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7 Most Effective Digital Marketing Channels & Platforms For Small Business [2021 Updated]

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing is the art of getting new customers, retaining old customers and satisfying active customers mainly by means of digital channels and platforms like social media, search engines, emails etc.

Internet plays a huge role a businesses' growth and success nowadays. From reaching out to new prospects to closing a deal to receiving that payment online everything could be done online. Even if you have a traditional offline brick and mortar business, you can reach out to your potential clients online via services like Google my business. Long-term survival of any business in the age of the internet is almost impossible if the business doesn't harvest the potential of the internet.

This is where digital marketing comes in to play. Digital marketing includes a variety of steps like:

  • Building a strategy for your content.
  • Implementing Search Engine Optimization on your website.
  • Building quality backlinks to your website.
  • Creating landing pages with high conversion rate.
  • Developing a website with clean code and structured data.
  • Using google analytics to get actionable insights for your website.

Consider some practical examples of digital marketing. A content marketer can write guest articles on reputed websites with backlinks to generate leads for his newly launched book. A social media marketer might promote his offline business in 5 kilometres radius from his store and also increase followers on his social media fan page. Similarly, an email marketer could send a series of emails to his subscribers to increase awareness and trust to drive sales for his product.

Get professional help from ABS to take your business to next level by leveraging digital marketing secrets.

Here is a list of most effective Digital Marketing channels.

Below are a detailed explanation and guide to effectively using each of these digital marketing channels for your business. This information will also help you decide which channel is best suited for your business.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of making your website rank higher in a search result on a search engine like Google or Bing. Higher ranks on the search pages result in an influx of free (organic) high-quality traffic (visitors) to your website.

Get help from experts at ABS for your SEO needs.

Benefits of SEO:

  1. High-quality traffic to your website.
  2. Very high Return on investment (ROI).
  3. Increased brand awareness.
  4. Massive boost to brand value and credibility.
  5. Consistent long-term traffic influx.

Businesses that need SEO the most:

  • Small businesses and startups.
  • SaaS and service-based companies
  • Niche stores and websites
  • Local business for maps search results
  • Medical, Legal and other professionals
  • Maintainance professional & handyman companies
  • Restaurants, bars, and cafes

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Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is basically paid search marketing. This is the primary difference between SEO and SEM, SEO is about getting free search engine results and SEM is about buying search ads to display your website in top search results.

Benefits of SEM:

  1. Get top rank on search pages instantly
  2. Very helpful for new websites to get traffic until SEO kicks in
  3. In the long run, SEM helps improve SEO of a website
  4. A/B testing is possible with SEM but not with SEO
  5. Helps in building a brand image

Businesses that need SEM the most:

All businesses that need SEO could get started with SEM until it's SEO starts getting traffic. SEM is particularly useful for startups and new business to get as much market share as possible before its competition enters the market.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing refers to marketing activities like brand awareness campaigns, building a brands' fan pages etc on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc.  Social media marketing helps build trust with prospects by building a social community around your business. SMM helps tremendously in growing trust, sales, brand awareness and social proof.

Benefits of SMM

  1. Building trust
  2. Building a loyal fan base
  3. Getting social proof and approval
  4. Driving sales via social ads
  5. Social proof helps improve SEO

Businesses that need SMM the most:

All business requires social media presence. Social media marketing is the best way to increase that presence. Though SMM is particularly very helpful for the following businesses:

  • Niche business
  • Businesses that need constant & quick feedback from customers
  • Business with a low marketing budget
  • New businesses that need to build trust in the market
  • Businesses that cater to a young generation

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the earliest forms of digital marketing. It's also one of the most reliable and cost-efficient means of digital marketing. Email marketing involves direct communication with your audience. You can use email marketing to promote products, discounts, events etc. It can also be a means of directing your audience to your website.

Benefits of Email Marketing:

  1. Personalized notification service
  2. Follow up communication with customers
  3. Sales promotions and loyalty programs
  4. 40% more effective than SMM (Mckinsey)
  5. Long-term marketing campaigns on a limited budget

Businesses that need Email Marketing

  • Businesses that need marketing with a personal touch
  • Businesses that sell high-cost products and services which involves lengthy communication stage with prospects.
  • Local businesses
  • New businesses that need to build trust
  • eCommerce businesses

Content Marketing

Content marketing involves the creation and promotion of informative content for your audience. This informative content promotion will serve the purpose of brand awareness, traffic generation, lead generation and customers acquisition.

Befinits of content marketing:

  1. Increased brand visibility
  2. Creates loyalty and trust
  3. Helps to build authority and credibility
  4. Provides value to prospects for free
  5. Helps generate new leads

Businesses that need Content Marketing:

  • SaaS businesses
  • Consultants
  • Offline service based businesses
  • Online service based businesses
  • Big brands use it improve market share

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing refers to marketing carried out by your customers or marketing partners (affiliate partners) on your behalf. Once the deal is closed, the affiliate partner usually gets a percentage of the sale as commission.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

  1. Trust building
  2. Social proof
  3. Word of mouth marketing
  4. Zero expense until the sale is completed
  5. Highly efficient. Amazon relies heavily on affiliate marketing.

Businesses that need Affiliate marketing:

  • eCommerce businesses
  • Construction & architectural firms
  • Service firms
  • It could be effectively used in almost all businesses

Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing

PPC marketing is a type of digital marketing where you the publisher every time your ad is clicked. PPC has been gaining traction in the world of digital marketing for many years and now is one of the most widely used marketing methods. The most common PPC platform is Google Adwords.

Benefits of PPC Marketing:

  1. Fast results
  2. measurable results
  3. Precise targeting of audience
  4. Cost-effective
  5. Highly versatile

Businesses that need PPC marketing

  • Startups and new businesses
  • Local businesses for Google business search
  • Service-based businesses
  • Doctors, Lawyers and other professionals

Bonus Channel:

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing refers to specialized content marketing technique where you attract your prospects to your website through high-value free content. Once they arrive at your website or blog, you continue to communicate with them via emails or chat and provide more valued information to the prospect.

Inbound marketing helps you attract potential customers to your business without using disruptive advertising to get your clients attention. This results in the generation of very high quality of leads and helps the ideal customer find your business. Inbound marketing also helps tremendously in building credibility and trust for your business

So which channel of digital marketing is best suited for your business?

The best channel of digital marketing for your business depends on various factors like the type of your business, the stage at which your business is and also the stage at your prospect is in the sales funnel. Unfortunately, there is no "one size fits all" solution for digital marketing. But, any business will have to use all channels of digital marketing at some point or another in his businesses' journey.

You can narrow down the best digital marketing channel by considering the following:

  • your business type (online or offline)
  • your business location - do you cater to local, national or global audiences.
  • your product or service - is it a physical product of a digital product.
  • your ideal customer - businesses or consumers
  • the best way to reach your ideal customer - social, search, content etc
  • your business model - subscription based or ...
  • and many more factors....