Small busi­ness own­ers know dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is no longer sec­ondary to tra­di­tion­al print mar­ket­ing and adver­tis­ing and is a great way for them to get more bang for their mar­ket­ing bucks. (In fact, 95% of small busi­ness­es plan to increase spend­ing on dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing this year.) But to get the best results, it’s impor­tant to under­stand dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and keep up with dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing trends.

Digital Marketing 101

What is dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing? It’s often thought of as “online mar­ket­ing,” but it goes far beyond inter­net mar­ket­ing. Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing refers to any mar­ket­ing that uses dig­i­tal chan­nels to reach prospec­tive cus­tomers. This includes mobile phone mes­sag­ing (both SMS and MMS), email mar­ket­ing, social media mar­ket­ing, dis­play adver­tis­ing, search engine mar­ket­ing and apps.

10 Basic Digital Marketing Strategies to Use

1. Your business website

No mat­ter how active you are on social media, it can’t replace a busi­ness web­site. Your web­site is the dig­i­tal “home” of your busi­ness and it’s the one place online where you are com­plete­ly in con­trol of your mes­sage. Your web­site doesn’t have to be fan­cy, but it does need to be mobile-friend­ly. that’s non-nego­tiable in 2019.

2. Search engine optimization

Search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO) refers to the process of increas­ing web­site traf­fic using the organ­ic (non-paid) search results on search engines. There are many mov­ing parts to SEO, includ­ing using the right key­words in your web­site, your social media pres­ence, ref­er­ences to your web­site from exter­nal sites and much more. The com­plex­i­ty of SEO is one rea­son only 44% of busi­ness­es are cur­rent­ly invest­ing in SEO, accord­ing to Clutch. The good news: Being one of that 44% can put you ahead of your com­pe­ti­tion.

3. Local search engine optimization

Since 2o15, more search­es have been con­duct­ed on mobile devices than on desk­top com­put­ers, accord­ing to Google. Many of those search­es are done while users are “on the go” look­ing for local busi­ness­es, so Google’s search results now favor web­sites that are opti­mized for local search by includ­ing loca­tion infor­ma­tion and loca­tion-relat­ed key­words. In addi­tion to opti­miz­ing your web­site for local search, claim your busi­ness loca­tion on local search direc­to­ries such as Google My Busi­ness and make sure that your name, address and phone num­ber (NAP) infor­ma­tion is list­ed exact­ly the same way on all the local search direc­to­ries. (No using “St.” in one list­ing and “Street” in anoth­er.) If your NAP varies from one list­ing to anoth­er, search engines may not rec­og­nize it as the same busi­ness, hurt­ing your search results.

4. Email marketing

Near­ly sev­en in 10 busi­ness­es use email mar­ket­ing, mak­ing it the third most pop­u­lar dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing method. Almost half (47%) of peo­ple across demo­graph­ics check their email on a mobile device; 81% of those use their smart­phones (as opposed to tablets). In addi­tion, the major­i­ty (33%) of email opens occur on mobile devices. When you devel­op your email mar­ket­ing mes­sages, think “mobile-first.” Keep emails short; include a clear call to action; design in a sin­gle-col­umn for­mat; and use plen­ty of white space so it’s easy to click on but­tons or links in the email.

5. Social media marketing

Social media is the num­ber-one mar­ket­ing chan­nel used by busi­ness­es, accord­ing to Clutch: 83% of com­pa­nies use it. There’s good rea­son for that: Sta­tista reports 77% of Amer­i­cans use social media. Be sure you’re keep­ing up to date on new social media chan­nels, as well as where your tar­get cus­tomers are spend­ing time (for instance, are they leav­ing Face­book for Insta­gram)?

6. Content marketing

This prac­tice refers to cre­at­ing con­tent (such as blog posts, ebooks, white papers, info­graph­ics, videos, etc.) that you share dig­i­tal­ly. The goal is to attract users to view your con­tent and take the desired action. For instance, you might write a blog post on How to Win­ter­ize Your House and Save Mon­ey and include a call-to-action such as “Con­tact us to get a free esti­mate on win­ter­iz­ing your home.”

7. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Pay-per-click dig­i­tal ads appear when users do an inter­net search for the terms you use in the ad. The name comes from the fact that you only pay when some­one clicks on your ad. The most com­mon place for PPC ads is on Google (using Google AdWords) but ads on Face­book and oth­er social media chan­nels are also con­sid­ered PPC.

8. Marketing automation

Mar­ket­ing automa­tion soft­ware can auto­mate many repet­i­tive aspects of mar­ket­ing. For instance, it can send auto­mat­ed respons­es or start a “drip mar­ket­ing” cam­paign when prospects fill out a leads form. It can sched­ule your social media posts, deter­mine the best time to send email newslet­ters, and more.

9. Messaging

From SMS and MMS text mes­sages to the use of mes­sag­ing apps such as What­sApp, Mes­sen­ger, Viber or WeChat, you can mar­ket to cus­tomers using mobile mes­sag­ing. Mobile mes­sag­ing mar­ket­ing appli­ca­tions can use loca­tion-based data to trig­ger mes­sages at rel­e­vant moments, such as when a cus­tomer is near your store or restau­rant.

10. Online ratings and reviews

You may not think of online review sites as dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, but they’re a major fac­tor in how prospects form an opin­ion of your busi­ness. Some 86% of con­sumers (and 95% of those age 18 to 34) read reviews for local busi­ness­es; 91% of 18-to-34-year-old con­sumers trust online reviews as much as per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tions. Opti­mize your list­ings on review sites the same way you would on Google My Busi­ness: Keep them cur­rent and add pho­tos, descrip­tions, direc­tions and offers. Mon­i­tor your reviews reg­u­lar­ly and respond to neg­a­tive reviews quick­ly (and polite­ly).