Profit Minded

Survey: 2014 tech plans may be surprising. Facebook, Twitter dominate

When it comes to using the latest technologies to save money, increase revenues, and increase efficiency, do you know where your business stands in relation to other small operations? Results of a new survey might put things into perspective.

Are you one of only 30 percent who are Facebook holdouts? Are you among the 40 percent who still aren’t realizing at least some annual savings from cloud services? Those figures come from Los Angeles Internet services provider j2Global, which polled more than 1,500 of its small business customers last month in order to extrapolate trends in mobile usage and 2014 business expectations.

To be sure, customers of j2Global, which owns the Ziff Davis and IGN digital media brands, are likely more technologically astute than most. J2’s eFax, eVoice, and Campaigner products are all cloud-based services that let customers complete tasks such as sending a fax without a fax machine, receiving office voicemails via text on a mobile phone, or designing and launching an email marketing campaign.

Still, the survey group’s technology plans for 2014 include some surprises.

Few have used or plan to use some of the most talked-about mobile apps for business development or marketing: Under 3 percent are interested in Snapchat, the company that turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook this year, and only 6 percent use or plan to use FourSquare.

Instead, 70 percent of those surveyed rely on Facebook to get their word out. Twitter and YouTube are other popular apps; 43 percent and 35 percent of small businesses, respectively, use or plan to use them for marketing and biz dev.

Asked about their top marketing priority for the new year, more than one in four respondents say they will “increase their online presence” by setting up a website or an online store. (Whether the remaining 75 percent already have websites is not clear, but in general it is said that half of small business still do not have a website). Adopting email marketing automation “to easily and efficiently reach customers” is a close second priority. And one in five say they will “use email to effectively inspire referrals and sharing on social networks.” Few are concerned about optimizing their emails or websites for mobile, and even fewer worry about ensuring that their email marketing efforts aren’t thwarted by spam filters or the new Gmail tabs.

More than half of small business pros expect to save money in 2014 by using cloud services; 18 percent of them even anticipate their savings adding up to more than $1,000 per year. Forty two percent say they expect no savings at all from cloud services.

As for technologies that are going the way of the typewriter, nearly 70 percent of survey respondents put fax machines, landlines, or printers on their hit lists for retirement. But Square and PayPal won’t like what they hear from this group: only 8 percent say they plan to retire the cash register and move over to a digital payment solution in 2014.

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