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Digital Marketing for Small Business: Here’s How You Can Do It

Male employee in a flower shop, wearing a pink stress shirt and an apron, takes a photo of some flowers in his store / digital marketing for small business
Small businesses can excel at content marketing. It's not about having a giant marketing budget or a large team. It's about creating valuable, relevant, and engaging content that resonates with your target audience. [Getty / Studio Science]

Digital marketing success doesn't have to be determined by the size of your business, or its budget. In fact, small businesses actually have a distinct advantage in the space.

You’ve probably heard this before: Many small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) have great products and services, but struggle to be seen. Digital marketing for small businesses can be tricky at first, but it’s a crucial skill that helps SMBs connect with their community and customers

According to our research, 67% of SMB leaders say community support has been important to their company’s survival. Now SMBs can go small and big with digital marketing tools that once seemed reserved for large corporations with generous marketing budgets.  

Success isn’t just having access to these tools – it’s also about learning how to use them to connect with customers in meaningful ways. How can you use digital marketing to differentiate your brand and carve out a unique space in a crowded marketplace?

What you’ll learn

In this post, we’ll walk you through strategies for using your digital platforms to amplify your voice, extend your reach, and build enduring relationships — even with modest resources. 

Being an SMB has its challenges. Learning how to make digital marketing work for you to personalize communication can create lifelong customers that give your business a stable base. Let’s take a deeper look at what digital marketing for small business really means, and the steps you can take to get started today. 

Small biz, big results

You don’t need a big budget or a team of marketers to find more leads, grow your engagement, and earn more revenue. See how the right technology can pay off for your small business.

What is digital marketing for small businesses?

Digital marketing for small business can take many forms: social media marketing, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and much more.

When your business uses online channels and strategies to promote your products or services and engage with target audiences, you’re using digital marketing. For small businesses, this means capitalizing on a cost-effective method to reach a broader audience and compete with larger competitors. 

Say you’re a local bakery hoping to increase foot traffic and online orders. You can use social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to showcase your baked goods. Your aim is for people to follow you and engage with your content and promotions. As you get to know your customers, you can better tailor messages to demographics, interests, and geographical locations, yielding higher returns on investment.

Digital marketing for small businesses revolves around optimizing websites, creating valuable content, using social media, email marketing, and search engine marketing (SEM). These strategies help SMBs establish a strong online presence, engage with target audiences, and drive conversions – all while staying within your budget constraints. 

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How can small businesses use SEO to help with marketing?  

SEO refers to the practice of optimizing a website to improve its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). For small businesses, SEO is invaluable as it enhances online presence, drives organic traffic, and boosts brand credibility. 

By optimizing website content, improving site structure, and targeting relevant keywords, your small businesses can increase your chances of being discovered by prospects searching for related products or services. Having a visible, search-friendly website reduces dependency on paid advertising and establishes long-term sustainability in online marketing efforts.

As a small business, your resources might be more limited. But that doesn’t cut you out of the game. You can still conduct keyword research to identify search terms that prospects are using for similar products. By integrating these keywords into the content throughout your website – page titles, headings, meta descriptions, and body text – you signal relevance to search engines.

One way a small business can use local SEO tactics is by improving their Google My Business listing with information such as address, phone number, and business hours, to appear in local search results. Make sure to follow up and encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. A boost in credibility will improve local search rankings.

Keyword research involves identifying relevant search terms that potential customers use to find products or services. Tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush can help you discover high-traffic keywords with low competition. By integrating them into your website content, including titles, headings, meta tags, and body text, you’ll improve search engine visibility and attract targeted traffic.

Building backlinks, or inbound links from other websites to yours, is essential for SEO and a great digital marketing for small business practice. It signals authority and trustworthiness to search engines. 

You can acquire backlinks by creating high-quality content that others naturally want to link to. This means reaching out to industry influencers or bloggers for collaborations, or listing their business on reputable directories and local listings. Make sure your focus is on acquiring links from reputable sources; otherwise, you can acquire penalties from search engines.

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Can small businesses excel at content marketing? 

Yes! Absolutely, small businesses can excel at content marketing. It’s not about having a giant marketing budget or a large team. It’s about creating valuable, relevant, and engaging content that resonates with your target audience. 

Whether it’s blog posts, social media updates, videos, podcasts, or infographics, content marketing allows your small businesses to showcase your expertise, personality, and unique offerings to attract and retain customers. When you understand your audience’s preferences, you can craft content that educates, entertains, or inspires, building trust and loyalty over time. Here’s how you can get started.

Plan before you build a campaign

There are some key steps to understand before getting started. Here are some questions you should answer before you build your strategy:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are your customers’ needs and pain points?
  • What are your goals for content marketing?
    • Generating new leads or increasing sales?

These objectives will guide content creation and help you aim for success.

Audit your current content

Next, do an audit to assess existing assets and identify content gaps or opportunities. This helps prioritize topics that align with the objectives and audience interests you’ve defined. Consider your budget, time, and expertise, and plan accordingly. If resources are limited, focus on creating high-quality evergreen content that provides long-term value. It will feel more feasible than producing daily blog posts or videos.

