Digital marketing header image for MB article.

7 Essential Digital Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

Audio Version — 7:55

Why is Digital Marketing Important for Small Businesses?

As a business owner, you may have pondered the question, “why is digital marketing important for small businesses?” After all, if you have a storefront, you probably assume that customers should come and buy from you. While that may be the past business model, today’s savvy small business owner needs to leverage digital marketing to take advantage of free to low-cost online tools to help drive traffic to their business.

Digital marketing is important for small businesses because it is low cost and often free. Digital marketing presents a host of tools to allow business owners to connect with customers and potential customers, communicate special offers, and measure their results in real-time, rapidly changing their advertising strategies. It’s not to say that, as a business owner, you should abandon traditional marketing strategies. However, leveraging digital marketing strategies can complement your traditional techniques and often exceed the results you would get with traditional advertising and marketing methods.

I get it; you wear many hats as a small business owner, and trying to figure out the ins and outs of the digital marketing space seems challenging enough. But trust me when I say this is crucial to running any successful business. Digital marketing can be intimidating if you need help to know where to start; for this reason, I have put together a high-level list of 7 digital marketing tips to get you on the right path in your marketing journey and increasing your business revenue.

digital marketing illustration of two people making mobile friendly websiteCreate a Mobile-Friendly Website 

With over 6.6 billion smartphones worldwide and their continued growth, it’s crucial to ensure that you have a website optimized for mobile devices. If you have a non-mobile-friendly site, you may lose out on potential customers using their phones to browse the web and find businesses like yours. 

Mobile users are often in a rush and want to save time trying to figure out how to make an online purchase or fill out an inquiry form on their phone—they’ll move on if they can’t get what they need quickly and easily. Additionally, having a mobile-friendly website can help increase click-through rates (CTRs) because users only need one tap instead of two clicks when they’re browsing using a smartphone versus a desktop computer; this makes it easier for people visiting from their phones since there aren’t any extra steps involved once they land on your site through Google or another search engine listing.

Using various tools makes it easy to check if your site is mobile-friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if your site is mobile-friendly; enter the URL, and the tool will tell you how responsive it is.

Optimize Your Local Listings

 

Getting your business listed on Google, Yelp, and other local directories is the next step in optimizing your digital marketing. It is vital to ensure the information about your company is correct (address, phone number, hours of operation).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with small business owners over the years, it’s this: customers love nothing more than seeing a physical address when searching for businesses online! So make sure that if you have an office or store location, it appears prominently in all the places where people are looking for businesses like yours—including Google Maps.

Another great way to get your business in front of people is through local directories. Many are out there, including Yelp, Angie’s List, and many others. The key is to make sure that your business is listed on these sites so that when people search for things like “best day spa near me” or “best dentist in Riverside,” your business will show up!

Leverage Email Marketing to Drive Sales

Email marketing is still one of small businesses’ most effective and inexpensive digital marketing channels. It’s a great way to connect with customers, build relationships and trust, and drive sales.

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your audience regularly. When you send out emails that are relevant to your customers’ interests—and don’t spam them—you increase the chances that they’ll read it in their inboxes (and learn something) versus deleting it right away because they’re tired of seeing constant ads in their inboxes all day long!

digital marketing social media iconsCreate an Online Presence with Social Media

If you’re a small business owner, social media is likely one of your best digital marketing tools for reaching new customers. It’s free to set up an account on any of the major platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—and there are many ways you can use these channels to promote your business and engage with customers.

Social media also allows you to connect with other businesses in your industry. If they share similar goals to yours (like growing traffic), then it might make sense for both parties involved to work together on promotional, content, or advertising campaigns. By partnering together, you have the luxury of sharing audiences with the goal of gaining more followers and, ultimately, more customers.

Focus on Customer Experience and Engagement on Social Media

A fundamental way to improve your customer experience is by listening to and responding to your customers promptly. Your social media presence should reflect this and allow for interactions between you or your customer service team and your customers.

An excellent example is Amazon reviews. If someone has an issue with their purchase, they can write about it in a review they leave on the seller’s page on Amazon. Attentive sellers respond with helpful information or an apology if there is an error (like if they sent the wrong product). You can also see how companies like Apple do this—they have been known for responding fast when customers have questions about products or services offered through Apple Stores around the world.

The critical takeaway for deploying a digital marketing strategy of listening to customers through social media is that you can respond quickly—in real-time—to their concerns and work fast to solve their problems. 

Engage in Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is partnering with influencers online (or offline) to promote your brand. It’s a great way to build credibility and reach new customers simultaneously, but it can be difficult for small businesses without a track record or a small budget. 

To get started with influencer marketing, establish a presence on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. You need people who follow those channels for this strategy to work! Then find influencers who are active within your niche and reach out to them by commenting on their posts or asking them questions about what they like about your industry. Once you establish a relationship with the influencer, ask them if they would be interested in collaborating on something related to their interests. Most often, it’s what their social media channel is all about. 

For example, let’s say you operate a day spa business and wish to increase your clientele. You already have a presence on social media and are looking to collaborate with an influencer to help grow your followers and generate new business. Your strategy to partner with a viable influencer is to seek one that frequently posts on health and beauty or meditation and mindfulness topics. However, one word of caution: influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers may cost you more than smaller (micro) influencers. It’s wise to begin with micro-influencers and move up to major influencers as you grow your business.

Use Content Marketing for that Personal Touch with Digital Marketing 

In today’s digital world, there’s no doubt that content marketing is the best way to compensate for the lack of personal touch. Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to build trust and authority for your business, attract new customers and keep existing ones happy. It can help you promote your brand and educate customers about products or services they may still need to be aware of (like yours). Content marketing also helps answer customer questions about your product, services, and business.

