April 11, 2021

Digital Marketing Small Businesses' Use to Succeed

These 7 digital marketing strategies are what successful small business owners use to promote their products and services to potential customers.

Difference between a Marketing Plan and Marketing Campaign & What it Matters

This may seem like semantics, but it is more than just that. When you build a marketing plan, you are building for the long-term. In contrast, a marketing campaign focuses on the short term.

A small business marketing plan should tie to your business plan to deliver revenue, clients, etc. It also ties to your business plan through your positioning. Positioning is a statement that communicates how the benefit(s) you provide differ from your competition. Its principal focus is on how best to influence your customers when making purchase decisions.

digital marketing for small business positioning statement

A marketing campaign is the set of strategies and tactics, for example, email marketing, paid advertising, etc. used to communicate your message to your target audience. It is short term in nature because it lasts only as long as the communication is in circulation.

Marketing campaigns are how we execute marketing plans. If we think of the marketing plan as the brain, the campaigns are its arms and legs.

This post focuses more on marketing campaign strategies and tactics. Most successful small businesses use several campaigns when executing their marketing plan. We cover the most common and cost effective.

digital marketing for small business how to be successful

Local Search Differs from General Search & Why You Need Both

For small businesses, local search enables you to compete in a way that would not be possible in regular search. This is a very effective tool you can use to improve the digital marketing of your small business.

In our Practical Guide to Local SEO, we cover how local search works and how to build a plan that will work for your business. In this post, we are going to cover only the highlights.

digital marketing for small business local seo

Why Local SEO is so Important for Local Businesses

To answer this question, we need to introduce the concept of domain or page authority. There are several factors that go into page authority, but to simplify it, it is the value or rank that Google and other search engines assign to your page.

The higher the page authority or domain authority is, the more likely you will show up on page one of the search engine results page (SERP). To have a high authority score, you need to have several inbound links from other sites with chief authority.

Local businesses are at a significant disadvantage to national or regional businesses in access to these higher authority sites. Local businesses have authority scores in the bottom third. 

Google developed the local search algorithm to help level the playing field somewhat. The reason is not altruistic on Google’s part. They based it on the fact that people look for goods and services near to their current location. Smart small businesses use this to their advantage.

digital marketing for small business google my business

Google My Business is Key to Local Search Effectiveness

Google my Business (GMB) is one of the primary sources for information for local search. If you want to increase your chances of ranking well for a geographical region, it pays to have your most current information on GMB.

Google has several other free services we will discuss later in this post, but GMB and Google Search Console (GSC) are two free ways to supply information and monitor performance. GMB provides information. GSC monitors search rankings and performance. It would be wise to link both to your site.

We discuss these in greater detail in Local SEO in NYC. Even if you are not in New York City, the principles are the same.

While Local SEO is Free, It Require Time & Commitment

Local SEO in theory is free. However, it requires a significant time commitment to generate the right content and local links. Many small businesses owners find this to be overwhelming to write blog posts, seek online reviews, and ensure consistency of the name, address, and phone number across all their listings. 

digital marketing for small business local SEO checklist

In full disclosure, this is what ProStrategix does, but there are many qualified agencies that can help. 

General Search Can Expand Your Reach

While local search is incredibly useful for local search ranking, sometimes you will want to rank well for those keywords that are most important to the products and services that you provide.

We cover this topic both in small business SEO services and our eBook, Easy, Simple Guide to SEO. The principles here are a little different from local SEO. Proximity is no longer a key ranking factor. Therefore, you need to rely more on the quality of your content and building quality links to it.

digital marketing for small business domain authority and keyword difficulty

As the graphic shows, the best way to get results is to match your expectations with your domain authority. 

An effective SEO plan requires a significant time investment in keyword research, content creation, link building, and the list goes on. There are a couple of solutions you can try if you want to do it yourself. These are not free, but less expensive than an agency.

Mobile Friendliness is a Must 

There are two reasons mobile friendliness is a must. First, mobile is the number one device that customers use when searching for information. Therefore it is a must have to maximize the results of your digital marketing efforts.

Second, Google ranks using a mobile first algorithm. This means Google ranks the page first based on its mobile performance, then other devices. Poor mobile performance puts you at a significant disadvantage. 

digital marketing for small business mobile responsiveness is a must

Site Speed is Critical for Mobile Page Speed

A great place to start is to use Google PageSpeed Insights to see how where you stand. You can visit their site or use our simple PageSpeed tool. Both will give you an idea of how your site is performing. 

What most people don’t understand is that using any theme based content management system (CMS), like WordPress and others, severely affects mobile page speed. These CMS have made it simple and easy to create stunning websites. 

However, it comes with a cost. Any non-custom-built theme has an excess code that slows you down. You probably only use 10-20% of the options that a theme offers, but 100% of those options are served when you open a page. This leads to a lot of unnecessary code and increases load times.

digital marketing for small business all CMS themes need to be fixed

Tips When Using Mobile Marketing for Small Businesses

As we said above, around 60% of people use mobile to access the internet. It only makes sense to ensure that your business is visible and top of mind when they do.

