Do you love an underdog story? I sure do. I love hearing about the little guy who went head-to-head with BigBadCorp and won in ways that mattered to the little guy.

This is part of why I love seeing small businesses succeed online. One of my favorite examples is my favorite whisky bar in Amsterdam called J.D. Williams Whisky Bar.


If you look them up online, you’ll find that they have:

Small businesses have unique advantages and challenges with digital marketing. You’re small and thus don’t have a huge budget, but because you are small you can speak directly to your audience and find your best customer that allows you to continue to build your business. You get to be scrappy in your marketing and leverage channels like Local SEO, in person events, and much more.

We all run out of marketing ideas sometimes and need some inspiration. And sometimes it’s fun to brainstorm as many ideas as you can to get the creative juices flowing.

Here are 31 digital marketing ideas for small businesses. Pick the ones that you think might work for you, put them into action, then report back!

Table of Contents

1) Build some links to your website (SEO)

SEO is driven off of links from other websites to your website. By building more authoritative links back to your website, whether through high quality directories, better business bureaus, or business partners you’ll be better able to rank in the search engines for the keywords that matter to your business.

2) Gather email addresses from customers

Email addresses are the currency of the web. With an email address, you can do many things (and we’ll cover some of them further down). But it all starts from getting their email addresses. Whether that’s through Stripe, a physical sheet of paper at a physical store, or required on sign-in or sign up to your store, get that email and get permission to email it.

3) Start a weekly newsletter to local customers

As a marketer I am constantly amazed at how many businesses do not do even basic email marketing. Commit to emailing your above-mentioned email list at least once a week, offering a discount or something of value to them.

4) Offer discounts for check-ins on Foursquare/Swarm/Yelp/Facebook

Guess what? People still use Foursquare and many people also check in on Yelp and Facebook. This is a great way to do local marketing. Have them show you that they just checked in on their social media app of choice and give them a discount.

5) Write five keyword-targeted blog posts

Search engine optimization works, and it’s often driven by content. Go do some keyword research and write five blog posts targeted towards those keywords, then spend as much time promoting them as you did writing.

6) Start a Buffer account and schedule social media content regularly

Buffer is a free tool (up to a certain number of accounts and after that for a small fee) that allows you to schedule content across all of your social media accounts. Because social media updates have a short half life, consistency is key. Use Buffer to be more consistent.

7) Use FiveStars to reward customers

FiveStars is a cool tool that businesses can use to reward their most frequent customers. Enough said.

8) Get more reviews on Yelp

Yelp is the most used tool for restaurant recommendations and reviews, so ask your customers to leave you a review of their time at your restaurant. This is especially important the higher priced your restaurant is. Providing them with an amazing experience and asking for a review = major win!

9) Buy ads to target your email list on Facebook

Remember that email list you started building in step 2? Did you know that you can upload those email addresses to Facebook and retarget them there to bring them back to your business? Do that.

10) Promote tweets in your local area

Depending your audience, promoting tweets in your local area or on hashtags specific to your area can be great for business, and still relatively cheap.

11) Offer discounts for giving you an email address

Remember that email list I asked you to build? I’ve only mentioned it a few times now, and that’s because email is the most under-utilized marketing channel for SMBs in the United States. There are many ways to get emails, and incentivizing people is one way to do it. Think about this – get them to sign up using Twiter cards and send them a discount code to use with their next purchase via a MailChimp triggered email, then drop them into your weekly drip.

Woah. Winning.

12) Create an Instagram account

Instagram is still the fastest growing social network, and every business can be visual. It’s where your customers are, especially if you have a younger audience, so be where they are.

13) Create a Pinterest account

Pinterest was a Silicon Valley darling back in 20111/2012 when their growth exploded. They now boast over 100 million users, so you can be sure there’s an audience there for your business. Start off by creating a Pinterest account, creating a few boards from doing some keyword research, and build from there.

14) Promote pins on Pinterest

Pinterest allows you to promote pins to followers and new audiences. If you’re an online business especially in a B2C niche, this might be something to explore.

15) Write an ebook

eBooks are a great way to show your authority and knowledge of a topic, and if you are a fast writer then it doesn’t have to take that long to write a great ebook! Get your outline in place, do your writing, pass it off to a great editor,  then publish and promote (and don’t forget to do a bit of pre-promotion to get reviews ahead of time). And remember that email list? This is another great way to get more email addresses.

