This article was updated on January 13, 2022
With the pandemic still a reality, it is all the more important to ensure your business maintains a strong digital presence. Businesses that are best equipped to adapt to changing circumstances (and experience a year-round influx of new customers) are those that use both local marketing and digital marketing strategies.
You don’t need a digital marketing agency to successfully promote your small business online and raise brand awareness. In fact, it’s easier than ever to get started. The more you use your authentic voice to connect with customers online, the easier it will be to enjoy the advantages of digital marketing. Curious?
Check out these 7 benefits of digital marketing for small business owners below.
#1 Connect with your neighbors
Did you know that 98% of Nextdoor neighbors say local businesses help their neighborhoods thrive? What makes Nextdoor unique is that it automatically connects your business to locals who are passionate about supporting their local economy.
And you don’t have to be a social media marketing guru to start engaging with your neighbors on Nextdoor. Creating your Business Page is easy, and better yet, free. After you claim your Nextdoor Business Page:
- Customize it to include your contact information, a list of services, photos of your business and products, your website link, and more.
- Collect recommendations. The more recommendations you acquire, the more potential customers will trust the value of your services
Share a post to start engaging with nearby customers. Once you get started, it’s also easy to run sales and promotions that draw new customers through a Local Deal.
#2 Show up in search engines
One of the advantages of digital marketing is that it can help ensure that your business shows up in local online search results.
You don’t need an in-house data scientist to crack the Google algorithm—it’s actually easier than you think to show up in search results. In fact, big tech companies want people to see relevant local results when they Google “Pilates Bloomington” or “Key West contractors.”
Search engine results are the new Yellow Pages, after all.
However, to start showing up in search results, you need to establish an online presence. To lay the groundwork, we recommend these easy steps:
- Claim your Nextdoor Business Page
- Claim your Google Business Page
- Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools on your website
When you show up in search results, it makes it easier for users to find your business in their quest for answers (and, hopefully, your solution). From there, they can browse your offerings, call you for more information, or choose to follow you on social media.
#3 Boost local visibility on social media
These days, search engines aren’t the only place people use to connect with local businesses. In fact, depending on your target market, your users may get their recommendations from their chosen social media platform.
- Millennials are on Instagram. 68% of users regularly interact with brands.
- Facebook’s advanced advertising tools allow you to target ads to specific ZIP codes and to specific age ranges.
- If you’re targeting Gen Z, know that members of this generation are most likely to be found on YouTube (in addition to Snapchat and any other social media platform). YouTube is making it easier to create local ads, but you can also reach customers with your own YouTube channel.
Another great part of getting active on social media? You can use your account to follow and communicate with other local businesses. As a small business, one goal is to uplift and promote others for the health of your local community. When you connect on social media, you can cross-promote their content (and vice versa), interact with each other’s posts, and find ways to keep the local business in the community’s conversation.
#4 Create Personal Connections
Additionally, digital marketing can make it easy to create personal connections by building customer relationships. Follow and engage customers on social media, get to know their interests, and what captures their attention. Furthermore, your social media account can be a great way to directly solicit feedback on new products and services.
Consider the following kinds of tools:
- Use posts to ask questions and let your customers reply in the comments. From there, you can have a direct conversation with them.
- Lean on “poll” features to take a quick, informal survey (and boost engagement in the process).
- Repost customers’ stories and posts that feature your products (or your business). These serve as testimonials and can also strengthen your connection with the poster.
- When users interact with your account, be sure to reply. Even if the feedback is negative, you can sometimes troubleshoot a customer issue before they write a negative review.
These kinds of personal connections can help to develop brand loyalty and grow your network.
#5 Share your expertise
Digital marketing isn’t just about ads and hitting the “like” button. If you have something unique to share as an expert in your industry, digital or online marketing can give you the right platform to showcase your knowledge.
Have you considered any of the following marketing campaign tactics?
- A newsletter
- A blog
- A vlog
- An IGTV channel
- Facebook Live seminars and chats
Depending on whether you’re more comfortable with video or words, any one of these digital marketing channels could be a great way to start strengthening and raising brand awareness (without directly advertising). In fact, users may be more likely to make a purchase when they’re not explicitly asked to buy something.
Consider the following kinds of high-quality content:
- Interviews with industry experts and local business leaders
- Personal journals about your experience in your industry
- A summary of news related to your industry
- FAQs about one of your products or services
- Free advice that relates to a frequent customer question
If users receive an email on one of these topics, they may be more likely to open it. Likewise, a blog entry could drive traffic to your site.
Whatever the case, you’re stepping into your role as a local business leader and establishing yourself as someone with a voice that matters. This could even lead to panel invitations and speaking engagements down the line.
#6 Increase the top of your sales funnel
This tip applies to all the benefits we’ve discussed so far, but it’s worth introducing this marketing term to you as a small business owner. Think of your digital marketing strategy as a funnel: your goal is to create a wide circle at the top to capture as many people as possible, even if they won’t all funnel down into a sale.
All the digital marketing benefits we’ve talked about so far boost your visibility in your community, which renders that funnel wider and wider. It’s up to you to make sure that once they’re captured at the top, you’re persuading them with your great offering(s).
#7 Keep track of your effectiveness
With traditional marketing, you never know whether or not your marketing tactic is effective (outside of sales, although it's hard to measure which input was most successful). You leave some business cards at a coffee shop, and a few days later, they’re gone. Does that mean your traditional marketing campaign was effective? Or that someone simply took your item down to make room for theirs?
You’ll never know.
Likewise, when you place traditional advertising in a local paper, you might not know what to expect in terms of returns.
One huge advantage of a digital marketing campaign is that most platforms come with analytic tools. Take the following examples:
- Use your web analytics to see which terms most often lead users to your website. If one is particularly effective, use it more.
- Your newsletter analytics lets you see how many users are opening your emails and how many are clicking. Not getting the results you want? It’s easy to shift your approach and experiment until you find email marketing strategies that work for you.
- Analytic tools for online advertising platforms can let you know how many people an ad is reaching, and you can tailor your approach here, too.
In short, digital marketing provides many opportunities to try out a new digital marketing tactic and to course-correct when something goes wrong. You won’t waste money on an ineffective flyer because it’s easy to pause and edit ads on the fly.
Start Making Connections
As a small business owner, it’s important that you find ways to make your business resilient through seasonal changes (as well as global change). The more strategies you use to connect with your community, the more nimbly you can adapt to the circumstances.
And of course, it’s not just about you, it’s also about your customer. When you stay active on Nextdoor, you can keep track of what’s going on in your community and continue to play your vital role as a small business.