80% of Businesses Get No Leads From Their Blogs, Exposure Ninja Survey Reveals

ROI Survey 2022 Featured Image

80% of businesses are getting no leads from their blogs, a recent Exposure Ninja survey reveals.

Our study shows that 43.3% of SMEs find that having a blog enhances their overall brand, and 37% see it as a way to develop relationships with existing and new customers.

But, we also saw that only 21% of businesses are getting leads or sales via their blogs, meaning 79% of businesses are getting no leads from their blogs!

Graph showing how businesses see their blogs

This was a surprise to us at Exposure Ninja, as in the past we’ve taken a business from $463 monthly sales to $3.03 million, and as part of that marketing campaign, blogs focused around keywords and popular search terms in the client’s industry were a huge focus, as well as in-depth product guides to help customers make the right purchase.

We also increased sales and leads for a B2B safety equipment company by 627% through the power of blogs – their blog was one of the most important channels for attracting new visitors to the site.

So we know that blog content can have a huge impact on a business if done correctly.

Blogs take time and effort to add to a site, so it could be that the 79% of businesses that are getting no leads from their blogs tried blogging but didn’t use it to its full potential, for example, not targeting popular keywords in their niche or not providing high-quality content with good information, quality images and maybe even video content in there too.

63% of SMEs with blogs believe their blog adds value to their company and website, and 56.7% believe that their blog helps to drive organic traffic to their website.

This looks great, but it also means that 43% of businesses aren’t getting organic traffic via their blog, despite putting in the time and effort to include it on their site.

Graph showing how important blogs are to businesses

This comes as a shock to the Exposure Ninja team, as the most successful businesses we work with get the majority of their traffic via informational content published on their blog.

In the past we’ve increased website visitors from 1,822 to 8,438 per month via blog content, and used blog content as part of a marketing strategy which increased search traffic for a London law firm by 311% YoY, just to mention a couple, so we know that blog content is hugely effective when it comes to increasing website traffic.

It’s All About Organic Search

Graphs showing results of the question 'Is SEO Vital To Your Business?'

Neary 78% of SMEs have identified search engine traffic as their most important traffic source, so it’s no surprise that more than 74% of UK companies consider organic search to be their most important marketing channel for 2022, followed by email marketing.

Is SEO Vital To Your Business?

Organic search is a way to get ‘free’ traffic to your website when people searching on Google are inputting search terms related to your business.

‘Free’, meaning you don’t have to put an ad spend behind it, but it usually takes more time to work than digital ads.

The type of traffic you get from search is often of a higher quality than paid ads, as these are people who are already searching for a product or service like yours. That said, the content on your website needs to be of high quality and add value to these potential customers, otherwise, you won’t rank high enough on search engines to actually get visitors clicking through to your site.

Despite a high number of respondents indicating that they see organic search as their main focus for 2022, we can still see that many responded that they will be focusing on other areas.

This could be because they want to get results fast with paid ads on search engines and social media, but this could result in lower quality traffic if it’s not done correctly.

It’s interesting to see that paid social is below organic social, as like SEO, organic social takes more time and effort. This could be because 36.7% of respondents found that paid social offered the worst return on investment compared to other platforms. It’s important to note that this is representative of the businesses surveyed and not the experience of our clients here at Exposure Ninja.

Graph showing the results of the question Which channel offered the worst return on your investment?


As mentioned above, if paid social and paid search ads are not done correctly they will not get a good ROI, and they are more complicated than they look on the surface. Audience targeting could be too wide, there’s not enough testing happening to see what works and what doesn’t, or the campaign is ended too soon because you’re not seeing the results you want.

The high level of focus on organic social media and email marketing could also demonstrate that more businesses are looking to foster a community and build relationships with loyal customers, fans, and future customers.

Graph showing results of the question Which channel offered the best return on investment?

We also found that 38% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) see email marketing as an important channel going into 2022, despite 21.6% saying it offered them their worst ROI.

This isn’t as much of a surprise when you realise that there are 4 billion daily email users globally, and 99% of those email users check their inbox every day, but if it’s offering your worst ROI, it could be time to look into other channels, such as an on-site blog or social media.

It’s also worth taking a look at your email strategy before writing it off altogether. See what competitors are doing by signing up to their email lists – it could be that your email strategy needs a refresh.

