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The 45 top stats for creators and small businesses in 2020

The numbers don't lie. Here are 45 of the most important statistics for creators to know about entrepreneurship, affiliate marketing, and email marketing.

Marketers love stats.

We pull them out like party favors, name dropping data and shutting down conversations faster than acute laryngitis.

But there’s a reason statistics are so powerful, and their use isn’t limited to number-crunchers and marketers.

They matter for you, too.

Stats help you:

  • Make better (and safer) business decisions.

  • Maintain morale through your highs and lows.

  • Gauge where your business performance falls compared to the norm.

But most importantly?

Stats help you find the margins of your story, forming the data-backed canvas through which your journey as a solopreneur plays out. Stats don’t define you -- they never will -- but they do support you and give you the foundation to make your business thrive.

So to that end, today we’re going to look at 45 need-to-know statistics behind small businesses and two of the most popular monetization channels, affiliate and email marketing, respectively.

Let’s dive right in.

Small business and entrepreneur statistics

Entrepreneurs tend to be associated with Instagram sponsorships, wild-eyed startup idealism, and no shortage of self-confidence. The reality, however, looks a bit different. Here’s the story -- and people --  behind the numbers.

  • 77% of small businesses in the US rely on founders’ personal funds to launch and stay afloat. (Source: Lendio )

  • In addition to using their own funds, small business owners have their hands full with limited support staff. 66% of owners personally juggle three or more business areas in their day-to-day, including marketing, sales, and customer service. (Source: Salesforce )

  • What’s more: 30.07% of business owners don’t pay themselves. (Source: Fundera )

  • Which might be surprising when you consider that 80% of small business owners work nights and weekends to keep the hustle going. (Source: Fundera )

  • Part of the grind is, unfortunately, a literal grind. 23% of the average business owner’s daily work is consumed with manual tasks like data entry. (Source: Salesforce )

  • Still, small business owners are more optimistic than ever before. The Small Business Index, a measure of how financially optimistic small business owners feel, is at a record high this year at +118. (Source: Wells Fargo/Gallup )

  • The Global Entrepreneurship Index, likewise, is on an upward trend. Compared to last year, economic support for entrepreneurship is up 3% across the globe and very healthy. (Source: GEDI )

  • Currently, approximately 540,000 new businesses owners launch a business every month in the US. Or, put another way, every 310 out of 100,000 adults become new entrepreneurs each month. (Source: Kauffman )

  • With so many new entrepreneurs on the scene, you’re probably wondering about how to overcome competition. According to 77% of companies, you need holistic competitor intelligence -- i.e., knowing everything you can about your competition. (Source: Crayon )

  • Other than that, you need good ole’ fashioned experience. When asked about the best way to learn about becoming an entrepreneur, 51% of people’s recommendation was to “start a company.” (Source: GoDaddy )

  • Side-hustlers can be difficult to quantify. No one is completely sure about how many side-hustlers or gig workers there are in the US economy. Current estimates say between 4% to 40% of the economy is fueled by side-hustlers. (Source: Recode )

  • That said, however many side-hustlers there are, they’re definitely profiting. The average reported monthly income for a few hours of work is $686, or $8,232 annually. (Source: Bankrate )

  • Once you have launched your side-hustle , lean on marketing to fuel your momentum. That’s what 47% of small businesses plan to do, stating their intent to leverage new promotional strategies as their growth driver in the future. (Source: NSBA )

  • It’s important to keep those marketing and growth strategies manageable, however.  After all, 49% of small business owners handle all of their marketing by themselves. (Source: Keap/Infusionsoft )

  • The technologies involved in marketing and managing a business are worth noting, as well. 41% of small businesses say their greatest frustration and challenge with technology owes to daily maintenance. (Source: SMB Group )

  • Beyond that, another time-eater for small businesses is managing content creation and distribution. 70% of professional creators say it takes them between 1-10 hours a week to ship their work to their audience. (Source: Writtent )

