Which digital marketing services does your small business really need?

Which digital marketing services does your small business really need?

So you've gone through all of the possible digital marketing services: SEO, blogs, website, social media, email marketing tools... and you're wondering, what digital marketing services do I actually need in my marketing toolkit?

Why choosing a digital marketing strategy is difficult

The real question, of course, is which online marketing services you'll need to start making money. The best digital marketing agencies know that the more services you combine, the more they benefit one another, and the higher return you'll see on your investment.

Consider SEO. If you want your website to rank on Google or other search engines, you've got to have a top-level SEO structure. And that's exactly what you'll receive when you pay for an SEO service. However, having a solid online presence with a blog, social media presence, and positive reviews will also contribute significantly to your site rankings.

So, buying an SEO service alone might get you part of the way to ranking on the first page of Google search results. But buying both a blog service AND an SEO service might get you to number one in search rankings for all major directories. This will help your business reach a larger audience and more potential customers.

This is why answering this question is complicated. But we're going to explain what advertising agencies already know and how to optimize your marketing content and delight your customers. 

Do you need a — website, PPC advertising campaign, social media campaign? Here's where you should start.

When driving sales and leads online, your digital marketing strategy starts with your brand and your website. 

Digital Marketing Priority #1: Creating a brand that resonates

Here's why:

Your logo, color palette, typography, voice, and purpose are the personality of your brand. Without that, your company is going to appear as a commodity, not a business.

Benefits of having a small business brand that resonates include:

  1. Be remembered. When people first learn about your product or service, they record certain pieces of information about you: what you do, the name of your company, and what your logo looks like, for example. Making this information cohesive across all digital assets is one signal of a well-established brand.
  2. Be known as a modern company. A sophisticated marketer knows logos and brand statements tell a lot about your business. Most consumers will be able to tell in seconds whether you've used the same logo and traditional methods since the mid 20th century or have updated to more modern stylings.

Digital Marketing Priority #2 Having a quality website

Here's why:

It may seem obvious that you'll need a website to drum up your target audience's interest online. The real kicker, though, is quality. A professional, easy-to-use website is essential for every small business.

Benefits of having a quality small business website include:

  1. Stand out from your competitors. People see hundreds and sometimes thousands of websites every year. It's a competitive landscape, and business leaders know that there's no fooling them. A quality website will help you stand out and show your visitors that you're trustworthy.
  2. Make learning about your services accessible. Answering questions on your website with relevant content will help prospective customers get a good idea of whether they'll be interested in your services or not. High-quality website content will also help you rank higher in an organic search with any online directory.
  3. Sell more of your product or service. The language you choose for your website tells people entering your customer experience about your brand, knowledge, and confidence.

Every other digital marketing tactic - whether it's online advertising, blog writing, social media, or email marketing is meant to drive back to your website. That's why making sure your website is optimized and well-branded with high-quality content will reward you with every online search.

Digital Marketing Priority #3 (Short-term ROI): PPC and direct advertising

Here's why:

If you've got a brand and website ready to go, the quickest way to see a return on investment is through direct advertising. 

All you need to reach your ideal customer is some original online content: a single blog post, a photo, several photos, or video content.

Benefits of PPC and direct advertising for small businesses include:

  1. See results fast. With the right skillset in PPC and direct advertising and in-depth knowledge of your customer base, an advertising professional can start showing you returns as early as month 1.
  2. Know when you need to pivot. You know if it's working right away. If the advertisement is costing less than you're making, you're on the right track.
  3. Save your money. You don't need much to get started. Even a hundred dollars can be enough to determine if an ad will be successful and be cost-effective.

The downside? Direct advertising does not provide much depth in the customer experience. Your potential customers may buy once, but when they start to see the lack of resources, help, and engagement you provide them, they may begin to look elsewhere.

That's where a blog helps boost your digital strategy.

Digital Marketing Priority #4 (Long-term ROI): Blog

Here's why:

Blogs take time to develop. But as your blog grows, so does the rest of your online presence.

Benefits of having a small business blog

  1. Publish once, share everywhere. Your blog posts and topics can easily feed into social media, advertising, email, and any other channel you're working through
  2. Increase your ranks on Google. As mentioned above, blogs will also significantly impact your SEO results, including domain ranking and Google ranking.
  3. If you're going to put effort into the long-term development of your online presence and search engine rankings, a professional blog is a great place to start.

Digital Marketing Priority #5 (Long-term awareness growth): Organic social media and PR

Here's why:

Organic social media presence and PR efforts are generally geared toward brand awareness as opposed to direct sales.

Benefits of organic social media and PR for small business

  1. Make yourself known. Organic social media posts and PR efforts will build brand awareness in your community and beyond.
  2. Deepen relationships naturally. Connect with your customers at an intimate level online - through these services, you will become part of their feed naturally and stand out in the online marketplace.
  3. Make a statement. Show off the key elements of your brand and the values that you stand for. 

When it comes to ROI and "necessity," organic social media and PR tend to take the longest amount of time and can be difficult to attribute success to.

An integrative approach is a must in the 2020s

An integrative approach combines digital marketing efforts and traditional marketing to produce minimal waste of time and maximum results. 

This means tying together your branding, website, advertising, blogging, social media, PR, and other forms of advertising in a way that mutually benefits each other. When a consumer sees this happening, to them, it looks like a healthy, flourishing company. Because frankly, that's precisely what it is. 

As more companies enter the digital space and compete for attention and resources, the companies that can most tightly perform an integrated marketing strategy will be the stars of their industries. 

Finding success online for your small business isn't easy.

The right marketing service for your company understands the challenges you are presented with and the specific solutions you'll need to overcome them. And like any blanket recommendation, this list of priorities does not apply to all businesses and should not be considered any kind of template.

Unsure where this leaves you? Or excited about a particular option?

Contact us today, and we can take a look at your digital strategy.


1. Should I invest in advertising even if my website is outdated?

The answer is simply this: if your website cannot convert people into being more interested in what you're selling them, driving more of your target market to your website will not fix the problem. 

As digital marketers, our philosophy always revolves around fixing the long-term, core issues first. So, in this case, once you invest in producing a website that garners intrigue and ranks high in a Google search, you'll have to spend significantly fewer advertising dollars to achieve the same results.

2. What about email marketing? Do people still use email?

Yes! Marketing via email is still an effective marketing channel in 2021. 

On this list, email marketing is a bit of an X-factor. Some companies can have a fully successful digital marketing campaign without using an email marketing tool. In contrast, some companies invest the majority of their time and resources into email as a content marketing strategy. 

It is obvious that businesses should use email marketing after a blog, which would feed into much of the email content creation. A blog is also a great way to add new clients' email addresses to your email marketing resources. It's also a great asset to your digital marketing plan because an email marketing strategy is easy to automate.

3. I've heard about some businesses using SMS marketing. Is that an option, and where does that fit in this list?

SMS marketing is relatively new on the block and follows many of the same characteristics as email marketing, except with much higher open rates. SMS marketing can be a highly effective digital asset when used appropriately and with consent. At the moment, however, it's uncommon to see direct advertising sent via SMS used as a promotional tool. Instead, it is more commonly used as a notification tool for current customers.