When it comes to allocating budget to these channels, organic search takes the top spot again.

56% of respondents say they are planning to spend the majority of their marketing budget on organic search in 2022, which isn’t a surprise considering the high ROI we see with our clients. It also shows that companies understand that SEO takes time and money to do right.

This has seen an increase of nearly 10% compared to last year, where 48% said they would be spending the most on SEO.

Graph showing the 2021 survey results

Data from 2021

Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising is hot on its heels with 41% saying that’s where they will be spending most of their money, but only 28% said they’d be spending the majority of their budget on paid social media.

Despite sounding similar, paid social, such as Facebook Ads, and paid search, such as Google Ads, are quite different. Paid social is a very visual format, whereas paid search is often text-based.

This could explain why businesses that responded to this survey have decided not to spend as much on paid social – it can take more time to create compelling visuals for a social ad than it does to write a strong text ad for search.

There is also always the possibility that the majority of respondents (we can’t know for sure since they were anonymous), could offer a product or service that isn’t an impulse buy.

For example, someone looking for an accountant is much more likely to search Google for an accountant firm in their area, and click on a well-written search ad, than they are to scroll social media in the hopes that they just so happen to see an ad for an accounting firm.

Companies that offer a product or service that is more of an impulse buy will often see more success on social media because they are interrupting someone’s usual scrolling habits and showing them something they may want to click through and purchase right then and there.

Graph showing responses to the question Which channels are you planning to spend the majority of your marketing budget on this year?

Digital Marketing Goals and Challenges

Setting goals is key to developing a good digital marketing strategy, and of course, it’s not without its challenges.

Not only do you need to cover SEO, website development, social media and digital PR, you may well also want to be investing in paid ads. Then you need to find time to track all this progress and data.

According to our survey, nearly half of the respondents (43.4%) found that working alone, rather than as part of a wider marketing team, was their biggest digital marketing challenge.

This is a change from last year, where working alone was in second place, after ‘knowing which traffic source earns the most leads’, which is now in fourth place.

Instead, ‘understanding why your target audience doesn’t convert’, is now in second place, indicating that in the past year marketers have figured out which traffic source earns the most valuable leads, but now the challenge is understanding why they aren’t getting conversions from those sources.

Struggling to understand why you aren’t getting conversions is a common problem in the digital marketing world, so common in fact that we made a video about it.

All the above ties into the struggle of working alone now being in first place as the biggest marketing challenge. Many digital marketers are multitasking far too much and often don’t have the time to dedicate to figuring out challenges, such as why target audiences aren’t converting, whereas when they are part of a wider team of specialists they can delegate these tasks.

Here at Exposure Ninja, we have teams dedicated to web design and development, SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation, because we know it’s a struggle for one person to do all those tasks as part of a marketing role.

Realistically, more businesses need to realise that one marketer cannot do seven (or more) different jobs. They should be looking at investing in additional team members or working with an agency, such as Exposure Ninja, to take the pressure off.

That way, PPC campaigns will be optimised and planned to ensure a better ROI, content marketing will be thoroughly researched, based on keywords and optimised for search and a good social media strategy will ensure you’re reaching the right customers on the right platforms.

If you’re struggling to know what you could be doing to improve your current digital marketing, can’t see the wood for the trees, as they say, why not request one of our website and marketing reviews?

You’ll get a 15-minute video diving into various aspects of your marketing and it’s totally free. No pressure to work with us either (though we’re pretty great!).

And did we mention it’s free?

Well, it’s free.

Graph showing responses to the question What are your biggest digital marketing challenges

Despite the challenges, 61.4% got a positive return on their digital marketing investment, which is great! What’s not so great is that 38.6% of businesses are getting a negative return on their marketing investments.

That’s more than a third.

If you’re in this camp, you’re certainly not alone. But there are ways to fix this.

Really take a look at what you’ve been doing with your digital marketing. Are you focusing on the right platforms? Are you reaching your audience where they’re already spending their time?

If you’re not sure who your audience is to start with, then follow the steps in this video and you’ll have a great idea of who they are. Then you can move on to where to find them.

It’s also worth reviewing how you track your digital marketing campaigns – if you’re tracking them wrong you won’t know what’s working best for you and what isn’t.

