March 16, 2021

10 Small Business Digital Marketing Tactics That Get Results

Digital marketing tactics are constantly changing so it’s hard to keep up. We review the 10 tactics that get results. Check back as we update this post often. 

Marketing Campaigns Change With the Times

Digital marketing is constantly changing for small businesses. Technology keeps evolving, and we have to adapt frequently to keep up. Therefore, it is good to keep on top of things, so you can be ready.

To help, I’ve gathered 10 digital marketing tactics that any small business can use. Whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve been working digitally for years, these techniques can help.

Before we jump in, let’s start with a little housecleaning. If you have experience with digital marketing, then you can skip ahead. But, it might be a helpful refresher.

Digital Marketing Tactics Change, But People Don’t

The silver lining of this cloud of constant change is people change much more slowly than technology. Marketing is all about talking to people to let them know you have a solution to their needs.

Maslov’s pyramid is a helpful way to think about people’s needs. They start with the most basic, survival to the most complex, a mental Nirvana. Most businesses operate between safety and esteem.

Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs for small business digital marketing

The two most important things in marketing to anyone is to understand who your customer is and what they need. If you do not complete these first steps well, no tactic will work optimally.

What Is Digital Marketing Anyway?

This question might seem redundant, but it deserves an answer. According to Hubspot writer Lucy Alexander in an article titled “The Who, What, Why, & How of Digital Marketing,” Digital marketing is defined as: “all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet.”

That is a very broad definition. It gets broader every day. Whether we’re talking about social media or Google ads or content marketing or email campaigns or even robo-calls, we are talking about digital marketing. 

digital marketing techniques for small business digital marketing

Top 10 Tips: How & Why They Were Chosen

We selected these digital marketing tactics for small business marketing because they work, are relatively inexpensive, and can be run with a small team or outsourced to a digital marketing agency with minimal effort or supervision.

The tactics you use to support your digital marketing efforts depend on digital marketing strategy. Depending on your strategy, you may rank the importance of this differently. However, I would argue that numbers 1 through 3 are near the top for everyone.

Fast Responsive Intuitive Web Design

#1: Have a Fast, Responsive and Intuitive Website Design

Fast & Responsive

The primary device used today is a mobile device [insert link].  If your business website design isn’t responsive, it will look terrible on mobile. If the user experience (UX) is poor, over ½ your audience is gone.If your page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, you have a page speed [insert link] problem. Mobile users will move on rather than wait

Intuitive

Users value finding information quickly 7x more than a beautiful design. 

What internet users want

Using graphic design best practices can ensure that your site is easy to navigate and the information is visually prioritized. Clear calls to action will help improve your flow.

SEO Small Business Digital Marketing

#2 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Even the Basics Will Help

The important concept to keep in mind with SEO is that you and Google share the same goal, a happy searcher. A happy searcher finds the answer to his or her question, quickly. 

How-to guides on SEO are easy to find, but harder to do. The principles behind SEO are straightforward. However it can be a time consuming task.

Blogging is one of the key tools in building a solid SEO strategy. Blog posts allow a small business owner to demonstrate your knowledge and support your business.

If you like writing and educating, then you might enjoy it. Otherwise, this may be a task better suited for an agency. Choose the right SEO agency for you. 

#3 Local SEO - Big Win for Small Business

Small Business Digital Marketing Local SEO

Local search is not exactly the same as standard SEO. The way Google ranks local businesses is different from its regular SEO algorithm.

The biggest difference is Local SEO places more weight on sources that establish your physical locations. For example directory listings are a minor to negligible ranking factor for the standard SEO rankings, but are major signals for local SEO.

The most important aspects of Local SEO is consistency of your name, address, and phone number (NAP). Multiple links for local listings, associations, online reviews, etc. with the same NAP are a strong signal to Google that your business is legitimate.

Local SEO is time consuming, but if you follow Local SEO best practices, you will get better search results for product or service.  

Small Business Digital Marketing Social Media

#4 Social Media Marketing is Great to Build Awareness

Social media marketing is incredibly widespread at this point. No matter what app you’re scrolling through, you’re constantly being advertised towards. So how can you take advantage of that?  

