SMEs fail to use social media effectively - Business Works
BW brief

SMEs fail to use social media effectively

Ian Davidson, European President, GMS Despite the important role social media plays in finding and keeping new customers, a new survey of 750 SMEs in the UK, Germany and France revealed today that only 20% of those in the UK include it in their marketing campaigns.

What is more, almost a third (27%) of British SMEs said they cut social media from their 2012 campaigns, compared with their counterparts in France (12%) and Germany (19%).

This may be because it seems British SMEs are rather cautious when it comes to new or innovative marketing techniques, with almost a third (30%) admitting they either never try anything new, or they only change things rarely. This statistic compares unfavourably with France (20%) and Germany (15%), both of which seem to be rather more receptive to new ideas and approaches.

Worryingly for marketing professionals, almost half (44%) of British SMEs said the marketing advice they receive is largely irrelevant or terrible, compared with 23% in France and just 16% in Germany.

It appears that this poor advice has led to a lack of confidence in marketing campaigns amongst UK SMEs, with a third (33%) declaring no confidence in them. A statistically significant 66% of UK SMEs claimed that their biggest marketing challenge is either customer retention or customer acquisition.

Asked what would make them spend more on marketing, 34% of UK SMEs said more money, with Germany broadly in agreement (32%) but only 17% in France.

"Customer acquisition and retention is, to a quite a significant extent, dependent upon how the SME interacts with them," said Ian Davidson, European President of GMS. "The right form of communication is therefore vital. Given that our survey uncovered the fact that UK respondents said only 7% of British customers interact with them via social media, cutting down on this method of communication becomes more understandable."

This is supported by UK SMEs declaring that 27% of customers interacted via letter, and more than double that number (55%) do so in Germany, compared with 27% in France.

"I believe that UK SMEs know all too well that social media is an important part of the marketing mix, but it seems that receiving possibly poor advice combined with a lack of knowledge as to how the medium works best is preventing these SMEs from capitalising on the many opportunities social media offers," added Ian. "There is no doubt that a multi-channel approach to communications is the most effective way to interact with customers."

SMEs throughout Europe are also looking, to varying degrees, to their governments to give them support. When asked what, if anything, the government could do to help SMEs, a quarter (25%) of UK SMEs wanted it to improve access to bank loans, 29% wanted grants and loans introduced for small businesses and 29% wanted employment laws relaxed. In stark contrast, the current buoyancy of the German economy was reflected in only 10% of respondents wanting improved access to bank loans and the same number wanted an introduction of grants and loans; a mere 8% wanted employment laws relaxed. Broadly in between these two extremes was France, with 17% of respondents wanting better access to bank loans and 16% seeking a relaxation in employment laws.

However, only 5% of UK SMEs wanted tax breaks for SMEs whereas nearly a third (32%) in Germany felt this was a measure the government should introduce, with a quarter (24%) of French SMEs agreeing.

"Itís no surprise that SMEs across the UK, France and Germany want some form of government intervention, albeit on differing platforms," said Ian . "Bank lending remains tight and alternative funding is difficult to access in all three countries. As we approach a new year and what appears to be something of a lifting of the economic gloom according to recent reports, it will be interesting to see what happens in 2013."

To contact Ian or for more information, please visit:

Tweet article
BW on TwitterBW RSS feed