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There are hundreds of millions of small businesses worldwide, and they all have one thing in common: they need to market themselves to customers. Without marketing, customers wouldn’t know the business exists, and business owners wouldn’t be able to stay in touch with their patrons.

As it turns out, SMBs face another common predicament — increasing pressure to do more with less. In the complex digital marketing realm, that means sending more messages, generating more sales, showing up in more places, and taking on more responsibilities, all without additional time, training, or budget.

Sound familiar? It’s a reality that’s become all too familiar for SMBs worldwide.

We’re passionate about helping small businesses succeed. That’s why we’re constantly digging into the latest trends to stay ahead of the curve. Our newest research study, Small Business Now: The State of SMB Marketing, explores the most significant barriers preventing small businesses from marketing effectively and how they can overcome those obstacles to get closer to their customers.

Here’s what we learned after surveying 1,300 businesses across Australia, Canada, the UK and the US:

Pulse Check: Overall, SMB confidence is lower than expected, especially regarding marketing.

  • A staggering 81% of SMBs are concerned that a stubbornly hot global economy could negatively impact their business this year. This is a notable departure from the optimism we observed throughout 2023.
  • Small businesses in the UK report the highest level of concern about the economy compared to other countries polled.
  • 73% of small businesses worldwide are unsure whether their current marketing strategy is working. Confidence levels are lowest among solopreneurs and other SMBs under three years old.
  • 44% of SMBs globally intend to spend more time on marketing this year, and 39% expect to need to increase their marketing budgets.

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your B2B Marketing Strategies

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The economy is a more significant concern today than in 2023, and overall marketing confidence is low. In the face of that uncertainty, many SMBs expect to spend more time and resources on marketing this year to stay top-of-mind with their customers.

Suppose this sounds like you; here is a quick word of caution. Simply cranking up the dials across the board will unlikely improve your campaign results. Instead, identify the holes in your current strategy and use the right marketing tactics to generate results.


Often, the first step to accomplishing this is evaluating and choosing the proper marketing channels rather than placing all your proverbial eggs into one basket. This can help SMBs diversify their audience, ensuring a flow of new interest while building relationships with established customers, donors, and supporters. By pairing owned channels (like email, events, and SMS text messaging) with other opportunities like social media and online advertising, SMBs can confidently create a more robust marketing foundation.

Out of Time: Small businesses don’t have enough hours to prioritize marketing.

  • 56% of SMBs globally say they only have an hour or less each day to spend on marketing, and 34% feel working more efficiently is the key to achieving their goals in 2024.
  • Notably, small businesses in Canada report the least time available for marketing in any country we polled.
  • 52% of SMBs globally routinely put off marketing in favor of other activities, with Australian SMBs the most likely to procrastinate. Comparatively, their counterparts in the U.S. are least likely to put off marketing tasks.
  • The most time-consuming marketing tasks are posting on social media, planning and strategy, and determining what’s working. Small businesses are also most likely to postpone these tasks for later.

Small businesses wear many hats, so it’s unsurprising that marketing takes a backseat to other responsibilities. But what’s surprising is how little time most SMBs have for marketing and how frequently they put it off for later.


And that lack of confidence has a direct impact on marketing time. Small businesses with low confidence in their marketing strategies are 1.5 times more likely to procrastinate or skip marketing altogether.

The good news is that if you’re struggling to fit marketing into your day, there are tools to help you be successful. Constant Contact’s automation technology and content generation tools help SMBs work faster, send more messages, and get more done without requiring more of your precious time or resources. That means less time spent on marketing but better results — so you can focus on what you do best.

Our last Small Business Now Report uncovered that 33% of small businesses saved more than 40 minutes weekly on marketing using artificial intelligence and automation, specifically in social media, content creation, and email marketing. In these very spots, marketers are now struggling the most.

Related: Mastering Your Marketing Automation Strategy: A Comprehensive Guide

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Knowledge Gaps: The wrong channel mix and a lack of strategy prevent SMBs from growing.

  • 60% of SMBs say finding new customers is their top marketing challenge, followed by understanding what’s working (33%) and lack of resources (32%).
  • 37% of SMBs globally said choosing the proper channels is the most significant area of marketing where they need to improve, and 41% want to increase the number of channels they use in 2024.
  • 82% of SMBs agree that using multiple marketing channels leads to better results, but only 16% are confident that they use the correct channels to reach their customers.
  • Social media is the most popular marketing channel for SMBs (60%), followed by email marketing (53%).

Small businesses need to acquire customers to grow and thrive. Still, with over 80% of SMBs expressing concern about the economy, the pressure to choose the proper channels and tactics that yield results is immense. It’s especially difficult for them to understand which channels to leverage or how to improve their campaigns.

Again, does this sound familiar? If you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head, wondering where and when to connect with your target audience or how your marketing strategy is getting you closer to your goals, then you’re not alone.

Your business is important to you. It is so crucial that you spend hours thinking about how to reach more people, build relationships, and grow your business. With Constant Contact, you can take a deep breath and leave the thinking to us. We’ll use cutting-edge technology to help you reach the right people at the right time with the right message. Banish writer’s block with content generation, drive sales or events, and maximize the impact of your campaigns.

Related: Why Email Marketing Is Better for Your Business Than Social Media

In conclusion

Small businesses are feeling the squeeze from all sides, grappling with economic worries and lacking confidence in their marketing strategies. Many are preparing to invest more time and resources, but more isn’t always better. What’s crucial is investing wisely by focusing on strategies that deliver.

This is precisely where Constant Contact shines. We understand that running a small business is no small feat, especially regarding marketing. Our platform is designed to take the stress out of marketing so you can stop guessing what your customers want and where they will most likely interact with you and get back to running your business. Whether you’re struggling to find the time, unsure about your strategy, or feeling overwhelmed by the need to market your business, Constant Contact delivers.

So, if you’re spending sleepless nights wondering how to connect with your audience or turn likes into sales, let us help you. With Constant Contact, you get more than just a service provider; you get a partner as committed to your business’ success as you are.
Interested in exploring the results in more depth? Download the full report or view our previous reports on the Constant Contact Data Hub.

Report Methodology
Constant Contact’s Small Business Now report analyzes 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—Ascend2 conducted 2024.

Email marketing returns $42 on every dollar spent.
Michael Wood

Article by Michael Wood

Michael is PR Manager for Constant Contact. A marketer with a diverse background in writing, tech, and hospitality, he loves finding the best ways to tell a story. He spends most of his time outdoors, either snowboarding, hiking, or taking photos of the stars, and he’s always up for a good adventure.