10 Digital marketing tips for small business

Small business digital marketing strategies include;

  1. Hire an expert
  2. Utilize Google Ads
  3. Fully understand your value proposition
  4. Create good content
  5. Leverage word of mouth
  6. Utilize Social Media Ads
  7. Have a good website
  8. Utilize email marketing to nurture leads
  9. Remember to use a CRM
  10. Deliver happiness

The internet gives small businesses immense power. It gives you, the small business owner, the ability to speak directly to your customer base. And, you are able to do this in a manner that is affordable. In a small business, there isn’t a lot of money to throw around. Digital marketing is a must have tool in every entrepreneurs tool box.

Some 10 tips, in detail, that if well executed, will result in success.


1: Hire an expert for digital marketing success

Yes, I know small businesses do not have a lot of money lying around. But lets think about this for a while. What is your biggest asset as a small entrepreneur? Don’t be quick to answer, just meditate on this question for a bit.

Your biggest asset as a small business owner, is what you do better than your competitors. Let me explain. How better you are, relative to your competition, will determine how successful you become. If you own a small pest control company for example, your chances of success are very high, if you are the best pest control company in your area. If you are a Tattoo artist, the better you are, the more successful you will be. Its very simple.

But what determines how good you are or the quality of your products? The time you spend learning your craft (if its a services business) or the time you spend on research and development (if its a product based business). Time is what matters.

In my experience I have seen that the entrepreneurs that succeed, spend on average more time, in improving the skill that they are good at. For example, if you are a one man Tattoo business, your time is better spent practicing your craft, not trying to figure out how to connect a website to a CRM.

A lot of small business people get distracted. As their operation grows, they spend more and more time, on activities that are not part of their core business. They spend hours doing admin, they spend hours creating posters, then they barely have enough time left over to do the most important thing. Improving their offerings.

Hiring an expert can seem daunting, expensive and unnecessary. But for your business to survive, you need to stick to what you are good at. Sure you can learn the skills, but shouldn’t you spend that time with your customers, figuring out their pain points, in bid to seek areas to improve?

Do yourself a favor and learn to utilize your time well. The first tip I will give you is to hire a digital marketing expert. The expert has already put in the 10,000 hours required for them to be good at what they do. In addition, the more you practice, in general the better you become. Spend your time;

  1. Honing your craft
  2. With your customers figuring out their pain points
  3. Doing research and development
  4. Training your employees
  5. Doing quality control enforcing high standards
  6. Resting and recharging so you avoid burnout

2: Utilize Google ADs

This is often a rather overlooked aspect of marketing in small businesses. Often times, because it seems expensive to market on Google. And it is, if you don’t know what you are doing, Google ADs allow you to set your money on fire. And you get to watch it burn. Fun times right?

Here is a step by step to get started with Google Ads, you can skip this part if you are familiar with Google ADs

Step One: Create your Google ADs account

Navigate to https://ads.google.com/home/ and click the Start Now button.

google ads start now
Google Ads Start Now

Step Two: State your goals

You will be prompted to sign in, after which you will be required to state your goals.

Google ADs set your goals

You may pick any of the options mentioned above, but here are some tips

  • Get more calls – This is for business that do not necessarily have/need a physical business address. It works really well with service based businesses like cleaning services, accounting firms, babysitting etc.
  • Get more website sales or sign ups – If you are running an ecommerce shop, this is your option right here. In addition to that, it works really well for internet based software and apps.
  • Get more visits to your physical location – For location centric businesses like massage parlors or barber shops, this is the option for you.
  • Get more brand awareness with video views – Should your interest be to gain more awareness or popularize a channel, getting more video views will put you closer to your goals

Step Three: Provide more details about your business

You need to have a website at this stage. If you need help on creating your website, we can gladly help you out.

Step Four: Connect Google Analytics to your Google ADs

Your website need to be already connected to Google Analytics service. This will help Google better understand your traffic and location, and thus be better able to deliver your ads. It will help Google track

  • Visits to your page
  • Actions such as link clicks
  • The time people spend on your website etc

I will not go into detail on this step as it is optional and you can do it later.

Step Five: Write your very first AD

Write your first Google AD

Don’t worry if you get this part wrong. This ad is just the first of many

Lets talk about the different sections of the AD.

