July 22, 2021 By Suzanne Robertson

Marketing is all about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. There are two main types of marketing that can help you reach consumers and take your small business to the next level.

Traditional Marketing refers to any type of promotion, advertising or campaign that has a proven success rate. Methods of traditional marketing can include print advertisements in mediums like newsletters, billboards, flyers and newspapers.

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Digital Marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising and other digital mediums. Channels such as Google search, social media, email and a dedicated website help small business owners find and connect with consumers.

Digital Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

As you prepare digital marketing strategies for your small business, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind. Some of these tips are explained in even greater detail in the “Types of Digital Marketing” section below.

Maintain a Strong Social Media Presence

A clear and comprehensive social media presence is almost required these days. Social media platforms are often where consumers initially research a company. Dennis Kirwan, CEO of Dymic Digital, writes in Forbes, “There are many reasons social media is essential for online marketing, but the most important has to do with its incredible ability to help create and cultivate brand trust, build a meaningful web presence, drive traffic and remain cost effective.”

Use Email Marketing Campaigns to Connect With Customers

Email marketing is highly effective for reaching customers who have abandoned their carts or converting newsletter subscribers into actual customers. Your emails should be full of interesting information, memorable visuals, and possibly enticing discounts, depending on what your business offers. That said, email marketing requires you to strike a tricky balance between sharing valuable information and not overwhelming your customers. And with your team’s help, you can properly walk that line.

Content expert Kate Kiefer Lee writes in Forbes, “Send test emails to colleagues, or use a testing program to make sure your emails are going to look good on screens big and small. Testing reveals design mistakes before it's too late, and testing programs can predict whether or not a campaign will get caught in a spam filter.”

Practice Inclusivity

According to a 2018 study from the stock image website Shutterstock, up to 90 percent of people believe that diversity in digital marketing makes a brand more trustworthy. Additionally, a 2019 Google and Female Quotient survey found that up to 71 percent of people engage more with digital marketing campaigns that include people who look like them. And even without these numbers, recent times have reinforced the value of diversity more than ever before.

Expand Website Marketing Efforts

If you haven’t refreshed your company’s web site in a few years, it’s time for an upgrade. Do you have a clean, modern look? If not, invest some of your marketing budget and hire a pro to help out. Design is one aspect but you also need to configure the metadata of your site (title tags, descriptions, alt text, etc.) so you don’t impact search engine visibility.

Bring Your Digital Marketing In-House

If you’re not familiar or comfortable with digital marketing, you might feel the need to outsource your marketing campaigns to a third-party firm. However, nearly three in four small business owners have hired in-house digital marketing teams. Doing so can cut your digital marketing costs while allowing for more efficient campaigns in which you have unobstructed access to all meaningful insights.

Know Why You’re Marketing

Are you using digital marketing for your small business to generate high-quality leads, convert potential customers, or drive engagement with your current customers? Answer this question so that your digital marketing goals are clear from the jump. Different marketing tactics will work better for different groups – email marketing is better for moving leads along the sales funnel, and search engine optimization (SEO) is better for capturing leads in the first place.

Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Since roughly three in every five Google searches occurs on mobile, you’ll tank your ability to generate leads if your mobile website is unnavigable. A website that isn’t user-friendly immediately pushes visitors away from your brand, whereas a mobile-friendly website prevents interruptions to your sales funnel.

Determine Your Target Audience

As with all types of marketing, knowing your target audience is key to successfully advertising your business online. That’s why you should think about your ideal buyer’s wants, needs, and demographics before you embark on any marketing campaigns.

You should fit your campaigns to not just these considerations but the people you reach through each platform. Your email list may differ from your social media following – your older customers may be more privy to email marketing and your younger customers to social media marketing. Think about which segment you’re currently looking to reach before getting started.

Don’t Forget About Local Marketing

Although it’s tempting to think of the internet as a global ecosystem, many of your customers are using search to find local products or services. Additionally, customers generally move from conducting a local search to purchasing from a local brand in under 24 hours. The power of local marketing truly can’t be understated, even if the internet can theoretically connect you far beyond your backyard.

Prioritize Your Blog

Blogs aren’t just vanity projects – there’s a reason that so many small businesses across all industries have them on their websites. Blogs, especially those that end with a compelling call to action, are crucial to content marketing. They elevate your online presence and introduce new opportunities for potential customers to discover you – and they can cost you relatively little money to create.

Seek Customer Reviews

The more positive online reviews you can obtain from your customers, the better, as positive online reviews can result in 31% more sales per customer. And with more positive reviews, each mixed or negative review (which are somewhat inevitable) might appear less pressing to potential customers. That’s a big deal, as negative online reviews can deter up to 40% of potential customers from buying your products.

