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Ideas for Small Business Digital Marketing Strategy

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Ideas for Small Business Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing is your own virtual billboard — only it’s cheaper, more targeted, and doesn’t need a 50-foot ladder for installation. But if you’re a small business that lacks funds for costly marketing agencies, how do you create a strategy that doesn’t break the bank and actually drives results? 

In this post, we’ll explore a buffet of ideas, all voiced by experts in different areas—from content marketing to social media, SEO to email campaigns, and much more!

Take Customer-First Approach

Understanding the customer takes priority over everything in today’s e-commerce industry. Epsilon research from 2020 tells us that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences.

That said, small businesses should invest in gathering data about their customers’ preferences, purchase behaviour, and demographics. This serves to both inform their product offerings and enable targeted marketing efforts.

Make social media promotion your top strategy. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok allow businesses to connect organically with a younger demographic and drive site traffic. Simpl Fulfillment, for example, has seen clients double their traffic by adopting an Instagram-first strategy (especially targeting Gen Z audiences).

Email marketing shouldn’t be overlooked either. It remains a classic yet highly effective digital marketing tool. Small businesses should capitalize on personalization here, too — be it through customizing the message or timing the email to maximize open rates. At Simpl Fulfillment, we noticed a 30% increase in conversion rates when one of our clients tailored their email campaigns based on customer purchase patterns.

Virginia Miller, spokesperson at Simpl Fulfillment

Focus on Visual Marketing

We take a unique approach. Today, there is an immeasurable amount of noise in the marketing space, and 99% of marketing is lost.

We cut through the noise and only use visuals for digital marketing. We truly believe that this is the only way to raise your clients above the noise.

Focusing on visually rich content — such as videos and high-quality images — is crucial for capturing and maintaining audience attention, given the noise, short attention span, and preference for visual over textual content.

Identify your audience, invest in good visuals, and avoid compromising on them. Also, be mindful of platform characteristics. Platforms like Facebook, despite their large user base, may not be ideal due to a cluttered interface that doesn’t showcase visuals effectively.

Patrick McHugh, chief strategy creative director at Visual Pizza

Optimize Local SEO & Visibility

Claim your Google Business Profile. This is a free tool provided by Google, and it manages your online presence across Google (including Search and Maps). This way, you assert ownership of the business information displayed to users in Google search results. Fill out every section of your GBP with accurate and up-to-date information about your business, including your business name, address, phone number, website URL, operating hours, and any other relevant details. Add at least 10–15 images and try to gather as many reviews as you can (and actively reply to them). Use the post feature on your Google Business Profile to share updates, offers, news, or events and link to your website.

Ensure your business’s name, address, and phone number (that you used on your GBP) are prominently displayed on your homepage and all relevant service pages. Consistency in NAP information across your website and online listings is crucial for local SEO success. The footer is a good spot to add them. Also, utilize the Google Maps API to embed a map on your site, ideally on your contact page. This feature not only aids in local SEO but also improves user experience by making it easier for customers to find your physical location.

Optimize your content for local keywords. This is a no-brainer. Incorporate local keywords into your H1 through H3 headings, meta titles, meta descriptions, images, and content. Tools like NeuronWriter or SurferSEO are excellent for content optimization, helping you to strategically include (local) keywords that resonate with your local audience while not over-optimizing the text.

Implementing structured data markup (schema) for local businesses on your website helps search engines better understand your business’s local context. Here’s a great nifty tool to generate the necessary markup within five minutes.

Ensure your business is listed in relevant local business directories (citations). Consistent and accurate citations across these platforms improve your rankings in the local SERPs. Top that off with some good backlinks from local news stations, blogs, and industry-specific sites, and you’re ahead of 90% of your competitors.

All these are fairly easy to implement, almost all free to do, and they have a huge impact on local visibility.

Janis Thies, co-founder & managing partner at SEOlutions

Social Media Marketing

Focus on social media marketing. You can reach as many people as possible because of the sheer number of social media users. You can rest assured that your message will reach its target audience because of how social media algorithms treat user activity and preferences.

What social media does for us is that it enables us to expand our reach beyond our core customer base, which is mostly composed of locals in the areas where we have offices, past clients, and referrals. When we post our content and our company profile on social media, people who wouldn’t have heard of our company are able to. That gives us an opportunity to showcase what sets us apart from other companies that provide the same kind of service.

We try to divide our attention carefully between the major social media platforms like Twitter/X and YouTube, but the platforms that we’re using the most are Facebook and Instagram. The reason is that it’s easier to push the type of content we produce on these platforms. We use social media mainly for two reasons: to broadcast social proof of the quality of the service we provide and to provide helpful information about property management and real estate. We post testimonial videos on YouTube from time to time, but we have noticed that we’re getting the most engagement from Facebook, so we decided to double down on the latter.

Pete Evering, business development manager at Utopia Property Management

Know Your Customers & Do Pre-campaign Testing

By doing these small things, we increased our customer base by 40%.

The first thing I have done is surveys to understand who they are and what they value the most in our offering. This didn’t cost me anything. I did a sample of 30 customers, which my sales executives called and asked 10 questions.

Know what your customers value in your service/product. The survey eped me formulate the why and inform all the campaigns I had past year. All my communications will always highlight that thus being more efficient and providing a better ROI. For example, a lot of people value

the sustainability side, so in my campaigns, I would talk a lot about how purchasing a door from us is more sustainable/carbon-neutral than ordering a new door.

Before running any big campaign (Google/Newsletter/Social), I do a small pre-campaign testing, where I would allocate 10% of the budget for a week and test 2–3 variations of creative or messaging. It is important to test only the visual or only the text so you can learn more. Once I know what works, I will use that creative/messaging as a blueprint and create more assets based on that. Then, the algorithm can do its own thing and push the assets that it noticed performed the best.

This helps when you have small budgets as you can be even more efficient, even though the algorithms would select the best assets anyway but it’s even better when you test before launching the campaign as you can be even more optimal.

Elena Livadaru, growth marketing manager at Green Doors

Use Zapier

I run two AI-based projects, Planetary Chess and Media Magic Mike. My digital marketing hack is Zapier! It’s kinda confusing when you first start, but it’s worth listening to a few YouTube videos to figure it out.

I really hate posting on social media, and to do it right, you have to be consistent to trigger the algorithm to put your stuff in front of people. However, it’s just too much for a solopreneur because life happens, and you’re not always able to be in front of a computer posting at the same time every day. But now… thanks to Zapier, my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook get fresh, new posts every day at the same time.

All I had to do was set it up for Chat GPT to deliver the content/pic, and Zapier takes care of the automation. It’s one less thing on my everyday task list, and I’m extremely pleased with it.

Janga Bussaja, philosopher/social entrepreneur, JBGPTs.com

Digital PR

Utilizing digital PR is an effective digital marketing strategy for small businesses. It doesn’t mean that small businesses need to have PR departments like the eminent brands. You can have digital PR by contacting journalists and convincing them to post your stories or insights on their media outlets. For direct outreach, you have to send your press releases. You can find an ongoing trend relevant to your niche and write an exclusive study. Then, you can send the press release to multiple sites. Your story can get published in 10–20 media outlets if successful. It will help you to reach many target customers, and you will have a significant digital presence.

Ray Pierce, founder & CEO of Zippy Cash For Cars

Build Genuine Connections

In my years of teaching music and contributing to Musicfinch, I’ve learned that genuine connections matter. Tailor your digital presence to reflect the unique essence of your small business — through personal stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses, or highlighting the individuality of your offerings. Small businesses thrive when audiences connect emotionally. Utilize social media to engage authentically, share relatable content, and build a community around your brand. Authenticity resonates, making your digital marketing efforts not just promotional but a genuine expression of your passion, fostering trust and loyalty among your audience.

Kristi Dawn, music teacher & editor at Musicfinch

Leveraging Podcasting instead of Videos

The key to an effective digital marketing strategy lies in establishing expertise online without making audiences bored. In the past few years, video marketing has been dominating this field. However, it’s facing competition from podcasts. Many audiences prefer podcasts over videos now. Small businesses should start capitalizing on podcasts to captivate audiences. Tired of seeing marketing videos, many audiences will pay the utmost attention to podcasts. Small businesses can use podcasts to share intriguing niche-based content with their audiences. They can demonstrate they have robust expertise in their business through the content. It will compel the audiences to know more about the brand, and they may try its services or products.

Dan Fried, CEO of Specialty Metals (Facebook, Twitter)

Repurpose Content

For small businesses, it’s about being resourceful and squeezing every drop out of your budget. Try to develop content that can be easily repurposed. For example, record a 5–8 minute YouTube video, but write the script strategically, so you can easily trim out 60–90 second clips for use in stories, reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts.

Then, write an article to support the video content — this should be easy since you can just expand on the YouTube video description you already wrote — and embed the YouTube video in the blog when you post it to your website for a powerful one-two SEO punch. Then, include that article in your next e-newsletter and share it on social media.

Now, instead of just one standalone video, you also have a blog that will support your SEO strategy, a ton of social media content, and an email to send to your database. And, what’s even better, all of that content will support your brand’s position as a thought leader and industry authority!

Robin Agricola, CEO & founder of Birdhouse Marketing & Design, LLC

Using a PPC Agency

Many small businesses are interested in using Google Ads and Meta to generate leads and exposure for your business, but the high ongoing costs often prevent them from getting the help they need. Agencies and freelancers often charge $500+/month to manage campaigns. So they’ll try on their own, often leading to disappointing results. There just hasn’t been a low-cost way to professionally-run campaigns. 

PPC Assist is helping small businesses solve this problem. With Google and Meta’s AI advancements, it’s now possible to run effective campaigns with less active management and oversight. Our platform enables small businesses to run effective campaigns without ongoing management fees, bringing in a specialist only when needed. This ensures their budget is going towards acquiring leads and traffic.

Jesse Hammersmith, founder & CEO of PPC Assist

Make Your Website Responsive

In case you were wondering, 83% of visitors expect websites they visit to load in three seconds or less. If it takes longer for your page to load than that, most visitors will eventually click back rather than stay on your page. You must improve the speed of your pages to prevent that from occurring. You can perform the following to speed up the loading of your pages:

  • Storing web pages in cache
  • Redirecting less frequently
  • Code minification
  • Image compression

Ali Lijee, CEO of junkgator.com

Use Artificial Intelligence for Ideas and Photos

As a small business, it has historically been difficult to compete with larger businesses. Artificial intelligence (AI) is democratizing resources like never before. For the first time, you can use tools to get ideas and brainstorm the best ways to make your business stand out.

Let’s use an example. You own two restaurants in your city and want to do a Valentine’s Day Special. Use the ChatGPT free version to help with this. ChatGPT will be able to give you social media marketing, loyalty, and menu ideas, all within a few minutes. Need designs and assets? Just use Dall-E on the same screen! For $0, you can do something that historically would have cost you thousands of dollars.

Jordan Silverman, CEO of Starfish

SEO and Mailing Lists over Social Media

In a world where we are inundated with the constant “next best thing,” I see people overextending and spending all of their budgets to try new strategies and new platforms instead of sticking with 1–3 for the next 2+ years. Marketing is a long game. If you bounce around, you won’t get the results you want.

The biggest ”hack” I can offer is to find clarity on your audience and niche, then niche down your marketing strategy and execute it with consistency.

For example, not everyone needs to be on social media. You can grow a successful company without ever touching it. Countless business owners come looking for social media because they think it’s how they build an audience, which has to lead to making more money, right?

Well, no. Not every time. The actual goal is to make money, sell a product, etc., not build an audience on social media. You have to be willing to pivot.

If you were to be forced to pick one strategy for every company, it would be Search Engine Optimization with a strategy in place to build your email list.

You will always own your email list; you are just renting your followers on social media.

Chandler Prohl, director of business development & strategy at MonkeyVA.com and RoseCarterCo.com

Facebook Ad Strategy

Facebook combined with blog posts is such an underrated strategy. Create blog posts in your industry: trends, guides, and interesting information.

Share it on your Facebook page, and ensure you share it as engaging content.

Set up Facebook Ads with the purpose of getting people to like the page where you use the text Like [industry]? Then you’ll like [page name].

You’ll be surprised how many likes your page will get, and it’s cheap.

From there, it’s then up to you to convert these people from being alike to an engaging fan and get them to convert to your website.

It’s much better than running Google Ads, as you only pay once to acquire, and from there, you only pay with your time doing Facebook posts.

Phillip Stemann, SEO consultant

Get Backlinks by Responding to HARO Queries

To accelerate external amplification, we vigorously respond to targeted queries via Help A Reporter Out listings. Securing domain authority backlinks from the first roundup on a topic sets the trajectory. We craft custom pitches for journalists that succinctly distill complex themes while

spotlighting our breadth of expertise for our clients.

Rather than play in the noisy space of broad content marketing, we go deep on delivering clarity around specific concepts industry insiders thirst for help on. That niche visibility cashes in over the long run as clients seek partners who can translate complexity into comprehension. By generously educating, doors open to eventually monetize.

Jason Smit, CEO of Contentellect

Back Your Expertise with Customer-Centric Content

At the end of the day, the small business is the subject-matter expert. Answer every question you’ve ever gotten from customers, answer them on your website to boost your SEO, and share them on social channels. This will build trust with your audience. You show them your expertise instead of telling them you are an expert. Group the content into five buckets to create

content at every stage of the buyer’s journey:

  • Problem unaware
  • Problem aware
  • Solution-aware but product-unaware
  • Product aware
  • Most aware

This is a long-term play that will play out in 6–9 months, but it’s free, besides the invested time to create and publish the content.

Sascha Hoffmann, lifecycle marketing consultant and blogger at Back2MarketingSchool

Strategies for Consistent Content Sharing

There is no real “hack” when it comes to marketing because people can spot BS a mile away. But there are ways to make it easier to share content all year round.

