Entrepreneurs Are Cautiously Optimistic According to 2014 Cox Business Barometer
Email ranks as top traditional channel for customer engagement while Facebook most used social network
ATLANTA, May 12, 2014
ATLANTA, May 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Entrepreneurs are optimistic about their business' chance for success this year (67 percent), according to the 2014 Cox Business Barometer announced today. One possible result of this optimism was reflected in business owners' summer vacation plans, with 66 percent planning to take at least a one-week vacation this summer.
The study also unveiled that while businesses are optimistic about their own future, they are concerned about economic uncertainty and its potential to threaten the success of their business, including the Affordable Care Act. When ranking their level of concern on issues that were immediate threats to small and medium-sized business success, 88 percent of entrepreneurs were either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about economic uncertainty. This compares to 66 percent who had the same sentiments about the Affordable Care Act.
Cox Business conducted a blind survey of more than 600 U.S. small business owners. The survey, conducted in late April, was released this week to coincide with National Small Business Week. Complete findings from the 2014 Cox Business Barometer are available at www.coxblue.com/sbwsurvey2014.
"By many estimates, small businesses have generated 65 percent of the net new jobs since 1995, so their success plays an enormous role in the overall economic direction of our country," said Steve Rowley, senior vice president of Cox Business. "For the second consecutive year, our survey has found that business owners are expressing optimism about their own future, which means they are taking the right steps to increase efficiency and service, and engage customers in ways that drive revenue."
In fact, 62 percent of business leaders are confident in their use of technology to improve business performance. Marketing also is playing a major role in helping businesses reach their revenue goals.
Email ranks as the most effective tool for customer engagement, which is consistent with Cox's 2013 survey among small business owners. Respondents ranked the effectiveness of communications tools as follows:
82 percent - email
80 percent - phone
78 percent - in-person events
58 percent - social marketing
40 percent - texts/SMS
39 percent - direct mail
While social media is less popular for customer communication, interestingly, Facebook is the most used channel with 52 percent of small businesses using the social network to notify customers of special promotions.
A majority of business owners (60 percent) have taken the time to develop a marketing plan for 2014 – with 56 percent of respondents focusing their marketing efforts equally among existing and potential customers. These efforts may include a mix of email campaigns, phone outreach and in-person events as business owners ranked these three communications channels as the most effective in terms of improving customer engagement.
"As customers become more knowledgeable about what they buy before they even talk to a business, new expectations are being established," said Jim Blasingame, leading small business expert and author of The Age of the Customer. "But small business owners and managers, in particular, should be excited about the unique opportunity they have to meet these new expectations with the array of online resources available to them in applications and pricing that fits a small enterprise."
More details on the 2014 Cox Business Barometer can be found on CoxBLUE.com, the company's social destination for businesses. Follow @CoxBusiness on Twitter and join the conversation using #SBWSurvey on Twitter to share the results with your network.
About the 2014 Cox Business Small Business Week Survey
The 2014 Cox Business Barometer was a blind survey conducted in April 2014 among 601 small business owners and managers. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus five percent. Respondents included businesses in all of Cox Business' markets. More than 40 percent of the respondents had annual sales of more than $250,000 and 55 percent had been in business for more than 10 years.
About Cox Business
Cox Business provides voice, data and video services for more than 300,000 small and regional businesses, including healthcare providers, K-12 and higher education, financial institutions and federal, state and local government organizations. The organization also serves most of the top tier wireless and wireline telecommunications carriers in the U.S. through its wholesale division. According to Vertical Systems Group, Cox Business is one of the largest providers of business Ethernet services in the U.S. based on customer ports and has been consistently recognized for its leadership among small/midsize business data service providers. Cox is currently the seventh largest voice service provider in the U.S. and supports one million phone lines. For more information about Cox Business, Click Here or call 1-800-396-1609.
About Cox Communications
Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet and telephone services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable TV company, Cox serves approximately 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and new media advertising.
Cox is known for its pioneering efforts in cable telephone and commercial services, industry-leading customer care and its outstanding workplaces. For eight years, Cox has been recognized as the top operator for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications; for eight years, Cox has ranked among DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity. More information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com/aboutus and www.coxmedia.com.