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Study Finds 83 Per Cent Of Australia And New Zealand SMBs Concerned About Economic Conditions

Published: Wed 1 May 2024 02:19 PM
Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) are the most likely country to put off marketing tasks, and they are also the most likely to procrastinate managing their email marketing campaigns, according to a 2024 study conducted by Constant Contact.
The Small Business Now: The State of SMB Marketing report from Constant Contact, found that ANZ SMBs are cognisant they need to do more on the marketing front this year, with an uncertain economy spurring many of them to double down on marketing in 2024. ANZ SMBs are more likely than any other country polled to spend more time on marketing, increase their budgets, and the number of marketing channels they use in 2024.
“Nearly 90 per cent of small businesses across Australia and New Zealand are concerned about the current economic climate impacting their businesses negatively this year, which might suggest they’d want to pull back on their marketing spend to reduce costs,” said Renee Chaplin, VP Asia Pacific for Constant Contact. “But the data tells us they intend to increase their marketing efforts in a bid to survive economic headwinds.”
Constant Contact partnered with Ascend2 to survey over 1,300 SMBs across ANZ, Canada, the UK and the US for the study, which examined sales and marketing insights of decision-makers at Director level and above at companies with under 250 employees.Macroeconomic conditions causing uneasiness among SMBs in ANZ
While just 27 per cent of ANZ SMBs feel “very concerned” that the current economy will negatively impact them – the lowest level of concern displayed across the four regions polled by Constant Contact – 56 per cent said they were “somewhat concerned” (17 per cent said they were “not concerned”).
Combined, this total level of concern (83 per cent) is only behind the UK (84 per cent) among those regions polled.
“This level of concern shouldn’t surprise many, as Australia in particular experiences higher wages and has just seen interest rates skyrocket,” said Chaplin. “The key to why interest rates have risen is to curb inflation – in other words, to reduce consumer spending.
“This might explain why they’ve spent so little on marketing this year.”
When asked ‘how much do you currently spend on marketing each year’, 50 per cent of respondents reported they spend less than $15,000 per year on marketing, with 23 per cent reporting they spend less than $1,500 per year.
“This lack of spending on marketing can become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Chaplin. “Often small business owners lack the knowledge and time to effectively market their business. When faced with economic concerns, the instinct is to conserve cash, and often marketing is the first place SMBs look to cut back.
“However, those that double down and invest in marketing during these times are able to increase loyalty to retain customers and attract new ones when they need it the most.”Marketing has taken a back seat for local SMBs
Marketing is the most likely activity ANZ SMBs will delay undertaking, with 13 per cent saying they always procrastinate on marketing tasks – the highest among all polled regions – and 46 per cent saying they “regularly” procrastinate. Combined, 59 per cent of local SMBs always or regularly procrastinate; the most among polled regions.
It’s perhaps no coincidence then that 58 per cent of ANZ SMBs spend less than one hour per day on marketing, tied with Canada for the least time spent per day.
“Part of the reason local SMBs put off marketing more than any other task is because they see it as a challenge, which is understandable as it’s not an area of expertise for many SMB owners,” said Chaplin.
Constant Contact’s study also found that customer retention is among the most pressing concerns for SMBs in ANZ, especially when compared to other regions. More than one-third cite retention as the top challenge for their business in 2024, and the second-biggest overall marketing challenge.
The study also found ANZ SMBs are most likely of any country polled to use email marketing (59 per cent) as their primary marketing channel, followed closely by social media (58 per cent). However, these channels work best when used in tandem with other marketing efforts, like SMS and events. ANZ SMBs understand this, as 85 per cent agree that using multiple channels in a marketing campaign typically leads to better results. Unfortunately, just 17 per cent say they are always running multichannel campaigns.
As expected, the top issue preventing ANZ SMBs from adding more channels to their marketing mix is a lack of knowledge (37 per cent), which is higher than any other region polled. And 40 per cent of respondents acknowledged they need to work more efficiently to achieve marketing goals this year – again, the highest of any region polled.
"Small business owners are usually much more passionate about their products and services than they are about marketing, but they still need to attract and retain customers to grow," said Sarah Jordan, chief marketing officer at Constant Contact. "Our research shows that while most SMBs recognise the importance of marketing, they often lack the time and expertise to be effective, especially in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Constant Contact is committed to providing easy, yet powerful, tools that automate marketing to help our customers achieve better results in less time."The tide is set to turn on the region’s marketing efforts this year
Amid the level of procrastination and lack of marketing knowledge, Constant Contact’s Small Business Now report found that SMB owners across the region are proactively looking to do more this year on the marketing front.
In fact, SMBs across ANZ are the most likely among polled regions to spend more time on marketing this year (51 per cent), increase their marketing budgets (46 per cent), and increase the number of marketing channels they use (47 per cent).
Furthermore, 48 per cent of ANZ SMBs plan to increase their marketing budgets by at least 10 per cent YoY — second only to the US (54 per cent).
“The key to success will be how SMBs spend an increasing budget and, more importantly, into what channel they focus that budget,” said Chaplin. “If they do this effectively, business owners might see marketing challenges decrease which in turn will help them better attract and retain customers, helping to ward off economic concerns.”
To learn more about the findings from Constant Contact's Small Business Now report, download the report.
About Small Business Now
Constant Contact’s Small Business Now series offers a real-world look at what trends and challenges are impacting small businesses and their customers. It combines thorough research with insights from marketing experts to educate small businesses and provide recommendations about what they need to know to be successful.
Study Methodology
Constant Contact's Small Business Now report analyses insights from over 1,300 small business decision-makers at the Director level and above at companies with under 250 employees. Polls were conducted in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States and aggregated to determine global trends. All stats are representative of their associated demographics. The survey was conducted by Ascend2 in February 2024.

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