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Top 5 Marketing Channels For Small Businesses

    Increase your brand recognition and authority with these marketing channels for small businesses.

    The goal of marketing is to increase your sales. An effective marketing strategy will do this even if it is a large expense for your business. As a result, you shouldn’t be too afraid to spend significant portions of your budget on marketing.

    When finding out the best marketing channels for your small business, it is important to keep in mind that the best businesses opt to use multiple channels. Businesses that use many types of marketing often open up new areas for growth and find high return of investment (ROI) opportunities faster.

    If you diversify the type of marketing channels you use, you will put your enterprise a cut above the many small businesses that make the mistake of going all-in for one marketing channel.

    It is important to realise that testing a marketing channel takes time; often several weeks.

    This is another reason why you should do multiple marketing techniques in parallel and why, as an up and coming business, you should be patient when waiting for results from your marketing team.

    The graph below is a Vocus digital marketing survey that asked ‘Which tools/solutions has your firm found to be the most effective?’.

    Today we will be exploring the top 5 most effective marketing strategies for small businesses, not including “Website”. This is because we view a website as being the anchor for your other marketing efforts.

    Predominantly your marketing should aim to attract customers to your website so that you can increase your website traffic and sales. Having a well-designed website is a must. If you’re approaching this on your own or even as a team there are a bunch of digital marketing tools that can help you with each channel.

    1. Social Media Marketing

    There are two types of social media marketing (SMM): organic and paid. Organic SMM is a cheap way to spread your brand’s awareness. Using the vast network of social media platforms, ranging from Facebook to LinkedIn, it isn’t particularly difficult for a small business to leverage the platform and spread their brand amongst many thousands of people.

    When getting started with any SMM campaign, whether it is paid or organic, there are a few helpful tips you should know. One of the most important tips we can give you is that you should always think and review your posts before you make them. If you post something that could be interpreted as discriminatory then your business may not survive from the backlash it gets. Our next tip is to identify your target market before you get started.

    This should have already been done in your business plan. However, your target audience might change a little when moving to social media if your business focuses its marketing efforts locally or by mail. Finally, we stress the importance of posting regularly and consistently on any platform that you use. This is fundamental to capturing a following. 

    If you are running any paid social advertisements you will want to keep an eye on how many leads they drive and not spend blindly. Make sure you have set goals that you can measure and keep an eye on you cost of customer acquisition. You can use this CaC calculator to quickly do so.

    Pros of organic SMM:

    • Live updates of your product/service to your prospective customer base. Done well, this can often entice them to buy the latest products / services your business offers.
    • Allows your business to respond in real time to customer needs, news or conversations that could be relevant to your enterprise.
    • Incites brand loyalty through a consistent presence on a targeted audience.
    • Very good customer service for both positive and negative reviews. This then allows your business to model its product/service around its customers .
    • It is relatively inexpensive.

    Cons of organic SMM:

    • There are many many brands on social media. It can often be difficult to break through and get your customers to focus on your product specifically.
    • It takes much time and effort to grow and maintain a following.
    • The above point can only be done through continuous engagement with your customer base.
    • ROI on social media platforms can be difficult to measure.
    • It is becoming increasingly difficult to break through and create a following due to changing algorithms.

    As you can expect, paid SMM is very similar to organic SMM. However, it allows your brand to be shown to more people without the extensive effort of garnering a following. Facebook is one of the most used sites in the world and it will place your ads in front of many potential customers. 

    The pros and cons of paid SMM are pretty similar to that of organic SMM

    Pros of paid SMM:

    • You are reaching your audience without the lengthy process of building a fan base.
    • The adverts are part of the person’s feed rather than on the sidebar of a site or a billboard on a motorway. As a result, the prospective customer is far more likely to engage with the ad.
    • You can highly section ads so that you can target multiple demographics or even start targeting a new demographic.
    • You can now use Facebook’s new API to create more powerful advertisements on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.
    • Facebook and Instagram ads tend to be cheaper.

    Cons of paid SMM:

    • Privacy concerns – once any piece of information is leaked, it stays on the internet forever.
    • Finding the right platform can often be difficult and expensive. Although Instagram and Facebook advertising is cheap. LinkedIn and Youtube ads can often be more expensive to put up. Nevertheless, you don’t know which will attract more customers until you try it.

    2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

    With roughly 5.6bn searches per day, the Google search engine is easily the most popular medium for searching up information about brands, products or services. Furthermore, your businesses website is usually the hub of your business as a whole. It serves as the digital body of your business. Having a good SEO strategy brings people to your website which increases your brand awareness and your sales.

    SEO revolves around trying to boost your website’s ranking. This means that when there is a search for a topic related to your business, your website is one of the first to appear. Common SEO strategies include keyword research and purchasing, creating linkable assets, using backlinking tools to help you create organic links and publishing content related to your business.

