The Beginner’s Guide to Small-Business Marketing Online

Carter McCue

9 mins read

While it may seem like a no-brainer, marketing your small business online can be a challenging task if you’re new to the world of digital marketing. With so many different channels and strategies to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start and what will work best for your business. However, with more and more consumers turning to the internet to research and make purchasing decisions, having a strong online presence is essential for any small business looking to grow and succeed in today’s market. And without a solid marketing plan that will serve as an anchor of your strategies, your efforts may only fall short.

That’s why we’ve put together this beginner’s guide to small-business marketing online. In this blog, we’ll cover the basics of digital marketing and provide you with the tools you’ll need in your arsenal to start building your online brand and reaching your target audience with flying colors. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve your existing online marketing efforts, this guide is here to help. Let’s get started!

Understand Your Target Audience

Developing a marketing plan, whether for online or other physical channels, will always start with understanding your target audience. After all, they’re the ones who will ultimately determine the success or failure of your marketing campaigns. They are the very people you aim to attract and build a relationship with as you grow your business.

Identify your Target Audience

Of course, understanding your target audience requires getting to know them first. Having a solid idea of the specific market segment you wish to target is crucial in ensuring that your marketing efforts are effective and efficient. To identify your target audience, you’ll need to consider factors such as age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors. This will help you create a profile of your ideal customer and allow you to tailor your marketing messaging to their needs and preferences.

Develop Buyer Personas

Once you’ve identified the demographics of your target audience, it’s time to dig deep into their psychographics and consumer insights. This can be done through surveys, interviews, and online analytics tools. By gathering information on their pain points, goals, values, and buying behaviors, you can create detailed buyer personas representing your target audience’s various segments.

Buyer personas help you understand your customers on a deeper level and enable you to create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with them. These are customer avatars that you can use to craft personalized messages and content that speaks directly to the needs and preferences of each persona. 

For example, if you’re a coffee shop targeting busy professionals, you might create a buyer persona named “Sarah,” who is a working mother looking for a quick pick-me-up in the morning. With this information, you can create marketing messages and content that speak directly to Sarah’s needs, such as promoting your shop as a convenient and affordable option for busy moms on the go.

Conduct Market Research

Of course, you also have to get a feel of the playing field you’re planning to enter. In addition to developing buyer personas, it’s important to conduct market research to gather insights into your industry, competitors, and market trends. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, and online research tools. By understanding the competitive landscape and the latest trends in your industry, you can tailor your marketing strategies accordingly and gain a competitive advantage.

Set The Foundations of Your Marketing Plan

Now that you’ve identified and gotten to know your target audience, it’s time to set the game plan. Your marketing blueprint is what will serve as a roadmap for all your marketing activities, ensuring that you stay on track and achieve your business goals. Here are some of the things you should do when developing your marketing plan:

Set Marketing Goals

You may have heard this a thousand times, but every business objective must be SMART–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When setting your marketing goals, make sure they meet these criteria. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, you could make it more specific by stating that you want to increase sales by 20% within the next six months. You can also determine the specific KPIs you would want to keep tabs on to keep your strategies focused and tailored according to your goals.

Choose Your Marketing Channels 

While you can use basically every marketing channel you can find online, it’s important to choose the ones that will be most effective for your target audience and business goals. The most popular ones include social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Meanwhile, many B2B businesses or those that cater to a very specific niche opt for more personal marketing channels like email marketing. The key here is to know which channels your target audience frequents the most and to focus your efforts on those platforms.

Another factor to consider when choosing your marketing channels is the type of content you plan to create. Some channels may be more suitable for certain types of content, such as visual content for Instagram or longer-form content for blogs. Additionally, consider your available resources to create and manage your marketing campaigns. You may need to prioritize certain channels based on your team’s capabilities and bandwidth.

Determine Your Budget

With the power of online marketing tools, you can start promoting your brand even with a single dollar. However, if you’re just starting out, organic reach may not be enough to meet your marketing goals. That’s why it’s important to determine your budget for paid advertising, content creation, and other marketing activities.

When determining your budget, consider your business size, goals, and target audience. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but you do need to allocate enough resources to achieve your desired results. Start small and measure the return on investment (ROI) for each activity. This will help you adjust your budget over time to maximize your marketing efforts.

Create a Content Calendar

What’s a plan without a timeline or a calendar? To make sure that all your What’s a plan without a timeline or a calendar? To make sure that all your marketing efforts are organized and on schedule, it’s important to create a content calendar. This visual represents your marketing plan, outlining the type of content you will produce, when it will be published, and where it will be shared.

We’ve made a more detailed guide on how to create a content calendar which you can check out to get started.

Build a Website and Optimize for Search Engines 

Having a website is crucial if you plan to set up your own business online. Your website is the hub of all your online activities and the first point of contact for many potential customers. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines to ensure that it ranks well and can be easily found by people searching for similar products or services.

Optimize Website Content for Search Engines (SEO)

SEO is all about keywords. Every day, people go on the web to look up different keywords, which oftentimes leads them to their next purchases. Your goal now as a business owner is to identify the exact keywords and phrases your target audience uses to search for products or services similar to yours and then incorporate them into your website content in a natural and strategic way. This will help search engines understand your website and show it to the right people when they search for related keywords.

To optimize your website content for search engines, you should start by conducting keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush. Once you have a list of relevant keywords, you can strategically place them in your website content, including page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and body copy. Just remember to avoid keyword stuffing or overusing keywords to manipulate search rankings. Instead, focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that provides value to your audience and incorporates keywords in a natural way.

