Sales and marketing activities are among the most challenging tasks for small business owners, according to Infusionsoft’s new Small Business Sales & Marketing Survey. Generating leads, getting new customers and gaining marketing expertise are some of the biggest challenges small businesses face today.

The full report is available for download here.

Here is a summary of key findings from Infusionsoft’s Small Business Sales & Marketing Survey:

Think every business is online? Guess again.

In this day and age, the general assumption is that you can find any business online, but that’s far from the truth. Infusionsoft’s research shows that nearly three in 10 small business owners (28 percent) still don’t have a website for their business, which can severely hinder sales and marketing efforts. Among small businesses with a website, only 13 percent are completely satisfied with it. The moral of the story? Small businesses could be doing a whole lot more with their websites.

Small budgets create big challenges

The lack of budget is a big hindrance to sales and marketing efforts at small companies. The survey shows the amount of cash that small businesses can dedicate to marketing is limited, with 43 percent spending less than $200 per month on marketing. Only 24 percent spend more than $1,000 a month. Often times the marketing budget gets cut in lieu of other business expenses, but that is not the best strategy for long-term growth.

Small businesses are more social than ever before

For the first time in Infusionsoft’s surveys, social media (71 percent) surpassed email marketing (70 percent) as the most popular online lead generation strategy for small business. However, email marketing (34 percent) is ranked as being more effective than social media (23 percent). What does this mean? Small businesses are more social than ever before, but the payoff in new leads is not always evident, and email marketing continues to be a dependable tactic for small businesses.

Customer referrals are still king

Our survey results show that customer referrals are still the most popular and effective strategy for generating leads (72 percent), which underscores the importance of great customer service. As more small businesses take more of their sales and marketing efforts online, there is still no substitution for a job well done and a friendly referral.

“Most small business owners heavily depend on referrals and word-of-mouth to grow their businesses, and while that is a dependable tactic, it’s not enough to thrive in today’s digital world,” says Infusionsoft Chief Marketing Officer Greg Head. “People search online when making buying decisions, so if a small business doesn’t have a website or online presence, they are missing out on a ton of potential customers. Beyond that, small business owners say automating their sales and marketing creates big returns, as it enables them to automatically turn leads into customers and customers into raving fans while they’re busy running the day-to-day operations.”

Conducted by Audience Audit Inc.™, which specializes in attitudinal audience segmentation research, the more than 800 small business respondents were divided almost equally between Infusionsoft customers and non-customers with 25 or fewer employees. Participants responded to an anonymous online survey and answered a series of questions addressing their attitudes, challenges, marketing initiatives, goals, influences, profit, expectations, charitable activities and more.