Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are struggling to build and maintain relationships with their customers, new research has revealed.
In a survey, published by marketing automation platform Klaviyo, 43 per cent agreed that acquiring new customers is their number one challenge. And almost one in four said that building closer relationships with customers will be critical in the next 12 months.
When participants were asked about their key challenges, struggling to connect with customers was considered more challenging than standing out from the competition (31 per cent), supply chain issues (30 per cent) or access to finance (23 per cent).
So what is responsible for this disconnect with customers? The results show that the challenges of doing business online are partly to blame.
Nearly half of the 500 directors surveyed reported that their greatest opportunity in 2022 was online expansion. But crucially, SMEs reported that eCommerce is a double-edged sword, with ‘big tech’ standing in the way for many.
Those surveyed told said they were spending an average of 43 per cent of their marketing budget on social media marketing, but few feel in control of how it is spent.
Over half reported that they didn’t feel fully in control of their marketing spend on Facebook, 61 per cent said the same of LinkedIn, and 43 per cent reported a lack of control when it comes to spending cash with Google.
Fortunately the future looks bright, with a third saying that their profits would rise if they were able to get back control over their customer relationships.
Andrew Bialecki, co-founder and chief exec of Klaviyo commented on the findings: “For most small businesses, success is all about the ability to reach the people who are aware of or interested in their creations, and this shouldn’t be limited by technology gate keepers.”
“The bill of goods that’s been sold is that you have to market your small business through the likes of Facebook — and that’s simply not true. The most successful small business leaders will be those who limit their dependency on ad networks and take back control of their customer data and relationships.”