An unprecedented number of small businesses across the U.S. were forced to shut down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Though billions of dollars have been allocated by the federal government in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and other initiatives aimed at helping these businesses to get back on their feet, the sector continues to face closures in 2021.
Pandemic-era restrictions, accompanied by rapidly changing technology, are putting pressure on businesses to quickly adapt to a changed environment to survive and succeed. With the COVID-19 pandemic still not quite contained, the coming year is likely to pose new vulnerabilities.
To help you gauge the changing market and respond better to the looming challenges of the pandemic-affected world, Simply Business has put together 15 key statistics and trends derived from financial news, market research data and other sources. Take a look at its recent report for key insights.
- Nearly 50% of jobs are not being filled
As the economy gets back to normalcy, small business owners are struggling at record levels trying to find workers to fill open positions, says the National Federation of Independent Business in its May monthly jobs report.
As finding qualified job applicants remains a lingering challenge for small business owners in 2021, it is important that they take a more personalized approach to hiring and offer higher wages, remote working options when feasible and flexible schedules.
- 67% of retailers now accept some kind of no-touch payment
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of contactless cards and mobile payments, according to August 2020 research by the National Retail Federation. No-touch payments increased by nearly 70% among retailers in 2020.
Additionally, the SCORE Association reports that businesses are exploring new ways to completely eliminate paper checks and fully automate the B2B payment processes.
- More than $861 billion was spent online in 2020
E-commerce recorded a whopping 44% year-over-year increase in 2020, the sharpest increase in at least two decades, cites Digital Commerce 360. The pandemic-triggered boom in online sales shows no signs of waning in coming years. To the contrary, e-commerce is likely to have more of a tailwind as savvy small businesses debuts additional digital offerings to serve the growing needs of online customers.
- 63% of emails are opened on mobile device
People are moving away from desktop computers to portable devices such as mobile phones. Consumers are using mobile devices more than ever before, suggests a study by Email Marketing Secrets.
With nearly $1 billion in sales coming from mobile emails, small businesses should develop strategies to optimize email marketing for mobile devices. The study finds that mobile-friendly emails with simple content and layout are likely to have higher open rates, while poorly formatted ones are practically doomed to immediate deletion and unsubscribing by customers.
- 56% of Americans work from home
A February 2021 Gallup finds that more than 50% of Americans were working from home in early January, and 44% would prefer to continue working remotely. Many large organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft have switched to flexible work arrangements with remote working, and small businesses may follow suit, which could also help resolve their hiring crunch.
- 73% of small businesses invest in social media marketing
With more consumers engaging with businesses online, companies are using social media more often as a part of their digital marketing plan, reports The Manifest. A majority of small businesses are focusing on social media promotion to generate brand awareness and take advantage of changed consumer habits.
- 93% of buyers find videos helpful
A spike in video ad spending by brands is in the cards, as more consumers base purchasing decisions on brands’ video clips from social media, according to Animoto.
Small businesses can tap into the opportunity by creating consumers’ favorite content, like eye-catching short YouTube video clips, Facebook stories and Instagram reels.
- 56% of brands increase email open rates with an emoji
Omnisend puts forward some great insight about emojis in email marketing, finding the small icons help email stand out in an otherwise crowded inbox.
With nearly 3,300 emojis available, brands can use these pictograms to create awesome email subject lines and preheaders and increase the open rates of their emails or newsletters. A 2014 report by Experian suggests that 56% of marketers who add emojis in their email’s subject lines experience higher open rates.
- 65% of Black Americans want to see more racial diversity
Black consumers are interested in seeing more racial diversity in advertising, according to a June 2020 poll by Morning Consult. The results of the survey indicate a preference for more diverse ads by 65% of African American respondents, 49% of Hispanic respondents and 37% of white respondents.
Small businesses that address systemic racism by creating more diverse promotional content — such as website ads, social posts, and videos or casting Black actors in ads — are likely to be more appreciated and welcomed by buyers.
- 32% of small-business owners are women
This year has seen a 13% uptick in female small business owners, one of the sharpest increases in several years, suggests a combined survey by Guidant Financial and the Small Business Trends Alliance. It further indicates that among total small business owners, 41% are baby boomers, 46% are Gen X, 13% are millennials and a mere 1% are Gen Z.
- 83% of business owners earn less than $100,000
Being your own boss doesn’t necessarily mean big bucks. In fact, a majority of those who start their own venture make less than traditional CEOs, and a staggering 30.7% never take home a salary, according to research from Fundera. Not surprisingly, small business owners are more educated and work exceptionally hard to keep going.
- Millennials represent 35% of the US workforce
Four years back, millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce and are projected to peak at 75 million in a few years, according to Pew Research.
As millennials seek flexible work schedules and increased responsibilities, they also prefer working for small- to medium-size businesses. Keep in mind these requirements while looking to attract the younger generation.
- 83% support local over corporate
Momentum keeps building in favor of local businesses, with 83% of consumers preferring to buy from a local business than a bigger corporation. Additionally, 84% of respondents are willing to pay more while shopping locally, according to a survey conducted by Red Egg Marketing.
Taking a cue from these statistics, small businesses can plan marketing strategies wherein they cash in on the support of surrounding communities.
- 45% of small businesses bank on big data analytics
More small businesses are using big data analytics to gain a deeper understanding of their consumers’ behavior, operations and competitors, says the University of San Diego School of Business.
Extracting data from sales records, email marketing statistics, web analytics and social media feeds, this technique can help businesses give their customers a more personalized experience. With big data analytics becoming more affordable and effective, small businesses can get an edge.
- Almost 90% of marketers don’t segment email lists
Lack of personalization pertaining to demographic, location, industry, etc when distributing marketing emails to subscribers often leads to deletion and unsubscribes, reports SuperOffice. Ditching the old “spray and pray” approach and segmenting emails can help small business owners increase open rates and generate revenue.