10 digital marketing tips for small businesses
Stay ahead of competition and kickstart your digital marketing efforts with our top 10 tips, ideal for any small business.
For any business to remain competitive, a strong digital marketing strategy is essential. Our top 10 tips will help kickstart the marketing efforts of any small business.
If you’re a small business owner, then a good digital marketing strategy is essential if you want to stay ahead of the competition. As technology continues to rapidly develop, social media platforms grow and online communication booms, you need to ensure your digital presence is the catalyst for business success.
In fact, 63% of businesses have increased their digital marketing budgets in the last year, so by failing to do so you may run the risk of getting left behind.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, then our list of digital marketing tips will ensure your small business doesn’t miss out and you remain competitive in an ever-changing world. Here are 10 effective ways to kick-start your digital marketing endeavours, with all the tips and tricks you need to promote your brand online.
1. Research your competitors
If you want to stand out from your competitors, then getting to know their brands and what they offer is a good place to start. This digital marketing tip is especially relevant for startups that may be new on the scene and finding their feet.
As a local business, you’ll want to showcase additional value in your chosen market, offering your customers something that your rivals don’t. By taking a closer look at a competitor’s business model, you’ll be able to notice missing elements from their service that you could potentially capitalise on.
When you have a good understanding of what your competitors are doing, you can then tailor certain elements of your digital marketing strategy to take advantage of their weaknesses. A good way of conducting competitor research is online, taking a look at how they advertise, their website, social media presence, and customer reviews.
2. Speak to customers and understand your audience
Arguably, there are very few digital marketing tips for small businesses more important than this. Speaking to existing and prospective customers is absolutely essential, as you need to know everything about your target audience. This includes who they are, what they like, what their expectations are, what they want to see, and so much more.
You may think you already have a good understanding of your target audience, but taking a deeper dive into their behaviours and opinions will help to build long-lasting relationships and improve your customer retention. As a small business, you’ll need to know your local target audience extensively, so you can encourage them to buy your products and spread the word.
Interviews, surveys, and customer feedback are great ways of getting to know your audience better. If you want, you can tailor your research methods towards a particular theme or area of your business.
It’s important to remember that different online platforms will attract different customers. For example, posting a survey on social media is likely to encourage interactions with different people to what you might expect with emails. You’ll therefore want to think about the right approach and what areas of your audience you want to target.
3. Create a Google My Business listing and improve customer reviews
As a small business owner, your reputation could be the difference between gaining or losing a potential customer. This free digital marketing tip provides internet users with important information about your business and also allows them to see reviews.
Having a Google My Business listing is a great way of improving your visibility online, as your profile will appear in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping.
By adding your small business, you’ll be able to:
- Add your location
- Include contact information
- Link to your website
- Prove your business has been verified
- Customise your profile
- Add images and videos
- Include keywords in your profile
- Encourage reviews
- Add special features and attributes.
Potential customers will be able to quickly and conveniently access all of your important business information, plus you’ll also be able to easily edit any details to ensure they are always up to date. In total, it’s estimated that 64% of consumers use Google My Business to find contact details for local businesses.
4. Work on your website basics
There are countless ways of improving and developing your website, but getting the basics right first is absolutely essential. Whether it’s ensuring your website has a clear design and is easy to navigate or making sure your website pages load quickly, first impressions are an integral part of attracting customers online, with 94% of first impressions of a website being design-related.
As user experience on websites continues to improve, customers are quite rightly becoming more demanding and expect businesses to get the basics right at the very least. A badly functioning website will not only turn customers away, but it will also impact your chances of ranking in Google and hinder the likelihood of being noticed.
A huge component of digital marketing is about converting new users into customers, and having a fully-functioning website that offers an excellent user experience helps to achieve this.
5. Create interesting content
Content is king. Whether it’s blog posts or videos, the content you produce is one of the best digital marketing tools for you to leverage. Creating innovative and engaging content will help you to get noticed online and also expand your reach. Not only is it good to have on your website, but content is also great for sharing on social media – especially when it comes to videos.
Not only does it help you to form a connection between your brand and its customers, but it also allows you to promote your business in a much more engaging format. In terms of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), having blog content will also allow you to naturally target keywords and improve your ranking on Google.
In an increasingly competitive world, digital marketing tips and tricks like this will help you to stand out from your competitors and put your own unique spin on how you market your brand. Simply put, no digital marketing strategy is complete without it.
6. Optimise your website for mobile users
Let’s face it, so many of us are glued to our mobile phones, constantly staring at our screens and relying on them for basic day-to-day functions.
