[Survey] Small Business Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Marketing is the main tool businesses use to not only promote their business and establish a customer base, but also spread awareness about what they offer. In this article we will explore how small businesses in particular can overcome marketing challenges.

The “business challenges and how to overcome them” is a survey. It asks questions about small business marketing challenges, and then provides solutions for overcoming those challenges.

This year, everything changed. COVID-19 touched everyone throughout the world, thus small enterprises all around the world had to confront the shift head-on. Shutdowns, new safety standards, and a difficult economic environment all have to be considered. 

We recently performed a poll to uncover the top marketing difficulties that small companies are now experiencing. In this page, you’ll discover the study’s findings as well as specific advice for overcoming the obstacles.

Methodology of Research 

We initiated a multi-platform research across Twitter and TypeForm to better understand the small company difficulties that have lately affected marketing and advertising. 

Our TypeForm poll had 141 replies, while our Twitter poll received 130 comments. 

Hello, pals! We need your assistance once again – we’re working on a huge research and would want to ask you to offer your thoughts on the greatest marketing difficulties facing small companies in 2020. Leave a comment for a chance to be featured on #SmallBiz

August 11, 2020 — SEMrush (@semrush)

We had a wide range of participants, providing us a comprehensive view of various company models and how their marketing was affected. Take into account the following key audience information:

  • Small firms with less than 50 workers make up 66 percent of our poll respondents, while freelancers make up 12 percent and agencies make up 9 percent. 

  • Only 8% used an outside agency, and 5% used freelancers, according to 60% of those polled.

  • Respondents’ average self-proclaimed marketing competence is 5,4, with “0” indicating “beginning” and “10” indicating “advanced.”


After accumulating all of the data, we categorized all of the responses into one of eleven categories, and then conducted a survey of our SEMrush customers to determine the four most significant difficulties they faced. 

The Study’s Findings and Recommendations

Our research revealed that small company advertising and marketing face a number of problems. In decreasing order, these were the main obstacles that small enterprises faced:


SEMrush Study: Small Business Marketing Challenges in 2020

A small company marketing difficulty for 67.4% of respondents is a limited marketing budget.

While working with a limited marketing budget might be tough, there are actions you can do to make your money go farther. The following are some of them:

  • Invest wisely in sponsored advertising. You’ll notice more of an effect if you put your money where it needs to be, eliminating ad spend waste. Begin by outlining your overall digital marketing goals, and then select which of the paid advertising choices we’ve discussed in this book would best help you reach them. Start experimenting with 2-3 paid traffic sources that make the most sense for your aims.

If you just have a little ad budget, try a few different things. You may try Google advertising for a month, then Facebook ads for another month, then Instagram ads for another month, and so on. Start with the advertisements that are doing the best.

  • Invest in what has previously shown to be effective. If you’re on a tighter budget than usual, it’s usually a smart idea to go all-in on what you know works. This eliminates the need to waste a large percentage of your ad budget on split testing or platforms that may or may not work for you.
  • Look for the best-performing channels among your competitors. Looking into your competitor’s marketing mix using Webinomy’s Traffic Analytics tool might be a safe option if you wish to break into new channels. This will allow you to see what works for them and allow you to try various platforms with minimal risk.

For 60.3 percent of responders, organic traffic takes a lot of work and patience.

To develop organic traffic, you’ll need a constant amount of work and effort, as well as a lot of patience. Here are some things you can take to combat sluggish organic traffic growth: 

  • Determine which SEO problems need to be addressed first. Most websites may benefit from a few tweaks to boost their SEO potential. Using a tool like our On-Page SEO Checker can help you determine which issues are causing you problems so that you can address them as soon as possible.

  • Make paid advertising a top priority. PPC ads may provide immediate results while also enabling you to focus on developing a long-term SEO strategy. Our checklist will show you how to build a successful PPC campaign.

Investing the effort to create a well-optimized, error-free website for your small company may pay off handsomely. Some of our best SEO suggestions might help you learn more about how to achieve this. 

For 46.1 percent of respondents, keeping up with the rivalry in the digital world with the major firms is a difficulty.

Large, well-known organizations often rank first in the SERPs, making it difficult for small businesses to compete. 

Brand exposure is a problem for small firms. Competing against huge companies with higher SEM and SEO spending is a difficult task. #SmallBiz

August 11, 2020 — Mamvura Gladman (@MamvuraG)

Here are some things you can take to combat this huge challenge:

  • Create detailed buyer personas. You’ll be able to reach your target audience more successfully with superior message and content if you have a deeper understanding of who they are. 

  • Long-tail keywords should be targeted. These keywords are more particular, making it simpler to match search intent, and they also have less competition. This makes them simpler to rank for and more straightforward to supply. Our Keyword Magic Tool may assist you in locating these terms. 

