6 Digital marketing strategies for small businesses

April 8, 2021

Canadians now spend on average five hours per day online.

For any business to succeed you must have a digital marketing strategy that gets results. 

With so many tools and channels available to support digital marketing, it can be confusing for small business owners just starting out.

We created this post to make it easy for you to find the top 6 most important digital marketing strategies that will get results for your small business.

Details you need before starting

Collect the information below before you start planning your digital marketing strategy – it will save you a lot of time and money. 

  • Know your audience: In order to fully leverage digital tools you need to have a good sense of who your customers are (demographics/psychographics) and what they want from you. If you don’t understand who your audience is or what they want and need from you, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to implement any successful marketing initiatives. 

Tip: Check out our long-form article for help on customer targeting for details.

  • Evaluate your existing tools and assets: When developing digital strategies, you’ll want to evaluate the tools and assets at your disposal and update existing or expand to new areas where appropriate.

Tip: Check out our ‘Media Management’ post for information about the different channels available to you and when/how to leverage them effectively.  

  • Set measurable goals: Your marketing strategy should be directly connected to the overall goals set by your organization. Whether it’s to increase revenue by 10% or bring in 1,000 new customers, the second step is knowing how to measure it.

Tip: Learn about setting SMART goals in this article

Creating your digital marketing strategy

The following 6 marketing strategies will help drive online business and brand awareness. The info in these sections is meant to give you some ideas to get started. For more details check out our Resources section.

1. Content Marketing

Content Marketing is a strategy where brands create interest, relevance, and relationships with customers by producing, curating, and sharing content (text, video, graphics, etc.). The content that is produced has to address a specific customer’s needs while delivering value.  By giving customers and potential customers free information you’re giving them a reason to trust you.

Content marketing will also help your company appear earlier on search engines around products and similar topics. For example, if you run an online shoe store you could post an article about “5 Steps to make your sneakers look brand new.” 

Implement this strategy by first creating a section on your website for a blog, news or other similar information. Use website data, customer service logs or other tools to identify common customer questions or challenges that could be addressed through a content post, video, infographic or other means. Post regular content to keep your audience engaged and interested in your brand.

To get started with content marketing check out our handy guide.

2. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization or ‘SEO’ is one of the best investments an organization can make to drive website traffic and build a brand profile.

SEO is the It is the practice of driving traffic to a website through organic (free) search results from search engines. Search engines crawl and index all accessible content across the web then organize and rank search results based on what it thinks will provide users with the best possible answer to their search query.

The higher the score your content receives from a search engine moves closer to the top of a search return page – which can have a huge impact on traffic. Google uses about 200 different factors to determine what search results to show in which order. As a beginner, you’re probably not going to have the time to address all 200 SEO ranking factors – here are the three most critical ranking considerations:

  • Quality: Garbage content packed with keywords and tags will not offer significant value. Create content that people will read and share – Google will recognize time spent on the page and links to your article as genuine interest and increase its the score.
  • The freshness of content: Posting more frequently improves Google rankings but updating existing content on your website will also signal ‘freshness’ to Google’s algorithm
  • Keywords: Consider what you can offer to site visitors and work backwards to develop keyword search terms. Then try to include those keywords in your content. Make sure it’s organic, add it to the title or into the copy but don’t include too many mentions, or Google may think you’re a spammer and score you accordingly.

Check out our blog post on SEO for beginners for more information.

3. Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing or SEM, is critical to the visibility of small businesses. It gives you a chance to compete with larger companies by being visible on search engine return pages (SERPs). Using Google Adwords tool you can bid on key search words relevant to your company. As a result, your ad appears higher on the SERP where users are more likely to click. This process can be complex and costly for a beginner – consider higher a professional firm to help you get started.

4. Local Search Marketing

97% of people use search engines to find local businesses. Location-based marketing is an important part of your marketing strategy as it tries to bring together user motivation and your businesses through geography.

The easiest way to make sure your business shows up in searches with your phone/email address is to claim your listing. Simply type your business name into google and click ‘own this business?” in the tab. For more help see Google’s instructions

5. Social Media Marketing

The goal of social media marketing should be to strengthen your customer base and secure sales. That said, it can be a very tricky landscape with each social media platform having unique tools, audiences and content requirements.

The easiest way for businesses to leverage social media marketing is to first, have a presence on social media platforms that align with your customer demographics. Then, make sure your company is active on the channel, posting regular updates on your products/services and answering questions.

Businesses should consider using their content marketing strategy to drive users to their website through promotion. Many platforms allow paid promotional posts/ads that will expand your reach to a targeted audience matching specific demographics. Try promoting one of your most popular content pieces and see how it does.

We’ve got a detailed guide on social media that can help you get started.

6. Email Marketing

Email marketing, reaching current or potential clients with messages specific to your business or product/services, is one of the most effective tools to build new and repeat customers. A consistent mantra in the marketing world is ‘the money is in the list.’ This form of marketing is all about collecting and building email lists of people who are interested in your business.

According to Campaign Monitor, for every dollar invested in email marketing, companies generated $44 as a result.

How do you do it?

  1. Build a list:  Start by putting a collector tool in place to grow your list of email addresses – most email marketing clients like MailChimp have this service. Then, start driving traffic to your website where the ‘call-to-action’ appears that asks users to subscribe to your updates.
  2. Send value: Don’t start your relationship with potential customers with a purchase ask. Instead, share relevant content, education or other information that is of value first. Then slowly start to add in more ‘sale’ messages.
  3. Automate: Add an email autoresponder to your collector. Use an advanced email marketing system that allows for automated ‘welcome’ emails and drip campaigns – a series of emails sent out following a user action (sign-up, product purchase, etc.). Drip campaigns provide a unique experience to users based on their actions and timing. They are more efficient for businesses and they can get great results.

Want to learn more about creating an effective email marketing campaign? Contact us today.


Knowing what channels and strategies to implement as part of your digital marketing mix can be a challenge. Our proven track record can help you get the most out of your marketing dollars – contact us today.