The last few years have seen a huge increase in internet penetration and web technologies worldwide. Consequently, the marketing landscape has evolved to give us bigger and better marketing channels to reach the right audience at the right time.
However, not all marketing channels are well-suited for a small business. For example, if you’re a local eatery, you wouldn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a nationwide TV commercial.
As such, you must be aware of the small business marketing channels most likely to make a positive impact on your specific product or service.
Best marketing channels for small business
Here’s my list of the best channels to consider when promoting your small business. I’ll walk you through a brief explanation of each channel, why it matters, and how to get started.
#1. Email Marketing
Despite being an old channel in terms of internet years, email still has the potential to reach 3.9 billion people as of 2020, and this number is expected to touch 4.3 billion users in 2023.
This makes email marketing an ideal way to drive leads and conversions for your small business.
Email marketing can not just reach a wide audience, but also delivers the best returns. As per an industry census, 73% of people ranked email as an excellent marketing channel.
Image Source: SaleCycle.com
Plus, DMA states that every $1 spent on email marketing leads to a $42 average return on investment.
Writing a series of emails and sending it to potential customers based on a carefully planned timeline can help you establish a relationship, build trust and make them interested in your product or service.
It will allow you to capture email addresses through your website, social media accounts, marketing events, and other avenues. In addition, you’ll be able to create a series of emails, along with an automation workflow, to send these emails to your contact list.
#2. Organic Search
According to Bright Edge, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
Whether it’s for research, entertainment, or shopping, a search engine is the first place most people start with. And then they’ll click one of the top results that show up on the first page of organic search engine results.
This is what makes organic search another effective marketing channel for a small business.
Image Source: BrightEdge
When a customer searches for a query related to your product or service, the goal is to get the pages from your website to rank higher than those of competitors. Doing this will ensure a consistent stream of traffic and leads into your sales funnel.
The process of getting listed and strengthening your website’s presence in organic search engine result pages (SERPs) is known as SEO. It will involve researching the best keywords you want to rank for, and then optimizing the pages on your website for your selected keywords.
#3. Mobile Devices
Mobile usage has been on the rise for many years now, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. 50.88% of online traffic in 2020 came from mobile devices.
Image Source: High-Speed Internet
Customers prefer businesses that can provide the information and communication they need through SMS, WhatsApp, and other mobile apps.
So it only makes sense to promote your small business to users of mobile and tablet devices.
There are a number of ways to capitalize on the mobile trend, the most prominent of which is having a mobile-responsive website. It’s no longer acceptable to have an outdated website that doesn’t adapt to different screen sizes.
#4. Word-of-Mouth Marketing
It’s no surprise that people trust other customers over you and your marketing team.
Marketers usually have an agenda, but a customer will spread the word about a brand, whether online or offline, only if the brand has truly delighted them. That’s why 9 out of 10 customers read reviews when considering a purchase.
There’s no shortcut to using this marketing channel for your benefit. You will really need to put in the work to ensure a great customer experience throughout the buyer’s journey.
Then set up email automation to reach out to customers to ask for feedback on their experience, and if they’re happy with your product or service, request a testimonial.
#5. Video Marketing
If you haven’t yet jumped on the video bandwagon, there’s no better time to do so.
When asked how they prefer to learn more about a product or service, 69% of people in a survey mentioned watching a video.
If you run a small business, you don’t need a big production team to start video marketing. It’s possible to create videos affordably. For instance, you use a camcorder to record videos that answer customer questions, introduce your team, or showcase customer testimonials.
These videos may not be as polished, but they can still win over your audience with their authentic look and feel.
#6. Business Blog
A blog is a must-have marketing channel for your small business. With a business blog, you get a dedicated platform to educate current and potential customers on the topics related to your niche.
Six out of ten buyers say that blog posts are valuable at the start of their purchase journey.
Image Source: Oberlo
A business blog is like a central content hub that attracts prospects, helps you turn visitors into leads, and strengthens your online presence on other marketing channels.
With several intuitive blogging platforms available online, starting a business blog these days is relatively easy. All you need is a domain name, hosting, and content management system, the most popular being WordPress.
#7. Social Media
Next up on our list is Social Media. 72% of US adults say that they use at least one social media website.
Image Source: Pew Research
Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more allow your small business to build rapport with your audience.
When you interact with your customers at the same place where their friends are, your business becomes a part of their personal network.
Plus, social media posts are easy to share, leading to word-of-mouth opportunities.
To get started with social media marketing, pick the social media platforms where your target customers are the most active and work on building an active presence.
#8. Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click Ads)
Paid Search refers to advertising your website near the top of search engine result pages, instead of getting found organically.
You are required to pay only when a user clicks on your ad, which is why another name for paid search is PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising.
This is a drastically different model from traditional outdoor advertising, in which you pay for your ads to be displayed, regardless of whether they trigger any action from the viewer.
Paid search ads may cost more than some of the other marketing channels on our list. However, they offer a unique benefit that no other channel can – the potential to generate results fast. In fact, 66% of CMOs expect to increase spend on paid search in 2021.
#9. Display Advertising
Display ads allow you to use image banners and videos to show an offer to your target audience on the websites they are likely to visit. Here’s an example:
Google’s Display Network, for instance, allows you to create display ads with the potential to reach 90% of internet users worldwide.
These ads can also be shown on email platforms, social media, and other digital channels that provide ad placements.
You can use them in isolation, but the real game-changer with these types of ads is targeting people who have already visited your website or opted into your email newsletter. This is referred to as remarketing.
Each marketing channel is unique, with its own quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. And so is each business.
However, the most common mistake small business owners make is trying to focus on every channel available.
While you go through this list, pick only two or three channels at a time that seem the best fit for our business and customers.
Define goals and key metrics to measure the performance for each channel. This way, you can increase investment in high-performing channels and boost ROI.
Keep adjusting your strategy to make room for new channels and drop the non-profitable channels to cut costs as required. The more adaptable your small business is to the changes in the marketing space, the more stable your growth and prosperity will be.
Guest author: Hitesh Sahni is a content strategy consultant, editor, and founder of Smemark, an upscale content marketing studio helping brands and agencies in multiple niches accelerate growth with superior, scalable content writing for 10+ years.