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SME Business

Why online marketing is essential for small businesses

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When it comes to maximising your marketing budget, online channels are essential for small businesses looking to drive the highest return on investment (ROI). Not only are digital channels cost-effective, but they are also highly measurable and provide the opportunity for businesses to target specific audiences, making campaigns more effective and more efficient.

With so many online channels to choose from, however, it is important that you select the ones that are most relevant to your business. From podcasts to Pinterest Boards, Instagram to Search Engine Optimisation - there are a lot of things to consider when determining your digital marketing strategy and the channels you use will be one of the main contributing factors when it comes to the success of your strategy.

Which digital marketing channels are right for your business?

It’s important to understand and familiarise yourself with the digital marketing channels available to you and your business before deciding which ones are most likely to deliver the best ROI. Here are some of the most commonly used channels:

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

This is a no brainer. No matter which online channels you choose, your own website is always going to be the most important as you have full control over what is published and how it is managed. SEO is the practice of optimising both technical elements and content in order to be able to rank better for the keywords you are targeting.

SEO is not a quick process. It takes time to build up the authority to rank well for the keywords you are targeting, however, once you have established yourself as an authority for a topic or set of topics, you can then start to drive traffic for free from organic searches on Google and other search engines. A well-optimised website is a must for businesses large and small SEO becomes an important part of any digital marketing strategy.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)

Paid advertising is a channel that can deliver highly targeted traffic to your website in a short space of time. With the right targeting and budget, a PPC campaign can start delivering visitors to your website from the minute you set your campaign live and is very appealing to businesses looking to drive brand awareness and ultimately deliver more leads.

PPC is the opposite of SEO in some respects. Results are immediate, however, once you stop paying, you stop driving visits to your website. For small businesses, PPC can be a great way to get your brand name discovered on Google before you have the necessary authority to rank well organically. Once you achieve more first-page rankings, you can consider pulling back on some of your advertising budgets and look to redistribute this to other channels.

Typically, most businesses will turn to Google AdWords or display advertising when it comes to PPC campaigns.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is another channel that has the potential to deliver a high ROI. Email marketing relies on your building up a database of contacts that are interested in your products and services and then using email marketing to target this audience with promotional content.

The quality of the contacts in your database will determine how successful your email marketing activities are likely to be. Like SEO, email marketing is a tactic that improves over time - the more people you add to your database, the better your opportunity of converting people through your email marketing campaigns. Email marketing campaigns will vary depending on your business - from regular newsletters that help to build brand awareness and loyalty to conversion-focused emails that push specific products and services.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is one of the biggest game-changers in the digital marketing world and is helping to shape the way that many businesses market themselves online. For small businesses, social media provides a good opportunity to drive a strong ROI. Other than the time needed to manage your social media profiles, there is no cost to businesses of marketing your businesses organically on social media platforms. With the opportunity to reach a huge audience, this makes social media marketing an extremely appealing option for small businesses.

Of course, you can go beyond organic marketing across your social media channels. Paid social media advertising is an extremely cost-effective way of marketing your business. The targeting options available through custom audiences also make it a great way to maximise your budget whilst only reaching the people most likely to be interested in your products and services. As platforms like Facebook and Instagram squeeze businesses from people’s feeds organically, many have turned to social media advertising to increase their reach and engagement.

Content Marketing

Content sits at the heart of almost every aspect of digital marketing - from the ads you create to the content you publish on your social media platforms, your content needs to be high quality in order to engage your audience and ultimately drive sales and revenue. Content marketing is also an essential part of any SEO strategy - the content you publish on your website will play a vital role in establishing your authority for the topics and keywords you are targeting and needs to be of the highest quality in order to outrank the other websites trying to rank for the keywords you are targeting.

Content marketing covers a wide variety of content types. The most common one that people think of is blogs, however, a blog should only be a part of your content marketing strategy and should only be used when it is the most relevant content type for your target audience. Other content types include:

  • Videos

  • Podcasts

  • Webinars

  • Infographics

  • Images

  • Whitepapers

  • eBooks

Video marketing has become an increasingly popular channel when it comes to content marketing and it presents a real opportunity for businesses to tell their story and bring their brand to life.

You need to understand your audience and their needs before deciding on the best content to engage them online.

How big brands use digital marketing

Of course, digital marketing is not just an effective strategy for small businesses. Large businesses invest heavily in digital marketing and this should be factored into your planning - understanding who you are competing with and establishing areas those competitors are ignoring.

From using structured data on your websites such as product and review schema to writing detailed product descriptions to maximising user-generated content, big brands such as Amazon, Etsy, Macy's and more are using SEO in order to raise brand awareness and drive sales and revenue.

Online casino Betway is committed to content marketing. They have a multi-disciplined team of journalists, designers, video producers and social experts who create compelling content for digital and social platforms. From interviewing professional athletes and providing quality betting insights, to epic video production, they are a great example of a big brand that is maximising the ROI of its content marketing.

Most major brands are also using PPC advertising to increase their opportunities to drive traffic to their website. Whether it’s targeting high-value keywords or advertising on competitors’ brand names, PPC offers big brands with big budgets a major opportunity to drive highly relevant traffic to their website.

When it comes to social media campaigns, brands including Nike, Lululemon, Spotify, GoPro, Starbucks and National Geographic are all using social media platforms to maximise their reach and engagement, helping to build brand loyalty and, with recent developments to platforms like Instagram, also drive sales.

Digital marketing is an essential part of any marketing strategy and it’s important to choose the channels that are best suited to your business. Some of this will be through trial and error, however, once you get the right combination, you can expect to see some major growth for your business.

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