We are now less inclined to open a laptop when it comes to browsing websites online and instead opt for the more convenient option of using our smartphones. Incredibly, 6.92 billion people around the world use a smartphone (86.29% of the world’s population), which is why it’s incredibly important that your website is suitable for mobile users.
Your website needs to be user-friendly and easy to navigate on a mobile, while embracing new technologies and innovations to ensure you’re maximising all the smartphone tools you have at your disposal. This is especially important if you’re targeting a younger target audience, as poor functionality on a mobile phone will ensure your business falls at the first hurdle.
7. Understand and improve your SEO
No digital marketing strategy is complete without SEO consideration, which is why you need to ensure you have people working in your small business that are knowledgeable in this area.
In its simplest form, good SEO best practice utilises keywords on your website to help drive performance and ensure your website ranks higher in online search results. By doing so, your business is more likely to be recognised and traffic to your website will increase.
SEO can also help your small business by:
- Building trust with your customers
- Organically improving your visibility
- Boosting your credibility
- Maximising paid marketing strategies
- Expanding your reach
- Improving website usability
- Driving user engagement rates.
SEO-incorporated content should always be impactful and traffic-driven, which is why so many businesses now employ SEO specialists. However, if your small business is constrained to a tight budget, then detailed SEO guides will help you master the basics.
8. Target a social media channel that’s best for your business
Increasingly, social media is becoming one of the most important tools a business can use as part of its digital marketing strategy, as people spend an average of 151 minutes per day on social media platforms.
However, it’s not as simple as just sending out the same post across multiple platforms and expecting good results, as you need to tailor your posts to a particular platform and the audience it attracts. For example, B2B companies may favour LinkedIn, while B2C businesses will likely have more success posting on Instagram.
Therefore, you should aim to target the social media platform that is most relevant to your business and is used by your target audience. It’s always better to excel at one particular platform than do an average job across multiple social media channels, so make sure you identify the platform that is most appropriate for your small business and put more of your energy into making it a success.
Due to the fact social media is a free, easy tool to use, this digital marketing tip is great for startups that are tight on budget and resources.
9. Develop email marketing
Despite the rise in social media and other similar digital marketing tools, email marketing is still a fundamental part of any successful digital marketing strategy.
Regardless of age, just about everyone uses an email, which means you have the opportunity to expand your reach and target people of all demographics and backgrounds. However, it’s important that you’re emailing the right people that are interested in what your business offers.
Monthly newsletters, promotions, news, and competitions are all great ways of engaging with your audience through emails. It’s also a great low-cost option that allows you to customise and personalise your messaging to help your brand connect with its target audience on a deeper level.
10. Get in touch with local influencers
Our list of digital marketing tips for small businesses concludes with one of the most effective marketing tools available to companies looking to make an impact in a modern, digital age. Reaching out to influencers is a great way of getting your small business recognised and boosting publicity.
Here are some enlightening statistics from a recent report by Influencer Marketing Hub that highlight the growth in influencer marketing:
- Influencer marketing grew to $16.4 billion in 2022
- Businesses are making $5.2 ROI for every $1 spent on influencer marketing
- 67% of brands use Instagram for influencer marketing.
In order to make this strategy successful, you need to think about which influencers are right not just for your business, but also for your target audience. It can be challenging to find someone famous who is not only well-known among your audience but also passionate about your brand and what it represents.
Whether it’s giveaways and discounts or brand ambassadors and collaborations, partnering with influencers will undoubtedly improve your business’s visibility and get people talking online.
Digital marketing tips for small businesses: additional learning
Hopefully, the digital marketing tips we have covered in this article have provided plenty of inspiration to help ensure your small business’s online presence is a success. By implementing some of these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to effectively promote your brand online and drive sales in no time at all.
At FutureLearn, we offer a variety of digital marketing courses to help further your learning and equip you with invaluable digital skills that will help you to drive your small business forward. You can find some of our best digital marketing courses listed below.
- Digital Skills: Digital Marketing by Accenture
- Get Started With Digital Marketing by Coventry University
- Introduction to Digital Marketing by The Open University & Target Internet
- Master Digital Marketing Strategy by The Left Bank
- Fundamentals of Digital Marketing by FutureLearn & HubSpot
- Digital Copywriting Fundamentals by The Open University & Target Internet
- Creative Strategy for Emerging Digital Media by Ravensbourne University London & Moving Brands
- Digital Marketing Analytics and Measurement by The Open University & Target Internet
- Digital Marketing Content Creation by The Open University & Target Internet
- Email Marketing eCRM by The Open University & Target Internet
- Social Media Marketing by The Open University & Target Internet
- Online Display Advertising by The Open University & Target Internet.