The Urban SMB Report


Local business owners in big cities get better results from their digital marketing efforts by not doing it themselves. The more they outsource, either to internal staff or to an agency, the higher their satisfaction rating. But there is room for improvement. Street Fight partnered with ProspectWise to do a series of brief face to face interviews with 241 small business owners and managers in the greater Los Angeles area. The results are directionally indicative of nationwide patterns in urban areas.

The Urban SMB Report features analysis of original research; case studies; and strategy recommendations. It is an essential tool for any vendor or digital agency focused on major urban markets such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and other cities.

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Urban local merchants are finding solid success gaining new customers and increasing sales with digital marketing. But they’re doing too much work on their own. Limited resources are limiting the digital potential, as shown by higher satisfaction rates when they outsource some of the labor to agencies.

The key findings of our survey of urban local merchants include the following:

  • Most urban local merchants manage their digital marketing tactics with an internal team, or the owner/manager does it himself. About one in ten use an agency.
  • Local small businesses continue to be more satisfied with social media marketing effectiveness than with search. They also rate social more effective than their site marketing.
  • Those who use an agency rate their satisfaction well over two-thirds higher in acquiring new customers (leads, store visits, etc.) and nearly three-quarters higher in generating sales (generating revenue from new and existing customers, upselling, etc.) than if they manage digital marketing themselves. Similarly, agency users were about one-fifth more satisfied with results than those who managed digital marketing with an internal team.
  • Agencies offer the most value, in terms of increased satisfaction, in managing search for both objectives, and with site management for sales generation. Although they’re still helpful elsewhere, agencies did less to increase satisfaction scores in social media marketing, especially compared with just adding internal staff.These patterns suggest that suppliers of digital marketing technology and services should focus on helping local merchants better coordinate their social media marketing with their own sites and other advertising. Small budgets may seem to mandate a do-it-yourself approach that could be alleviated by partnerships with local marketing agencies.