    Having a well-designed website is crucial to your SEO strategy as it brings in customers and makes them more likely to stay. It can take a while to see results from SEO, but you should see slow and steady improvements until the channel really starts to deliver consistent traffic and hopefully leads.

    Pros of SEO:

    • Almost every customer uses the search engine before buying a product/service.
    • Is another affordable marketing strategy.
    • Ranking well for your chosen keywords has a positive cumulative effect. As a result ranking well can pay off increasingly over time.
    • Gives your product/service to people actively looking for solutions. This is one of the benefits of SEO over social media marketing.
    • The traffic sent to your website via SEO has a higher chance of being return customers than other forms of marketing.
    • Over time your business can become an authority in its market.

    Cons of SEO:

    • The length of time it can take to match competitors or even to garner a high flow of traffic and a good ranking.
    • The search engine algorithm and updates are out of your hands. It requires a lot of effort to stay on top of it.
    • The above point can be particularly damaging if you are doing a “black hat” or “grey hat” SEO strategy. White, black and grey hat in SEO refers to how unethical your SEO strategy is. With a particularly unethical SEO strategy, new updates are likely to remove your site from their index.

    3. Email Marketing

    Email marketing is an effective way to talk to potential clients and keep customers up to date on your latest products. Building an email list can be important in establishing return customers who can give feedback on your product/service. However, email marketing should not be used as a way to drive customers to your website. This is where, in recent years, companies have abused the email marketing system.

    An example of good email marketing would be emails that let customers browse the newest clothes designs of a fashion brand before they come out. An email would be sent out four times a year so that customers can look at the new season’s designs.

    Pros of email marketing:

    • Cost effective way to talk and attract customers throughout the year.
    • Helps build both customer and client relationships through sharing private information only they can see.
    • It is relatively fast to send bulk emails.
    • Gives customers time to make their purchase.
    • Your business has complete control over the content the audience receives.
    • Can track and analyse everything on the email from click throughs to the percentage of subscribers who open a specific email.
    • Can be customised and tailored to specific demographics.

    Cons of email marketing:

    • Building a large email list can take time.
    • Spam filters eliminate some emails.
    • Customers and clients can often become annoyed with too many emails.
    • Customers and clients can easily mark emails down as spam.
    • Inboxes can become very saturated causing customers to ignore emails.

    4. Content Marketing

    As it says on the tin, content marketing is where you provide content for your customers. You should be able to answer their questions, help them with their problems and provide them with knowledge through blogs.

    In order to do this, you should create individual, well designed, websites to answer your customers’ needs. This may include creating a blog where you give away your company’s knowledge for free or creating a customer feedback page to review your product/service. Nevertheless, you should be consistently publishing content and keeping true to your company’s voice and tone.

    Pros of content marketing:

    • There is very little technical or computational skill involved in content marketing.
    • There are multiple platforms allowing you to distribute your content in a variety of formats.
    • Engages existing customers and answers their questions while attracting new customers with the content you put out.
    • Very effective tool for brand awareness, passive advertising and brand authority.
    • Web analytics tools make it simple to analyse website and content performance.
    • Boosts your SEO marketing strategy.

    Cons of content marketing:

    • In order to attract, retain and have customers enjoy the experience of your content, you need to put the effort into creating strategic and aesthetically pleasing designs.
    • The constant flow of content that is required can be time-consuming and difficult.
    • The change to a publishing mindset can be difficult for many brands.
    • Requires planning, especially if there are multiple authors. Coordinating writers on different projects as well as the editorial control required to publish the content can be difficult.

    5. Video Marketing

    Video marketing is a very effective tool that builds brand awareness, boosts your traffic and your conversions. CMA solutions highlight how effective video marketing can be for small businesses:

    • 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video
    • 72% of businesses say that videos have improved their conversion rate
    • 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39 percent call a vendor after viewing a video

    The most common examples of video marketing are video blogs, video posts, video product/service reveals that can be produced by a free video editor. As a mixture of content, seo and social media marketing, video marketing contains many of the same advantages and disadvantages of these other marketing channels.

    Pros of video marketing:

    • Engages with new and existing customers in an interactive way.
    • Very effective tool for brand awareness, passive advertising and brand authority.
    • Using multiple video sites gets your brand ranking highly on search engines.
    • Live updates often entices customers to buy the latest products.

    Cons of video marketing:

    • Can be very time consuming to get a large following.
    • Publishing new content every day can similarly be exhausting for your business.
    • It takes a lot of effort to get your videos to the top of search results. Especially if your brand doesn’t satisfy a very unique market.
    • Publishing high quality videos requires technical skills from editors.

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