Section One: The Headlines

There are three headlines you need to provide. Google will combine this headline and use it as the title for your AD. This you can see in the picture above. Remember, the purpose of the headline is to quickly grab the readers attention and entice them to read the description. In addition to that, the different headlines, when read together should form a coherent sentence. If you are not able to do that, then your headlines should contain key words and terminologies that your potential customer is searching for. So take some time to formulate the headlines.

Section Two: The description

If you write your headlines well, the prospect will read the description. This is where you sell yourself. The goal of this section is to get the reader of your ad to click on it. You can use offers for discounts or other special offers. Its important your value proposition is stated clearly.

Section Three: The Call to Action

This can be anything from your phone number to a link to your website page. This is the part that “closes” a sale and converts the clicker of your ad to your customer.

Step Six: Add keyword themes

Keyword themes section google Ads

Keywords are simply a combination of words that your users use, to search for what they need on Google. Google will suggest to you some relevant keywords which you can then use to add to you campaign.

Step Seven: Specify the location you want your AD to be shown

Specify the location you want your ad shown

If your business is based at a particular area, this is a great way of letting the people in that area know about your business. You can also specify the radius around your business that you want to target. You could target people within 3km of your business or 50km of our business. In addition you can choose to advertise in specific zip codes or cities or regions.

Step Eight: Set your budget

Set your budget page on Google ADs onboarding

This is among the last steps, but also very important. You can set the budget according to what your goals are and the extent of your resources. This is what makes Google ADs really powerful, you can start with the budget you already have.

Step nine: Payment Info

Payment Info

This is the last step, you add your payment info, from there, you are good to go.

Pretty straight forward, but remember, you constantly need to review and rewrite you ads for better effectiveness.

3: Fully understand your value proposition

In order to get customers to buy from you, you need to give them a really good reason. Your prospects need to know about the tangible results they will derive from using your products or services. Your value proposition needs to capture the value you will provide to them in a clear, succinct phrasing.

This calls for a lot of introspection and honesty. Are you really making a difference in your customer’s life? Is your product a nice to have or a need to have?

Your value proposition forms the basis of your marketing. Before you do anything marketing related you need to understand your value proposition.

Let us discuss a few businesses and what their value propositions could be;

Business One: A company that leases vacation properties

Our first imaginary business person is Sarah. Sarah has a vacation rental that she lets out on the weekends and holidays. If you were Sarah, what would be the value proposition for your business?

The first step is to understand the benefits of what you are providing. For example with Sarah, she is providing people with an opportunity to relax and unwind.

The next step is to understand how the benefits improve someone’s life. In this case, how does being able to relax and unwind improve your life? for example it helps people recharge so they avoid burnout and be more productive. It helps families to spend time together, because everyone is in the same house. This leads to better family relationships. Also, taking a break helps people be healthier and live longer. Sarah is basically saving lives at this point

The last step is to come up with your value proposition, in this case, If Sarah hired me to craft her value proposition, I would give her the following;

  • Her business brings families together
  • She increases people’s productivity
  • She helps people live longer and healthier lives

Once you understand your value proposition, it is easier to create marketing material and ADs. Sarah could do a small photoshoot that shows how a family is having fun and bonding together. This will be more effective than just showing her property and price.

Lets have a look at another example;

Business Two: Jim’s Accounting practice

Jim graduated college with an accounting degree and has decided to strike out on his own. Jim just launched his accounting practice. How would he describe his value proposition.

Let us go step by step.

Understand the benefits of what you are providing:

Proper accounting and keeping of records allows you to;

  • File taxes on time
  • Keep track of expenses and income

Understand how those benefits improve someone’s life

If a business is able to file taxes on time, they avoid expensive fines from late filing and inaccurate filling. In addition, they stay out of prison. In addition to that, keeping track of your expenses and incomes helps you avoid wastage and theft.

Coming up with the value proposition

Coming up with a value proposition is fairly easy now. Jim’s Accounting helps you save money by avoiding wastage, theft and fines. In addition Jim keeps you out of prison.

Jim’s elevator pitch would be “I can save you money by avoiding wastage, theft and fines…and also keep you tax compliant and out of prison”

If you are Jim, it is now easier to sell your services because you know what you bring to the table. Plus you know the messaging that should be in your ads and marketing collateral.

To summarize:


4: Create good content to ensure your digital marketing success

Content is what positions you as the leader of your industry. The more useful and captivating the content, the higher up the leadership totem pole you will be. Content comes in many forms and types. It can mean anything really, as long as you are connecting with your audience.