  • Create a customer-centric strategy. Don’t be scared to be personal with your consumers while building connections. After all, big businesses depend extensively on automated tactics such as scripts and online chatbots, therefore this is one area where your customer support staff can shine. Send personalized emails to your consumers and ask for comprehensive feedback.

For 42.6 percent of small firms questioned, creating a visible brand is a difficulty.

It takes time… and smart planning… to build a visible, identifiable brand. Here are some things you may do to make your brand more visible:

  • Make a visually attractive website. Your home page and specific product pages should also be included. Make it obvious what distinguishes you. 

  • When it comes to content marketing, use a funnel strategy. In terms of providing value to your audience and establishing a visible brand, knowing which format works best at each point of the customer journey is a huge help. Discover our latest survey-based research to understand how to properly map content to the various funnel phases (Attract, Engage, Convert).

  • Increase the number of people who know about you on social media. Make company accounts on the key social media networks that you know your audience use. It allows you to keep in contact with interested fans while also increasing brand recognition. 

Maintaining a Positive Marketing ROI — 37.6%

Marketing may be costly, and ensuring that you earn from the money you spend on ads can be difficult. Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to boost your total ROI and maintain it in the black:

  • Make use of budgeting calculators. This will assist you in planning your campaigns and determining how much you should spend. This may assist enhance positive ROI when picking maximum CPCs, for example. 

  • Make use of a marketing ROI calculator. The formula below will assist you in determining the possible ROI of a campaign: (((number of leads x lead-to-customer rate x average sales price) – cost or ad expenditure) x 100)
  • Invest in marketing that you are certain will result in conversions. Retargeting, for example, is more likely to result in conversions than attempting to reach out to cold audiences. If you want to reach out to a new audience, you may use Maximize Conversions, an automatic bidding strategy that instructs Google and Microsoft to spend your money as efficiently as possible in order to drive as many conversions as possible.

Setting appropriate company and marketing objectives — 33.3 percent

If we don’t have solid objectives in place, it’s difficult to determine what we should be optimizing for or how far we’ve come. Fortunately, the following suggestions may all assist you:

  • Make SMART objectives. These objectives are explicit, quantifiable, actionable, timely, and relevant. You should have a clear idea of what you want to do, when you want to achieve it, how you intend to achieve it, and how you’ll judge success.

  • Set up your Google Analytics objectives correctly. Whatever your site’s objectives are, Google Analytics Goals provide you a means to see how well it achieves them. In this comprehensive tutorial, you’ll learn how to set up and monitor your objectives appropriately.

32.6 percent of respondents said they want to expand their marketing outlets.

Most company owners find it overwhelming to consider every possible marketing channel and feel compelled to participate in all of them at the same time. Knowing your limitations and where to spend your time, on the other hand, is crucial. Here’s what we suggest:

  • Begin slowly. Don’t make all of your investments at once. Instead, progressively try out several platforms to find which one works best for you.

  • Test and iterate. That’s OK if Pinterest isn’t working for you. You now know what to do with your time. You may also try outsourcing some platforms’ marketing to skilled freelancers or firms that fit your budget. 

  • Prioritize. Make a list of the platforms that you feel will have the most impact. 

Other Marketing Obstacles

Our audience also faced three major marketing obstacles for small businesses: 

  • Adapt quickly to changing customer requirements and requests — 16 percent

  • Concerns about financing — fifteen percent

  • Changing from a mostly physical to a primarily online presence — 14%

Small businesses with traditional proprietors find it difficult to accept that digital marketing is effective. Covid-19 takes digital marketing to its logical conclusion, and it’s fantastic! The current problem is to educate existing company owners about the digital revolution. #smallbiz @searchbizgroup

11 August 2020 — Ron Arellano (@RonArellanoP)

It might be tough to quickly adjust to changing customer expectations and wants, but having effective social listening and competition monitoring tools can assist. Pay attention to comments from consumer surveys and use Mention for social listening. 

As we stated in the section on restricted marketing, obtaining funding might be difficult. If you want to grow but don’t have a lot of money, seek for low-cost or free marketing platforms. It’s a wonderful start if you’re generating your own material and managing your social media accounts. You may also utilize money from company loans to help you expand by funding marketing efforts. 

And be patient with yourself as you transition from an offline to an online-heavy presence. This will take some getting accustomed to, but there’s no better time than now to get started. Concentrate on your website first, then expand from there. 


If you’re having trouble with your small business’s digital marketing in 2020, know that you’re not alone. Remember that there are lots of marketing tactics for small firms that were created with limited resources and a steep learning curve in mind. Taking on one obstacle at a time (and overcoming it utilizing our action times!) may go a long way.

The “small business challenges 2021” is a survey that was conducted by the Small Business Association. The survey asks questions about small businesses marketing challenges, and how to overcome them.

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