With high expectations for future revenue, 49% of small businesses plan to spend more on marketing and advertising, according to a new survey from Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm.

Fifty-nine percent of small business owners expect their revenue to grow in 2017.

Clutch’s 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey included 350 small business owners and managers.

Plans to invest more in digital marketing came after reports of modest investment in 2016. Over half of respondents (68%) reported spending less than $100,000 on marketing in 2016, with 41% spending less than $10,000.

Local Search SEO Priority

Among digital marketing options, small businesses are most eager to increase investment in paid social media (58%), a website (56%), email marketing (39%), and SEO (35%) in 2017.

Experts interviewed pointed to SEO strategies that prioritize local searches as a key trend to watch.

“[Local search] is the equivalent of coming across a brick-and-mortar store,” says Marisa Meddin, who left Pepsi’s marketing team in 2016 to reboot Atlanta restaurant The Dessert Place as an e-commerce venture. “We don't need a ton of money—we just have to work smarter.”

AR and VR

Surprisingly, Clutch also found that 17% of small businesses are interested in investing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in 2017.

The cheapest solution for giving people a VR experience would be to take a camera, record a video, and upload it to YouTube.
Although high costs may limit the accessibility of AR and VR in 2017, emphasis on low-cost video options such as Instagram stories provide small businesses with the opportunity to explore interactive digital marketing strategies.

“The cheapest solution for giving people a VR experience would be to take a camera, record a video, and upload it to YouTube,” says Vlad Korobov, co-founder and COO of Live Typing, a web and mobile app development company.

Of the 350 small businesses surveyed, 335 employ in-house digital marketing staff.

Many small businesses (49%) rely on 1 or 2 employees to produce digital marketing campaigns.

Eighty percent of small businesses surveyed do work with one or more digital marketing agencies, with the bulk (43%) working with one or two agencies.

The survey included 350 small business owners and managers in the United States. Clutch defined a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees. Forty percent of respondents were part of a business that had ten employees or fewer. Nearly half (46%) of the small businesses surveyed reported total revenue 2016 equaling less than $1 million.