Let us go over a few content types and discuss what constitutes good content for digital marketing

Content types

1: Blog posts/articles

This is probably the most dominant form of content online. It can provide immense benefits to your audience. If you are able to distill concepts and ideas into beautiful prose, you are on the path to thought leadership.

2: White papers, eBooks and reports

These allow you to extrapolate on your content and dive into further detail. It needs to be 3000- 6000 words long and is often downloadable in PDF format.

3: Podcasts

Podcasts have really come a long way. This form of audio has really come a long way and it would be immensely beneficial for your business if you jump into the bandwagon.

4: Newsletters or Nurturing Campaigns

Email is still king. It has among the highest rate of return of all medium. A good email is short, concise and straight to the point.

5: Videos

Video is the new king. Everyone is watching videos.

What constitutes good content?

In order to create good content you have to understand user intent. When someone navigates to you content, what is their goal? Are they there to learn something, to be entertained, or both?

Understanding user intent is the crux of creating good content,

Another key to creating good content is domain expertise. You need to understand your particular industry and be able to communicate its nuances, challenges and opportunities. This is important especially if you are a service based business. Content will define you as the industry leader and you reap great rewards as a result.

In summary, to create good content

  • Understand user intent
  • Develop domain expertise

5: Leverage word of mouth

Word of mouth works because of one simple thing. That is trust. The most credible source of advertising generally comes from friends and family.

Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with advertising. People want products and services yes, but they may be skeptical of “professional ads” which almost always seem to promise them the moon. They prefer recommendations and reviews from other customers just like them. As a result a good track record will often lead to more recommendations and thus more business.

Trust sells

In addition to that, word of mouth give you the benefit of increased brand awareness. Once someone spreads news about you, the information recipient will also turn around and spread the info to others.

Word of mouth also tends to build a community. By having a group of people who can vouch for you, you build a fanbase. These people will always tell more people about you, thus engaging with your brand and driving your growth.

So how do you leverage word of mouth to attain digital marketing success?

Always ask for reviews

Make sure that every person who buys from you, leaves a review about your products or services. Ideally theses reviews can be left on trustworthy platforms such as Google reviews and trust pilot. Also, if possible the reviews can get into detail about their specific experiences with your products and services

Incase of bad reviews

It is inevitable that one day you are going to get bad reviews. When this happens, don’t stop the customer from posting the bad review. But do everything in your power to solve the situation and encourage the customers to mention the steps that you took to resolve their issue.

6: Utilize social media

Social media has become one of, if not the most important virtual space in the realm of online marketing. There is a good chance that all your potential customers are on a social media site of some kind.

Social media helps business with the following;

  • It helps vastly improve brand awareness. More people knowing that your brand exists is a good thing
  • Another really potent benefit is that it helps build a community around your product of service. A community which can then be leveraged to gain word of mouth referrals.
  • You can also sell directly on Social Media.
  • Also, social media can help you gauge what people really feel about your business or service. This feedback loop is crucial to iterate and improve your offerings
  • On top of that, another benefit to social media is the ability to advertise to other users on the social media platform. You don’t just have to rely on the people who follow you.

However before you get started with social media you are going to need a social media strategy.

So what is a social media strategy exactly?

This is a document outlining your goals and the tactics/methods that you will utilize to achieve them. If you have a team, a good strategy should outline the responsibilities of all the members of your team.

As mentioned, your first course of action is coming up with the overall goal for your social media campaign. A quick tip, your goal should be S.M.A.R.T

S – Your goal should be Specific this simply means that it should be very well defined with visible parameters

M – Also, your goal should be Measurable. A measurable goal is one that has metrics that can be tracked to ascertain whether you are on the right course or not.

A – Naturally you goal should be Attainable

R – A Relevant is important to avoid wasting resources

T- Having a Time bound goal also keeps you from stumbling in the dark and wasting resources.

Another tip: Understand your audience

Actually before you start your campaign, it is crucial to understand what your audience wants to see and hear. It is imperative you spend enough time, learning about your audience and try to figure out what makes them tick.

You should know various things about them such as their age, location, work etc

Last tip: Keep track of metrics

Measure everything. Key metrics are the only means to tell if you are making progress of failing. Ignore metrics at you own risk.

7: Have a good website

Your website is your online HQ. It forms the basis of your business and digital marketing efforts. Also, it is good to note that 80% of all purchases online, start with a search on a search engine. A website encompasses all parts of your digital marketing strategy. It forms a very valuable touch point with your customers. As a matter of fact it is the backbone of everything you do online. Also it gives your consumers an idea of what you brand is about.

