Report: Social Media Continues to Be a Top Marketing Tactic for Local Merchants

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The fourth edition of Street Fight’s Local Merchant Report, based on a survey of small business owners and decision makers, launched today. The data shows a continued movement to social media as a preferred marketing tactic among local merchants. They deem it their most effective tactic, so they’re increasing their spending. Analysis of the survey suggests that would-be marketing suppliers can help them integrate social with their own site and email campaigns, as well as assisting them with reputation management and reviews.

Street Fight surveyed over 250 local merchants on their marketing and e-commerce usage, effectiveness, and challenges. The digital marketing usage trend is consistent with what we’ve seen in previous years’ surveys. Social usage is up slightly from last year, and email marketing retains its number two spot. That’s at the expense of print: newspaper and Yellow Pages advertising are each down by almost half.

Those patterns will only get more pronounced. Over 40% of local merchants we surveyed said they would increase their social media spending. Email and local sites will see increases, according to 35% of those polled.

Our survey respondents might be a little on the sophisticated side, but they’re still looking for help. Twice as many use paid Facebook ads as compared with our previous survey and, contrary to conventional wisdom, most of them have their own websites, even if they’re only counting their Facebook page. But while most post photos on their site, less than a quarter host customer photos or reviews. When asked where they need the most help, SEO and paid search top the list, followed by reputation monitoring/review generation. 

Stay tuned for further updates from the report on topics like local spending and marketing management tools and practices.

David Card is Street Fight’s director of research.

Click here for more on the Street Fight Insights report, The Local Merchant Report 2017.