Surveying 2016 with a Look Towards 2017

Surveying 2016 with a Look Towards 2017

Well that went fast!

Looks like another year is nearly in the books so it’s time for our annual survey results.

Thanks to all those subscribers of our newsletter for taking valuable time out from their busy days to fill out our year-end survey.  You’ll find some interesting results below.

It’s this time of year that I like to take stock of my own business, examine what worked, what can work better and what to cut loose.  I examine my marketing efforts, the products and service features we offer our clients, pricing and effectiveness of our offerings.  Due to the fast moving nature of the the Internet and Search Engine Optimization in particular, what works one year may prove ineffective next year, or even next month, so we’re always vigilant.  But like any business, there are important metrics to watch that I keep a close eye on year to year.  They include:

  • Gross venues
  • Net Revenues
  • Profit percentage
  • Expenses as a percentage of gross earnings
  • Numbers of social media subscribers
  • Number of email subscribers
  • Search engine traffic


Since we are an Internet marketing firm, it’s no surprise that we think that the more search engine traffic a business gets the more it should have a direct correlation to sales.  Consider that search engine marketing starts as someone looking for information about a product or service.  If they find your information in a search that leads them to your website where they get a preliminary idea about the products and services you offer — if that information they find helps them make a buying decision, it’s a good chance they’ll buy from the source of that useful information — YOU!

According to Nielsen Research, 63% of shoppers worldwide looked up product information, reviews and comparisons before making a purchase:

SEO Company NJ

How shoppers make buying decisions

[bctt tweet=”According to Nielsen Research, 63% of shoppers looked up product info before making a purchase:” username=”samsonmedia”]


Which brings us to our first round of survey results.

QUESTION 1:   “Is your current website mobile friendly?” had over 76% respondents say “Yes” which is a really good thing.

To recap:  since early 2015, any search that ORIGINATES on a mobile device will only return mobile-ready sites in the results.  And with more than half of all searches conducted on a smart phone tablet, if your site is not mobile-ready it will not show up.  That means you are invisible to 50% of the Internet population!  If you do NOTHING else in 2017, make sure you have a mobile-ready website.

In our results, almost 12% were not sure if their site was mobile-ready or not.  Here’s a link to the Google Mobile site tester so you can find out:  Google Mobile-Friendly Site Tester. 

[bctt tweet=”Almost 12% of our survey participants were not sure if their site was mobile-ready or not. ” username=”samsonmedia”]

Another suggestion — visit your own site on your phone and see!  You would be amazed at how many business owners never thought to look at their own wesbites!

And just to be clear, if your site is not mobile ready, people can still visit it on their smart phones — assuming they know about you and your website.  This strictly means your site will not be returned in any searches that originate on smart phones when people do NOT know the name or URL of your business.

QUESTION 2:  “Is your website Search Engine Optimized” had over 44% of respondents say “Yes” with the rest saying “NO” or “Unsure.”

That means that more then half the businesses were not optimizing their websites to be found in search results, a huge, missed opportunity.

QUESTION 3: Is your business actively engaged in Social Media Marketing?” had over 54% respondents say “yes” with the rest saying “No” or “”not so much”.

I know many business owners who personally do not like Facebook, do not understand Twitter and generally don’t want anything to do with something that many see as an unnecessary distraction, at best, and a complete waste of time at worst.

But as a business owner, you need to look at social media not as a place for posting dog photos and sharing kid pictures.  Social media is where your clients and customers hang out and whether you choose to participate or not it is where a lot of the conversations about your industry and perhaps even your brand are taking place.  My advice:  hire a social media pro to help you develop a plan, set up the technical mechanics that include automation and monitoring and don’t pass it off to the intern.  At the very least, not only maintain an updated LinkedIn profile but commit to using it every day!  Publishing and sharing content and commenting on other posts and topics is a great way to get into the conversation.  And eventually guide the conversation to your own benefit when the opportunity presents itself.  Not sure who to follow on social media?  This handy Slideshare we created on Who to Follow On Social Media”  is worth a look.

QUESTION 4:Have you used Facebook advertising in the last 12 months?” was split almost evenly 51% to 45% with the majority having tapped the social network as a place to advertise and generate leads.  