  • This heavy burden of responsibility is likely some of the impetus behind why 49.8% of entrepreneurs rely on word-of-mouth referrals to acquire new customers. (Source: Drip )

  • Unfortunately, all of that juggling and priority-switching can take a heavy toll on business owners. Entrepreneurs are twice as likely to suffer from mental health afflictions than the general population. (Source: Shopify )

  • Professional burnout is also a significant problem for entrepreneurs. 91% of workers say burnout directly impacts the quality of their work. (Source: Deloitte )

  • Coinciding with the prevalence of burnout, 40% of men and 30% of women plan -- in advance -- to continue working during their downtime. But rather than contributing to their anxieties, many say it helps to alleviate stress. (Source: Wrike )

  • This finding should come as no surprise when you consider the unfortunate rise of perfectionism. All forms of perfectionism have spiked since 1976, increasing social, personal, and professional pressure significantly for entrepreneurs. (Source: APA )

Main takeaway: Entrepreneurship is healthy, but the demands of it can be daunting on creators, and with so many responsibilities riding on their shoulders, it’s little wonder why.

Anything you can do to cut back on your daily time-wasters -- whether it’s hiring a virtual assistant or using an all-in-one platform to manage your data -- is critical for keeping the grind from grinding you out.


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Fortunately, affiliate marketing can alleviate some of that burden, too, and it’s easier to get into than you might think.

Affiliate marketing and referral marketing statistics

Affiliate marketing remains one of the most popular passive income channels for creators and businesses far and wide, and there’s a good reason.

With low barriers to entry -- if you’ve got an audience, you’ve got an opportunity -- and ample businesses looking to connect to influencers, creators have bountiful options to work with or become affiliates.

How bountiful? Let’s see.

  • 81% of brands actively use affiliate marketing. These programs sometimes masquerade as referral or partner programs, but as the overwhelming surplus of them indicates, they’re a viable channel for businesses of all sizes. (Source: BigCommerce )

  • Why are they so popular? It comes down to trust. 80% of buyers agree that word-of-mouth referrals from people they’re familiar with build trust with businesses. (Source: SAI Global )

  • Don’t discount how powerful that trust-building benefit of affiliates is, either. After all, 49% of consumers who never buy goods or services alone cite trust as their primary hang-up. (Source: Ecommerce Foundation )

  • The trust between an affiliate and their audience is particularly potent for businesses with big-ticket inventories. Higher-priced items convert up to 380% more when they have testimonials, such as the vouch from an influencer, attached. (Source: PowerReviews )

  • Which is probably why over half of professional promoters rank marketing done through an influencer like a faithful affiliate as either effective or highly effective at raising brand awareness. (Source: Social Media Today )

  • There’s also this to consider. Brand advocates -- the customers who sing your praises to the ends of the earth -- are 50% more likely to influence purchasing decisions than regular customers, which makes them perfect as affiliates. (Source: JitBit )

  • Therein lies the most powerful part of affiliate marketing. You don’t need a marketing army to succeed -- you just need loyal customers. After all, 86% of loyal customers engage with brands by referring new customers. (Source: Blackhawk Network )

  • If you want to get those loyal customers and turn them into affiliates, the trick is to leverage a compelling customer experience (CX). Users with a stellar CX are 5x more likely to promote you. (Source: HubSpot )

  • Of course, nothing makes for a more powerful CX than an emotional connection. To turn ordinary customers into advocates, 65% of consumers say the key is making them feel like you care. (Source: Customer Theromometer )

  • An appealing incentive does wonders, too, particularly with a millennial-leaning customer base. 44% of millennials will promote your products on social media in exchange for a reward. (Source: Wordstream )

  • It helps to give them assets to work with, as well. 28.42% of affiliates report that less than a quarter of the programs they promote give them the assets they need to do so. (Source: ConversionXL )

  • This resource inequality is shocking when you consider how affiliates uplift customer acquisition for businesses. Affiliate-borne new customers consistently accounted for 45% of orders during the last quarter of 2017. (Source: Acceleration Partners )

  • They influence even more orders and traffic over holidays. Affiliates were responsible for uplifting clicks by 48% over Memorial Day weekend for their partners. (Source: Acceleration Partners )

Main takeaway: Affiliate marketing hinges on the relationships between brand and audience, whether that brand is someone else’s or one you’re working to promote.

