First thing's first: Digital territory is crowded. With countless small businesses (not to mention the big guys) vying for attention and dollars, how is your customer going to find you? The trick is to find them first. And we’ve got a list of small business online marketing strategies across five digital touch points to help you do just that.
You’ve had your great idea, packaged it into a killer product or service and launched your website, so now it’s just a matter of kicking up your heels and letting the customers roll on in, right?
Sadly the old saying of ‘if you build it, they will come’ doesn’t fly in online business—certainly not when you’re competing with every other dot com and its dog. As a small business owner, it’s up to you to get what you’ve got in front of your target audience—and that, at its most fundamental level, is marketing. So how do you get started with marketing your small business online?
First and foremost you need to nail down who that target audience is (hint: They’re probably a lot like you), figure out where they’re spending their time (chances are it’s nose deep in their smartphone) and work on positioning your business among them
Large corporations spend millions on marketing, but effectively spreading your message and showcasing your value doesn’t need to cost a fortune. We’ve rounded up some free marketing ideas across five digital marketing strategies that will put your small business front and center.
Very simply, SEO is the process of optimizing your website to attract organic, unpaid traffic through search engines. Your website is an important marketing tool, so you want to make sure it’s searchable and sits high in Google’s ranking (especially as 75% of customers don’t bother clicking past Google’s first page of results. True story). You can read more about Canva's SEO strategy written by buildd that propelled its way to a $40B valuation.
SEO is super important, which is why companies have entire teams—even departments—tinkering away on it, but don’t let that intimidate you. As a small-business owner, the most straightforward ways to give SEO the DIY treatment are:
Design tip: Customize a Canva website template or presentation template to guarantee a good first impression. Choose the theme that reflects your brand aesthetic or upload your own logo and fonts and find your colors in the editor. Share your multi-page design as an interactive website and boom, you’re live!
You know how that teapot you lusted over online is popping up on almost every site you visit? That’s remarketing. Or as some prefer, ‘retargeting’. These web ads are managed and operated through Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and follow people who’ve shown interest in your site but haven’t yet converted, reminding them how awesome you are and/or offering them a discount as they browse Google and its partner sites.
Done right, remarketing isn’t stalkerish—it’s a way to provide your audience relevant, helpful content or a friendly nudge to purchase based on their previous behavior. Conveniently, it also brings awareness to your business and keeps it front of mind.
Remarketing ads aren’t free, per se, but Google Ads only charges you for results (such as clicks through to your website or phone calls to your business). You can also utilize remarketing with ‘dynamic product ads’ on Instagram and Facebook.
Design tip: Use Canva’s free drag-and-drop banner editor to customize thousands of professionally-designed web banner templates and create remarketing ads across various platforms. Banners can also be used for social headers, Etsy shop covers and graphics to elevate your website and content.
Free, high-quality content is a brilliant way to show potential customers that you know what you’re talking about, but don’t come on too salesy. This isn’t about telling the world to “Buy Now!”, it’s about showcasing your worth and building trust with your target audience. Think about the value you can offer them—how can you start solving their problems before they’ve spent a cent?
Content should be authentic, compelling and easily shareable. Some examples are:
Whatever you’re putting out there, don’t forget to include a call to action with your freebies—such as signing up to your newsletter, or inviting your audience to upgrade to a paid model or purchase products and services in the future.
Social media is where small businesses are concentrating much of their marketing energy (and budgets) and with good reason—it provides a direct line to your audience. It’s also a nifty way to build awareness around your brand and entice potential customers to convert.
When choosing which platforms to make your presence known, think about where your customer is. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp…? How are they engaging with social media? And importantly, what time of day are they on there? Sundays at 5pm tend to be a sweet spot.
While we’re scrolling, don’t discount Pinterest as a bride-to-be-only zone. This is where many small businesses get most of their website traffic, and Pinterest users reportedly have higher purchase intent than those on all other social media sites.
Once you’ve selected and set up your social platforms, be social. Engage with like-minded businesses, kick off conversations, listen to what your audience is saying and always respond to questions and comments.
When it comes to what you post, get clear on your tone, clean up your feeds (stick to a color palette, for starters) and create a posting schedule. See how often your competitors are popping up to gauge how much you want to be posting, but also be realistic—it’s better to consistently post two to three times a week than start strong and then disappear.
Design tip: A failsafe way to keep your headers, icons and posts on-brand is by creating them with Canva templates, which cater to everything from targeted Facebook ads and Instragram Featured Stories icons to graphics that can dovetail your video content.
Customize a template like the Blue and Orange Geometric Shapes Simple Job Post / Vacancy / Announcement Instagram Post or the Sunflower Photo Spring Promotional Instagram Post and quickly resize your design to roll it out across your social platforms.
Essentially, email marketing is about building a database of your existing and potential customers. You can gather these from a sign-up function on your website, at networking events or through good old-fashioned word of mouth. Sure, email marketing might sound like an old strategy, but more of us have email accounts than social media accounts, making it one of the most effective ways to market your small business.
Unlike social media platforms—which we don’t actually own, and are known to abruptly change their rules—a customer database is yours to keep. And if that doesn’t have you convinced, research shows we spend 28% of our workday in our inboxes (that’s your captive audience, right there) and 66% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as the result of a marketing email, compared to 20% from a Facebook ad and 6% from Twitter.
Email marketing can come in many, inbox-gracing forms:
Design tip: Use a Canva flyer or email header template to create click-worthy emails that catch your customers’ attention and keep it. Once you’ve customized a template you can easily update and change content for each campaign, and Canva designs can also be embedded into online marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp.
Keep this sleek small business marketing infographic on hand, or share it with your colleagues.