This makes sense to me as Facebook has morphed from a social media platform for business into an advertising platform.  As most people know by now, Facebook only shows a fraction of your own followers your own posts.  So while you may have 100 followers, only 7 or 8 will actually see your post in their feeds.  I am, of course, only referring to Facebook BUSINESS pages, not personal pages.  We wrote extensively about WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS TO BE ON FACEBOOK in this blog post HERE. 

QUESTION 5: Have you used Google Adwords Pay Per Click Advertising in the last 12 months?” generated an unsurprising 33% who had and 66% who had not.  Let’s face it.  Google Adwords is complicated and can be very expensive.  And we really only recommend it for higher ticket items.  It all comes down to the ROI, which IS one of the pluses for using PPC.  When set up correctly you will know exactly how much each lead or sale cost you.  But this also goes back to Question 2 about SEO.  Now more than ever, SEO is a prerequisite of PPC since Google rewards relevancy over all else.  Landing pages that are properly optimized for SEO make great PPC landing pages since Google grades your landing pages with a “Quality Score.” The more optimized and relevant the landing page is to the ad, the more Google will serve it and charge you LESS per click as a way of rewarding relevancy.  So what’s better, SEO or PPC?  We’ve answered that here in another post.

QUESTION 6:  “Does your business have a blog where you can post new content and updates?” was split almost right down the middle with 50% saying “Yes” and the rest “No” with 1% “unsure”.

So while it’s good that half the businesses have a blog, the unasked question is, “How often do you use it?”  Because having a blog and using it CONSISTENTLY are two very different questions.  Remember — as a business owner your job is to Always Be Educating your leads and prospects about your products and services.  Like it or not, as a business owner, you are not only a salesperson, you are a content creator.  If there is one tip I would give whoever is reading this it is this:  Blog more!

QUESTION 7: Does your business use Content Marketing to create different types of content (blog posts, videos, graphics) to educate your prospects about your products and services?” with 44% saying “Yes,” and the rest saying “No,” “Hardly ever,” or “Used to but not anymore.”

This is probably the largest missed opportunity.  Content marketing can generate the highest returns when carried our strategically, consistently and with input from senior leadership.  In fact, Content Marketing should really be called simply, “Marketing,” because that’s what it is.  Content marketing is not something you squeeze in,.  It should be the central focus of EVERYTHING you do, offline as well as online.  Read more about How to Promote Your Expertise and Not Your Products, here.

QUESTION 8: Does your business use email marketing to keep in touch with clients and prospects?” had 26% that said “yes,” 15% did it weekly, 21% did it sporadically (less than 6 times a year) nearly 30% never did it and almost 9% used to do it but have now stopped.

Surprisingly, Email marketing is still alive and well, with the predictions of it’s death a bit premature.  Email is still a great way to stay in touch with your most active customers and prospects.  It offers a direct link into people’s inboxes which reminds me of the adage, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Email addresses are “earned” remember that.  Somehow you got someone to part with their email address whether by providing super useful content and information they opted in to receive or via a live event, webinar or in-person networking.  Ever heard of the expression “The money’s in the list”?  Well, your email subscribers are one of the most highly prized assets of your business.  Contact them wisely, with relevance, purpose and, above all, VALUE!

QUESTION 9: Do you use and REVIEW any type of reporting about your website traffic at least once a month? with over 53% saying “Yes,” and “Yes, frequently,” and 42% saying “Never” or “Not anymore.”

Again, if you have an online presence and you’re trying to increase it, you need to be able to see benchmarks of what’s happening otherwise all your efforts are just flying blind without any idea of what is working and what is not.  If nothing else, set your website up with a free Google Analytics account as well as a Google Search Console account (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).  These will allow you to see what your most popular pages are, what keywords were used to find you, how long people stay on your site and how they arrived at your site (from what sites).  This can help you see if what you are doing is working or if you need to make a course correction.  It turns the whole process into more of a science instead of just relying on your gut or instinct.

IN SUMMARY:  If there was one takeaway from the survey it’s that online marketing in general, and content marketing specifically, have not become ingrained in the average business owner’s way that they think about growing their business.  Many still see it as an expense instead of an investment.  Take a look at your own buying habits.  Note how you make purchasing decisions.

Business has always been about how to Identify your prospects, explain how you can help them and communicate your value.  That’s as old as business itself. And with today’s tools, it’s actually never been easier or more effective.

What is or is NOT working for you in terms of online marketing?  What do you think you’ll do more or less of next year?