When you start a business, the first thing you need to do is attract customers.
Ideally, you want to attract customers fast and without spending much (or any) money.
To get this right, you need to use the right digital marketing channels.
While your business could create complex digital marketing strategies, you probably don’t have the time or resources to do this. Instead, you want to focus on a few digital marketing channels and tactics that will drive the best results.
But the trouble is finding where to start.
In this guide, we’ll break down some of the best digital marketing channels and approaches that any small business or startup can use to attract new customers and scale their growth.
- How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels
- 8 Best Digital Marketing Channels for Small Businesses
How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels
Before we dive into a list of the best digital marketing channels, it’s important to understand what criteria you should consider when choosing digital marketing channels for your business.
When it comes to digital marketing, there are loads of options to choose from. While it may be tempting to jump at every possible opportunity, it’s a lot smarter to only select channels that will actually make an impact. This will save you time, effort, money, and headaches.
So, before you select your digital marketing channels, consider these things.
Who Are Your Customers?
The digital marketing channels you choose need to align with your customers and their online behavior.
Start by creating a detailed target customer persona, outlining your target audience’s demographics and interests. Ensure you choose marketing channels that make sense for this.
Understand how the customer prefers to communicate, what social media channels they are active on, and where they find information. This will help you understand what digital marketing channels will make the greatest impact.
Check out our guide on how to find your target audience for more tips and tactics.
How Much Do You Want to Spend?
Digital marketing campaigns can range from being entirely free to costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Establishing a clear marketing budget is important for choosing your digital marketing channels.
Most digital marketing channels are free to use, but you will have to pay if you’re running ads. You’ll also have to pay for certain tools if you need them.
As a small business or start-up, looking at free or affordable channels that offer the best possible ROI is important. Considering an all-in-one marketing platform can also help you save a lot of money on tools.
What Does the Buyer Journey Look Like?
This is possibly the most important consideration to make when choosing online marketing channels.
Understanding the buyer’s journey is essential for using the right digital channels that align with each stage of the journey. It’s important to have a general understanding of the customer journey, as well as an understanding of your business’s unique customer journey.
This will change with B2C marketing and B2B marketing.
Map out the journey customers take from learning about your brand to becoming a paying customer. What channels do you use at each stage to engage them? These are the digital marketing channels you should focus on.
What Resources Do You Have?
Running digital marketing campaigns takes time, effort, and expertise. When choosing what platforms to focus on, it’s important to understand what resources are required and whether your business has this available.
Understand what technical knowledge or expertise is needed, what time requirements are needed, and what tools are required for your digital marketing campaigns. Ensure this all aligns with what resources you have available.
What Are Your Long-Term and Short-Term Goals?
Establish goals when setting up your marketing strategy. This should include short-term and long-term goals.
Your short-term goals should align with marketing channels that supply fast results – like paid advertising. Long-term goals should look towards longer-time investment channels, like SEO.
In many cases, businesses only factor in some extra marketing channels later down the line. Establishing goals is an important starting point for selecting digital marketing channels for your business.
8 Best Digital Marketing Channels for Small Businesses
The best digital marketing channels for small businesses should be based on what offers the best customer acquisition results in the most effective way. Based on the factors above, here are some of the best digital marketing channels for new businesses to use.
Of course, the channels you decide to focus on should be based on your individual business’s specific needs.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is essential today. Every business should be on social media in some form.
The trick is finding what social media marketing channels work best for your business. You don’t want to be on every channel, as they each require time and effort. Instead, only focus on a few channels that offer the best results. You can always expand your social media efforts later.
Every kind of business will benefit from having a Facebook page. Besides being a place to share content and updates, Facebook is a great place to interact with your customers, respond to comments, and make your business more available to the public. You can utilize Facebook’s business directory and maps, reviews, and more.
The other social media marketing channels should depend on your target audience and your type of business. Instagram and TikTok are great for B2C brands, and LinkedIn is great for B2Bs. Explore different options and see where your consumers are most active and how your marketing goals can align with social media.
Of course, social media is also a great place to run targeted ads, as you can be very specific about what audience you target. Facebook is generally the best place for most small businesses to run ads, although each platform offers its own ad capabilities.
Small businesses can use social media marketing to generate brand awareness, keep their audience engaged, sell products (for eCommerce), provide customer service, and more. Setting goals is always helpful for choosing the right social media marketing platform.
Check out our guide on Instagram Reels vs TikTok for more factors to consider when choosing social media platforms.
Email marketing is a highly effective and popular form of digital marketing. It allows for promoting products and services, building relationships, increasing customer loyalty, and gathering valuable customer feedback.
There are countless options for the types of emails to send, such as brand newsletters, new product or service announcements, website updates, store openings, and event promotions. Emails such as confirmations, thank-yous, and transactional notifications are also considered email marketing. These are important emails for eCommerce businesses.
The great thing about email as a digital marketing channel for small businesses is that it offers a great return on investment (ROI). In fact, you can generate $36 from every $1 you spend on email.
It takes minimal time and effort to put together email campaigns (especially when using a marketing automation strategy), and the right campaign can deliver great results.
To do email marketing, you’ll need to build an email list and use the right email marketing software.
