LinkedIn revealed new research that has found Australian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) remain optimistic about the value of marketing and are committed to their marketing budgets, despite the economic upheaval.
With the average yearly marketing investment in Australian SMBs currently sitting at nearly one quarter (23.5%) of annual business revenue, only a small 5% of SMBs plan to reduce their marketing budgets in the next 12 months, according to the data from the social media platform.
This reflects the overall confidence among SMBs in Australia, who view marketing as a crucial tool for business growth and are willing to maintain or even increase their marketing budgets to drive revenue and remain competitive in the market.
Looking ahead in 2023, the top priorities of businesses are to expand their customer base (40%), nurture existing customer relationships (39%), build brand loyalty and increase business revenue and market share (30% respectively).
To achieve this, many businesses (71%) have started and/ or will continue to invest in new technologies such as AI as part of their marketing strategy.
SMBs tapping into creative opportunities to build brand equity and awareness
With the economy in a state of unrest, many SMBs are looking to innovate and automate within their businesses as a way through, however a large cohort (71%) say they face challenges when it comes to creative marketing solutions. Top challenges include a lack of creative talent and knowledge within their businesses (21%), finding a balance with solutions for existing audiences and new audiences (21%), and uncertainty about deploying long term creativity (20%).
As three in ten (29%) SMBs are implementing new creative solutions or technology in their marketing strategy moving forward due to the economic downturn/changing budgets, it’s clear that there is an appetite to explore new ways to connect with customers.
Considering the broader benefits of creativity, Amy Mills, director of LMS, said: “To ensure long-term growth, particularly during economic change, we know continued brand building and harnessing creativity is vital for small business marketers.
“Smart business owners will use this moment to their advantage and harness the power of creativity, as well as automation and marketing AI tools, during these challenging times and show how they are adding value to customers. Tapping into creativity can help extend the reach of limited budgets and help business owners reap the rewards.”
Despite business challenges, SMBs firmly believe in brand building and connecting with customers through marketing, indicating that they’re playing the long game. In fact, the majority (88%) are confident their business has successfully built brand awareness through their marketing and referrals. SMBs are smartly leveraging technology and timely innovations in generative AI to get ahead and weather the economic uncertainty.
To ensure they come out of this moment positively, nearly a quarter (23%) believe that leaning into marketing is smart, as they feel companies that recover faster following periods of economic uncertainty are the ones that maintained or increased their spend during a downturn.
Australian SMBs bank on AI technologies to advance business priorities
The research found that most SMBs are looking at ways to innovate for the future, particularly through the use of marketing-tech tools. More specifically, seven in ten (71%) are investing in areas such as marketing automation, AI and online communities as part of their budget, with seven in ten (69%) agreeing that ChatGPT could help their business with marketing, according to the LinkedIn data.
However, some SMBs are found not investing in marketing-tech tools likely due to unfamiliarity with ChatGPT/AI, 76% of whom said they need to learn more about the product.
Discussing the rise in SMBs using marketing automation, Mills added: “It’s no secret that SMBs are time-poor and manage conflicting priorities to keep their business afloat. Fortunately, with the help of AI, businesses can effectively deploy creative marketing, optimise ROIs, and meet preferred objectives while freeing up staff for tasks that require higher level thinking and capabilities.”
Helping SMBs build their brands with Quick Mode for Campaign Manager
SMB marketers are expected to take on more responsibilities with fewer resources and spread their expertise across broad workstreams. With limited time, learning new tools can be a challenge. To make it easier for new SMB advertisers to easily create and launch their first advertising campaigns on LinkedIn, we’re introducing Quick Mode, a simplified way to build campaigns within campaign manager.
The feature makes it easier than ever for new users to create and run advertising campaigns on LinkedIn, reducing the barrier to entry and enabling them to focus on higher-value work like reaching the right audiences and building their brands.
Instead of needing to figure things out for themselves, SMBs can use Quick Mode to achieve their brand-building goals more efficiently and with more confidence. This means that they can spend more time on other areas of the business.