As a small business owner, you don’t have time or money to waste on marketing strategies that aren’t suited to your needs, so let’s take a look at options that can (and can’t) get you the most bang for your buck.
Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses on Google
If you’re feeling lost as to what the best marketing strategy is for your small business, your best bet is to start with Google. Make sure your website, local listings, Google Business Profile, and ads are aligned with Google’s algorithm. The exposure you’ll get from ranking higher in Google search results will make every minute and dollar you spend worth it.
1. Get a Website
With 63% of consumers choosing to find or engage with brands via their website, and with around 70,000 searches per second per day on Google, your business website is the means by which you leverage the power of Google to grow your small business.
In order to make the most of your Google-related marketing efforts, you need to make sure your website can scale up with your business growth and easily adapt to changes in Google’s algorithm. At the end of the day, Google favors websites that its users favor, so make sure it satisfies and engages your ideal customers.
To get a return on the investment of time and money you put into your website:
- Use contact forms and CTAs to generate leads.
- Track page metrics to gather intel about your ideal customers. (Find out the top marketing metrics you should be tracking.)
- Make the most important information available immediately to reduce bounce rate.
- Create seamless navigation to increase time on page.
- Make it easy to contact your business.
- Educate site visitors about all of your offerings.
Read more about what an effective website needs to have here.
Want to know how your website performs? Try our website grader to get your online presence grade.
2. Search Engine-Optimize Your Website
The goal of SEO is to get your website to show up for searches your potential customers are performing, related to your products, services, and industry.
An effective SEO strategy for your website involves:
- Publishing trustworthy, useful content that’s relevant to your target audience (and uses the right keywords).
- Placing keywords in strategic spots on your webpages to help Google identify, categorize, and retrieve them more easily for relevant searches.
- Maximizing the quality of that content so Google will rank you higher in search results and put you in front of a larger audience.
Improving your website SEO is technically free, but it does require time, effort, and expertise. There’s a lot that goes into SEO – both onsite and offsite in the front and back ends of your website to keep up with Google’s changing algorithm. Nevertheless, when done properly, it is arguably one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies out there.
3. Search Engine-Optimize Your Directory Listings
Your website isn’t the only online media that you can optimize for Google. With search results pages becoming richer and richer with answer snippets, drop-down boxes of related questions, and even answers directly in the search suggestions, it’s important to optimize your information in the online directories from which Google pulls to provide such convenient information.
Google provides answers before you can even press enter in a search.
Your listing optimization strategy for Google should include:
- Getting registered on free business listing sites like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List…
- …but most importantly, on Google My Business (see below).
- Filling out all fields for each of these sites.
- Selecting a category for your business (to help you get found for non-branded searches).
- Making sure your information is identical across platforms.
- Updating your hours and contact information to stay accurate.
- Collecting positive online reviews.
4. Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Google search results can provide the information your potential customers are seeking – before they even get to your website. The more quickly it can grab information and the more it can trust that information, the higher you can rank in search results.
That being said, it only makes sense that you optimize your information on one of Google’s own sources: Google Business Profile.
Your Google Business Profile allows your business to appear in three different search results.
The first is Google Maps:
The second is the local results section for regular Google Search:
And the third is the Knowledge Panel, which shows up on the right-hand side of search results for branded searches:
Studies show that a complete and accurate Google Business Profile, on average, gets 7x more clicks than an incomplete one. So perhaps even before you start digging around your website and online directories to make sure you’re optimized for search, you may want to start with your Google Business Profile. This article will help you get your Google Business marketing strategy up and off the ground.
Use our free business listings grader to see how your Google Business Profile and other listings really look.
5. Invest in Google Ads
According to Google, PPC ads can help boost brand awareness by as much as 80%. In addition, the average business makes $2 in revenue for every $1 spent on Google Ads. Putting highly targeted ads directly in front of your ideal customer when they’re searching for what you have to offer is a surefire way to maximize your marketing dollars.
With Google Ads, you bid on keywords for which you want Google to show your ad (which should link to a landing page that’s specifically built around your ad’s offer). PPC ads typically appear at the top of the search engine results page but can also appear at the bottom.
In some cases, as with this one, ads can take up the entire “top of the fold” — the view before a user scrolls.
You only pay when someone clicks on your paid search ad, and you can set caps on your daily spend and total budget, making this a cost-effective marketing strategy. Also, your paid ads will appear more immediately on Google, making it a great strategy to employ while you wait for your organic pages to accumulate website traffic.
Lead Generation & Brand Awareness Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
These marketing strategies can help your small business get in front of new audiences and build your brand. They require an investment on your part, but with the right marketing partner, you can bundle this into a marketing strategy that works for your small business — and your marketing budget.
6. Facebook Advertising
Aside from giving you access to Facebook’s incredibly large user base, Facebook advertising is effective because it allows you to reach and interact with consumers in a place they’re spending a lot of time. And, because Facebook is all about connecting with individuals and brands, users are in a state of engagement with a desire to consume information. More importantly, Facebook has a wealth of psychographic information on its users. This makes for unprecedented targeting capabilities to ensure your ads appear in front of very specific (and therefore very receptive) audiences — helping you get the highest return on your investment.
7. Referral Marketing
Turn your current customers into your brand evangelists with referral marketing. A referral program can be highly effective in attracting more customers to your business. Offer existing customers a discount, reward, or other special promotions in exchange for bringing new customers to your business. You could offer a smaller incentive for those who get the word out via email or social media and then a larger incentive for those who actually bring in new customers.
Another approach to take is that both the referrer and the referee get a discount. My aesthetician provides one free treatment to a referrer and a discounted first treatment to the referee. It makes me more apt to refer her services and decreases the barrier to entry for one of my friends to try her out. It’s a win-win!
Referral marketing is an effective strategy because people trust positive feedback about a business more so when it comes from existing customers than from the business itself, and better yet from existing customers that they know and trust. Another advantage of this local marketing strategy is that it builds a tight-knit community around your brand.
8. Retargeting Ads
Did you know that only 2% of website visitors convert on their first visit? Retargeting ads are those that appear in front of consumers who have already visited your website or searched for a term related to your business. You use a pixel on your website so that after they exit, they see ads for your business on other websites or on their social media feeds.
Retargeting is an effective marketing strategy for small businesses because it helps bring people back to your website who have already expressed interest, increasing the chances that they will convert and also improving the amount of relevant traffic going to your website.
9. Email Marketing
Just about everyone has an email address, and just about everyone checks their email regularly. Until further notice, email marketing should always be a part of your small business marketing mix. Regular communication keeps you in front of your customers and top of mind so the next time they’re in the market for what you’ve got, they’ll head your way.
To get the highest return on investment into your email marketing campaigns,
- Segment your mailing list and target your messages appropriately. (This is easy with targeted email marketing.)
- Offer useful content through nurture campaigns to push leads further down your funnel.
- Keep your content diverse while remaining consistent in your language and formatting.
- Avoid abusing your list. Too many emails can lead to unsubscribes.
Email marketing helps with brand awareness, lead nurturing, and website traffic, while also helping to build your brand voice and a community around your business.
Free & Worthwhile Content Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
Google may be the most popular search engine in the world, but it’s not the only place you should strive to get found online by potential customers, and not the only marketing channel through which you should reach out to them. Here are some additional affordable marketing strategies that will help you to increase your visibility, improve your credibility, and generate leads for your business.
10. Reputation Management
Collecting online reviews is already mentioned above as an important part of optimizing your Google My Business and other directory listings. However, it’s worth mentioning again as a small business marketing strategy that yields returns.
As it turns out, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend, and 74% of consumers say that a positive review makes them trust a brand more. With more and more consumers conducting thorough research before making purchases, online reviews have become a crucial marketing strategy for small businesses.
To get online reviews to work for your business:
- Ask for reviews. Start with loyal customers. Then try polls, email campaigns, and website calls to action.
- Make it easy for customers to leave reviews such as by generating a Google review link.
- Respond to all of your reviews, even the positive ones. Here are some examples.
- Resolve negative reviews. It shows you care about your customers — and you can even turn some negative reviews into positive ones!
Taking the time to get a cadence of online reviews going is important and will have long-lasting effects on your business growth.
To make blogging a worthwhile marketing strategy for your small business, populate your business blog with evergreen content that your potential customers are seeking. By providing free, useful information that they can come across on their own, you enable your target audience to build a relationship with your business over time. The more they see your blog posts as a resource, the more familiar with your brand they can get, the more they will learn to trust you, and the more likely they are to turn to you when they need your product or service.
Blogging also plays into your website SEO strategy since your blog posts can help you to get found on Google and increase traffic to your website. You can also leverage your blog traffic by inserting calls to action for offers that might move interested readers through your funnel.
12. Ebooks & Whitepapers
Get even more out of your blog posts and website content by repurposing them into longer-form pieces of content such as ebooks and whitepapers. This is a great marketing strategy that not only shows your expertise in your field but can also generate leads for your business. By offering free but valuable content in exchange for an email address, your guides can become some of your best lead generation tools — while also building trust and credibility with your audience.
Speaking of…check out our guides and ebooks here.
13. Social Media Marketing
With its many users and the variety of media it supports, social media remains one of the most effective and free small business marketing channels. It’s also an ideal place to show off your brand’s personality. Be careful not to post the same thing across your social media profiles all the time, otherwise, your followers will know what to expect and not feel the need to visit all of your pages.
To make the most of the time and you put into social media marketing, be sure to:
- Establish a presence only on the platforms that will appeal to your target audience.
- Create compelling posts that get liked, shared, and commented on; post engagement is more important than post frequency.
- Use location-based and other relevant hashtags to expand your reach.
- Offer value: promote your useful blog posts and special offers.
- Save time and effort with user-generated content.
- Create groups where you can answer questions, invite feedback and opinions, and share newsworthy information on their common interests.
