With all the hubbub surrounding social media, the focus and onus has been on how a company can generate sales using social media marketing.  However, a recent survey by Demandbase found that a company’s corporate website is the number one source of new sales leads. Moreover, the study found that the corporate website is seven times more effective than social media at generating sales.

However, this does not mean that the value of social media marketing should be discounted. While the corporate website may be more effective overall than social media, a number of recent surveys have found that small businesses are winning business via social media, with Facebook as the top social media channel for generating sales.

The fact that consumers are spending more and more time engaged in social media activity will increasingly have a profound effect on companies’ sales strategies.  A recent Nielsen survey, for example, found that social media in general is having a powerful influence on consumer behavior.

Among Nielson’s findings:

  • In the U.S., social networks and blogs reach nearly 80% of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans’ time online.
  • 70% of active online adult social networkers shop online, 12% more likely than the average adult Internet user.
  • Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ time online, now accounting for nearly a quarter of total time spent on the Internet.
  • Social media has grown rapidly – today nearly four of five active Internet users visit social networks and blogs.

Similar findings were reported in a recent Pew Survey that found that two-thirds of adult internet users (65%) now say they use a social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61% one year ago. That’s more than double the percentage that reported social networking site usage in 2008 (29%). And for the first time in Pew Internet surveys it means that half of all adults (50%) use social networking sites.

“The pace with which new users have flocked to social networking sites has been staggering,” said the Pew report.

How are small businesses measuring up to the challenges of online marketing in general? Not so well, according to a CitiBank Survey that found that small businesses are lagging in all phases of online marketing and e-commerce activity. The study found that about 40 percent of small businesses surveyed do not have a website, 62 percent do not send marketing e-mails to promote their business, and 84 percent have not engaged in e-commerce. Among the companies that do have a website, 74 percent say it is an effective way to bring in business.

The message to small businesses is clear: online marketing is imperative in all its forms—website, social media, e-mail marketing, e-commerce, and increasingly, the mobile device channel.

The tools to effectively market and sell online are available—from website creation to all-in-one marketing, to e-mail marketing to CRM solutions. Use Comparz reviews and rankings to hep you find, assess, and select the best solutions for your businesses’ needs.