Many small-business owners do things the old-school way when it comes to gaining customers: They rely on word of mouth. It’s still the No. 1 marketing source of growth, according to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey. But a surprising number of entrepreneurs don’t back that up by also digitally getting the word out. Almost half (45 percent) say they don’t have a business website. And only about one-third (36 percent) use a business website to communicate news to customers and potential customers.
Bill Nagel, co-founder and chief marketing strategist at digital marketing firm Netsertive, said there is a long tail of small businesses where a history of word-of-mouth marketing has been enough, but the top 10 percent of businesses in a market have “really leaned into digital, even if it’s a beauty salon.”