February 16, 2021

The Truth About Small Business Digital Marketing Agency

A small business digital marketing agency can work wonders for your business. However, you need to understand both their strengths and limitations.

How we communicate with each other is evolving constantly. Marketing, at its most basic, is about communication. Importantly, it's communication that has the power to motivate change whether in attitude or behavior. As a result, the tools that a small business digital marketing agency uses to send marketing communications must evolve as well.

A Small Business Digital Marketing Agency’s Role Start & End Online

digital marketing agency

Digital marketing agencies are awesome at what they do. However, not all of a marketing tactics a business may need can be delivered digitally. Therefore, It is important to understand the difference between what a digital marketing agency can do versus what a full service small business marketing agency can do. Furthermore, this is the key reason why knowing your business goals and crafting the right marketing strategy first is so important.

Understand and Articulate your Business Goals

Any great marketing plan starts with a great marketing strategy. Importantly, your marketing strategy should be linked directly to your business goals. As an example, we have a client named Billy who has given us permission to use his business as a case study. While your business may not be the same as Billy's, you may be facing similar marketing challenges because many challenges are universal.

Billy's Story

Billy runs a few gyms in New York City. Billy can only operate at 33% capacity due to COVID restrictions. Because of these constraints, Billy has less to spend, so his marketing has to work harder than ever. Billy’s main goal is revenue. In addition, he is also concerned about whether he can still operate profitably. We worked with Billy to understand how many clients he needed daily to ensure that he could stay in the black.

small digital marketing agency goals

Next, we developed three marketing strategies for Billy. The first was reacquiring his prior clients. Billy had been shut down for 6 months. So, he had to pivot.


He pivoted and had kept his business somewhat afloat using digital classes. However, these weren’t enough to keep the business in the black. Therefore, our first challenge was how to convert those online customers back to brick and mortar customers.


Second, he needed to acquire new customers. The fitness industry is full of churn. Therefore, you need to replenish members constantly. Now, we had the additional challenge of convincing them that it was safe.


Finally, we needed to keep those we reacquired/acquired coming back. So, the final strategy focused on retention.

How a Small Business Digital Marketing Agency Could Help Billy

Now that we understand that Billy needs to drive reacquisition, new acquisition, and retention. We will look at each strategy in-turn. Then, we will show how digital marketing services was applied in each. First, we needed to create a digital marketing plan that could enhance reacquisition, acquisition, and retention.


The most important factor across all three strategies is Brand Equity: Brand equity has a predictable and meaningful impact on customer acquisition, retention, and profit[i]Brand equity is a term that is overly used and easily misunderstood by many small business owners. In plain English, Brand Equity is the total value that a customer places on your brand. As such, it is the total of all the interactions that a customer has with your products and services. This includes your staff, your product, your ads, your reservation systems, among others, for instance.

How a Small Business Marketing Agency leverages Brand Equity

Billy has two things working in his favor. First, his business had strong brand equity with his past-clients. Second, since he used an online registration system, he had a complete and up-to-date e-mail list. Therefore, this made an e-mail outreach campaign an ideal tactic for raising awareness of the re-opening. Because of the nature of e-mail, we could communicate more information. As a result, we could highlight the safety measures, explain the changes, and offer incentives to return to the gym. In addition, we also could target these past members with ads and reminders. We also needed to revamp the web design a bit to focus on the re-opening.


This is where small business digital marketing agencies can shine. Customer acquisition… is amplified when a firm consistently implements a specific engagement strategy.[ii] Historically, social media marketing had been a very effective acquisition and lead generation strategy for Billy. The social media platform that worked best for him was Instagram. So, this is what we chose to use.

A Small Business Marking Agency Can Use the Best Platform Well

Instagram’s visual nature powerfully communicated the fun and unique experience you would have at the gym. Plus, his trainers were required to keep a strong social media presence as part of their employment. As a result, this amplified his message tremendously and solved the problem of content creation. A digital marketing agency for small businesses can easily amply this with content marketing. First, we promoted both content and posts and using lookalike audiences. As a result, we could reach potential customers who behaved similarly to those who were already followers. Since they shared similar characteristics to our core customers, they respond to the content similarly. Thus, we were able to increase his historical click-through and conversion rates.

