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One In Four New Small Business Customers Are Acquired Through Online Or Social Media Channels

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 9/18/2012

Manta study shows that small business owners are achieving more benefits and value from online strategies than from face-to-face networking opportunities -- even though some still struggle to nail down the value of specific online tactics.

It's no surprise that the Internet is playing an increasingly important role in successful small businesses. But according to a recent study by Manta, the value of web-based strategies is now approaching critical mass, with approximately one in four new small business customers being generated online.

Impact of Web and Social on Small Business Growth

The Manta study shows that 90 percent of small business owners actively engage in online networking activities and nearly three out of four owners (74%) believe that online networking is more important than face-to-face or in-person networking.

Half of the survey respondents also indicated that the most important advantage of online networking is the ability to acquire and target prospective customers -- and 78 percent reported that they gained at least a quarter of their new customers via online or social media channels over the past year.

"Small businesses understand they need to go where their audience is. Participating, networking and being found online is extremely important today in growing their business, so it's not surprising that they are embracing the channel," said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta.

But for some small business owners, the importance of social networking is being overshadowed by an inability to attach meaningful outcomes to specific web-based strategies. For example, 58 percent of small business owners said they either don't have a Facebook page for their business or struggle to attach value to their efforts on the world's largest social networking platform. Based on owner feedback, Pinterest and Groupon are the least productive social networking vehicles for small companies with response rates of approximately 1 percent.

As a result, entrepreneurs should take a more comprehensive approach to social networking opportunities, incorporating Facebook initiatives and other tactics into their companies' larger online marketing initiatives.

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