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Emerging trends impacting small businesses

May 07, 2021

When the pandemic hit and everything shut down, small businesses were significantly impacted. After the initial shock, small businesses had to quickly pivot to engage their customers in new ways, as new behaviors and expectations emerged.

How people play, work, learn and shop has changed dramatically. Behaviors that formed out of necessity and drove people online have become habits that likely won’t change as people transition back into the post-COVID world. These behaviors have had a significant impact on small businesses — with new business models emerging, new ways of managing forecasts and cashflow, new ways of delivering products and services, new marketing practices, and the adoption of new digital skills and strategies.

Digital acceleration

The pandemic drove acceleration to digital even more quickly than we might have imagined a year ago. In many ways, technology has been a saving grace, enabling businesses to drive innovative solutions across industries and stay connected. We’ve witnessed significant increases in digital media consumption, with people searching, researching, learning, shopping, and purchasing online.

Travel, retail, health and wellness, technology, finance — and just about every other industry — have been impacted by this digital acceleration. How effectively a company positions itself for the acceleration will be the difference between struggling through this phase and thriving.

Pervasiveness of digital commerce

Despite what has undoubtedly been the toughest year for brick-and-mortar retail, eMarketer estimates that ecommerce has grown 30% year over year in 2020, with sales of over $4 trillion.1 That’s all of us buying groceries, buying birthday presents, buying home goods online.

Brands and retailers are seeking to capitalize on this digital acceleration by reaching more consumers, and more shoppers. In the Emerging small business trends for post-COVID recovery eBook, we’ve summarized some key consumer trends, and shown how Microsoft Advertising can help small businesses reach new customers and grow your business.

Chart showing recent key consumer trends, to help small businesses reach new customers and grow.

At Microsoft Advertising we’re focused on creating even more digital advertising solutions for small businesses to help meet these new demands.

Connect with a unique and valuable audience

Through the Microsoft ecosystem of devices and services, we reach a unique and diverse audience that operates at the intersection of work and life. In fact, the Microsoft Advertising audience is 30% more likely to shop online than the average internet user.2

Microsoft Advertising reaches over half a billion people worldwide every month, over double the size of the US population.2 This massive reach also translates into more customers at a local level. We can extend your reach to that unique audience where they are, online getting things done.

ComScore statistics for Microsoft Advertising reach: 37.7 percent share of the US desktop market; 7.5 billion monthly desktop searches and 142 million unique desktop searchers on the Microsoft Search Network; and 46.4 million desktop searchers not reached on Google.

Reach a young and diverse audience

As you consider your marketing strategy to authentically connect with people, Microsoft Advertising can help by reaching a diverse audience. Additionally, younger generations on the Microsoft Advertising Network are showing an increase in ethnic diversity. Here are some persuasive findings:3

  • 54% of Microsoft Advertising reaches people who are under the age of 45 globally.
  • There are 125% more Hispanics under the age of 45 than over the age of 45 on the Microsoft Advertising Network.
  • There are 57% more Black/African Americans under the age of 45 than over the age of 45 on the Microsoft Advertising Network.
  • There are 75% more Asian/Pacific Inlanders (US only) under the age of 45 than over the age of 45 on the Microsoft Advertising Network.

Create and manage ads easily

Save time and focus on your business while our automated digital marketing solutions do all the heavy lifting. Microsoft Advertising can help small businesses take advantage of this digital acceleration to reach and engage high-value audiences with targeted, scalable, and localized digital marketing solutions, to help you:

  • Address your top business goals.
  • Extend your reach to a diverse set of customers.
  • Save time so you can focus on growing your business.
  • Focus on your most creative, high-impact, and strategic work by letting automated solutions assist with tactical and repetitive tasks.
  • Adjust swiftly with marketplace dynamics that change seasonally — or lately, are driven by COVID-19.

Save time so you can focus on growing your business

Start using some of our powerful tools to help you boost your business results.

Powerful tools from Microsoft Advertising: Google Import, In-market Audiences, and Smart Campaigns.

Google Import

If you're already using Google Ads, you can save time by importing your campaigns directly into Microsoft Advertising.

In-market Audiences

Easily grow your audience and increase conversions with high-quality searchers, ready to buy.

Smart Campaigns

Use automated solutions to create engaging ads, help manage your ad campaigns, and make it easier to improve your business results.

In summary

We’re seeing the benefits of a world that has shifted to digital almost overnight. Despite 2020 being filled with uncertainty, small business owners are demonstrating resilience. You’ve learned to take on new challenges and adapt faster than ever thought possible. We’re excited to support small businesses with digital marketing solutions that help you survive and thrive. Visit the Microsoft Advertising small business hub.

[1] eMarketer, US Ecommerce Growth Jumps to More than 30%, Accelerating Online Shopping Shift by Nearly 2 Years, October 2020.
[2] Comscore qSearch Explicit Core Search (custom) December 2020, Worldwide, desktop traffic only.
[3] Marketing with Purpose playbook: building trusted brand experiences, Microsoft Advertising, September 2020.


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