Let us go over a few features that make a website a good website.

Fast loading speed

We are not patient people. Living in the age of instant gratification, we expect everything to be ready when we want them to be ready. A slow loading website will work against you idea. As a matter of fact, studies have been done that indicate that the more seconds you can shave off your loading speed, the more the conversions you will get. Always make sure that your website loads fast

Clear information architecture

How you organize information on your website is called information architecture. A well laid out website that is organized and easy to navigate is pleasant experience. People are able to find what they need easily. A few tips, make sure you have a menu navigation bar. Layout your info in a hierarchical manner.

A functional search bar

This is part of the point above but it requires its own section. A good website has a good search feature that makes it possible for people to easily find what they need.

That is it, websites are not complicated. They are a simple, inexpensive way to get your word out there.

8: Utilize email marketing to nurture leads

Email marketing is a powerful form of direct marketing. In my opinion it is the corner stone of digital marketing success. Once you capture emails, it reduces your cost of reaching out to customers drastically. This is what makes it potent, the hard part is getting the email list, once done, marketing becomes essentially free(almost).

Email marketing has been around forever, this is a testament to its reliability in the real of digital marketing. Lets go over three main reasons why you should be using email marketing;

Email is often the number one communication channel for your users

99% of people check their emails constantly. For most professionals, this is the first thing they check when they wake up. The only other channel that comes close to this is text.

Your very own list

Google algorithms may change, social media may block or ban your accounts at any time for any reason. With email, you own the list. It is in your possession. No one can take it away from you. If you happen to have a reliable list, you get to have a reliable means of reaching customers and potential customers without relying on anyone else. This autonomy and power is what makes email marketing so attractive.

Email converts

Surprisingly, email works. I mean not surprisingly, it has been around for ages for a reason. Email has a higher ROI than social media and Google Ads. If there is any one channel that we recommend for digital marketing, its email.

There are a couple of really good and reliable services that you can use to get the full benefits of email marketing. We recommend for example Mailchimp as a starter platform.

If you need help building your list, you can contact us for advice.

9: Remember to use a CRM in your digital marketing efforts

Once you get to the point where you are getting customers and inquiries online, it is good to get a dedicated platform where you can manage them. A CRM defined simply is a database that is connected to a task manager. You can keep your contacts in the said database and use the inbuilt task manager to keep track of your activities such as calls, emails, follow ups etc

Without a CRM there is a risk of opportunities falling through the cracks. In a world where such opportunities are expensive, wasting them is quite the sin.

A CRM also help you with excellent reporting, You are able to allocate resources better along your sales process because you know what is working and what is not. You are able to see which of your sales team members are performing and the ones that aren’t.

In addition you get the opportunity to automate your sales process. You are able to create battle tested sales processes that can be taught to the rest of the team and most importantly scaled. This scalability will help in forecasting, which will helps you with financial planning.

Also, with a CRM you have the added benefit of forging close collaboration with your team. In addition to that, you can always leverage automation to get more done faster. A good CRM should also be connected across your channels such as emails, phone, texts and other apps. It works a central point(command and control center) for all your sales and marketing efforts. HubSpot provides a really good CRM, you should check it out.

10: Deliver happiness

A lot of people never talk about this. As a matter of fact, this is an industry secret. A well kept secret. The secret to success online is going above and beyond for your customers. Happy customers will always come back and they will tell everyone they know about your products or services.

Marketing or digital marketing is just the first step in the ultimate goal. To deliver happiness to your customers.

Strive to have

  • Good services/products
  • World class customer support
  • Empathy for your customers

Understand your customer’s user intent. Seek to understand what they aim to accomplish with your products or services. Aim to understand their problems. This high level of empathy will elevate your products and services and put you miles ahead of your competitors. As a matter of fact, you go beyond competing on just price but rather how you make your customers feel. Focusing on how your customers feel make them price insensitive. They stop caring about what your product cost. This is the key to profitability and building a moat around your business.

Delivering happiness and delighting your customers is the difference between fly by night firms and companies that last decades.

More reading that will boost your digital marketing efforts, here is a guide on homepage SEO

David Mbwana is an SEO specialist at Ahadisoft Group LLC. The company is based in Nairobi, Kenya and it helps businesses navigate the world of digital. You can reach Ahadisoft Group LLC at info@ahadisoft.com.