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  • Lee Brown

Small Business Marketing Ideas

It can be difficult for a small business to know what type of marketing it should be doing and what the priorities should be. This post aims to help with these questions.


For a small business all marketing starts with online in my view. If you have a limited budget, as most small businesses do, then the advantage of spending it online is that everything you do will be measurable in some way. This will allow you to ensure that your marketing activity has a positive Return on Investment (ROI) which is of course crucial for any business but especially those that are small.


So what type of online marketing should you be doing?


Online marketing can be classified into a few different areas. Search, social media, affiliates, content and email would be the main ones. I would always advocate, if you can, to try to do some marketing in all areas. This is because the sum of the marketing channels working together can be bigger than the individual channels summed up, if that makes sense! Over time channels can contribute to each other and they can attract clients or customers at different places in their journey so it can be helpful to have a plan for each channel.


Let's look at each channel and discuss the implications of using each one.



Search Marketing


This can be broken down into Paid Search and Organic Search. Paid Search is the ads which you can see in Google in Search Ads at the top or bottom of a page of results, in Shopping ads or in Display Ads. Organic Search is mainly the results which you see after the Paid Ads in the search results page.


To get into Paid Search you need to open a Google Ads or Microsoft Ads account and then add a credit card to get up and running. It can be complex to start and run a Paid Search account but there is no reason why you can't do it yourself and learn to a good standard over time. Paid Search can get results quickly but, of course, you are always paying for those results normally on a Cost Per Click basis.


To effect Organic Search then you need two things broadly. One is a technical set up of your website to ensure that it is easy to crawl for Search Engines and, two, you need some content on your site that people want to read. This work on Organic Search is also known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). There is no reason why this can't be done yourself with a bit of help.


Should I be doing Search Marketing?


Most of the time the answer to this questions is yes! If consumers are looking for your products then you should be doing Search Marketing, both Paid and Organic. Think about it. If consumers are already searching for your products then their actions show a high intent to purchase those products.


If you are selling physical products then you could start off doing Paid Search by advertising on Google Shopping. These are the product ads that you see both on the search results page and in the shopping tab. Google Shopping is typically the highest ROI paid search marketing because consumers can see your products before they click them and therefore we would expect that they are interested when they do. It is a good place to start.


Producing content for Organic Search should be seen as a more longer term project versus Paid Search which can yield quick results. However, it is still important as it can be a source of free traffic at a later stage when you have been able to rank highly for your content or products. Examples of content for Organic Search are a blog which discusses different aspects of your business area and offering or the effort you put into product titles and descriptions for an e-commerce store.



Social Media Marketing


Similarly to Search Marketing, Social Media Marketing can be broken up into Paid and Organic. Paid Marketing Campaigns can be run on most social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In etc. To do this you would need to open a Business Manager account and then just like Paid Search add in a credit card and then start to build your campaigns. I would say Paid Search campaigns in social media are simpler to operate than those in Search Marketing but there is still much to learn and understand.


Organic Social Media is about the posts that you see each day on social media platforms. Posts can engage with existing followers and also they can attract new followers to your page or website. They are free to do and easy to understand. However unlike content for Organic Search, the useful lifetime of the posts can be very short.


Should I be doing Social Media Marketing?


Again, for most businesses the answer is yes. If you are selling a service or product that is not widely searched for then social media can be especially important.


Paid Social Media Marketing is different from Paid Search in several ways but the most obvious is that you are marketing to consumers who have shown different levels of intent versus those that are searching (i.e. in the market now). For that reason it is important to understand how to target the best audiences for your business and to understand that results can take a bit more time.


Organic Social Media Marketing is free to do and easily understood. It is accessible therefore and something that should be considered but the length of time a post is useful for should be considered versus the effort a post takes to create.



Affiliate Marketing


Affiliate Marketing is when a business uses third parties (i.e. affiliates) to market its products or services which it pays an agreed commission to upon a successful sale. In some ways it is a less popular form of marketing these days but it can still be useful.


Typically you would sign up to an affiliate platform which will allow you to sign up affiliates and give them content (e.g. banners and links) to enable them to sell your products or services. The affiliate platform will track all sales, calculate and pay commissions owed and then just send you a monthly invoice.


Should I be doing Affiliate Marketing?


The answer to this question is probably less clear cut. Affiliate Marketing can still be useful and of course it has the benefit of only paying for confirmed sales. However, it has become dominated by cash back sites and this is an area which needs careful consideration to ensure that you want to be involved in it.



Email Marketing


Whilst email is becoming less popular, it is still currently the most prevalent form of marketing to existing clients or to contacts that are not yet clients. It is the process of building email lists and converting leads into clients and one time clients into multiple purchase clients. It is easily accessible using cloud based software such as Mailchimp or Klaviyo and relatively cheap to maintain small email lists.


Should I be doing Email Marketing Marketing?


Most probably yes is the answer to this. It can be great for bigger businesses when advertising new products or big sale events. Equally it can be great for smaller businesses who can use it to nurture contacts and turn them into clients. This would typically be done with an email sequence which can be automated and sent after a potential client has consented to give you their email address usually in return for something.



So this has been a brief introduction to different types of digital marketing and some ideas of when and how to use them. Digital Mentor can help any business with any aspect of digital marketing. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.


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