Meet your customers where they are

Another step is to determine the channels and platforms where your target audience is most active. Whether it’s social media, email newsletters, blog posts, or video content, choosing the right channels ensures maximum reach and engagement. Be organized and establish a content calendar to maintain consistency and ensure a steady flow of content. This helps avoid sporadic posting and keeps the audience engaged over time.

Monitor your content’s performance

Plan on regular monitoring of your content. Use metrics like website traffic, engagement rates, and conversion rates to evaluate performance. How can you make positive changes to your strategy if you don’t know how your audience preferences are changing?  

With those steps in place, you’re ready to promote your content. Do that by using the following cost-effective and easy digital marketing for small business tactics: 

  • Using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X, and LinkedIn help you share your content with followers and engage with potential customers. Use relevant hashtags, create appealing graphics or videos, and stay current with features like stories or live streams to boost engagement.
  • Sending out newsletters or email campaigns featuring blog posts, special promotions, or product updates keeps the audience informed and engaged. Personalizing emails based on subscriber interests or behaviors can further enhance engagement and drive conversions.
  • Partnering with influencers to share or endorse your content exposes it to a broader audience and adds credibility to the brand. Similarly, guest posting on reputable websites or participating in online communities and forums relevant to the business’s niche can attract new audiences and drive traffic back to the business’s website.
  • Repurposing content across different channels and formats can maximize reach and longevity. For example, turning blog posts into videos, infographics, or podcasts enables you to cater to different audience preferences and extend the lifespan of the content.

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How can small businesses use social media marketing? 

No matter the size of your business, there’s a social media marketing platform right for you. Despite all the choices you have, it’s important to get the most bang for your buck and focus on meeting your customers where they already are. 

Go where your customers are

Foremost, identify the platforms where your prospects are most active. Rather than trying to maintain a presence on every social media platform, you can focus on a few platforms where your target audience is most engaged.

If yours is a visually-driven business such as a clothing boutique or restaurant, you may want to showcase high-quality videos via Instagram or Pinterest.  If you are a small consulting firm or law office, you might benefit more from LinkedIn, where you can establish thought leadership, network with industry professionals, and share informative content.

Learn more about your customers

When developing digital marketing for small business, knowing your customers is critical. On the plus side, as an SMB, you’re often closer to your customers than most big corporations. 

You can figure out what’s best for you when you consider your demographics (age, gender, location, interests), the nature of your products or services, and the type of content you plan on creating. If budget allows, you can conduct market research. How are your competitors’ social media presence? Can you test different platforms to see which yield the best results? 

Develop a content calendar

In terms of creating content for social media, you should aim for consistency rather than quantity. Developing a content calendar with a mix of curated and original content, including product/service updates, behind-the-scenes glimpses, customer testimonials, and relevant industry news, ensures a steady stream of content without overwhelming resources. 

Could you showcase employee stories, or offer exclusive product sneak peeks? This can humanize your brand and make your followers feel more connected. Use relevant hashtags, tag other users or businesses, and participate in industry conversations to increase visibility and attract new followers.

Listen and respond with respect

Inspiring engagement and building trust is key to building relationships on social media. When you allocate time to respond to every comment, message, and mention, you’re showing your appreciation for customer feedback. Be an active listener and always maintain a friendly and professional tone. Address concerns or complaints empathetically. 

Encouraging user-generated content through contests, hashtags, or customer features can create a sense of community around the brand. Asking questions or soliciting opinions encourages followers to share their thoughts. Hosting polls, quizzes, or surveys can also spark interaction and provide valuable insights into customer preferences. Anything interactive (contests, giveaways, challenges) encourages user-generated content. 

It bears repeating that measuring and analyzing performance metrics such as reach, engagement, website traffic, and conversions helps your SMB understand what’s working and what’s not. The market might be competitive, and you don’t want to overtax your precious resources. When you prioritize efficiency, consistency, and engagement, small businesses can be a standout with social media. 

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How should a small business approach email marketing?  

You’re going to want to integrate the email marketing best practices tied to building a quality email list, engaging subscribers, and driving conversions. 

Develop your email list

The email list is the foundation of your email marketing efforts. To build your email list, emphasize the value of signing up by offering incentives such as exclusive discounts, free resources, or valuable content. Implement a sign-up form on your website, social media profiles, and during checkout processes to capture leads at various touchpoints.

Delegate and automate

Once your email list is established, make sure to have a devoted team member whose primary focus is building content. For some SMBs, that might just be you, which is why it’s even more important to learn the importance of segmenting your email list based on demographics, interests, or purchase history. 

Automation tools are a huge benefit in digital marketing for small business, because they can help you streamline the process of sending targeted email campaigns based on subscriber behavior. 