- Like and share your followers’ posts, and ask them to like and share your posts as well.
- Use chatbots to connect with users via messenger apps, give automatic responses to FAQ’s, or even help someone make a purchase.
Social media can support your SEO and website initiatives, as an active presence on these platforms drives traffic to your website and sends positive signals to Google.
14. Case Studies & Customer Testimonials
Case studies and customer testimonials are an especially effective marketing tool when your services are diverse or hard to explain. Outline a client’s problem, your business’s solution, and the results. The best case studies tell a story so that they are easy to follow and remember. They also use quantifiable results whenever possible to highlight the value your business brings to your clients.
Here’s an example of a case study for one of our clients.
Each of the above small business marketing strategies is free in terms of dollars spent, but they do require an investment of your time. If you create a content calendar and implementation plan around these strategies and allocate time each week to them, you can prevent yourself from spending hours on content and start seeing your efforts pay off.
Traditional Marketing Strategies
Even though it may feel like the majority of us are online all the time — there are times when we’re actually not. So, your business needs a way to reach people when they’re spending time offline. That’s where these traditional marketing strategies come in.
15. Print Advertising
Print advertising remains an effective way to market your small business. With print advertising, you can get your business in front of an engaged and local audience in a place that’s not going to offer a lot of distractions. Plus, print ads are a great place to offer a coupon or highlight a promotion that will get people to visit your business.
Here a few things to keep in mind when determining your print advertising strategy:
- Use a tracking phone number, URL, or specific coupon code to determine how your print ads are working.
- Align your print ads with any digital marketing ads you’re running to create a cohesive brand message.
- Make sure your contact information is visible so customers can contact you.
16. Events & Activities
Hosting an event doesn’t have to be a huge production and can really draw a crowd — especially if you’re in a high foot traffic area. If you’re looking to host an event on the low-key end, choose a fun holiday that coincides with your business (for instance, the third Thursday of every month is National Get to Know Your Customers Day), and set up a table outside your shop enticing passersby’s to stop in.
If you’re up for something more substantial, coordinate with complementary businesses in the area to host a joint event. Each business benefits from access to one another’s customers, you share the costs, and you create a fun activity for your clients helping to strengthen their loyalty to your brand.
With such varied options to throw into your marketing mix, you’re sure to find the perfect combination to suit your business, budget, and goals.
How to Get the Most Out of These Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
So which of the above channels are the right ones for you? They vary from business to business and will be a mix of paid and free strategies. The right strategies for your small business are those that yield a return on your investment.
Here’s how to ensure the strategies you choose for your business are worth your time and money.
Target Your Marketing
You may think that casting a wide net and marketing to anyone is your best bet, as it’s sure to bring in customers. But at what cost? Marketing like this will only waste your marketing dollars, and you’ll be racking your brain trying to come up with messaging that appeals to everyone. If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck with your marketing, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right people at the right time, on the right devices, and with the right content.
When you target your marketing, you can:
- Refine your content to have maximum impact.
- Gather accurate data as to what strategies are working best.
- Ensure your time and money are being used wisely.
- Increase the chances of getting a return on your investment.
Related: Get creative digital marketing ideas that work for your audience.
How to Effectively Target Your Audience
To appropriately target your audience with your marketing strategies, you must gather both demographic and psychographic information on your ideal customers.
Demographics describe the facts about your audience such as:
- Household Income
- Family Size
Psychographics, on the other hand, describe the behaviors and preferences of your audience, such as:
- Shopping Habits
- Preferred Websites & Devices
- Interests & Hobbies
You might be targeting dual-income households with new parents who are working from home.
With both demographic and psychographic data, you’ll deepen your understanding of what is important to your target audience, what motivates them to buy, and what messages will resonate with them best — enabling you to enhance the impact of the time and money you spend on your marketing strategies.
When implementing your marketing strategies, ask these questions about your target audience:
- Who is your target audience?
- Where are they looking for your product or service?
- What problems does your product or service solve?
- What needs does your product or service meet?
Plan & Track Your Marketing
Successful marketing is not about throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. You must form your strategies into a structured marketing plan with measurable results. This will enable you to test different approaches, mediums, and messaging and see what works best. A goal-oriented marketing plan to implement these strategies will help you determine the best ways to reach your audience and convert leads into paying customers.
Prioritize Local SEO
Google is only getting more powerful in its ability to connect consumers with the specific products and services they’re seeking, closest to them. It’s imperative that you optimize your online properties to show up as high as possible in local search results for relevant searches. Thoroughly optimizing your website and listings and maintaining an active presence across the web will help you to align with Google and therefore with potential customers.
Get even more ideas for how to market your business here.
What Is Direct Response Copywriting? (7 Best Practices + Examples)
50 Powerful Call-to-Action Phrases to Convert More Customers (with Examples)
22 Tried & True Content Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses
107 Trigger Words to Make Your Marketing More Effective
What Is User-Generated Content? (+4 Easy Ways to Collect It)