What Digital Marketing for Small Businesses Works, and What Doesn’t?

When we talk to small business owners, the first question they typically ask us is something along the lines of, “what types of digital marketing work, and which don’t?”

The answer can vary a lot from industry to industry, but there are some consistent types of digital marketing for small businesses that works, and some that don’t.

Digital Marketing Strategies That Generally Work Well

SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it is probably the strategy that will help your business the most. Search engine optimization is the strategy of optimizing your website for search engines, like Google or Bing. You definitely want your business website to show up on the first or second page of Google search results because that’s where your customers will learn about your product or service. There are a large number of strategies and tricks out there that SEO specialists learn over the years, so enlisting an SEO professional to audit and optimize your site is one of the best digital marketing tactics you can add to your marketing efforts. This is something you could invest the time and money into learning how to do yourself but it is very time consuming.

Google Ads

Formerly called Adwords, Google Ads is another digital marketing strategy that is worth your time. Google Ads are great because they can help you get traffic to your website tomorrow, rather than waiting months for other strategies like SEO and social media marketing to take hold. With Google Ads, you pay for every click you get on Google. If you are willing to pay for each click, Google will put you at the very top of the search engine results page for the keywords you pick. 

For example, if you run a carpet cleaning business, you might be working on SEO in order to rank on the first page for the term “carpet cleaners near me.”  But, ranking on the first page organically will take time, so paying Google to be put on the top of the first page for the search term “carpet cleaners near me” can start getting you in front of prospective customers. This can be expensive depending on how much competition for your keywords you have, but Google ads is a good solution to get short term traffic for most small businesses. 

Visual Content Marketing

One of the highest converting online marketing channels at the moment is visual content marketing. Visual content marketing is creating content that your customers and audience can consume in a visual way. Content like branded images, videos made by your business to showcase a product, and memes; these are all great examples of visual content marketing. 

For this digital marketing strategy to work, you need to be aware of what connects your customers to your business, and what they want to see from you. It’s all about creating visual content your audience wants to see from you, and connecting with them through the stories that make your business stand out from the rest.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing has a ridiculously high ROI. According to Salesforce, email marketing has a crazy high ROI of 3,800% – meaning that for every dollar invested in email marketing, the average business gets back $38. Other than that amazing statistic, one of the big reasons why we like email marketing is that it is a nice, non-intrusive way of just reminding the people on your email list that you exist. Your email list should be made up of past customers and prospective future customers. Getting a gentle nudge in their inbox by seeing an email with your business’s name on it, can remind them, “oh I’ve been meaning to reach out them about X” or “oh yeah I need to order some new work clothes, maybe I will go ahead and buy them now through X brand.” 

The types of emails that generally do well are sale emails, new product promotions, and anything else that your audience genuinely wants to hear about. Don’t just send an arbitrary, boring email every week. Only send an email when you have something to tell people that they want to hear about. There are some awesome free platforms like Mailchimp to help you get started. You will likely still want to hire someone to create those emails for you, but there are some very affordable ways to do email marketing.

Social Media

Social media is another great way to share important information about your business with your audience and customers. Learning which social media channels are best for your business, developing a high-quality content strategy that provides value to your audience, and devoting time to understanding how to target and boost your ads and posts can make a world of difference for your small business! Building a social media strategy helps establish brand loyalty, it shapes the online perspective potential customers may have about your business. It also helps build trust and positions you as an authority in your industry.   

What Digital Strategies Don’t Work Well?

Purchased Email Lists & Cold Emailing

In contrast to the great ROI of good email marketing, there is a type of email that is not worth your time or money. Purchased email lists and cold emailing are not only a waste of money but can cause damage to your reputation as a business, and your domain name. Spammy emails coming from your domain will lead Google to label your website as spam and will badly hurt your SEO. Also, when trying to reach a real customer, your email might go straight to their spam folder because Google has labeled you as a spammer. Build your list in an honest way and you will see far greater results. 

Social Media, Done Wrong

Social media can be a great asset to your business and bring in new leads and sales, but only if done correctly. Posting a personal photo, or a tweet not related to your industry at all, are not strategies that will add value to your business. Also, while social media can work great for a lot of businesses, like those with highly visual products or many B2C industries, there are some industries that social media marketing doesn’t do much for. B2B products and necessity-based businesses might fall in this category. Imagine you are a busy restaurant owner. When you hop on Instagram, you are just not going to be looking for a new supplier for your paper products on that platform. We recommend businesses like these  invest their resources in other strategies besides social media. 

Digital marketing for small businesses is a fascinating field and there are a ton of strategies that can help businesses rise above the competition. If you have any questions or your business needs any help in any of these areas, drop us a line! We offer a free 30-minute consultation where we will chat about your business’ needs.