Catch the reader’s eye

Stay competitive in the market with emails that are visually appealing and mobile-responsive. Use compelling subject lines to capture attention and encourage opens, and include clear call-to-action buttons to guide subscribers towards desired actions. 

Consistency is key in email marketing. And with the unique challenges and opportunities of an SMB, establishing a regular sending cadence can show the respect you have for your subscriber’s inbox. Whether it’s weekly newsletters, monthly promotions, or seasonal updates, an SMB has a special opportunity to really connect. 

Stay on top of performance metrics

Monitoring email metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates will cost you nothing but time, and it will be worth it. A/B testing subject lines, content, or sending times allows for optimization based on data-driven insights.

To be effective, SMB email campaigns must address specific challenges and opportunities. Here are some key considerations:

Personalization on a budget

You may not have the resources for advanced personalization tools, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor email content to individual subscribers. Use the data you’ve collected during sign-ups to address your subscribers by name. You can get around spending a ton on software and still segment your email list based on demographics, preferences, or past behaviors.

Local relevance

SMBs often serve local or niche markets, so incorporating local references or community-centric content in email campaigns can resonate with subscribers. Highlighting local events, partnerships with other businesses in the area, or showcasing customer stories from the community helps build a sense of belonging and strengthens the connection between the business and its audience.

Value propositions and offers

Given a more limited budget, you must communicate your incentives for subscribers right away, and with clear, consistent messaging. Whether it’s exclusive discounts, early access to new products, or informative content that solves a problem or meets a need, articulating the benefits of subscribing and engaging with email content encourages action.

Resourceful design and content

Just because you’re small, does not disqualify you for professional design or copywriting. There are plenty of user-friendly email marketing platforms with customizable templates that require minimal design expertise. Focus on creating concise and engaging content that communicates your brand’s message effectively and prompts action without overwhelming subscribers with unnecessary information.

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How do you measure the success of your small business digital marketing efforts?  

While large enterprises may have dedicated teams for analyzing email metrics and optimizing campaigns, your small business needs to be resourceful in measuring your email marketing efforts. When building digital marketing for small businesses, keeping a close eye on these metrics can make all the difference.

Essential metrics you should focus on include:

Website traffic

Monitoring the number of visitors to the website, as well as the sources of traffic (organic search, social media, referral, etc.), helps assess the effectiveness of digital marketing channels in driving website visits.


Tracking the percentage of website visitors who complete a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form, indicates the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in generating leads or sales.

Engagement metrics

Analyzing metrics like likes, comments, shares, retweets, and click-through rates on social media and email marketing campaigns provides insights into audience engagement and content performance.

Return on investment (ROI)

You can calculate the ROI of your digital marketing efforts by comparing the cost of marketing campaigns to the revenue generated, giving you an easy look at how well your initiatives are paying off.

Google Analytics is a free tool that provides comprehensive insights into website traffic, user behavior, and conversions. By installing the Google Analytics tracking code on your website, you can access valuable data such as traffic sources, user demographics, and conversion rates.

Simplify analytics by focusing on key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Implementing UTM tracking codes for links in emails allows for more granular tracking of website traffic and conversions. For social media analytics, platforms like Facebook Insights, X Analytics, and LinkedIn Analytics offer free built-in tools to track engagement metrics, audience demographics, and post performance. 

Let’s say a small online boutique recently launched a digital marketing campaign to promote its new collection of handmade jewelry. By tracking website traffic using Google Analytics, the boutique owner can see how many visitors are landing on the website. They can analyze traffic sources to determine which channels, such as social media, email marketing, or paid advertising, are driving the most visitors to the site.

In addition to tracking website traffic, the boutique owner also monitors conversions to assess the effectiveness of the campaign in generating sales. They set up conversion tracking within Google Analytics to track the number of visitors who make a purchase or add items to their cart. By comparing the number of conversions to the total website traffic, the owner can calculate the conversion rate and determine the campaign’s success in driving revenue.

In this scenario, if the digital marketing campaign resulted in a significant increase in website traffic and a high conversion rate, it indicates that the campaign resonated well with the target audience and effectively earned sales for the boutique. Conversely, if the campaign generated a lot of traffic but a low conversion rate, it may indicate that there are issues with the website or checkout process that need to be addressed to improve conversion rates.

Digital marketing for small business offers cost-effective strategies to reach a broader audience. With digital channels available such as social media, email marketing, and search engines, you can compete more effectively, establish a strong online presence, and connect with customers. 

As a small business grows, the challenge becomes sustaining momentum. One way to do that is to invest in advanced tools and technologies. This could include upgrading to a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system or adopting sophisticated analytics platforms to gain deeper insights into customer behavior and campaign performance. 

Good digital marketing has the power to level the playing field for SMBs, enabling toe-to-toe competition with larger businesses. With the right amounts of creativity, innovation, and strategy, you can connect with audiences on a personal level, and differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace. 

Take your small biz marketing up a notch

Marketing Cloud Growth Edition has data and AI capabilities that are built to help small businesses create better campaigns. See how it works today.

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