Final Thoughts on Digital Marketing for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business owner, the world of digital marketing can be overwhelming. There are so many platforms and strategies to try that it’s easy to get overwhelmed or discouraged by all the options. But don’t worry, like riding a bike, you get up, pedal, and if you fall off, you get back up and keep going. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it and begin to see the results of all your efforts.

You don’t need to be an expert at everything immediately; start with one thing at a time, whether building an email list or setting up Facebook ads for your store. Don’t be afraid of failure or making mistakes along the way; those experiences will only strengthen you in the long run as long as you keep moving forward with new ideas and strategies until something finally sticks (and even then, keep experimenting!).

Digital marketing is an excellent way for small businesses to reach customers and grow their businesses. However, it can be challenging to do well. Creating a successful digital marketing strategy that works for your business takes time, patience, and dedication. These seven tips will help guide you on your journey toward becoming an expert in this area!

Image of a man and woman communication

What is Communication? Communication Defined, and its Three Fundamental Qualities

Audio Version — 7:55

What is Communication?

Some may argue that communication occurs between all living creatures on Earth. Pet owners will testify that their dogs and cats “speak” with them and amongst each other. My point is not that your pets don’t communicate with you, but that the topic of animal and insect communication is beyond the scope of this article. In this context, I will concentrate on human communication. The sharing of information between two people and the three fundamental qualities that make it unique to humans.

Communication is a complex process. It is often difficult to determine when and where a communication encounter begins and where it ends. Think about the last time you verbally spoke with someone. Who started the conversation? Who ended the conversation? Did the conversation begin with the first utterance of words, or did a nonverbal cue or a visual message printed on a billboard or t-shirt start it? Perhaps it was a subconscious nonverbal reaction to a visual message. Despite what triggered the conversation — verbal, non-verbal, conscious, or unconscious — millions of us continue to engage in back-and-forth exchanges every second of every day.

Definition of Communication

In their book, The Functions of Human Communication: A Theoretical Approach, Frank Dance and Carl E. Larson noted that there are over 126 definitions of communication. After all, communication carries many meanings that range from messages printed on T-shirts, to presidential speeches, to non-verbal types such as body language, and visual or symbolic displays designed to “communicate” or incite emotional responses.

However, to establish a working definition for this article and as a reference for all current and future posts on the website that relate to the subject, I define communication as the process of transmitting and receiving verbal and nonverbal symbols and signs influenced by multiple contexts.

Our working definition exposes three fundamental qualities that form the foundation of communication that make it unique to humans. It is relational, it’s a process, and it’s symbolic. A closer look at each quality is required.

Three Fundamental Qualities of Human Communication

what is communication article — diagram of human communication qualities fundamentals for

It’s Relational

Communication is an act that we do with others rather than something we do to them. Communication depends on a partner’s involvement. Just like two figure skaters working together, communicators must also work together. Prominent figure skating duos must work to adapt to one another’s abilities or skill levels. If the skaters cannot work together and adapt, their figure skating routine suffers, and the results can be devastating. Like the figure skaters, there’s no difference between two people communicating. Both communicators are in a relationship and, to improve their understanding and communication, they must adapt and coordinate their efforts with one another.

Since communication is relationship-based, it is usually incorrect to assume that just one individual is responsible for a relationship. Two people are responsible for the relationship’s success or failure. Consequently, the two people in the relationship are also responsible for communicating effectively. Instead of blaming one another for a poor outcome, it is better to ask: “How did we handle the conversation or situation poorly, and how can we improve it?”

It’s a Process

We tend to view communication as a series of isolated, discrete, individual acts. However, to the contrary, communication is a process and often a complex process. When you communicate, there are many processes occurring simultaneously that influences the communication process. For example, a co-worker approaches you and compliments you on your presentation at the company meeting. They may something like,

“Roger, you did an outstanding job of addressing all the important issues for our department at today’s company meeting. I like how you used personal stories to convey the message.”

A long history of experiences influences the way you interpret the words of your colleague and the manner you respond to them. For example, you may involve thoughts of how others judge your presentations in your past. How you felt about the presentation yourself? How you feel about the colleague complimenting you? Are they sincere or do they have a record of being insincere? These thoughts, paired with other external and internal “noise” factors, play a part in the process of how you communicate your response to your colleague.

The simplified process illustrates that communication is not one act strung together, but a dynamic and fluid concept that requires many processes before the response is uttered. Most of which are done simultaneously and often subconsciously.

It’s Symbolic

The words we use represent people, ideas, and events, allowing us to communicate about them. Thus, the words we speak are mere symbols which we assign meaning to and accept that meaning as a collective group. The symbols are arbitrary. There is no logical reason that the word doors represents what it stands for. Another word, in English, would work perfectly fine for “door” if everyone agreed upon the word.

We must interpret symbols in the same way in order to understand one another. Communication may become conflictual if we do not interpret symbols the same way. The results of conflict can lead to disagreements, separation, or even war. Take, for example, the two major political parties in the United States. Both interpret symbols differently. They believe differently in the symbolism of freedom or individual rights. There may be similarities in meaning between the two political groups on certain ideas, but on others, the meaning can be different, contributing to the acrimonious atmosphere of American politics.

Final Thoughts

We tend to take communication for granted. We assume communication is a linear process that occurs in isolated, discrete acts with another person. Communication is in fact a complex process that considers many variables from a communicators’ history, the receivers’ history, and external factors occurring at the time of communication.

Despite its complexity, communication occurs every moment of every day, both verbally and non-verbally between humans. While there is an argument for communication with animals, what makes human communication unique is its three fundamental characteristics: It is relational, follows a process, and is symbolic.