Internet Marketing for Small Businesses: An Introduction

Internet Marketing for Small Businesses: An Introduction

April 18, 2022
(Reading time: 5 - 9 minutes)

An internet marketing plan is an important component of a business's total marketing mix, regardless of its size or whether it does business online. If you're entirely new to online marketing for small businesses, getting started might seem like a daunting process as internet marketing is constantly evolving.

Small business marketing for a local company may include numerous offline local advertising approaches. Still, to optimize sales in today's economy, a business must also incorporate a good share of internet marketing strategies. 

A small business will be interested in several significant areas of internet marketing. Some are more vital for local, offline businesses, while others are more beneficial for e-commerce businesses. 

What Is Internet Marketing?

Many people confuse internet marketing with internet advertising. In reality, internet advertising is just one component of a comprehensive internet marketing plan. These may consist of market research, public relations, media planning, community involvement, sales strategy, and customer support can all be parts of comprehensive internet marketing plans.

Internet Marketing for Small Business: The Basics

Internet Marketing for Small Business: The Basics

Below are the basics that businesses of any size should be aware of as you build the foundation of your internet marketing for small business strategy. Now, results will definitely vary from business to business, but the information in this section will be valuable to anyone.

Understand Your Business’s Exact Needs and Goals

Your partners, clients, and prospects are the lifeblood of your business. Therefore, you need to build your marketing strategy around them.

The first step of marketing is understanding what your clients want, which can be challenging when dealing with a diverse audience.

Marketing is strategic, and to succeed, you must have highly focused goals.

Get to Know Your Clients

Before jumping into your internet marketing for small business strategy, it’s essential to have a conversation with your existing clients.

How did they find out about your services? What transformed them from interested prospects into paying clients? And what do your clients value or care about?

You’ll likely find and hear the most compelling stories about how your business solved some of your client’s most pressing problems.

As you get to know your clientele better, you will want to also get demographic information such as age, gender, profession, location, and who possibly makes most of the purchase decisions for their household?

Your goal here is to discover who are your core clients and dig deep into what kind of experience they want online.

Develop Buyer Personas

Once you get feedback from your clients, you'll find no such thing as a one-size-fits-all client.

Each client has unique traits, needs, and preferences. Your internet marketing initiatives need to reach each one of these client segments or buyer personas.

A buyer persona consists of your buyers’ demographic, psychological, and behavioral characteristics.

The goal is to set yourself up to maximize online tools to reach these different buyer personas. And if you want a handy guide to start building one, we have a free buyer persona guide here.

Make a Plan

By developing and making a comprehensive marketing plan, you will be ahead of the curve! When I say you need to create a plan, you don’t want to treat it like spaghetti and just throw things at the wall and see what sticks. Therefore, the only way you’ll be able to know what is successful is through consistent execution and tracking.

What Internet Marketing Strategy Is Best for My Small Business?

Now that you have developed your goals and buyer personas, you can identify where your clients and prospects are spending their time online. It needs to be noted that your digital prospects and client base might be vastly different than you’re used to targeting. Therefore, your budget will be a critical factor when deciding which internet marketing strategies to pursue.

When determining which internet marketing strategy is best for your small business, don’t be afraid to try out a few various approaches. Take a look at the results to see which strategies are the most effective with your clientele and ensure you’re getting a great return on investment (ROI). Some techniques can be difficult to quantify, but be consistent with your measurement method.

You should review your internet marketing plan at least once a year (ideally quarterly) to ensure that it is up to date and still fits your business’s needs.

Earned vs. Owned vs. Paid

Many internet marketing strategies can be broken down into three categories: earned, paid, and owned.

But they can also intersect. Titan Growth has a great graphic to demonstrate this idea:

Earned vs. Owned vs. Paid

(Source: TitanGrowth)

We’ll break down a few ways you can execute these three internet marketing strategies below.

Owned Media

As I mentioned before, owned media is your website and places where you can control the content; these can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often a term thrown around by web designers, internet marketing agencies, or anyone with a basic understanding of the web. But what does it really mean?

Search Engine Land defines SEO as:


the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.


One note that needs to be addressed is that you still need to create content about your industry, business, or services you offer, even if you are doing “SEO.” Therefore SEO and content marketing are like peanut butter and jelly; they just go together. 

Understanding what visitors are searching for and incorporating those queries, keywords, or keyword phrases into your content is one way to improve your SEO content. 

However, SEO does not stop with keywords. Getting your content to appear in search engines is both an art and a science. See Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO for a more in-depth explanation.

Content Marketing

Content marketing focuses on providing prospective clients with general information and information about your goods or services. While everyone is attempting to sell, those who can educate are more likely to sell. This works so well because our brains are wired to resist being sold to. People will attach a certain level of competence to a business, giving consumer trust.

Where printed brochures and flyers were commonly used for content marketing in the past, today’s strategy is based on presenting valuable, relevant articles and information on your company’s website that advise and attract potential clients while also serving as a call to action.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is quickly becoming one of the best methods of reaching prospects and clients alike. While it can be used to promote your products and services electronically, it is also an excellent way to keep your audience informed about updates and promotions.

Earned and Paid

Earned and Paid

The following items blur the line between earned and paid as they have components of both.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing (SMM) is easy to say but harder to do, especially now. While everyone talks about social media, the truth is that integrating social media effectively into a small business may be challenging. 

Specific industries and businesses lend themself to the social and instant updates that social media provides. For example, if you are a local restaurant, informing consumers about the latest promotions and menu additions is critical and a perfect fit for social media.

The bottom line is that you must remember that social media marketing is about building relationships with your clients and prospects, not just selling to them all the time. Use the platform to listen to and interact with your online clientele.

Local Search Marketing

Location-based marketing incorporates traditional SEO and the search engine’s maps capability, especially with Google. Google Maps, three-pack, or local pack is where your business can be included with mapping and address information, providing prospective clients with the information they need to visit your brick-and-mortar location or contact you quickly. If you are utilizing your Google Business Profile (GBP), formerly known as Google My Business (GMB), you can also include your phone number and website address.


Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is the practice of running internet advertisements in which the business only pays if the ad is clicked on. There are various types of internet ads, including those featured at the top and bottom of the search results, advertisements that show up in mobile apps, promotions that run before videos, or display ads.

Some perks of PPC marketing include the fact that the business only pays for results and that ads can be targeted to specific geographic areas.

The Bottom Line

Many internet marketing strategies are outsourced to agencies. Most small businesses don’t have the time or staff to dedicate to it. It is also challenging to stay on the multiple and seemingly daily changes that transpire when keeping up with the ever-changing and evolving internet and search engines. Email and content marketing are very much possible to DIY, but it never hurts to ask experts for advice to get you started.

If you own a small business, you should examine the aforementioned aspects of internal marketing. Create a strategy and integrate it with your existing marketing efforts. Depending on your business, some of these marketing areas will be more important and effective than others. However, if you don’t have the resources to handle your internet marketing needs in-house, consider hiring an agency to help. All it takes is to fill out a short form for a free no, cost consultation.

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  April 18, 2022

Chad is a Partner and our Chief Smarketing Officer. He will help you survey your small business needs, educating you on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad is passionate about rural marketing in the United States and North Carolina. He also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

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