Create Landing Pages To Convert Visitors Into Leads

Apart from your existing website pages, you can also create landing pages for your new collections, offerings, or specific campaigns. Landing pages are standalone pages designed with a specific objective in mind, such as capturing leads or promoting a specific product. They are typically more focused and simpler than your website’s homepage or other pages and have a clear call-to-action (CTA) that encourages visitors to take a specific action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Social Media Marketing

Among your most powerful tools for marketing is social media. With billions of users worldwide, social media platforms are what you’ll need to introduce your brand to the market. And here’s how you can tap into its fullest potential: 

Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

As mentioned, knowing the right channels for your target audience is key. For example, if your target audience is primarily professionals or businesses, then LinkedIn might be the ideal platform. On the other hand, if you’re targeting younger consumers, platforms like Instagram or TikTok might be more suitable. It’s important to consider factors such as demographics, interests, and behavior when choosing the right social media platforms for your business.

Create a Social Media Strategy

What types of content will you be offering? How often will you be updating your page? Who will your followers expect to see on your posts? These are just some of the questions that you should answer when creating your social media strategy. Make sure that your strategy aligns with your business goals and target audience and that you’re consistent with your posting schedule.

Measure the Success of Your Social Media Efforts

Let’s go back to the KPIs earlier. When using social media to promote your business, your KPIs are what will help you determine if your efforts are successful or not. Some of the most common KPIs that small to giant business owners track on social media are engagement, reach, conversions, and brand mentions. Of course, you can always tailor your own set of KPIs according to your initial marketing objectives. 

Utilize Email Marketing

Email marketing is another powerful tool that can yield an ROI of up to $36 for every dollar. If you think this is something your business can benefit from, here’s how you can get started:

Build an Email List

Your email list is the core of your email marketing campaign. Start by creating a lead magnet that attracts potential subscribers to sign up for your list. You can use various channels to promote your lead magnet, such as social media, website pop-ups, or landing pages. Be sure to have a clear and concise opt-in form, and offer valuable incentives to your target audience.

Craft Effective Email Campaigns

When crafting your email campaigns, keep in mind your email’s goal and your audience’s behavior. Personalize your emails to make them more engaging and relevant to your subscribers. Use a clear and concise call-to-action to guide them toward your desired action, whether purchasing a product or signing up for a free trial.

Tips for Writing Subject Lines and Email Content

Your subject line is your first impression on your subscribers, so make sure it’s attention-grabbing and concise. Avoid using spammy words and make it relevant to the content of your email. 

When writing your email content, use a conversational tone, focus on benefits, and keep it short and to the point. Use images and videos to break up the text and make it more engaging.

Measure the Success of Your Email Marketing Efforts

To measure the success of your email campaigns, track key metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, and revenue generated. Test different elements of your campaigns, such as subject lines, email content, and call-to-action buttons, to optimize your results. Use analytics tools to gain insights into your subscribers’ behavior and preferences and adjust your strategy accordingly. Similar to social media marketing, your goal here is to know which efforts are working and adjust those that aren’t.

Explore Content Marketing

Content marketing should be part of your marketing strategy if you’re in a niche focused on providing valuable information and solutions to your customers. Here are some things to keep in mind when exploring content marketing:

Create High-Quality Content

The first step in content marketing is creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience. This can be achieved by understanding your audience’s pain points, interests, and preferences. Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can create content that provides them with value and engages them.

Choose the Right Content Formats

There are many different content formats you can use in your content marketing strategy, including blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, and more. Choose the content format that best suits your audience’s preferences and the message you want to convey.

Promote Your Content To Reach a Wider Audience

Creating great content is just the first step in content marketing. To ensure that your content reaches a wider audience, you need to promote it through various channels. This includes sharing it on social media, reaching out to influencers in your industry, and even running paid ads.

Measure the Success of Your Content Marketing Efforts

To determine the success of your content marketing efforts, you need to track your metrics. This includes measuring your website traffic, engagement rates, conversion rates, and other relevant KPIs. This will help you understand what works and what doesn’t work in your content marketing strategy, and make informed decisions about how to improve it.

Consider Paid Advertising

As earlier mentioned, organic traffic may be difficult to achieve, especially in a highly competitive market. This is where paid advertising comes in handy. By investing in paid ads, you can quickly get your brand in front of your target audience and increase your chances of conversions.

Choose the Right Advertising Platforms

Since paid advertising involves your money, you must be wise with your choice of advertising platforms. Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and Instagram Ads are among the most popular and effective options. But before making a decision, it’s important to consider your target audience and which platforms they’re most likely to use. You should also determine your advertising goals and the type of ads you’ll be running.

Set Up and Manage Ad Campaigns

Setting up and managing ad campaigns can be overwhelming, but it can be a breeze with the right tools and platforms. Facebook Ads and Google Ads are two of the most popular advertising platforms that offer various ad types, targeting options, and budgeting options.  These platforms allow you to set up and manage your ad campaigns with ease, giving you full control over your budget and ad placements. You can maximize your ROI and achieve your business goals by continuously monitoring and optimizing your campaigns.

Create Ad Copy and Visuals That Convert

When creating ad copy and visuals, it’s important to grab your audience’s attention and convey your message effectively. A compelling headline, clear call-to-action, and eye-catching visuals can make a huge difference in the success of your ad campaign.

Measure the Success of Your Paid Advertising Efforts

To know the effectiveness of your ad campaigns, you must track and measure the right metrics. Impressions, clicks, click-through-rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) are just some of the important metrics to monitor to determine the success of your paid advertising efforts.

Ready to Make Your Brand Known?

And that’s a wrap! With these digital marketing strategies, you can now make your brand known and increase your online presence. With your creativity and the right tools in your arsenal, you can definitely achieve your #BusinessGoals in no time!

Best of luck on your digital marketing journey!

For more digital marketing and ecommerce tips and tricks, check out our blog!

Affiliate Disclosure:

This blog contains some affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you use these links to buy something (at no added cost to you).

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