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Web marketing: how to make it work for your small business

Web marketing: digital marketing professionals

Key takeaways

  • Web marketing includes a range of strategies you can use to promote your business online
  • Email marketing, social media marketing, and SEO are some of the most common web marketing strategies
  • Choosing the right strategies will help you avoid wasting time and money on tools and services that aren’t a good fit for your business

Online stores, restaurants, brick-and-mortar retailers—small businesses of all kinds—can benefit from an online marketing strategy. Web marketing can help you reach potential customers, engage with customers you already have, and build brand awareness.

But some types of web marketing may be a better fit for your business than others. Learn how to create a web marketing plan that’s strategic, cost-effective, and reaches your target audience.

What is web marketing?

Web marketing: digital marketing professional using laptop

Web marketing, also called online marketing or digital marketing, encompasses a wide range of marketing tactics, from paid online advertising to free social media posts.

Digital marketing differs from traditional marketing, such as billboards or direct mail, in that it takes place entirely online. With 85% of Americans using the internet daily—and over 30% “almost constantly” online—it’s crucial to reach consumers on computers and mobile devices rather than relying solely on offline channels.

Many small business owners prefer web marketing because it’s usually cheaper and offers greater control and flexibility than offline marketing. Digital marketing campaigns provide you with measurable statistics and can be updated in real-time to increase your website traffic or conversions.

Still, depending on your business or industry, you may decide to use a mix of digital marketing channels and offline marketing techniques.

6 common types of web marketing

Web marketing professional using laptop

Web marketing typically comes in two forms: paid and organic. Paid internet marketing includes things like banner ads and sponsored content, while organic marketing helps customers find you naturally, such as through a search engine or referral traffic.

Whether you choose to focus on paid or organic marketing, there are at least six types of digital marketing techniques to consider.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing can be an effective way to market your business without spending a lot of money because most social media sites are free to join. You can use your social media page to post photos of your team at work, share special offers or inspirational content, and engage directly with customers.

Marketing automation tools make it easy to schedule social media content in advance, while paid advertising can help you boost your content on social media channels.

Follow these smart social media marketing tips, or consider hiring a social media manager to do the work for you.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a great alternative to costly direct mail campaigns. You could pay less than a cent per email depending on how many subscribers you have and how often you email them.

Email marketing strategies range from weekly newsletters to seasonal promotions, and you can segment your email list based on geographic or demographic info. Many email marketing platforms (like Mailchimp or Moosend) offer templates that are compatible with mobile devices too.

Just remember to give customers the option to unsubscribe or customize their settings to avoid overwhelming them with too many emails.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a web marketing technique that can boost your profile on social media, search engines, and more. This approach is all about producing high-quality content that establishes you as an expert in your field and attracts potential customers to your brand.

This content could be an e-book or whitepaper that website visitors get access to when they sign up for your mailing list. It could also be free content that you release on other platforms, such as a blog, podcast, or video tutorial.

For example, if you’re starting a massage business, you might offer a free infographic with exercises that people can do at home to improve their posture. Make sure to include your business name and website on the infographic, and as more people share the infographic, your business gets more publicity.

You can also use your Yelp Business Page to share content about your expertise and build your brand’s online reputation. Claiming your Yelp Business Page allows you to add details about your business, upload quality photos of your product or services and team members, and respond to reviews so that potential customers see your level of service and attention.

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Referral marketing

Referral marketing harnesses your existing customers to promote your brand among their own network. With this type of digital marketing campaign, you can offer current customers an incentive to refer new customers—like a discount or free services. Think of a personal training business that offers a free session for every friend who signs up using your referral link.

A related digital marketing tactic is affiliate marketing which is when a third party gets a commission for recommending your product or service. This can overlap with social media marketing, especially if your affiliates are social media influencers. Just be sure the partnerships you create are with brands you trust and that align with your own business values and mission.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

By definition, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a paid service. It can come in the form of video marketing, banner ads, and other types of display advertising. Take a look at these digital ad examples to get some ideas.

You can purchase ad placement on search engines, social media, and other websites, and “bid” against other advertisers on how much you’re willing to pay per click.

Since the cost for top keywords can be high, set a limit so you don’t overspend, and watch your metrics closely to ensure that your marketing efforts are paying off.

Keep an eye on your cost-per-click (CPC) to see if your ad is working effectively and getting you high-quality leads at a budget that works for you. CPC pricing is based on the amount of competition, consumer engagement, and other dynamic factors. That’s how Yelp determines the price of Yelp Ads, for example. With Yelp Ads, you’ll always pay the least amount needed to win the click, and you’ll only be billed for the cost of the clicks you received in that monthly billing period, never going over the budget you set.

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Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are like two sides of the same coin. They help ensure that your website ranks highly in search engine results that are relevant to your business.

For instance, if you start a dog walking business in New York City, then you want people who are searching for the phrase “dog walkers NYC” to find your website.

SEM is typically a paid service (think Google Ads) that places your ad above the search results. SEO is “organic” in that you don’t pay for a higher ranking; instead, you can earn a higher ranking by including content on your site that’s relevant to the keyword.

Improve your search rankings by following an SEO checklist, and give it time—search engine algorithms are complicated, and it can take a while to rise to the top.

How to create a web marketing strategy

Marketing team discussing digital marketing campaign

Developing a web presence is a must for small business owners. Even if you don’t sell any products or services online, up to 76% of local customers may look up your business and reviews in advance to assess your reputation. 

An effective digital marketing campaign can boost brand awareness and grow web traffic—as well as foot traffic. Here are three steps to developing a solid web marketing strategy.

1. Choose a starting point

Launching too many web marketing campaigns at once is likely to overwhelm you and make it harder to decipher which ones are working. Start by deciding on your immediate goals—brand awareness, lead generation, or something else—and choose the campaign that will best support it.

PPC marketing, such as Yelp Ads, can help you generate leads quickly while social media marketing and content marketing are more of a long game. If you have a clear goal in mind, you’ll be better able to focus your marketing efforts where they’ll make the most difference.

2. Get help if you need it

There are DIY options for nearly all of the web marketing strategies on this list. You can design your own ads, claim your own Yelp Page, and do your own local SEO audit.

If you don’t have the time or skills to do something yourself, consider hiring an expert. A digital media strategist can run your marketing campaign from start to finish, or simply check in every month to see how things are going. You can find dozens of affordable options on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.

Just be sure to avoid promises that are too good to be true. The best marketing experts know that there are no guarantees and won’t promise something they can’t offer.

3. Analyze the results

One of the benefits to web marketing over traditional marketing is how measurable it is. Each campaign will come with its own set of metrics: the number of people who clicked on an ad, opened your email newsletter, or read your latest blog post.

Set some time aside every month to review the results of your campaigns. Adjust your ad budget, revise your posting schedule, and clean up your contact list. If your sample size is large enough, you can also perform A/B testing to figure out which subject lines or ad copy is performing better.

Remember your audience when creating your digital marketing strategy

With the vast majority of people online every day, web marketing makes it possible to reach potential customers all over the world. But unless you run a global e-commerce business, chances are you will want to reach those closer to home. 

Whether it’s marketing via social media, email, affiliates, or paid ads, you may need to try out a few different methods to determine which one works best for your needs and audience. 

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.