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Almost one-third of small businesses (31%) concentrate their digital marketing efforts on increasing sales, but most aren't prioritizing engaging current customers, according to a survey by The Manifest, a business news and how-to website, which found that small businesses are not maximizing their digital marketing investments. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

But only 6% of small businesses' say their primary digital marketing goal this year is customer retention. Furthermore, only 6% of small businesses are focused on SEO, which is an effective method of growing long-term, organic traffic to their site.

Lauren Douglas, chief marketing officer of FountainheadME, a marketing agency in California, said: "You must create a relationship with current customers to retain them.Make them feel that you are talking to them personally, and you will improve brand loyalty. Companies may be losing sales as they focus on more challenging wins instead of targeting already interested customers."

Among the company's findings:

  • Businesses should grow their customer base with personalized communication to solidify their client relationships.
  • Small Businesses Spend Less Than $50,000 on Marketing Efforts
  • Small businesses do not often invest significant funds into their digital marketing campaigns.
  • More than half of small businesses (55%) spend less than $50,000 on all marketing efforts, including employee salary.
  • More than one-third of companies (36%) only invest $10,000 into their annual marketing budget.
  • Small businesses measure digital marketing effectiveness using different standards based on their goals and size.

Robert Weiss, president of MultiVision Digital, a video production agency in New York, said that he considers it a win if the money invested in digital marketing is matched, not exceeded, in returns. "We just want a 1 to 1 ratio because for us, once we acquire a client, there's a strong long-term value proposition because we keep clients," Weiss said.

The company also found that:

  • Small businesses emphasize digital marketing success using individual company goals.
  • The amount of money put into a digital marketing budget can determine results.
  • Small Businesses Prefer In-House Teams to Third-Party Agencies
  • Small businesses often choose in-house teams to complete digital marketing projects because it's cheaper and more efficient.
  • Almost two-thirds of small businesses (60%) use in-house teams while only 40% hire an outside agency for digital marketing campaigns.
  • Small businesses rely on their own employees to understand their brand's mission and communicate effectively with their managers. While an outside agency may have more expertise, an in-house team can be more cost-efficient and knowledgeable about the small business itself.
  • Companies should investigate different marketing software and tools to fully optimize their in-house team.

The Manifest's 2019 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey included 529 U.S. small business managers or owners. The full report has been made available here: