CHANTILLY, VA: Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the US are embracing the possibilities of digital marketing, with higher spenders now using around 21 different media and platforms, new research indicates.

Findings from BIA/Kelsey's research, Local Commerce Monitor (LCM), based on an online survey of 1,000 SMBs, revealed that more than 60% of those in the "Plus Spender" category – spending at least $25,000 a year on advertising – intended to increase their advertising and marketing expenditure in 2017.

And they will be spreading it over a greater range of media: they now use 20.8 different media and platforms, including a number of new online categories BIA/Kelsey is tracking for the first time.

"SMBs are benefiting from the lower costs of digital media, as well as the opportunity to do more of the implementation themselves," said Celine Matthiessen, vice president analysis and insights, BIA/Kelsey.

"The key takeaway for businesses pursuing this segment of SMBs is that they are investing the savings back into their advertising and marketing plans, which opens up opportunity for new types of digital services."

The survey further revealed that Plus Spender SMBs are split between preferring Do-It-Yourself digital advertising services (39%) and Do-It-With/For Me solutions (37%).

The top ten media they used for advertising and promotion included: Direct mail (66.3%), Internet Yellow Pages (61.8%), Facebook (61.5%), website video (54.8%), community sponsorships (54.8%), Facebook ads (54.0%), Email (53.8%), giveaways (52.5%), cable (51.3%) and magazines (48.3%).

And when asked which advertising results were important, the top three results ranked over 50%, indicating specific ROI expectations: emails (53.0%), website traffic/clicks (51.5%) and phone calls (50.5%).

Earlier this year, BIA/Kelsey predicted that national advertisers would outpace regional and local SMBs in total adspend growth targeting local audiences.

Agencies and marketers for national brands will increase their adspend targeting local audiences by $17.1bn from 2015 through 2020, it said. Spending by regional advertisers was expected to be relatively flat while spending by local SMBs was projected to rise by $10.6bn.

Data sourced from BIA/Kelsey; additional content by Warc staff