Seeking customer reviews is often easy. For example, you can use marketing automation tools to instantly send your customers pre-written emails in which you request a review immediately after purchase. Speaking of marketing automation, that’s among the many types of digital marketing explained below.

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Types of Digital Marketing

More and more these days, your current and potential customers are online via desktop computers, laptops or other mobile devices. Here are different types of digital marketing and how they can help your small business grow.

Your Website

Increasingly, the World Wide Web is the first stop for a consumer looking for more information about a product or service. Also of vital importance is having a website that is mobile-friendly. A recent study indicated that nearly 80% of local mobile searches end in a purchase. In order to get found by local consumers, optimize your website with information like your local address and location-targeted keywords.

Social Media

Social media extends beyond creating content. It’s important to understand advertising options available and how to target your specific audience. If you don’t have the know-how or bandwidth, consider hiring a freelancer to launch and manage your accounts. Look within your organization for help as well. You might have a team member with social media skills or the desire to learn more. These days, there are endless easy ways to learn about social media and how it can help a small business. Online courses or webinars can give you the information you or your team needs to successfully use social media marketing.

Local Online Listings

Platforms like Google+, Yahoo, Yelp and Manta are local business directories. When you claim your page, you’ll have control over your profile. Add a link to your website, high-quality photos, directions, hours, email and any other important details consumers need to know about your business, products and services.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Pay Per Click (PPC) is a tool to promote a business in the online world. You run advertisements on the Internet and how much you pay for that ad depends on how many people clicked on it. The best-known PPC platform is Google Adwords. With Google Adwords, you can advertise locally or globally and target ads to customers in certain countries, regions or cities — or within a set distance from your business or shop.

Email Marketing

First, you need email addresses - make it easy for customers to subscribe via your homepage, blog, Facebook page and wherever else your customers are active. Short and sweet is the key here – people might abandon a too-long subscribe form.

Finally, don’t bombard subscribers with irrelevant content. Make sure you have a specific goal in mind for every email you blast out. For more information, check out How to Run an Email Marketing Campaign That Doesn’t Annoy Recipients.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO encompasses a broad range of techniques that can increase your website traffic while bringing in visitors more likely to be good leads. Its goal is to shape your web pages and blog posts in ways that bring your website to the top of search results relevant to your products and services. It requires a balance between optimizing your content for search engine best practices and naturally including the terms for which your target audience is searching.

Notably, following SEO best practices requires little to no money, yet doing so can generate up to 20 times more web traffic than PPC. To learn more about SEO, read the SmartBiz Loans blog SEO Tips for Small Business Websites.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the promotion of your blog posts, videos, or social media posts to engage potential customers with your brand. Many content marketing strategies prioritize blogging, though content writers may not be content marketers and vice versa. Both will nevertheless share a common goal: Using content mostly to not explicitly promote your products but to instead identify customers interested in your field. These customers can make for great leads.

Content marketing is known to provide an especially high ROI compared to most other small business marketing methods. To learn more, read the SmartBiz Loans blog 7 Solid Reasons to Use Content Marketing for Business Growth.

Marketing Automation

Through marketing automation tools, digital marketing for a small business like yours becomes much more efficient. Marketing automation can execute multichannel campaigns with little to no work on your end – you’ll only have to write messages and build workflows before your software handles the rest. Although regularly auditing your marketing automation strategy is necessary to maintain your ROI, the amount of time automation saves you overall is beyond invaluable.

Digital Marketing Trends to Know

As you decide from among the above digital marketing approaches, consider the below trends and what they might mean for your choices:

  • Google My Business is no longer optional . 60% of consumers using their phones for searches will call your business directly through Google My Business, making the platform essential for lead capture. Google My Business is also great for SEO, local searches, and easy-to-find displays of highly positive customer reviews.
  • Omnichannel marketing is more customizable . In omnichannel marketing, your ads change depending on the actions a customer takes. As such, omnichannel marketing is as close to customized marketing as it gets, and customized approaches often result in more engagement.
  • Chatbots are great for sales funnel progression . When chatbots greet website visitors with prompts to ask for help or more information, they encourage early engagement from new leads. They’re also quite easy to implement, making them an obvious choice for converting potential customers to new and eventually loyal ones.

Getting Started

Before you launch digital marketing initiatives, it’s important to identify your perfect customer. Who wants/needs what your offer? Drill down to the details like location, age, income, gender, etc. This will also help you set realistic and appropriate price points for your product or service.

It’s important to constantly test your digital marketing campaigns to determine if you’re getting the appropriate ROI for your efforts. Here are some solid resources to help you out as you plan and launch digital marketing plans:

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