Content marketing is an effective indirect form of digital marketing that focuses on promoting value through relevant and useful content instead of solely promoting products, services, or branding. It encompasses a variety of content forms such as blogs, videos, social media posts, e-books, brochures, infographics, case studies, and templates.
A successful content marketing strategy involves creating content that appeals to your audience with the goal of ultimately influencing their purchasing decisions. As the saying goes, “content is king” – it drives results, builds trust, and increases brand awareness.
By producing high-quality content, you establish yourself as an expert in your industry and increase the likelihood of it being shared and referenced.
Additionally, content marketing easily ties in with other digital marketing efforts, such as incorporating keywords for SEO and creating engaging posts for social media.
Combining content marketing with proactive customer service is a powerful combination for service-based businesses that sell high-ticket products.
Focusing on content creation will help your brand tell a story, attract more customers, and build trust when it comes to digital marketing strategies. Of course, you can focus this on many marketing channels – like your blog, a YouTube channel, or a podcast. Whatever the case, just make sure you spend the time and effort creating high-quality content that adds value to your audience.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a widely discussed digital marketing strategy due to its effectiveness in reaching potential customers through search engines – with over 90% of online experiences starting with a search.
By ranking for relevant keywords, businesses can tap into the large volume of online searches, with over 63,000 searches made every second.
A successful SEO strategy includes a combination of techniques such as keyword research, content creation, backlink building, website optimization, and local SEO for small businesses targeting their local communities.
One of the advantages of SEO is that it’s an inbound marketing strategy, meaning that instead of actively reaching out to customers, businesses attract customers who are already in the process of making a purchase decision. SEO helps optimize a business’s online presence and attract high-quality website traffic with a high conversion potential.
However, SEO can be complicated and time-consuming for business owners to handle, with search engine algorithms constantly updating. For those who want to outsource SEO, solutions like Wishpond offers comprehensive and affordable SEO campaign management services.
The best thing about SEO is that it offers loads of free organic traffic to your business when you get it right. This lasts a long time. So although SEO takes time and effort to get right, once you start winning the SERPs, your business can gain a massive ROI from it.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a widely used digital marketing method where businesses only pay for the number of clicks their ads receive. It falls under the category of search engine marketing when applied to ads on search engine results pages (SERP), but it can also be used in affiliate marketing and display advertising on other websites.
PPC ads have little to no upfront cost, and businesses only pay when a customer clicks on the ad. This makes it an attractive option for small businesses with limited budgets, although it can be difficult to predict the cost at the end of the month.
The average cost per click is around $1-2, but it varies based on the industry and targeted keywords.
Highly competitive industries or keywords can result in a higher cost per click. On the other hand, some keywords can cost mere cents.
The great thing about paid advertising for small businesses and startups is that it lets you gain instant results, target the right people, and send a lot of traffic to your website fast.
You just need to make sure that your campaigns are properly set up to offer a great ROI, as you need to spend money to gain visibility.
Using a tool like Braxy can be a great way to help you optimize your ads efficiently.
There are a couple of different ways that small businesses can partner with other brands and marketers to help them grow. When done strategically, this can be a great way to grow your digital marketing efforts.
Affiliate marketing is a long-term strategy for promoting online services through third-party websites or website content and messaging. It’s a commission-based model where the advertiser only pays when a sale is made.
In this arrangement, an affiliate website earns a commission for driving traffic that leads to an online sale. It’s low-risk and requires no investment, so it’s a great strategy for small businesses.
Co-branding is a paid or owned media tactic in which two brands are featured in email marketing or native advertising. Co-marketing is similar, but it’s a collaboration between companies to share content with the goal of increasing awareness and leads among their combined audiences without a fee.
Video marketing is a highly engaging and interactive digital marketing strategy. You could create and publish video content on platforms like YouTube or TikTok or utilize online display ads with embedded videos.
Video ads can be played before, during, or after a video stream and often include a call-to-action for the viewer to purchase the product or service or learn more about it. Video ads offer the ability to interact with viewers and track their engagement.
Video is way more engaging than written content, and it’s a great way to show off your products or reveal more about what your brand does.
Influencer marketing is an upgraded version of word-of-mouth marketing. By partnering with an influencer with a large following within a specific niche or community, you gain access to their audience, who trust and admire the influencer, making them more likely to buy a product recommended by them.
There are different types of influencers to target, depending on your target market, niche, and budget.
Micro-influencers have thousands of followers, usually not more than 100,000, and are trusted within their community. Macro-influencers have anywhere from 100,000 to a million followers and are at the top of social media.
Mega-influencers have millions of followers, usually celebrities or social media stars. However, when doing influencer marketing, it’s important to target the right influencer and audience and avoid those with “bought” followers.
Micro-influencers are more genuine and affordable, making them a smart and accessible choice for small businesses.
The right digital marketing channel can have a way greater impact than trying to use every channel. As a small business, you’re focused on getting results fast. This is why it’s so important to use social media platforms or marketing tactics that help you reach and acquire customers efficiently.
The digital marketing channels listed above are some of the best for all kinds of businesses. However, the channels you should use depend on your business, how it operates, and what your customers are like. Choose the right marketing channels, and you should see some awesome business growth.