These are exciting times for small businesses.

We are evolving into a consumer buying culture that’s heavily driven by word-of-mouth recommendations. New tools that allow businesses of all sizes to reach and communicate with customers are leveling the playing field. In short, the ability for a small business to compete has never been stronger.

As the effect of word of mouth grows, influence takes on even more significance.

That’s why I’m so proud that Constant Contact was recently chosen as a Small Business Influencer Champion by Small Business Trends and Champions were chosen from 520 nominations, in two stages: voting by the community (weighted at 40%) and voting by a panel of judges (weighted at 60%). I’m also personally honored to have been chosen as an Honorable Mention, along with two of our RDDs, Wendi Caplan-Carroll and Julie Niehoff.

At Constant Contact, our influence is guided by our customers. While we love that we have influence, what we like even more is the two-way dialogue that helps us understand what you’re dealing with, and stay focused on what really matters.

We understand that the pace of marketing technology is overwhelming. Our goal has always been to help small businesses — our customers and non-customers — understand how to pick and choose from the vast array of tools available, to discover the ones that will be most effective to drive their business. With the guidance of small business owners like you, who we’ve met at events, on the phone, via social media, and in other places, we’ve built, developed, and refined our own marketing tools and educational resources, and you’ve let us know how successful you’ve been, in part thanks to them.

So while we’re very proud to be marked as an influencer, we’re even prouder that we’ve played a role in creating real business results for more than 450,000 small organizations who struggle every day, especially in this tough economy. That’s what really matters to us.

We thank all who voted for us, and as always, thank our customers for really helping us understand what matters.