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Study: SMBs Slow to Adopt Tech for Analytics, Customer Data Management

While SMBs appear to be embracing digital marketing, the use of technology to aid and amplify these efforts appears to be lagging. SMBs are confident in the impact of digital marketing, but these efforts are mostly DIY in nature. Beyond digital marketing, a new study finds that SMBs are not utilizing technology to aid in measuring business performance data and customer data management.

According to the Salesforce survey of over 300 small business, 72% of SMBs develop their own business reports and KPIs. This applies broadly and not just to marketing, however it is telling of the mentality of these businesses. While they don’t use tech or tools to measure performance, most are doing so on their own.

In alignment with the DIY nature of the SMBs and the entrepreneurial spirit, SMBs are more inclined to try new things as exemplified by the data above.  However, in many cases it may be more effective and cost-effective, especially as it relates to marketing, to work with a partner or utilize a new technology for tracking business objectives.

For example, Facebook alone offers a plethora of performance data to interpret about a business page and without the expertise to know which data are most important, SMBs may not be seeing an accurate picture of their Facebook marketing performance. This is just one example and the challenge is compounded by the over seven marketing channels that the average SMB uses.

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Not only is the tracking and measuring of business performance data largely DIY for these SMBs, so is the management of customer data and information. According to the study, 41% use digital spreadsheets to track customer information and 34% are handwriting in a customer ledger. These were the top methods behind only email tools suggesting that SMBs largely rely on themselves to manage the information they capture from customers.

The management of customer information can be a tedious but very important activity. Whether re-engaging past customers, or informing of new deals, products, services, etc., an up-to-date customer list allows for better communication efforts that result in more loyal customers. After all, one 2016 study says that 70% of SMB revenue comes from loyal (repeat) customers.

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As the chart above shows, the “why” behind this lack of technology adoption among SMBs is largely a factor of cost or perception of cost. Interestingly the second most important factor to buying new tech is “convenience,” which is precisely what many tech providers promote as a benefit of their products. Whatever the factor, technology has some work to do to get more SMBs to adopt.

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