Why UK Small Businesses Are Struggling to Attract New Customers

It has never been easy for small businesses to attract new customers and the existing economic conditions are only making matters more difficult. This blog explains the challenges small businesses are facing and provides a fresh perspective on how they can overcome them.

9/2/20233 min read

Small businesses struggle to get new customers
Small businesses struggle to get new customers

In the digital age, marketing is both the lifeline and the Achilles' heel of businesses. While the internet has opened doors to reach a global audience, it has also posed intricate challenges for small businesses striving to market and acquire new customers. Let's dive into the reasons behind this struggle and uncover strategies to navigate these treacherous waters.

The Digital Overload

The digital realm is vast and ever-expanding. The abundance of online platforms, social media channels, and advertising options can overwhelm small businesses. According to a study by Manifest, 74% of small businesses find digital marketing challenging1. Navigating this intricate landscape requires a well-defined strategy and expertise.

Budget Constraints

Marketing in the digital age often demands financial investment, be it in paid advertising, content creation, or website optimization. Small businesses often operate with limited budgets. In a survey by Simply Business, 45% of UK small businesses cited budget constraints as the main obstacle to their marketing efforts2. Limited resources can hinder the ability to compete effectively in the digital arena.

Shifting Consumer Behavior

Consumer behaviour is evolving rapidly, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Online shopping, contactless payments, and remote work have become the norm. Adapting to these changes and aligning marketing efforts with evolving consumer preferences is a complex task. A survey by Kantar found that 73% of UK consumers changed their shopping behaviours due to the pandemic3.

Fierce Competition

The digital space is crowded, with businesses of all sizes vying for consumers' attention. In the UK alone, there are over 6 million small businesses4. Standing out amidst fierce competition requires a distinctive value proposition and an effective marketing strategy.

The SEO Conundrum

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital for online visibility. However, SEO algorithms are continually evolving, and keeping up with these changes can be a challenge. A study by HubSpot revealed that 61% of marketers consider improving SEO and their organic presence as their top inbound marketing priority5. This highlights the significance of SEO in online marketing.

Nurturing Customer Relationships

Acquiring new customers is crucial, but retaining them is equally vital. Building lasting customer relationships requires a consistent and personalised approach. According to a survey by Trustpilot, 76% of UK consumers are more likely to shop with a business that personalises their experience6.

Strategies for Success

While the road to acquiring new customers may be challenging, it is not insurmountable. Here are some strategies to help UK small businesses overcome these hurdles:

  • Targeted Digital Advertising: Focus on the platforms and channels most relevant to your target audience to maximise the impact of your advertising budget. One of the most cost effective paid advertising channels is Meta Ads.

  • Content Marketing: Create valuable, informative, and engaging content that resonates with your audience. Consistent blogging, social media posting, and email marketing can establish your brand as an authority in your industry.

  • SEO Optimisation: Stay updated with SEO best practices and adapt your website accordingly to improve visibility on search engines.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Implement CRM tools to manage and nurture customer relationships effectively.

  • Leverage Online Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, as they can significantly influence potential customers' decisions.

The Path Forward

In conclusion, the challenges UK small businesses face in marketing and acquiring new customers are undeniable. The digital landscape is vast, budgets are limited, consumer behaviour is evolving, competition is fierce, and SEO algorithms are ever-changing. However, with a well-crafted marketing strategy, a keen understanding of customer preferences, and a commitment to adapting to digital trends, small businesses can rise above these challenges.

Remember, marketing is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Tailoring your approach to your unique business and target audience is key. Embrace change, stay resilient, and continuously refine your marketing efforts to thrive in the ever-evolving digital ecosystem.


  1. Manifest. "Small Business Marketing Challenges." 2021.

  2. Simply Business. "Overcoming marketing challenges for small businesses." 2021.

  3. Kantar. "Covid-19 Barometer: Consumer attitudes and behaviours." 2021.

  4. UK Parliament. "Small businesses in the UK."

  5. HubSpot. "The State of Marketing Strategy Report." 2021.

  6. Trustpilot. "The Trust Economy Report: UK." 2021.

small businesses struggle with marketing
small businesses struggle with marketing