Customers are willing to hustle for you, but they won’t do it without a compelling reason -- make it worth their while if you want them to return the favor.

Now, let’s change gears a little bit and look at the numbers behind how creators are reaching their audiences, and moreover, how they can do it better.

Email marketing statistics

There’s not a lot that email marketing can’t do for businesses. From smoothing the conversion runway between subscriber to customer to automating your sales funnel for online courses , email is the top channel for reaching and nurturing your leads.

But it’s not always the easiest channel to break into, and if you’re still new to the email game, it never hurts to have some help. Check out these stats to get the lay of the email land.

  • The not-so-secret ingredient to boosting your open and click-through rates (CTR) is segmentation. Segmented campaigns have a 14.31% higher open rate, and up to 100.95% better CTR than non-segmented emails. (Source: Mailchimp )

  • Beyond performance, segmentation is worth the investment -- as is every other email marketing strategy. Email marketing has an average ROI of 3800% at its most conservative estimates. (Source: Salesforce )

  • That ROI trumps other channels by miles. Compared to social media, email marketing drives 184% more conversions. (Source: Campaign Monitor )

  • Dripped emails, or emails sent out on a schedule, can take those uplifted conversions even further. Drips yield 90% more orders than standalone welcome emails. (Source: Omnisend )

  • That said, don’t neglect that welcome email. 50% of welcome emails are opened by their recipients, which outperforms regular newsletters by 86%. (Source: Emma )

  • The win-back email, or the email sent to subscribers who haven’t engaged with your brand in a while, isn’t to be discounted, either. 45% of users who receive a win-back email read follow-up emails, regardless if they read the win-back. (Source: Return Path )

  • However, your win-back email won’t go far if your list isn’t organically grown. 21% of all emails bounce back as undelivered because of fake addresses, so if you’re thinking about buying an email list, don’t. (Source: GMass )

  • Instead, cultivate your email list by focusing on relevancy in your content and copy. Highly relevant emails yield 18x more revenue than their less relevant counterparts. (Source: Emma )

  • Another important pillar to boost engagement with your email list is the subject line. 70% of professional marketers say subject lines are their most frequently-tested component. (Source: SuperOffice )

  • Messaging matters, too. Personalized -- i.e., relevant -- messaging in emails drives the highest open-rate and CTR compared to non-personalized emails. (Source: Sleeknote )

  • Finally, consider the frequency of your emails. If you’re trying to drive the most orders, aim to send between five to 19 email a month. More than that annoys your list, and less than that can disengage your subscribers. (Source: Omnisend )

Main takeaway: There’s no better way to convert customers than through an email list, but it takes some finesse to keep subscribers locked in. Experimentation is vital, as is knowing and nailing your customer research to ensure your emails are relevant and personalized.

It’s your story behind the numbers

Starting an online business is a big deal. You need every advantage you can get. Having the facts in your corner is like having a personal coach there to back you up and guide your path.

Of course, the facts aren’t everything. What’s true for one industry or business may not be true for yours, and that’s OK.

Because like we said, these are the numbers, but this is your story. Lean on the data, but don’t be afraid to counter the so-called best practices if it means reaching the next chapter in that story.

And perhaps most importantly, don’t feel like you have to wade the waters on your own. When you’re ready to save time, make more sales, and manage the moving parts of your business without the headache, Podia is ready to support you with a free two-week trial .

Either way, you’re going to be great.

That, too, is a fact.

About the author

Lauren Cochran is the former Director of Content for Podia. She still drops in to say hello and share cat pictures from time to time.