14 Digital Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

There are a number of ways you can build up your business's digital presence and make it easier for customers to find your website and storefront.
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Written by Lisa Anthony
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Assistant Assigning Editor
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Whether you run an e-commerce business or a traditional brick-and-mortar store, investing in digital marketing can be essential in promoting your brand and remaining competitive in the marketplace. Digital marketing typically involves online marketing methods, but it can also include local marketing options.

Here are 14 digital marketing tips to consider when developing your marketing strategy.

1. Optimize your website for mobile

With more consumers browsing and making purchases using their smartphones and tablets, using a responsive design for your website will allow it to display correctly on mobile devices, as well as desktops. This is especially important for e-commerce businesses looking to drive sales.

Website builders such as Squarespace and Wix, as well as dedicated e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce, typically offer mobile-friendly templates and features. As you design your website, check to see how it looks and functions on a mobile device and make any necessary adjustments.

2. Create business profiles

A free advertising strategy and an easy way to improve search rank for your business is to claim and update your business profiles on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other popular search platforms. Your business profile is a useful way to provide current and potential customers with essential information about your business, such as address, phone number and store hours. Also, adding images, photos and logos can be helpful when engaging potential customers.

The Better Business Bureau, Yelp for Business and Nextdoor are other platforms where details about your business can gain the attention of local customers.

3. Understand your target audience

Knowing your target audience, the consumers who are likely to buy your products and services, allows you to customize your digital marketing strategy for different segments of your customer base. For example, if you own a coffee shop and want to sell bags of your specialty blends to customers outside your local area, your digital marketing strategy would typically be different than the one you use for walk-in customers.

Identifying different groups in your target audience allows you to customize the digital marketing strategies you use to engage them — whether it’s through social platforms, local listings, email or another method.

4. Invest in local marketing

If your business operates in a local market, you’ll want to take advantage of the digital marketing strategies that specifically appeal and relate to that audience. Some local marketing strategies to consider include:

  • Local TV and radio ads.

  • Digital billboards, signs and displays in high-traffic locations.

  • Direct mail campaigns in your local area.

  • Hosting or participating in community events.

With these strategies, you can easily include your business's website and social media handles on any materials or information you distribute in your local community.

5. Start a blog as part of your content marketing strategy

Blog articles, one of the simplest ways to get involved in content marketing, can have a significant impact on your ability to attract customers and drive sales. Articles as well as newsletters, videos, infographics, e-books and other materials can be shared on your website and through email and social media posts.

Writing about topics related to your business, showing your expertise and providing helpful information can drive more traffic to your website and help improve search rankings for your business.

6. Engage on social media platforms that suit your business

Just like content marketing, social media marketing is another type of digital marketing. Many consumers rely on social media marketing to guide purchasing decisions. However, instead of trying to excel on all social media platforms, determine which platforms are best for your business and focus your energy there.

For example, if you’re starting an online boutique, you might find that platforms with an emphasis on images, such as Pinterest and Instagram, match your digital marketing strategies better than others.

Zeroing in on a few platforms can make it easier to stay active and respond quickly to customer interactions.

7. Build your contact list to maximize email marketing

Using customer relationship management with email marketing is an effective digital marketing tactic that’s often used to build loyalty and engage new customers. CRM software can help you collect and store information about your contacts — your existing customers and potential customers who have interacted with your business in some way.

Your contact list can be used to share newsletters, special offers, announcements, discounts and other information about your business and products. Also, information such as a contact’s first name and location can autopopulate to personalize outgoing emails.

8. Encourage customers to leave online reviews

Customer reviews can be personally rewarding and strengthen the reputation of your business. Reviews can also be helpful in building rapport with existing customers and influencing others to visit your website. You can place signs at your location, in addition to including links on your website and in emails, to encourage customers to write reviews of your business.

You’ll want to monitor your reviews for any negative feedback as well, so you can quickly work to resolve the issue. Meeting bad reviews head-on can help you improve your products and processes and can give you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with customers.

9. Use digital ads to reach your target audience

If it’s within your marketing budget, placing digital ads on Google and social media platforms can help get your business in front of your target audience. Digital ads generally give you the ability to choose keywords, target your specific audience and engage prospective customers who are likely to want your product or service. Digital advertising can be used to target customers in your local area, in a specific age range and in a niche market.

Retargeting tools are also offered by many of these platforms and allow you to show your ads specifically to customers who have already interacted with your business website and shown an interest in your products.

10. Explore influencer marketing opportunities

You may want to consider adding influencer marketing to your social media marketing efforts. Influencers have a sizable number of followers on social media, and their reviews and promotion of products can affect the buying decisions of their audience.

A nano-influencer may be an especially good choice for small businesses. Because they have less than 10,000 followers, they often have strong engagement with their community and can be less expensive than influencers with higher follower counts. When selecting an influencer, it’s important that their audience be similar to your target audience and that you thoroughly review them and their platforms.

11. Use SMS marketing to build customer loyalty

Short Message Service (SMS) marketing is a fairly cost-effective way to promote your business through text messages. You can use SMS to regularly engage existing customers with information about special offers, discounts, store events and other promotions. Like email marketing, you’ll want to get permission before sending texts to your contact list.

SMS marketing software can automate the process of sending text messages to existing and potential customers. Also, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages can be used when you want to share photos, images, videos, audio files and other content with your contact list.

12. Respond to online feedback

Customer service can be a determining factor in attracting and retaining customers. You can extend your in-person customer service practices to your business website. A good place to start is to create a contact page on your website with information on how customers can contact you and then respond promptly to requests, questions and comments you receive.

You might also consider investing in a chatbot service for extended 24/7 customer support hours. Chatbots can provide answers to frequently asked questions and can be a particularly useful tool for e-commerce businesses.

13. Monitor your campaigns and adjust your strategy

Monitor your digital marketing strategies to determine what’s working well and what can be changed. It’s important to remember that not all of your strategies will be successful. A large part of your digital marketing efforts will involve testing and trying new things to determine the best methods for your business.

For example, if a Facebook ads campaign for a new product doesn’t meet your expectations, you can adjust your strategy by changing the ads in the campaign, picking another social media platform or using a different digital marketing method.

14. Spend within your marketing budget

Although marketing is necessary for attracting customers, it can be difficult to devote a large budget to these efforts. That's why creating a marketing budget is essential. As you consider how to allocate funds, you may want to lock in the “basics” to establish your digital presence — launching and optimizing your business website, setting up your social media profiles and building an email list. Then, you can branch out and investigate other tactics that might require more of your budget, such as digital ads and local marketing tactics.

Rieva Lesonsky, a freelance writer, contributed to this article.

A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.

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