Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Digital marketing is an essential tool for every small business that is looking to get the word out and get off the ground today. The problem is there are so many channels of digital marketing out there, it can feel impossible to know where to start. This can prove to be especially challenging to the new business owner that is already facing the headache of handling daily operations and sales.
The other big constraint when it comes to marketing a small business online is usually budget. Most startups or new companies work on limited funds and it can be difficult to invest money into something you might not know the return on. You may be wondering, can you even make use of a digital marketing strategy if you are working on a small business budget? And how would you even begin to approach them?
If these questions are seared into your mind, you’ve come to the right place. At The Hive Marketing Collective, we’re passionate about all things digital and online marketing for small businesses. If you’re a small business founder or entrepreneur, keep reading for our expert 5-minute guide to digital marketing for small businesses on even smaller budgets:
Digital Marketing For Small Business: What It Is And Why It Matters
Think about the last ad you saw online or the last branded post you read on social media. These are just two strategies that businesses big and small make use of to get the most direct connection with their audience digitally.
The reality is however that digital marketing strategy goes much further than just social media - email marketing, search engine marketing, influencer marketing, and search engine ads are just a few examples of digital marketing strategies used by businesses today. These online channels are all entirely new ways of connecting with your potential customer base when compared to traditional marketing.
But why use digital marketing efforts over traditional old-school marketing? The answer is simple. You go where your customers spend most of their time, which nowadays is online.
The biggest benefit? Digital marketing can often be very affordable. Even on a small business budget, you can get a lot of attention online and really increase your reach within your target audience if you have clear goals and know how to approach them.
If you want to know how this can be achieved, take a look at these common digital marketing channels and how you can maximize your marketing output on a limited budget.
The Best Digital Marketing Channels For Small Businesses
There are a few different approaches to digital marketing that you can take depending on what you want to achieve and the timeframe you have in mind.
With that being said, you should know that some of these channels will come with costs that you might not want to avoid. Sometimes you need to spend a little money to make money, and this can often be the case when it comes to marketing online.
This makes more sense when you look at our first example:
A Good Website
Now hear us out: a website is NOT the most affordable way to market your business online. At the same time, you’d be hard-pressed to get your business anywhere without one. Your website is the online home of your business, and typically the one that all your other marketing activity will point to.
This means that your website needs to be a strong representation of your brand and explain your products or services clearly. The website will also need to adhere to the principles of great website design and load quickly, be optimized for mobile, and be straightforward to use. The user experience is the top priority when it comes to designing successful company websites.
Your business website will also need to be enriched with keywords that are made for search engine marketing.
Keyword Optimized Content Marketing
Content marketing is a powerful way to reach your ideal customers and incentivize them into supporting your business with sales or continued attention. Marketing with content is typically done with blog posts linked directly to your business, but can also expand to include email and social media marketing or online ads. This goes hand-in-hand with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which helps your website to rank higher within search engine results and reach a larger audience.
Other ways businesses make use of content marketing are writing and publishing ebooks within their niche, creating online courses, hosting podcasts or other online events that will expose people to their offer.
The best thing about these digital marketing activities is that the biggest cost is time. You need to be willing to put together all the above-mentioned content in the right way to ensure you get the results you want.
Targeted Email Marketing
Email marketing is often underestimated as a form of marketing but make no mistake - it’s one of the most affordable and effective methods of digital marketing out there. If that is, you are able to go beyond the average click-and-skip spam email.
The key to great email marketing is to really build a connection with your potential customers and eventually drive them through your customer acquisition channels and finally into successful sales.
The ideal way to do this is to do more than traditional advertising. Offer real value in the form of insights and resources your email subscribers can use and grow from there. Remember content marketing? Email and content marketing really go together like pudding and pie and can help you grow your leads list substantially.
Improving Reach With Social Media Marketing
Digital marketing has exploded as social media platforms have boomed and it’s now one of the easiest ways to get the message out about your business. For some small businesses, a social media profile can even take the place of a website as a direct sales channel.
A little budget can go a long way on social media, which is why this method of digital marketing is so popular with small businesses today. This goes further with the ability to target your potential customers online based on their other interests and likes, which means the leads you get are more likely to close and make a purchase.
The most important thing to know about social media marketing is that it’s all about presence. You need to be aware of what your potential customers are following, what their pain points are, and spend time building a real community for them centered around your online content, products, or services.
Introducing Influencer Marketing
Did you know that people are more likely to trust the word of another individual’s recommendation over an online ad? This means that influencer marketing is a method of digital marketing that you should seriously consider when putting together your small business digital strategy.
This method sees people with larger online audiences make promotional posts or content about your business in return for a commission or other incentive and is especially popular on social platforms. It works by feeling more like a personal recommendation than blatant online advertising and can also introduce a whole new audience to your small business offering through their social media channels.
Going Visual With Video Marketing
Visual marketing has quickly become one of the most effective digital marketing strategies used by companies today and is more accessible to a small business than you would think.
Platforms like YouTube have influenced how many consumers make buying decisions, and you can tap into this by using influencer marketing or launching your own dedicated channel.
What makes video marketing so powerful is that it can be shared across multiple platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, and more.
Challenges Small Businesses Face With Digital Marketing
Just as there are significant benefits to digital marketing for small businesses, there are also drawbacks to be aware of.
One of the biggest challenges in marketing your small business digitally is that things are constantly changing, which means what worked today won’t necessarily work next month. All online marketing is iterative, and you’ll constantly need to update your strategy to make sure you are maximizing the impact of your business marketing strategy.
The other thing to bear in mind is that marketing your business online will take a lot of time. Building an effective digital presence for your business is a long game and will often call for patience.
Digital marketing is also popular, meaning you’ll need to think about how best to capture the attention of potential customers and keep them interested over the long term. Think about how many ads you are exposed to on a daily basis, and then count how many you actually remember. The answer is probably not a lot. Being memorable and consistent at the same time can be really hard.
This can be challenging if you’re not deeply familiar with digital marketing or if you do not have dedicated in-house marketing departments. In this case, it’s best to work with a professional digital marketing agency that specializes in the digital channels you are hoping to use to market your small business.
The Hive Marketing Collective is a group of marketing professionals that specialize in small businesses. We pride ourselves on getting to know your business and maximizing your performance on all digital platforms from social media posts to digital advertising and more to help you reach your marketing and business objectives. We can build your online presence with a wide range of high-quality content and digital campaigns that are guaranteed to leave you with satisfied customers.
Digital Marketing For Small Business FAQ
What are the 5 D's of digital marketing?
The five D's are digital devices, digital platforms, digital media, digital data, and digital technology.
Why does a small business need digital marketing?
More customers than ever before are spending their time online, and if your small business isn't marketing online you will miss out on crucial exposure and sales.