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Internet Marketing For Small Business Owners
So you’ve learned how to start a business, now it’s time to promote it. Marketing your small business spreads the word about the incredible products you have to sell. The chances of making money online are slim anytime soon.
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But your customer’s attention is being drawn from pillar to post. Big brands with thousands of dollars in marketing budgets drive advertising costs sky high. Let’s not start changing our algorithms on social media channels to make it more difficult for small businesses to reach the audiences they’ve built.
It’s not all doom and gloom. You can stand in the busiest places. It just takes a little more creativity.
To get you started, this guide shares 17 creative marketing ideas we’ve seen from independent brands that are completely free (or very low cost) to copy.
To say that social media platforms are over saturated would be an understatement. Some 92% of companies will use platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok to reach their target audience by 2022.
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Couple that with the fact that Facebook only shows posts to 5.2% of a Page’s followers and you can see why social media is a painful way to market a small business.
Diversify your social media marketing strategy by hosting a contest. Science proves that people like free stuff. So, give away something free—like a product bundle or a trip to your headquarters—in exchange for social media engagement. Ask your followers to like, comment, share and tag cheap posts to increase reach.
For example, Luca Foods hosted an Instagram contest that gave away dips and desserts. Participants had to like the post, follow its Instagram profile, and tag a friend. Bonus entries are up for grabs if followers share the post on their story:
Of course, attractive social media contests provide expensive products. But the marketing dollars you spend on hosting a giveaway don’t have to be extreme. You can make the reward as cheap or expensive as you want.
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Another great way to use social media to market your small business is to use user-generated content (UGC)—which 79% of shoppers find has a huge impact on their purchasing decisions. Because it is less biased than branded content. They see someone in their shoes loving the product.
Encourage existing customers to share photos, videos and testimonials of them using your products. Regularly scan your brand name or hashtag to see social media posts that people have shared without prompting.
The goal is to build a library of high-quality UGC that will convince on-the-fence social media followers to buy, like this example from Andy Swim. A previous client of his made a TikTok video, which Andy Swim posted on Instagram.
Continuing with the social media theme, video marketing reigns supreme on many platforms. Take a look at TikTok’s success. Its minute-long videos became so popular that traditionally a photo-sharing app Instagram launched its own version — Reels — off the back.
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Dope Dogis is a small business using this free marketing idea. “We held live sessions with our experts on Instagram, during which audience members could ask questions, and we also did a short interview,” says its founder, Erin Mastopietro.
“As a result, we gained engagement with an expert audience and delivered value to our followers.”
Social media is caused by trends. Think about it: TikTok is credited with making songs go viral. When a dance trend emerges, artists see record-breaking streams. Everyone posts videos of themselves dancing to the same song.
How do you uncover trending topics before your small business social media content gets mixed up with others jumping on trends? Identify them before the crowd does:
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Partake Foods, for example, posted a tweet that mimicked Spotify Unwrapped—the music platform’s annual roundup of music users listened to throughout the year. Just in case, Partake Foods replaced the most listened to music in favor of the top product:
Here’s a great marketing idea if you’re working with a zero budget: Collaborate with other small businesses whose target markets overlap with yours (as long as they don’t compete with the products you sell).
Suppose you had an online store selling handmade crockery. Partner with another small business owner who sells handmade vases and tap into each other’s audiences and run a co-marketing campaign, such as:
The beauty of co-marketing is not only that you support small business owners, but unlike the influencer marketing route, you get to tap into an existing audience for free—many of whom publish sponsored posts. Take charge.
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When shoppers visit a new e-commerce store, different things go through their mind. At the forefront are questions like: How do I know if this is the right product for me?
Take the pain out of comparing new products with quirky recommendations. They don’t require hours of time to go into product development. Go beyond the “you saw this, so you might be interested” category that grabs people’s attention.
Kayleigh adds that with clever copy to drive sales, new businesses can “up and cross-sell in a more fun way.”
Existing customers are your best friends. These are people who have seen your current digital marketing strategy and bought into it. Use them as your starting point when developing new marketing ideas.
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Use apps like Post-Purchase NPS Surveys to send customer feedback surveys to anyone who makes a purchase through your online store. Ask what they liked about your product, how they discovered you, and what motivated them to buy.
Package Free, for example, has a featured reel of customer reviews on its product pages. Anyone debating whether to trust a retailer is immediately reassured, e-commerce undoubtedly improves site conversion rates:
Being voted the “best” product in your industry is a surefire way to build credibility and attract attention. “Awards give businesses a solid shot of authority, which is one of the keys to successful marketing. You want your audience to know that,” explains Stephen Light, CMO and co-owner of Nola Mattresses. That you offer the best of the best.
“Regardless of your location, there are countless awards and accolades that you can find with a little digging.”
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Whatever award you enter to win, Stephen says, “it’s a cost-effective boost of reputation and publicity that can make a big difference with a small investment. Displaying them proudly on your website encourages conversions.” can encourage.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all of your marketing strategies need to be online. Of course, building an online presence is very important. But stay away from the computer and meet potential customers by attending local offline events, such as:
Contact your local council, many of which have a list of events to support small businesses in the area. Sites like MeetupandEventbrite also organize business events in your local city.
Can’t find anyone? Host your own. Find a free space to host an event (like a public library), bring your inventory, and hand out to travelers to build brand awareness. Just remember to take your business card. Anyone who is interested in your product but not ready to buy can visit your website later to get the information.
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Have a bunch of slow moving products? Sell them as part of a mystery box—something Clegg muttered to his jewelry business: “Fill it with slow-moving products and promote them as a surprise, offering at an affordable price.”
Zac’s Sweet Shop is another e-commerce retailer that offers mystery boxes. Not only do shoppers get to try a variety of products at a lower price, but the brand has a way to move slow-moving or perishable food products inside each mystery box.
Sometimes, the most effective online marketing ideas are the simplest. They take longer to be productive. But lay the groundwork early and you’ll set yourself up for success later.
This is especially true with search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of optimizing your online store. You’ll appear in search results when people are actively looking for information or entertainment, or to solve a pain problem.
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Combine SEO with a content marketing strategy to get your small business off the ground. Write a blog post that targets low-volume keywords with a direct tie-in to your product. Get behind minimal competitors to set yourself up for success.
“The secret is putting out really great content. And putting out great content means a lot of different things, but to me, I think it means publishing content that’s relevant to your audience that people really care about. Want to read, and understand how to monetize that content.” Trevor Crotts, Founder BuddyRest 12. Sell themed gift cards.
Improve gift card cash flow. You get money upfront without having to shell out a fee to immediately manufacture or ship a product to a customer.
Starbucks, for example, sells gift cards year-round. But the retailer keeps its ear to the ground and creates custom gift card designs based on trending topics. The lyrics to Taylor Swift’s new song appeared on a Starbucks gift card just four days after it was released.
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Whatever season you’re offering gift cards, post about them on social media, send email marketing campaigns to subscribers, and add a pop-up.
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