Nearly half (47%) of small businesses in the US spent less than $10,000 on digital marketing in 2017, according to a survey by Clutch, a B2B research, ratings, and reviews firm. Social media (54%), website (51%), and email marketing (36%) were key areas of investment. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) represent a small but promising digital marketing channel, with 10% of small businesses already early adopters in the space, according to the survey.

Many small businesses may not budget much for digital marketing because they have so few employees and limited resources to invest. More than half (57%) of businesses surveyed reported annual revenue of less than $1 million.

In addition, in-house digital marketing teams may not be "teams" at all: 30% of small businesses (the largest group) only have one employee working on digital marketing. This finding suggests that in-house digital marketers may lack the time and resources they need to market efficiently.

Small businesses' priorities for digital marketing this year include renewed investments in their websites, social media, and email marketing. Over half of small businesses surveyed will improve their websites (54%) and engage consumers through social media (51%), while 36% will direct more resources to email marketing in 2018.

Fewer than 1 in 4 small businesses plan to invest in content marketing in 2018, but experts caution that failing to perform content marketing is a mistake for small businesses.

Creating content - such as blog posts, whitepapers, and videos - is a highly cost-effective way to build brand loyalty and boost a business' ranking in search results.

Small businesses already have what they need to start creating content: They should consider their unique advice and data, and then package that information into useful content. Keith Gutierrez, vice president of marketing at Modgility, reminds small businesses that in developing a content marketing strategy, quality is more important than quantity: "Content just needs to be great, quality stuff you can't find anywhere else."

In an effort to keep up with new technology, some companies (12%) will increase their investment in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) marketing. AR/VR marketing is especially effective for products that benefit from in-person tours such as real estate and travel booking. For example, Derrick Bozkurt, a Colorado realtor at House in Motion, uses VR marketing to create virtual house tours. The technology lets Bozkurt's clients know exactly what kind of home they're considering.

The full report and source survey data has been made available online, here: