An Introduction to Digital Marketing for Small Business

By Dave Charest, Director of Small Business Success at Constant Contact

As a small business owner, you’re constantly wearing many hats, and marketing is one of them. But with millions of businesses opening every year, it’s more important than ever to understand digital marketing. Here are some fundamental and practical strategies for small businesses to get the most out of their marketing.

Remember the “7 Cs”

The 7 Cs” is a guiding framework to help marketers navigate and achieve their goals based on these seven points:

  1. Customer: Always put the customer first.
  2. Content: Content is the key to your search engine optimization (SEO) success.
  3. Context: Build your messaging specifically for your target audience.
  4. Community: Nourish long-lasting relationships with customers.
  5. Convenience: Simplify the customer journey.
  6. Cohesion: Provide the same level of quality across all your offerings.
  7. Conversion: Track your performance and measure the most important metric for your business.

Now that you know the overall framework, here’s where you can apply each point to your marketing strategy to see long-term success.

Crafting Your Strategy & Attracting New Customers

  • Know your Audience: Always put your customer first. Take the time to learn who your customers are and what they need from you. Then, use that information to personalize your marketing based on their preferences and behaviors. This helps improve the relevance of your messages and builds a relationship of trust with your customers.
  • Content Creation: The content you create matters. It’s important for capturing your customer’s interest, but it also helps ensure you can be found online. Start a blog, engage on social media, and produce engaging videos to attract and retain customers. Include a clear “next step” your audience can take to learn more, like an invitation to join your mailing list.
  • Local Targeting: Your community is a great place to start marketing yourself. Think about how people typically communicate with each other in your community – whether that’s bulletin boards at the local library, or another online forum – and jump in. Remember to claim your business on listing sites like Yelp or Google so others can find you and get in touch.
  • Mobile Optimization: Most consumers spend more time on their mobile devices than sitting in front of a desktop computer. Your marketing needs to allow them to easily engage with your business through those devices. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly to cater to on-the-go customers.

Retaining Current Customers

  • SMS Marketing: Most consumers check their texts within seconds of receiving them. They are also very open to receiving texts from businesses, so take advantage of that. Once someone opts in to receive texts, you can engage them with timely messages such as offers, coupons and reminders.
  • Email Marketing: Automated digital marketing tools simplify email and text message personalization. You can quickly create customized emails using drag-and-drop email templates and automate tasks for maximum efficiency, leading to improved sales results.

Making Campaigns More Effective

  • Social media shareability: Social media is a terrific tool for attracting new customers, and sharing information with loyal followers. The more timely, relevant and visually appealing social media content you feature that others want to share online, the more potential reach you will have for your company. Just remember, social media is typically not a channel that drives much revenue, so make sure to use it in conjunction with other marketing tactics like email and SMS.
  • Savvy Budgeting: Listing the strategies you want to use and their costs is a crucial planning step. If your strategy exceeds your budget, DIY as much as possible and prioritize free tactics like blogging or organic social media.

Advanced digital marketing tactics

When you’re ready to up-level your marketing strategy, here are some tactics to consider:

  • Paid digital ads: Consider running paid ads on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to target your ideal customers and make it easier to reach people who don’t already follow you. You could also test out sponsored content where you pay for the opportunity to place an ad in a local news website. It mimics the style and structure of a website’s typical content, however it’s a paid promotion for another business’s products or services. A popular example is affiliate marketing.
  • Get deep into data: Once you move beyond the basics of understanding your customers and executing a marketing plan, it’s time to understand what’s working and where there is room for improvement. Pay attention to which of your marketing campaigns do well, and use reporting tools to figure out what they have in common. The deeper you dive into data, the more you can learn about your customers preferences and habits, which you can later use to send them more relevant messages.

Budgeting for the most effective approach

It’s important to determine what marketing campaigns and platforms convert the most customers and generate the most revenue. Simple methods such as asking a “How did you find us?” question on your sales page can help to compile this data. You can also obtain key data by linking Google Analytics to your website.

You can do this!

It’s important to remember that digital marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Your first steps are an exciting time, so take it slow and don’t get too far out over your skis. With thoughtful strategy and planning, you’ll be running successful campaigns before you know it. You can do this!

About the Author

Dave Charest is Director of Small Business Success at Constant Contact, the digital marketing and automation platform that has helped millions of small businesses and nonprofits globally.