Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Online marketing budgets are set to rise, according to a recent survey of
more than 750 small to medium-size business respondents by Zoomerang, an online
survey and polling tool, and GrowBiz Media, an SMB content provider and
consultant. Key factors prompting marketing budget growth in 2011 are increased
expectation of the role and impact of social media and the realized return on
investment in e-mail marketing efforts, the survey found.

Heading into 2011, most SMBs plan to increase their marketing spend in both
online and print mediums, with online activities receiving the largest
increases. Among the marketing initiatives expected to increase the most are
e-mail, Website and social media marketing, according to survey results.

"It is remarkable to see the new ways that small and midsized businesses
are adapting different technologies to make the most effective and creative use
of their budgets," said Alex Terry, general manager of Zoomerang.
"More small to midsized companies are incorporating social media practices
into their business development strategies. As a result, this area of marketing
is poised to see an incredible uptick in the next year."

Among the more than 750 businesses surveyed, 34 percent indicated that they
currently use social media in their marketing efforts. Of those using social
media, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were the most common channels chosen,
used by 80 percent, 37 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

"Once again, small and midsized business owners have shown their willingness
to embrace new ideas and marketing methods," said Rieva Lesonsky, CEO
of GrowBiz Media. "It’s also encouraging that these business owners are
planning to increase their 2011 marketing budgets, which will hopefully lead to
an overall economic boost in the country."

The growth of social media could be linked to more than half of the businesses
surveyed having a marketing budget of $1,000 or less, with the top five budget
areas that SMBs plan to increase in their 2011 marketing budgets being Website,
e-mail, direct mail, social media and print advertising. Perhaps
unsurprisingly, the survey found respondents under the age of 30 were the
highest adopters of social media.

However, a recent survey by
RatePoint, a provider of customer reviews, testimonials and online
reputation-management services, found small businesses are still wary of using
social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Twenty-five percent of survey
respondents agreed that their customers want to hear from them on social
networks, while 36 percent disagreed and 20 percent were undecided. When asked
if social media is a quick way to connect with prospective customers, 35
percent of businesses surveyed agreed, 28 percent disagreed and 22 percent were
undecided.