Wondering how you can market your small business online? 

Why is it important to use marketing as part of your small businesses’ strategy?

With advancing technology it’s vital that businesses appear online for both survival and growth, the world is now living in mobile-first and as a business, you have to keep up with consumer demands. With response to the coronavirus pandemic shopping behaviour is majorly changing with a huge online focus, making bigger brands such as Microsoft closing their stores and adapting to online spaces, demonstrating the importance of evolving consumer search and shopping behaviours.

Marketing a small business can be a challenge in itself due needing both the time, resources and budget to do so, so what exactly are the top tips for marketing a small business online?

‍1. Make sure you have a user-friendly website

28% of small businesses don’t have a website, having a digital space to direct your customers to online is a key factor striving for growth. Having a website creates a sense of reputability and trust as well as open opportunities to advertise through the major search engines. We understand there is an overwhelming number of creation platforms to choose from, being a small business understanding the right one for you can be difficult, that's why we broke down the best and explored the pros and cons of 5 best website platforms for start-ups.

If you already have a website and are marketing your URL throughout the web then fab! But now try and focus on the overall performance of the website to increase both user friendliness, encourage lower bounce rates and better your search engine optimisation (SEO) to increase your inbound organic traffic. 

  • Can you visitors easily navigate around your website?
  • Is the loading speed under 3 seconds? Try this handy tool to find out: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
  • Is your website optimised for mobile devices? 
  • Have you updated your titles, meta descriptions and alt text for hosted images?
  • Have you got appropriate tracking and analytics measurement in place?
  • Have you got industry, location and service keywords added throughout your site?

2. List and appear on Google My Business (GMB)

Example Google My Business Listing - Amy's Bakery

Google My Business is a great tool for businesses of any size, especially if you are a local business trying to reach the ‘near me’ searchers online. Being listed on GMB enables your business to appear at the top of the page with other similar searched businesses or within the same area. This is where potential customers can request directions, see opening hours, check your reviews or head through to your website. 

Even if you are an online or eCommerce business and are not interested in gaining customers locally, it is a great tool for your business to utilise, helping not only your SEO strategy but to be seen by reputable searchers for your business. 

If you haven’t got a Google My Business listing then get started by clicking here

Best practices for your existing Google My Business listing?

  • Bulk out as much information as you can, including service areas, contact number, website, images, hours etc. 
  • Encourage reviews from your existing customers. 
  • Post regularly including images, offers and updates.

3. Make use of social media platforms

When we say make use of social media, we don’t mean put your business on every single platform out there. It’s important that you look at how appropriate and time-efficient each channel is for your brand, each has a different type of audience and content style so it is always best to do your research before getting started. 

For example, if you’re a small law firm, you might not want this business to appear on Instagram in attempts to display services.

Another factor to consider is, do you have the time to be active, present and create good content to publish? If you don’t have time to do it all, start off small and grow. Social media is the best place to find your audience, engage and connect with them, which leads me onto my next marketing tip.

4. Connect with your audience

Think of your customers as your best friends! Having a business-to-consumer (or business-to-business) rapport is one of the most important factors of growth, you’ll be surprised how effective they are when helping you grow in the online space.

Connect with your audience by:

  • Engaging in comments and messages. 
  • Creating engaging content for your social media. 
  • Take note and respond to audience feedback, even the criticism! Criticism is usually the best feedback you can receive, listen, reflect and build. 
  • Creating and sending fun email campaigns like newsletters.   
  • Use video content. 
  • Don’t make it all about your business use the 80/20 rule, 80% fun and engaging content and 20% business related.

5. Embrace paid advertising

45% of small businesses are participating in paid advertising on social and pay-per-click (PPC) platforms. However, we know that there is a lot of hesitancy with smaller businesses advertising due to lack of budget, resources, time, support and knowledge. Once done correctly, paid advertising can be your holy grail for growing online and acquiring new customers, so our advice to you:

  • Do the research, look at each platform to decide suitability, take a look at our favourites - Google Ads, Microsoft Ads and Facebook Ads. 
  • Start with a small budget and set bids so you can control your spend, and adjust where needed. 
  • Have all the correct analytics and tracking in place to be able to accurately measure your performance, to see what changes and optimisations need to be made. 
  • Look for support systems, do you know other small businesses that are advertising? If not, the CampaignHero app is the perfect cost-effective solution for you, with support every step of the way through your ad journey.

6. Prioritise authenticity & trust

‍Presenting your brand as trustworthy and authentic to your audience is a vital stand-out point for small businesses. Your customers have to be able to trust your product and/or service you are providing them, unlike bigger brands who have the budget and resources to build trust through huge brand awareness campaigns, for small businesses it's vital that smaller businesses do everything they can to prioritise their authenticity. This could be by: 

  • If you’re taking online payments, make sure your website is labelled secure. 
  • Making sure your privacy policy is visible and up to date. 
  • Respond both publicly and privately to your negative feedback. 
  • Host live videos on social media, share behind the scenes and day-to-day.

7. Business personalisation

Personalising and adding character to your business makes the service you provide to customers almost a personal encounter. As a small business you are competing with bigger brands, so it's important to personalise both your online and offline activity. Here are so ideas:

Online: Add character and fun to your social media, use customer testimonials, add user-generated content (UGC), stream live videos, show how-tos and behind the scenes footage. 

Offline: Personalised business cards and coupon cards, more focus on packaging and creating loyalty cards.

8. Outreach and partnerships

‍Creating strong external relationships is another key driver for marketing your small business online. Attempt to collaborate with strong micro-influencers in your industry, a good recommendation from someone knowledgeable and known in the industry can generate new business as well as gain some social proof and authenticity of your business. 

Creating these brand advocates and reaching out for partnerships (even if local) can really help build your brand quickly, make sure you are refining your proposal and approach before getting started, really personalise and do you research before reaching out. 

9. Use of data, tracking and analysis 

‍Having analytics and tracking in place is one of the most important elements to your marketing strategy for both small and large businesses. With the correct conversion tracking put in place on your website, it allows you to visualise your audience’s behaviour and see where your customers are getting stuck in your marketing funnel. 

Implementing tracking and analytics is the one thing a lot of small business struggle with as it can prove quite challenging for those less tech-savvy, but there are some great online articles and website integrations that now make implementing event tracking and pixels so much easier, we highly recommend you get this put in place as it will help you tailor your marketing strategy. 

To summarise

1. Make sure you have a user-friendly website
2. Appear on Google My Business
3. Make use of social media platforms
4. Connect with your audience
5. Embrace paid advertising
6. Prioritise authenticity and trust
7. Business personalisation
8. Outreach and partnerships
9. Use of data, tracking and analytics

So there you have it, nine (hopefully) helpful tips to better your small business marketing strategy, obviously there is a lot more depth to be explored in regard to digital marketing techniques when growing your business online. If you’re on the lookout for more, keep any eye on our social media channels or sign up to our newsletter for more tips and tricks in the small business marketing world. 


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