In regards to 2022 goals, a majority of SMEs (86.5%) hope that digital marketing will increase their leads and sales, 37.2% hope to gain more traffic and 31.8% are looking to achieve more brand awareness.

Answers to the question Did you get a positive or negative return from your investment in 2021?

There are several ways we can interpret this data. First off, it could be that businesses are hitting their traffic goals but this traffic is not converting well or is of low quality, hence why they want to see more leads and sales in 2022 over gaining more traffic.

Graph showing What do you hope to gain from your digital marketing?

This could be because they are running PPC ads that are getting them a lot of traffic but it’s low quality and not their target customer. This is common in PPC campaigns that have targeting that is too broad and when testing isn’t happening in order to identify the type of ad the target audience responds best to.

It could also be that they are not using suitable landing pages – so the traffic coming from the ads is actually the target audience but the landing page on the website is failing to communicate why they need the product or service.

This video discusses how Exposure Ninja optimises landing pages, to the point that we’ve had them converting at a whopping 43%.

In addition, brand awareness has decreased in importance compared to last year going from 40% to 31% today.

Brand awareness takes time and doesn’t always guarantee fast results. But marketers need to remember that putting your brand in front of people, and even better, doing so by creating educational and helpful content related to your brand, will encourage them to visit you in the future when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Let’s say you’re a pet insurance company. There will be customers in the research phase who are looking into getting a pet or who are considering insurance but aren’t quite ready to commit. You can build brand awareness and foster these people early on in their buyer journey by helping them learn about pet insurance and adjacent topics.

You could create blogs based on getting a new pet, for example, what the first month is like with a new puppy. By creating a comprehensive guide that’s very helpful, if the reader needs pet insurance when they finally get their new puppy they’re more likely to come to you as they will have developed a positive view of the company. We all like helpful people, right?

And of course, throughout the guide, you can sprinkle in mentions of pet insurance, and maybe even include some examples of where it has been useful to your own clients, with examples of how much money it saved them.

In regards to whether businesses are getting tangible results from their digital marketing, there’s quite the divide.

Looking at this data, we can see that 39% of businesses surveyed are still not using digital marketing properly yet in 2021, and 11.5% of businesses are seeing a negative ROI from digital marketing.

Those who have used digital marketing for a while have found that it either has enough return on investment to pay for their marketing activities (26.4%) or has a solid return on investment (23%).

So we nearly have a 50/50 split here between those who haven’t tried digital marketing or have seen a negative ROI (51%) , and the other half who have seen a positive return on investment. (49%)

As mentioned above in this article, marketers are often overstretched and can’t give digital marketing the time and energy it needs in all areas.

Graph showing answers to the question have you found digital marketing gave you tangible results?

An interesting finding was that many respondents found online paid advertising to be too expensive, with 26.9% saying they don’t use paid advertising because it’s too expensive, and 25.5% saying they find it effective but pricey.

Only 11.7% found that they were getting good results out of their paid ad spend while also being happy with the cost.

Answers to the question Do you rely on paid advertising?

We do know that the paid campaigns referenced here are not run by us, but it’s unknown from this survey if these businesses are running their own PPC campaigns or if they are working with agencies who perhaps are not making the most out of their ad spend and not being transparent with them.

We pride ourselves on building relationships with our clients based on trust. We’re an honest digital marketing agency and, with us, you’ll never be in the dark. We make sure that you understand everything we are doing and speak in layman’s terms.

If you’re having trouble doing PPC campaigns on your own or your current agency doesn’t seem to be getting the results you expected, we’d be happy to help.

Request a free digital marketing review from us and we’ll take a look at your current marketing and suggest areas where you can improve. It’s totally free and no strings attached!

Let’s Get Social

Social media continues to expand year on year, with global internet users growing by 330 million between April 2020 and April 2021, so it’s no surprise that many of those who completed our survey have plans for both organic and paid social media content.

Despite claims that organic reach on Facebook has ‘died’ for SMEs, 71.5% of SMEs said that they are planning on using Facebook for organic reach in 2022, which is very similar to the 2021 results.

Organic reach on Facebook has been in decline for several years – at the end of 2020 it had declined by 5.2%, in 2019 it was down 5.5% and in 2018 down 7.8%. This is a result of Facebook making the decision in 2015 to downrank pages that were overly promotional, and in 2018 posts from friends and family on Facebook were given more weight than businesses, meaning business posts were appearing in users’ feeds less.

