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You’ve come up with a plan for your small business. You’ve hired all the right people, and you’ve scoped out a spot for your brick-and-mortar location. But without an established online presence, your potential customers are driving in circles, trying to find you where it really counts.
No small business can afford to overlook online marketing. A recent survey from the search engine optimization platform BrightLocal found that 98% of consumers used the internet to research local businesses in 2022 — and that number does not seem poised to fall any time soon.1
You don’t need an expert consultant or an advanced degree to promote your small business online. You do, however, need at least these three things: a website, a social media presence, and a clear brand identity.
In the world of digital marketing for small businesses, read on for some of the best ways to promote your business online.
Search engine optimization (SEO) may sound complicated, but getting started is simple.
First, write out a list of search terms your customers may use to find your business. Use those keywords (and maybe a few synonyms) as much as possible throughout your website. Try not to go overboard, though. You want the keywords to fit seamlessly across your web pages.
You’ll also want to include a healthy mix of internal links (i.e., links to different pages on your own website) and external links (i.e., links to other websites).
SEO marketing can be a complex subject with lots of moving parts — some businesses have entire teams dedicated to getting it right!
But starting small with just a few tweaks to your website, like updating the meta descriptions and title tags, can make a big difference. And, in turn, help your business become more visible to prospective customers.
Just like you wouldn’t want to show up to an important meeting with spinach in your teeth, it’s worth flossing the kinks out of your website before you hit “publish.” In business, first impressions are everything.
Your small business website should give potential customers all the information they need to choose you over the competition. If the site is outdated or not intuitive to use, your prospective clients may trust your business less overall. Proofread every word for grammar and clarity — and then proofread again.
Think of it this way: Your website should be a “PEACH,” which means:
Once published, update it regularly with current information and images.
Not everyone knows to search for your website directly — yet. Registering your business with online directories like Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, and Nextdoor can increase your odds of skyrocketing to the top of everyone’s list. This is an easy and free tactic to increase your online visibility.
Social search has exploded in recent years. In fact, BrightLocal reports that 40% of Gen Zers prefer to search on social platforms like TikTok and Instagram over Google.2
Your small business social marketing strategies don’t need to involve each and every platform. Still, you’ll want to set up shop on at least a couple.
Choose the social platforms that your potential customer base may use. Those looking for a haircut would probably browse photos on Instagram rather than references on LinkedIn, but legal clients would not. Other key platforms include Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube.
As you get started, study successful competitors to see how often they share on each platform and at what times their content performs best.
Not all your potential customers are ready to buy right now, but with a solid content marketing strategy, you’ll stay on their minds until they are.
Depending on your business, your content strategy may vary. A local wedding photographer may maintain a blog, while a small accounting firm could publish free educational materials. Both plans would plant seeds of trust and goodwill that could grow into a healthy future client base.
The key is to maintain a steady stream of high-quality content. Avoid publishing half-baked copy or posting video content in sporadic bursts. That could give customers the impression that your business lacks stability. If you need a little inspiration, look no further than the customers you’ve found on your thriving social channels.
Email marketing allows you to stay in touch with customers as a large subscriber base. For small businesses, it can be a great way to establish long-term relationships with new and returning customers.
Top email marketing applications for small businesses include MailChimp, Constant Contact, and HubSpot.
A monthly newsletter is a solid place to start. Build a subscriber base through your professional network, social channels, and website. Send only to subscribers who’ve opted in, and make sure to provide a clear way to opt out. Your newsletter can keep customers posted about the latest news from your business, including new promotions and products.
Above all, remember that your potential customers’ inboxes are already full of junk. In email marketing, you’re trying to write vividly enough to evade the “delete” button.
They’re called “influencers” for a reason.
The 2021 Nielsen Trust in Advertising study found that 71% of consumers trust advertising and opinions from influencers — and you don’t need to hire Kendall Jenner to see results.3
Micro-influencers, those with less than 100,000 followers, typically see more engagement on their posts than those with millions of followers. These influencers charge less per post, making them more budget-friendly for small businesses. And working with a micro-influencer goes a long way towards humanizing your brand and building trust with your audience.
Plus, a micro-influencer could help you reach a new audience — one primed to fall in love with your product. To find the right person for the job, search on social platforms, comb your follower list, or use an influencer marketing platform or agency.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is likely what you imagine: Paid digital ads on platforms like Google and Facebook that drive traffic to your small business website.
A business using PPC advertising pays a fee each time a user clicks their ad. You could place your ad on search engines, as a product carousel, or on a video platform, among many other options.
If you’re new to PPC advertising, jumping in can be overwhelming. Do your research and think about what products or services you may market with a PPC campaign. Start small and focus your content on specific keywords and a clear call to action.
Still scratching your head? PPC advertising can be complicated. In this instance, it may be time to bring in an expert.
For more ways to promote your business online, explore these digital marketing for small business tips.
In partnership with three expert business owners, the PayPal Bootcamp includes practical checklists and a short video loaded with tips to help take your business to the next level.