Here are a few:

  • If you only have time for one short blog post per month, post it several times on your social media channels
  • Spend 2–3 hours every month to batch-create vital posts and schedule them in advance
  • Upgrade and repost content you made last year
  • Share updates on non-monetary goals in your content to inspire loyalty
  • Get more customers by asking past customers for reviews — and then share those

Aub Wallace, co-founder of Dandelion Branding 

SEO and Keyword Research Process & Tools

A solid content strategy is a good SEO strategy. SEO can and should inform and provide a helpful filter to maximize visibility, rankings, traffic, and conversions. SEO-driven content, however, typically falls short of conversions when it isn’t created in collaboration with sales and marketing.

The second challenge is to agree on keyword themes for content that will rank organically for relevant phrases. Since 1996, I’ve refined my/our keyword research processes as outlined below.

  1. Evaluating the existing website keywords and running searches in Google to determine if they are generating relevant results
  2. Expanding keywords via Google and other tools
  3. Cross-referencing the keywords against competitor websites for relevance
  4. Refining keywords based on volume, difficulty & competitiveness
  5. Running the top keywords through ChatGPT to identify new themes or ideas

I’ve used dozens of keyword research tools over the years, but here are a few (mostly free) that I value most:

1. Google suite (related/suggested search, Analytics, Ads, GoogleTrends, and Search Console) 

2. Ahrefs includes keyword difficulty and search volume, which is very helpful

3. Keyword Surfer Chrome Plugin has both free basic information and more robust data via a subscription

4. Semrush provides a suite of keyword tools for both paid and organic traffic

5. SpyFu includes similar functionality to Semrush but includes a new PPC Keyword Tool 

6. ChatGPT provides prompts for keyword research based on keywords or websites

The third challenge is to create content that is unique, compelling, and linkable. While ChatGPT and related generative AI platforms have dramatically streamlined the SEO process, lazy marketers are relying too heavily on GenAI to create content. Without heavy editing, the content is likely to be ignored by Google (and humans). My favorite content is FAQs, targeted blog posts, and anything that can be optimized with schema markup to rank as rich snippets in SERPs.

The final steps are age-old: Optimizing content (title, meta descriptions, internal links, etc.) and monitoring the impact via automated reporting tools. There are a host of tools (some mentioned above) that address this stage of SEO.

Kent Lewis, managing partner at Anvil Unlimited

Email, Content, and Resource Management

As a digital marketer for over 20 years, these are the three things I say to my clients more than anything.

Many business owners will say things like, “I hate getting email, so I don’t want to send it,” or “I don’t know how to use social media, so don’t post,” and I remind them that they are not their customers. Sure, we all get lots of emails nowadays, but if it didn’t work, people wouldn’t still be sending it. It has the highest ROI (return on investment) for any digital marketing, so start emailing your current customers, those you want to buy from you, and your past customers.

When people are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, I ask them, “What do people ask you about your business?” They start telling me, and I have them make a list of the top 10 things people ask them. Usually, this triggers a much longer list than 10, and they now have a starting place for content.

You either have time or money. Most people running a business aren’t independently wealthy. I’ve talked to so many business owners who are like, “I Hate Social Media” or “I Hate Selling,” but customers and money do not just fall out of the sky. And while, YES, you can hire people all over the world at different price points, when you’re starting your business, that might not be possible. So, start doing. So that you can make the money, you need to hire someone to do the things you don’t want to do. Or go get a job that doesn’t require you to do the things you hate.

Nina Cleere, freelance copywriter at HAROhelper

Offer Freebies

One effective digital marketing tactic for small businesses nowadays is offering freebies online to boost SEO and web page search rankings. Just share free content that encourages downloading, sharing, and linking. This content should offer immediate, practical value to visitors while also being optimized for conversions. Whether it’s a case study, a short eBook, or a curated list of links, the content should align with the page’s search intent.

In my experience, web pages with high-value content combined with consistent user engagement tend to perform better in SERPs. For example, I suggest considering adding three hyperlinks to a vital landing page. These could direct users to a shareable infographic, revealing survey results, or a helpful list of tools. This approach transforms a page from a mere marketing spiel to a valuable source of information for your customers.

Vlad Khorkhorov, co-founder & CEO of WebsitePolicies.com

Avoid GenAI for Content

Stay away from GenAI to maximize your EEAT. Google wants Expertise, Experience, Authority, and Trust, so creating content that proves your value in each category is the key to drawing organic traffic and beating out bigger competition. 

GenAI has some valuable applications, but when it comes to creating content, the value comes from your expertise and personal perspective, not from a bot that regurgitates information. If you use GenAI in your process, be sure it doesn’t negatively affect the value of your end result — churning out cookie-cutter content doesn’t work anymore. If you have to choose between the two, it’s much better to focus on quality over scale if you want to draw organic traffic to your business. 

One way to ensure you’re doing better than the rest is to create a standardized EEAT scorecard. Use it on your competition and yourself so you can effectively compare how well you’re doing and look for opportunities to stand out.

Hardy Desai, founder of Supple


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Ideas for Small Business Digital Marketing Strategy