To anyone focusing all their attention on Facebook – take a look at the other platforms your audience is spending time on, and as we mentioned earlier, don’t allow your marketing to become over-exposed by focusing all your energy on one platform.

Compared to 2021, LinkedIn is now in second place, overtaking Instagram, with 60.4% of respondents aiming to use LinkedIn for organic reach next year. Instagram is in third place with 56.9% saying they will be including Instagram in their organic social strategy.

TikTok is in 7th place this year, despite overtaking Google as the most visited website in 2021 according to CloudFlare. If you have a younger audience, TikTok is absolutely the place to connect with them. If you have an older audience, it’s a great way to connect with your future customers.

Answers to the question Which social media networks are you planning to use to organically promote your business this year?

Respondents are also looking to spend on Facebook ads, with 68.4% adding it to their PPC strategy. 50.4% will be including Instagram, and 45.3% will use LinkedIn for paid ads.

Again, TikTok falls in 7th place despite its mammoth growth over the past two years, so it could come as a surprise that it’s so low down the list.

But, the cost of advertising on the platform could be seen as quite high, with the minimum budget at the campaign level being $50, whereas with other platforms you can start with lower budgets.

It may be that businesses would prefer to spend money on TikTok once their ad platform is more well established, but they could certainly be using TikTok more for organic reach.

Answers to the question Which social media platforms are you planning to use paid advertising on this year?

Digital Marketing in a Post-Pandemic World

A majority of respondents (59.6%) believe that post-pandemic, digital marketing will be the most important factor when it comes to a business’s success. 35.6% believe that it will become more important to businesses, but not the most important element when it comes to success.

Answers to the question In a post-pandemic world, do you think digital marketing will become more important to a business' success?

74.3% of respondents will be putting more emphasis on online marketing in 2022, with only 4.7% being completely happy with their current return on investment.

Amazingly, six businesses said they don’t think digital marketing is necessary at all in 2022, which is quite the statement.

Social media and the internet have changed how we get our news, how we consume media, and how we interact with our friends and families. Since 2008 Facebook alone has grown to have 2.8 billion monthly active users.

So, it makes sense that it will change how people interact with brands, adverts and even influence their purchasing habits – 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase products based on social media referrals.

Answers to the question Will you be putting more emphasis on increasing business via internet marketing in 2022?

Seven businesses also said they are 100% happy with the amount of traffic, leads and sales they’re getting from their digital marketing efforts, which is very impressive. Even if you’re seeing great returns right now, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t focusing on one platform as it could go south in the future if algorithms change.

We created a video explaining exactly why you shouldn’t be too over-reliant on one traffic source, even if you’re currently seeing amazing ROI.

After living with the pandemic for nearly two years, 57.9% of respondents said they would be more inclined to work with a remote agency, as where people are working has little importance to them.

29% of respondents said that working with a remote agency would be beneficial to them.

This is a very slight change from last year. A few more people are saying that they prefer an office-based agency, but overwhelmingly a remote-first agency like Exposure Ninja suits businesses better these days.

Results of the question Would you work with a remote agency?

56.6% of respondents went on to say that an honest, transparent and plain-speaking agency is most important to them when they are choosing a digital marketing agency.

We also saw a 255% increase in the importance of campaign results compared to last year!

It seems that marketers have realised that if your ads look amazing but aren’t targeting the right people, the results won’t be there. Or they could think that just targeting is key, as the importance of creativity has nearly halved since last year too, going from 15% to 8%.

You need a combo of great looking ads, the right targeting and the right platform in order to get good results.

Answers to the question What do you look for in a digital marketing agency?

The key takeaway from our survey is that companies are still excited about digital marketing, even though some have only just started to adopt it.

There’s an overall positive opinion towards digital marketing and SMEs are thinking about where they want to spend their money and why.

Organic search traffic has certainly been highlighted as the main focus for many SMEs, as well as producing high-quality content for their blog or knowledge base.

Need help with your digital marketing strategy?

Get advice from the best in the business by getting a free website and marketing review from the experts at Exposure Ninja now.

Our survey involved 149 respondents from the United Kingdom and was carried out via email in November 2021.

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