Online Marketing for Small Business

Small business digital marketing pros share their top picks regarding the best ways for businesses with big plans but small budgets to market ..
Today, businesses have more ways — and places — than ever to market themselves. But deciding on a marketing method, particularly when you are a small or even a mid-sized business with a small budget and limited resources, can be difficult. While social media marketing is generally free, it can be time-consuming; and the same goes for blogging. But traditional print advertising, as well as digital advertising, can be expensive.
marketing, smb

So which marketing channels are best for SMBs? Dozens of small business owners and marketing professionals share the following list of top marketing strategies for SMBs.

1. Blog. “One of the best marketing strategies for a small business is blogging,” says Maren Hogan, chief marketing brain at Red Branch Media.

“By providing your prospects and clients with informative, non-salesy content that you can house on your blog, promote socially and offer to other networks to supplement their strategy, you and your team can quickly establish yourselves as experts in a desired field,” Hogan says.
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It can also positively impact your SEO.

“By blogging at least twice a week, you significantly increase your website’s ability to be found on search engines,” adds Mike Lieberman, chief marketing scientist and president, Square 2 Marketing. “The more you blog, the more traffic your site will get from Google, Yahoo and Bing… [because] you are adding fresh content to your site [assuming your blog resides on your company website],” he says. And “if each of your blog posts includes a call to action, you might even generate some leads from your blog.”

Business owners and managers should also consider guest blogging.

“Guest blogging is one of the best marketing tools I’ve ever found,” says Susan Payton, president, Egg Marketing & Communications. “By contributing to relevant blogs with useful content, you can expand your reach and show off your knowledge.” Moreover, you can typically link to your website via your author bio, “making it easy for people to visit your site.”

2. Leverage social media. “If your small business isn’t using social media, it’s time to start,” says Mike Volpe, CMO, HubSpot, which specializes in inbound marketing. “Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing or direct mail.”

Because social media can be (or seem) overwhelming, “choose one social media platform that your customers, prospects, and industry leaders engage with the most — be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ — and start building a presence there,” Volpe says. “Once you’ve set up an account, start connecting sharing your original content, joining discussions and engaging with the community. Keep your social efforts frequent, but above all, relevant and helpful to your audience.”

[Related: 7 Ways to Create a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign]

3. Create a Facebook business page and use Facebook advertising. “Facebook is one of the most important marketing tools for any business to use, especially a small business,” says Tori Hoffman, the social media strategist at Potratz, an automotive advertising agency.

“Americans spend one out of every seven minutes on social media, providing a huge opportunity for small business owners to build a relationship with fans by sharing relevant content and interacting by commenting and liking fans’ comments,” Hoffman says. “The more a user interacts with a page, the more likely their friends are to see it, increasing awareness.”

Also consider Facebook advertising.

“We have been having great success for our mobile marketing clients with Facebook advertising,” says Bob Bentz, president of ATS Mobile, a mobile marketing agency. “The ads appear right in the news feed so it’s really impossible to miss. It is especially effective with local clients, because there is virtually no waste as with traditional media,” he says.

“A local restaurant, for instance, can promote just to the zip codes where it draws from. It can even target specific age groups and sex,” Bentz says. “Best of all, you can target those customers during the time that they are most likely to buy; for instance, you can display your ads just before and during the lunch and dinner hours.” And if your Facebook campaign isn’t getting the desired results, “there’s no long-term commitment. You can cancel at any time.”

4. Post to Pinterest and Instagram. If you are selling a highly visual product or service, say you are in the bridal or food business, you should be regularly posting images on Pinterest and/or Instagram. Posting is free and both platforms have large followings, particularly among women.

“You can drive major traffic to your website via Pinterest, and no platform uses hashtags to build audiences like Instagram,” says Eric Elkins, CEO and chief strategist at WideFoc.us, a real time social media company.