With small business marketing, many owners don't fully consider the potential mobile devices can bring. Aside from search and mobile responsiveness, which we discussed above, text messaging and geo-fencing are two other small business marketing tactics to consider .

digital marketing for small business SMS marketing

How to Use SMS and Geo-fenced Messaging

Many small businesses, especially in retail, have seen success with running text (SMS) or Geo-fenced (x feet from store) messaging and campaigns. 

SMS is useful for quick announcements of specials or promotions. These are especially useful when the customer is near the place of purchase.

Geo fenced advertising can be SMS based, but it can also be more traditionally based digital ads. The key to making geo fencing effective is providing the right incentive or call to action. 

It is a fine line between useful and annoying, and ‍Buildfire has a good article about this.

How To Use Social Media Marketing

digital marketing for small business social media marketing

The social media platforms have become so crowded today that it is hard to get your product or service seen without spending money. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have all altered their algorithms, so it is not much harder to be seen organically unless you have an extremely loyal following.

It is important to be on social media and post regularly. It adds to your credibility as a business. The point of the discussion above is to highlight the importance of setting the right expectations. 

Since gaining engagement is becoming more challenging, we believe that having a solid social media strategy is more important than ever. Knowing your audience and where they are is critical to success. We go into this in the linked article.

digital marketing for small business email marketing

Email Marketing

Success in email marketing hinges on three key elements: the headline, the ask, and the value to the reader. 

The headline is the most important element in any email marketing campaign. Larry Alton argues that there are seven elements of a good headline. These include:

  • Conciseness. 
  • Specificity. 
  • Numbers. 
  • Strong Adjectives.
  • Utility. 
  • Urgency.
  • Reader Relatability.

You should shoot to have five or more of these in one headline. Remember, your headline is your billboard. You have less than 3 seconds so make them count. 

It is very important to get to the point. You should always introduce yourself. Then share why you think they can benefit from reading this email. 

The last step is to close with the ask. You are interrupting their day. Make the communication concise, single-minded, and as short as possible.

The last thing should go without saying. Never use spammy gimmicks or tactics. It may be slow and tedious, but it is so important to your credibility to take the time to be a legitimate email list.

This is just a high-level overview of email marketing. We go into much more detail in our blog section on Email Marketing

digital marketing for small business content marketing

Content Marketing

Content marketing is difficult, even if you build great content. It requires a lot of organization, outreach, and unsolicited emails. While it takes work, it is a great way to help build up your reputation and domain authority.

In the SEO section, the online marketing of your content can help build links, organically. These links are golden, especially when you are starting out. Once you are known, the links will follow with less effort just as long as you continue to produce quality content.

We go into how to build quality content in much greater detail if you are interested in learning more.

digital marketing for small business pay per click

Paid Search & Pay Per Click Advertising

If you are using paid search or other pay per click advertising vehicles to drive your business online, there are four key things to keep in mind: being seen, being heard, driving action, and getting results.

We explain this much more detail in Digital Advertising Services for Small Businesses, but we will cover the highlights here.

Being Seen focuses on audience targeting and selection, keyword planning, and advertising platform selection. Audience targeting and selection is hands down the most important aspect of digital advertising because everything else flows from it. 

Once you know your target audience, it is then important to know what questions are they trying to answer and on which platforms are they searching. Keywords are tied directly to the questions. The advertising platform should be based on which they use the most.

Being Heard is about message development, positioning, and advertising development. We spoke earlier about positioning and message development so we do not need to repeat it. Advertising development is the creative extension of message development.

Driving Action is based on the marketing funnel stage. We typically divide the marketing funnel into three pieces - the top of the funnel (TOF), the middle of the funnel (MOF), and the bottom of the funnel (BOF). The TOF is where we build awareness and start generating purchase interest. We believe that at least the TOF conversion should be a part of any digital advertising services provided.

If you leave with just one thing on pay per click, it would be to measure and to set targets so you can get results. It is the only way to get better results.

digital marketing for small business experience matters


In conclusion, I would like to leave you with the following seven tips to make you small business digital marketing more effective.

  1. First, both local search and general search are important. If you had to choose between the two, I would recommend local for most small businesses. The only exception is if your target market is larger than the region in which your business is located.
  2. Mobile responsiveness and friendliness are critical to success in today’s digital marketing environment. To do so, you need a fast site. Page speed is the number one reason potential visitors bounce.
  3. Leverage mobile marketing with SMS and geo fencing can also be valuable to local businesses within a fixed brick and mortar location. Purchase interest and likelihood is a function of distance to the vendor. If you know your customers are nearby, that is the best time to reach them.
  4. Social media marketing is becoming increasingly difficult to break through the clutter organically. It is important to be there, but it also important to ground your expectations in reality.
  5. Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads and sales. Remember that the headline is everything. It doesn’t matter how good the email is if it never gets opened.
  6. Content marketing is a great way to build your social media presence and your online credibility and reputation. It is a very useful tool in developing relationships and gaining links.
  7. Finally, with paid advertising, the most important thing to do is to get the target audience right. Just like the title in Email, everything that follows depends on it.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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