Online Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Online marketing for small businesses has never been more critical. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, online retail sales will top 5% growth by the end of 2021, and economists say retail sales, in general, are up over 17% since before the global Covid-19 pandemic. 


The National Retail Federation states the rise in sales despite headwinds reflects the continued strength of the American consumer and the resilience of the nation's retailers.

If you’ve been leveraging e-commerce and investing in small business digital marketing, it may be time to evaluate if your online and offline budgets are optimally balanced.


While many shoppers utilize online stores as their primary shopping destination, 46% still prefer physical stores where they can view, touch, and interact with physical products. 

 

The takeaway for brick-and-mortar stores is the opportunity to benefit from both online and offline sales channels. Digital marketing for small businesses can enhance physical store sales. Customers can search your website for product information and inspiration before visiting you in person to make an in-store purchase or pick up an item ordered online.


With that in mind, here are some online marketing ideas for small businesses:


Break down physical walls


Whether connecting via a website or a mobile ordering app, consumers are increasingly engaging with businesses from the comfort and safety of their homes. A website makes your business accessible to potential customers all over the world, as long as they have an internet connection.

 

A website gives you another channel to introduce people to your offerings and one more way to connect with your business. Existing customers can refer their friends and relatives to your website, and search engine optimization can ensure your brand shows up in Google searches.


Your website doesn’t have to be a stressful DIY project requiring you to learn to code, nor something you outsource to a professional. Many e-commerce platforms make it easy to build an online storefront without knowing how to code. Of course, if your budget can handle it, a professional may be able to get you online and sell faster. Check out this list from Inc.: Best E-Commerce Platforms for Small Business.


Strengthen your SEO skills


Google searches on mobile phones are how most people find you today. Mastering Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps to drive potential customers to your website and increases your chances of showing up on Google search results and Google Maps. For example, optimizing your business listing for searches containing the phrase “near me” allows mobile users to find you amongst local retailers. 


Google is continually tweaking its search algorithm, so dust off your SEO skills. If your business is just now launching, use Google’s SEO Starter Guide.


Explore digital marketing opportunities beyond your own website

 

Amazon gives brick and mortar stores another reason to get online. Amazon reported that it has more than 500,000 U.S.-based small to medium-sized businesses selling on its platform, and between September 2020 and August 2021, American sellers on the website averaged $200,000 in sales. This is up from $175,000 in the prior 12 month period.


Amazon makes it easier for SMBs to sell products directly through Amazon. Learn more about setting up an Amazon storefront here: Build an Online Store.


Meet your customers in the middle

 

The future of shopping is a hybrid offline/online experience. There will always be something special about entering a store — feeling the materials, smelling aromas, getting complimentary cookies or a glass of champagne, and interacting with people who can answer your questions. Still, physical stores need more than just foot traffic.


Build or refresh your e-commerce presence. By meeting shoppers online and introducing them to your store and merchandise, you will attract new customers that have the option of buying from you, both in-store and online.


Nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs trust Heartland to provide the technology to run and grow sustainable businesses--technology to make money, move money, manage employees, and engage customers. We develop tools to help entrepreneurs respond to market changes and stay competitive. We know it’s not enough to just look good and have fancy features. That’s why Heartland delivers human-tech across all of our solutions, service, and support. All designed to help entrepreneurs overcome the challenges encountered every day. Learn more at heartland.us.