A Small Business Marking Agency Can Leverage Local SEO

To enhance our social media marketing efforts, we also helped to leverage his content to enhance his local search engine optimization. The trainers lived in various parts of the city. Therefore, we could personalize their content to their local neighborhood. By customizing the content, we could better compete for long-tailed keywords, such as Billy’s Gym Brooklyn Height, for instance. This is a proven technique that any good small business digital marketing firm would do.

small business digital marketing firm social media marketing & SEO


Digital marketing services can aid in retention efforts: The(strong) effects of social networks on customer retention and adoption have been determined/confirmed in multiple studies[iii][iv]

But, there are some limitations:

Thus, the effects can be more complicated. A linear effect is when cause and effect are directly proportional to each other. For example, for every dollar spent, I get two dollars in return. This is an example of a linear 2 to 1 ratio, for instance. Social networks work differently. They are non-linear, meaning they don't always respond in a predictable way. Thus, the effect of social networks depends on the type of contact between customers and may vary over time[v]Therefore, they cannot be relied upon solely as the only effort to drive retention. This is where analog models are effective. People love contests, especially fitness buffs and athletes. So, how can we make this work?

Blending Digital & Analog is a Gap for Most Small Business Digital Marketing Firms 

We developed a simple challenge. Members had to complete so many days in a given period to get a nominal prize. You received a higher-ticket item if you completed the maximum days and a lower-ticket item for the minimum days. All trainers were required to participate and post their progress on social media. It was a nice blend of digital and analog the drove results.

Small Business Digital Marketing Agency Key Takeaways

Billy’s Case

To recap, first, Billy developed a comprehensive marketing strategy, which focused on three main goals. First, we developed an e-mail campaign to reacquire lapsed members. Second, we focused on the acquisition of new clients through smart social media marketing, content marketing, and localized SEO. Finally, we focused on retention using a mix of digital and analog tactics.

Broadly Applicable Principles

A digital marketing agency for small businesses can greatly help you achieve your marketing goals. To get the most out of your experience, you should keep these four things in mind:

  1. Define your business goals: You must know want to achieve to ensure that your marketing strategy(ies) will deliver them.
  2. Develop your marketing strategy: Your small business marketing strategy should be inclusive. It must cover both your digital marketing strategy and your analog strategy.
  3. Work with a digital marketing agency to determine the best tactics: Your marketing strategy should drive your digital marketing strategy. Knowing your strategy will make it easy to choose the right digital marketing services.
  4. Don’t rely solely on digital: Not everything can be done digitally. You may miss out on some great tactics if you think too narrowly. Digital marketing agencies usually aren’t as well versed in these tactics so make sure you get an outside perspective.

In summary, we used all four of these steps to help Billy. As a result, we were able to find a way to make his marketing dollars work harder. Consequently, he was able to stay in the black during some extremely difficult times. If you follow these steps, you should be able to do the same.

[i]Liu, Anne, Mark Leach, and Richa Chugh. "A sales process framework to regain B2B customers." Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing 30.8 (2015): 906-914.

[ii]Voss, Glenn B., and Zannie Giraud Voss. "Competitive density and customer acquisition retention trade-off." Journal of Marketing 72.6 (2008): 3-18.

[iii]Nitzan, I., & Libai, B. (2011). Social effects on customer retention.Journal of marketing, 75(6), 24–38.

[iv]Yoganarasimhan, H. (2012). Impact of social network structure on content propagation: A study using YouTube data.Quantitative Marketing and economics, 10(1), 111–150

[v]Risselada, H., Verhoef, P. C., & Bijmolt, T. H. A. (2014). Dynamic effects of social influence and direct marketing on the adoption of high-technology products.Journal of Marketing. in press.

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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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