16) Put a Facebook retargeting pixel on your website

Sometimes people come to our websites, look around, and then leave never to be seen again. If you have the Facebook retargeting pixel on your site, you can then serve them super targeted ads and bring them back to your website to complete their purchase.

17) Sync profile photos across social media accounts

Consistency across social media is important. If you have different profile photos across your business accounts, go streamline them.

18) Do keyword research for your website

SEO is super important to online businesses or businesses who promote themselves online (read: everyone), so learn how to do keyword research and then create pages on your site for those keywords and build some links to get them ranking.

19) Write new website copy to increase conversions

I bet you’d love to make more money from the eyeballs or customers you’ve already earned. Rewriting your website copy to focus it around conversion and driving people to that goal is a great way to do it.

20) Update your website’s imagery

The internet is visual. Having great imagery on your website can help your customers feel more at ease and they will convert better as well.

21) Check Search Console and redirect 404s

If you operate a website for your business, you need to have Search Console verified for your domain. Navigate to Crawl Errors and find the URLs that currently 404 on your site and redirect them to the right place.

22) Promote blog posts to website users on Facebook

We’ve already talked about many ways to promote things on Facebook. Sometimes your users have a longer conversion time and need to see your content often, especially if it’s a higher price item. Promote your blog posts directly to these audiences and watch the revenue come in.

23) Pitch a guest post or three

If you are a writer and your audience is a blogging one, or reads blogs, then make connections with blog owners in your niche and offer to write content directly for their audience. You get the benefits of getting in front of their audience as well as likely getting some new links back to your website.

24) Sign up to HARO and contact journalists

Help A Reporter Out is a great way to connect with journalists writing about things you know about. Even if it’s not directly related to your business, getting your name out there can be a great way to increase your online exposure.

25) Re-optimize website pages for keyword research

You’ve already learned a bit about keyword research in this article, so another way to increase your traffic is to go back and find keywords that might convert better than your currently targeted keywords and re-optimize your existing pages for those terms. HitTail is a great way to find long tail keywords that you rank for and convert well, which you can improve your rankings for.

26) Interlink social media accounts and your website

Search engines are giving a slight rankings boost to known entities, and this is often done by connecting multiple properties owned by the same business or person to one another. If you’ve ever seen a box on the side of a search result for a branded query and their social media profiles, this is why that is happening. So go link all your profiles together.


27) Claim your Google My Business listings

If you run a physical business, you need Local SEO to help you grow your business by getting your listing in the map pack for important searches in your area. One of the things they do is make sure that your Google My Business profile is claimed, set up, and optimized properly.

28) Use Moz Local/Yext to clean up your business’s online citations

Another major element of Local SEO is ensuring that all of your business mentions online have the same Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) consistently. Use one of the available tools online to help you do this.

29) Pitch a conference

If public speaking is not one of your biggest fears in life, then pitching and speaking at a conference can be a great marketing tactic for your business especially on the supplier side.

30) Create a slide presentation and post on SlideShare

SlideShare, owned by LinkedIn, is a fantastic place to show off your beautiful and helpful slide presentations. Post your above mentioned conference presentations and get some friends and colleagues to share it to get on the trending homepage. SlideShare is fantastic for B2B purposes.

31) Get out and talk with your customers

The best way to know what to do for your customers online is to speak with them, so get outside or active on online forums and learn from them, then go give them that!

32) Serve ads to your competitor’s customers

Are you a local business? Did you know that you can create ads around a specific general location? Why not then create an ad that shows to the people who are currently eating at your competitor’s restaurant, or whatever your business is?

33) Advertise around related businesses

Do you own an ice cream shop? You know that everyone at the Mexican restaurant next door is drinking margaritas and eating salty food while staring at their phones. Why not serve an ad around that restaurant that advertises your ice cream shop?

34) Create a video course

Online video is blowing up as a format that people love to consume. Youtube is the world’s second biggest search engine. Did you know that? You can tell many stories better on video than in text or in image format. And getting started with video can be pretty simple with just an iPhone and a tripod.

35) Go to conferences

The best place to meet like minded people in person is conferences. It doesn’t matter if it is a small local conference or your industry’s biggest annual conference. Be there and meet people, have a presence.

36) Sponsor a sports team

If you’re a local business, like a car dealership, sponsor your daughter’s baseball team. You’re supporting a good cause and getting directly in front of your ideal audience.

37) Ask your customers what questions they have

Then create marketing materials speaking directly to these needs. Use their questions and pains in ads, in blog posts, all over. Speak to what your customers are feeling and you’ll get more of them.

What do you think? How have you been marketing your small business?

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