These days, digital marketing should be a big part of any small business marketing strategy. Online marketing allows you to reach a wide audience of potential customers. And it also gives you the chance to try out a range of marketing styles and channels at a low cost. But what are the best online marketing channels for small businesses?
Whether you’re just getting started with digital marketing or you want to improve your existing activities, check out my digital marketing guide for small businesses. Discover exactly what digital marketing is, what kind of channels it includes, and how you can use it to help your small business!
What is online marketing?
Online marketing – also known as digital marketing – takes the principles of traditional marketing and applies them to an online setting. Advertising and marketing messages are delivered through digital channels to promote products and services to an online audience.
If you’ve scrolled through social media today, opened a newsletter, searched for something in Google or visited a company’s website, you’ll have no doubt seen digital marketing in action.
Unlike traditional marketing where campaigns can be quite isolated and it can be difficult to track results, online marketing gives you access to really useful statistics.
You can see how different online marketing channels are working together. And you can track exactly how many likes, clicks and sales a campaign is generating.
Online marketing channels for small businesses and what to use them for
There is a wide range of online marketing channels for small businesses to make use of. You might want to stick to one or two channels and use them really well. Or you can spread your marketing strategy across multiple channels and discover how they work well together.
Here’s a brief guide to the main online marketing channels for small businesses currently available. As the digital world moves so fast, I always like to keep an eye out for new and exciting ways to market small businesses online!
Your website is a key online marketing tool. Spend time getting it right, as your website is the place potential customers will come to find all the information they need before making a purchase.
Ensure your branding is consistent throughout and your copy gets your message across in the right tone of voice. It’s also important that the design is appealing enough to draw people in. You are completely in control of everything on your website, so use it wisely to market your small business.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and it’s what makes you pop up in Google when someone searches for a particular term. To get started, think carefully about your small business and what you want to be known for.
Next, come up with a list of keywords that represent a) what you’re all about and b) what people are likely to search when looking for a small business like yours.
Find out more about how to find the right keywords for your SEO.
There are two types of SEO:
On-page deals with your own website – add keywords to your titles, meta descriptions, body text, images and blog posts, plus optimise things like your URL structure, loading times and user-friendly navigation.
Off-page relates to SEO on external websites – you want links back to your site from other high-quality websites and from social media.
3. Social media
A lot of people spend the majority of their online time browsing social media. So it’s a really important way to reach new audiences. Having a recognisable brand and interesting content will help to build up your small business on social media, allowing you to market your business every day.
Bolster this with paid advertising campaigns, which will help you target exactly the right people with a clear marketing message.
Looking for ideas for your social media content? Then check out my content tool for small businesses.
4. Online directories & platforms
Listing your small business in an online directory will not only give people information about your business. It will drive traffic to your website and it’s great for off-page SEO.
Large national or international directories are good for SEO and building awareness of your business. Smaller, specialised or local directories are more likely to bring in new customers.
Writing a blog is a fantastic way to show off your expertise and remind people why they should purchase from you. As blogs can be updated regularly, they can be tied into seasonal marketing campaigns throughout the year.
Plus, search engines love websites which are updated regularly. So writing a blog will help to improve your SEO ranking.
Read more about how to start a blog for your small business.
Online advertising can be done in a variety of ways, including search engine adverts, social media promotions, website banner ads, and sponsored blog posts.
The great thing about online adverts is that they can be targeted towards your audience using demographic data. And you can keep track of how well they’re performing by looking at the real-time statistics.
I have an entire post dedicated to digital advertising here – check it out!
7. Email marketing & newsletters
Talk directly to your audience by sending newsletters with your key marketing messages. If someone has signed up for your mailing list, it means they’re already very interested and engaged with your small business.
So make the most of it and give them sneak previews, special discounts or offers to encourage them to purchase from you again and again.
Check out my Alternative Guide to Small Business Email Marketing for more tips on making the best use of your email list!
How can online marketing help me?
No matter what type of small business you are, digital marketing can almost certainly help boost your business. As you can see, there are lots of different online marketing channels for small businesses to choose from. It might seem a bit overwhelming, but it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
I’d recommend starting with the core digital marketing channel – your website. Once you’ve got your website sorted out, the rest will start to fall into place. With online marketing, everything is connected and the different channels all work together.
For example, your social media and newsletters will drive traffic back to your website, which will in turn improve SEO ranking.
With online marketing, you can also afford to do a bit of trial and error. Try out a few different channels and see which ones you enjoy using, and which ones are producing the best results.
As digital marketing is quite low-cost, it’s possible to experiment with several different marketing channels without worrying about having a big budget. Many of the online marketing channels for small businesses I’ve talked about are free to use initially. And you can always upgrade if you find they’re working well for you.
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
The Most Important SEO Do’s and Don’ts for Your Small Business
How I Found My Ideal Client & What I Learned Along the Way
Email Marketing for Small Businesses: Why You Should Use It & How to Get Started
6 Tips to Convert More Website Visitors Into Paying Customers