Let’s face it. There are only so many hours in a day for a small business owner to (in addition to running their business) keep up with all of the online marketing options available. The best advice we can give is this: If you can’t do it all, pick the channels that your customers consider most important. For instance, if you are a local retailer, then Facebook may work best for you. If you are a business-to-business marketer, a social media platform specific to your industry may work best. Or, if you are a services-oriented consultant, LinkedIn may be your best bet.


Your Website

Your website is the most important digital marketing tool in your toolbox. A good website is a must. All other tools should point back to your website, and it should be included in every marketing activity you undertake. Your website is like a brochure in which a potential or current customer can find out anything they need to learn about you and your products or services.


Learn more from the SmallBusiness.com Guide to Website Basics.


Your Blog

If your website is a brochure, then your blog is like a daily news show. It is where people go to learn the latest information about your company.

Learn more from the SmallBusiness.com Guide to Starting a Blog.


Email

Like the weather, we can hate and complain about email, but there’s not much we can do about it. Email marketing is an admission to the reality that there is only one universal communications channel that every user of the web has: email. Mastering email marketing is a challenge, but if done correctly, it offers lots of rewards. And that address list you have is like gold, so be sure to treat it that way.



Facebook

Your Facebook page is not your website. Your website is more important. Don’t be one of those people who think that digital marketing is covered if you have a Facebook page.

Instagram

If you have a visually driven product like produce, flowers, fashion, retail, or a restaurant, then Instagram is for you. Post to Instagram and simultaneously post to Facebook (Instagram is owned by Facebook).

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been around longer than any other social media platforms on this list. However, the “social” part came after a period of time when LinkedIn was more like a Rolodex for keeping up with your professional friends. Today, it’s a must-use tool for researching people. Sales professionals in consulting and services fields should go ahead and spring for the paid premium version. Should you post articles? Again, that’s up to your industry and profession.

Twitter

Think of Twitter as a blog that allows you to only write a couple of sentences, a link and an image. You must promote your Twitter account and learn to use #hashtags and other means to get you customers to sign up. Use your Twitter feed to share exclusive news or instant sales.

Snapchat

Unless your customers are heavy-duty Snapchat users, it should not be your priority. If your customers are heavy-duty Snapchat users, there’s a good chance you are already tuned-in.

Yelp, Google My Business, and other directory and review sites

For some of you (restaurants, retail, etc.) Google and Yelp could rival your website in importance. Keep it up to date.


Learn more in the
SmallBusiness.com Guide to
Managing a Listing on Google Search and Maps
.


Digital advertising

Again, this depends on the specific situation and audience you have. Chances are, if you’re a local business, you should try out Facebook and Google advertising options. If there are advertising opportunities in your industry, try those also.

Dean Mitchell/istock