convince of the merits (somewhat old school in their marketing approach) and they simply are just cheap in many cases.

    I once felt the SMB market was an endless opportunity but until there is a paradigm shift in thinking by SMB’s that yes, the Internet is for them too, I think the growth will be there but limited.

    Every year will be the “year that small business gets it!” with hype but reality matching that will be lagging far behind.


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