For one, consider taking advantage of trends online. Similar to how a small business can use guerrilla marketing, clever digital marketing can often be a great way to reach a wide audience cheaply. Social media is a great way to reach out to audiences of all kinds in their day to day lives

Don’t make the mistake of lumping all the platforms together as the same, as many do. Marketing on Facebook is different from Instagram, just as it is on LinkedIn, Twitter, and  TikTok. 

As with SEO, engaging with your users on all these platforms can be time consuming. If you love talking one-on-one with your customer base through your business page, you may see this as fun. If not, you should look for a social media marketing agency to do the heavy lifting.

Small Business Digital Marketing email

#5 Good Ol’ Email marketing...Still Kicking After 20+ Years

Many people are surprised at how well email works. Hubspot claims that email returns $38 for every $1 spent. This source is dated 2015 and a bit self-serving. However, whatever the real number is, the point is the same, email remains effective.

Just because email has a solid ROI,  that doesn’t mean that you can send Hi {First Name} emails and expect stellar results. You won’t, but if you use Email best practices, you will likely see a very solid return on your investment. 

The main challenge of email marketing is developing your email list.

Small Business Digital Marketing Chatbots

#6 Chatbots and Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Most chatbots a ‘dumb’ bots, meaning that the spit out a set of canned answers based on what you enter. These work, but they barely touch the surface on what natural language processing can do.

Natural language processing is a fancy term for talking like a human. Bots are improving dramatically. We see this as the up and coming way to provide real-time customer service. 

The challenge is finding the right bot provider. You can get taken to the cleaners if you chose the wrong one. I would recommend getting some help here.

A good developer or agency can build a custom chatbot using Google Dialog Flow and open source code relatively inexpensively.

Small Business Digital Marketing PR

#7 Public Relations - Local Press & Local Business

Public relations using press releases or through a service like HARO (help a reporter out) where you are quoted as a source can be effective in raising awareness, local SEO, and improving your online reputation.

Public relations like the others requires a hook, something to make the reporter care. HARO works well because the writer is actively seeking a quote. But, local press releases around local events can be very helpful as well for establishing your local presence.

Local news outlines, especially local digital outlets, tend to like to cover stories about local businesses. We recommended building relationships with local publications in your area. This way your top of mind when new stories arise.

Small Business Digital Marketing SMS

#8 Text Messaging (SMS)

With these last three tactics, I wouldn’t recommend a do-it-yourself approach unless you know what you are doing. It’s a steep learning curve, and you can lose a lot of money going up it.

Text is still a relatively newer tactic. Bots with NLP interface well with SMS marketing. If you have a smart (AI) powered NLP engine, they normally have ways to link up with SMS providers.

By liking text, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. you can have a real-time conversation with your customers wherever they are. It’s customer service on steroids.

#9 Paid Search 

Paid search can be very powerful and relatively affordable if you know what you are doing. Paid search lets you interact with a customer who is already in the marketing funnel.

Small Business Digital Marketing Marketing Funnel

Since users are searching for a solution to a problem, search tilts more heavily to the middle of the funnel. Since they are a step closer to a buying decision, you can still manage to achieve a decent return on your spending.

This is near the end of the top 10 because as privacy has become an issue and Google has cut back on its tracking capabilities, paid search is likely to become less efficient at targeting than it is today 

Small Business Digital Marketing PPC

#10 Non-Search Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising 

The premise behind non search-based PPC is a simple one. You pay a fee every time a potential client, customer, etc. clicks on your promoted post or ad. It inserts your posts or ads within a user’s feed.

While the premise is simple, the sheer array of options can be overwhelming. With privacy concerns mounting both locally and abroad, PPC is losing some of its ability to target as efficiently as in the past. 

This coupled with it being harder and harder for content to be seen on social networks without promotion, you can easily spend more and get less, which is why it is last on the list. 

In Conclusion...

Three things to keep in mind when marketing your small business online:

  • Digital Marketing is a Must: “Ignoring online marketing is like opening a business but not telling anyone” Make sure you know how to communicate online in the digital landscape, in any way that it is needed.
  • Change is constant: Make sure that you keep up with technologies that can benefit your small business. 
  • Web Design and SEO (standard and local) are musts: It is nearly impossible to do digital advertising without a website. Everyone should at least do the basic level of SEO. All small businesses should do local SEO.

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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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