On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. Roughly one year later, the digital marketing SaaS company Vendasta checked in with small businesses to find out how the pandemic impacted their businesses.
In particular, Vendasta honed in on how the pandemic influenced small technology adoption. It also focused on the degree to which small businesses needed partners to help them through the process.
The report, The State of Local Business 2021, was released this week. Its methodology involved an in-depth survey of 136 B2C small businesses, conducted through Vendasta’s marketing automation platform.
The above chart shows the new technologies that small businesses reported adopting during the pandemic. What we find interesting is that social media tech was the top choice. We might have expected eCommerce tools or payments technology to have higher scores. One possible explanation is that businesses needed to communicate much more with customers online after March 11, 2021, than before. And creating more engagement on social media is one way to go about it.
The survey certainly confirms what we generally knew about small business adoption of online, mobile, and contactless payments. The pandemic shaved years off their adoption curves.
More Report Findings
Here are some more key insights emerging from the report.
- 82% of surveyed businesses said they put effort into their online presence during the pandemic.
- 71% of respondents report adopting new software products.
- 48% adopted social media marketing technology during the pandemic.
- 66% of respondents said that prior to the pandemic they used remote meeting tools for their businesses. That number has jumped to 84% in 2020.
- 14% of surveyed businesses report launching their first website during COVID. And another 28% made significant website enhancements over the past year.
- Yet only 10% of respondents implemented security software during the past year. But 71% say they would consider investing in security software through a local expert over the coming year.
- And one-third of local businesses that reported not using local experts (e.g., marketing agencies) before the pandemic say that have begun to rely on them since.
Vendasta Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Tomlin told us that the pandemic experience has heightened the need for partners to help small businesses expand their technology stack.
“SMBs have rapidly adopted new technology due to the pandemic,” Tomlin said. “Unfortunately, the experience of adopting new solutions remains fragmented and overwhelming as they expand their digital stacks. That’s why they’re turning to channel partners at an increasing rate. In fact, Analysys-Mason says 75 percent of SMB SaaS products and related services flows through channel partner experts, and this insights report supports that.”
Validating the Trends
This report offers more proof of something we knew. Small business technology adoption advanced at a rapid pace in 2020. Though with a relatively small sample of 136, this report is most valuable as validation of what we’ve already seen in other data and as a source of insights.
Vendasta, as a company with a massive reseller network, is particularly interested in what the data says about the perceived and actual need for partners to help small businesses navigate the complexities of tech adoption.
The fact that one-third of the respondents began using partners during this process doesn’t surprise us. And it supports what we hear anecdotally from many (though not all) of the SMB platform companies we engage with. For many in the SMB tech space, platforms, and agencies, in particular, the pandemic was a great opportunity to prove your value to small business customers.