How relevant is digital marketing to small businesses


There were a record  5.2 million private sector businesses at the start of 2014, the first time the business population has exceeded 5 million. This is a record annual increase of 330,000 businesses (up 6.7% since the start of 2013). There has now been sustained growth since 2000, with an increase of 1.8 million (up 51%) over the whole period.

At the start of 2014, 99.3% of the 5.2 million private sector businesses were small and 99.9% were small or medium sized (SMEs). At the start of 2014 5.2 million small businesses accounted for 48% (12.1 million) of UK private sector employment.

The combined annual turnover of SMEs is £1.6 trillion, 47% of turnover in the private sector.

The facts from Department for business innovation and skills clearly highlights that the SME market in the UK is huge and plays a very important part of our economic stability and growth.

For companies who offer products and services to the SME market place these figures will be very reassuring because the opportunity is huge.  However due to the volume of small business it is hard to understand the complexity within the market place. SMEs behave differently towards digital marketing based on what industry they are in and their company size.

At Latitude White we believe market research plays a very important role when targeting solutions to the SME audience. Your success in selling and delivering products to SMEs is dependent on how well you know and understand the different layers and types of small businesses.

In this blog we explore “How relevant do you feel the following types of digital marketing are to businesses like yours?” which was captured during our UK based survey with BingAds.

The overall outcome results are highlighted in the image below

Overall Relevance

The overall average result from all respondents is extremely positive with all channels gaining a scored over 50%.  The paid channels (social and search) gained 51% and 57% whist the free channels scored very high scores with SEO receiving a massive 79%.

The positive SEO feedback is a common theme which run through the majority of our survey answers. See our previous blogs which explore SEO future.


It is very interesting to see the large positive swing to the right when we compare the overall average against SME who work in retail. All channels have gained points but maintained their order of preference. 85% of retail SME believe SEO is relevant for their business

Retail Relevance


This positive swing by retail respondents is dwarfed by the huge swing provided by SMEs working in the travel and hospitality industry

Travel relevance

Here you can see that Paid Search and Organic social are the leading channels with very high scores of 84% and 88%

For the professional and financial industry the order is maintained however each channel gain a slightly lower score than the average.

Professional relevance


The construction, manufacturing, utilities and transport industries highlighted that whilst SEO remained highly relevant, paid social recieved a very low score of 38%

Construction relevance

For more survey insights please read our other blogs or download the whitepaper for Free here