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15 marketing tips for small business success

Marketing tips for small business

Key takeaways

  • Creating value through content marketing can position your brand as an industry leader
  • Harness the power of referrals with online reviews, business partnerships, and a referral program
  • When spending money on marketing, choose channels that let you closely target your target audience

When you’re trying to get visibility for your small business, there’s no need to let a limited budget get you down. Established brands may have more money, but you can still have the smartest marketing strategy around. Discover 15 budget-friendly (and some free) marketing tips for small business owners, so you can reach more potential customers and get the most from every cent.

11 cost-free marketing tips for small businesses

No marketing agency? No problem. Even beginners can implement great marketing tactics without spending a dime. Here are 11 small business marketing tips that you and your team can implement right now.

1. Turn leads into customers with drip campaigns

A drip campaign is a sequence of emails that send automatically on a scheduled timeline when triggered by a preselected online action that you choose.  Don’t worry, it’s simpler than it sounds. For instance, if you own a yoga studio, you could have a welcome email instantly sent when a new lead joins your email list. Over the next week, they may receive emails introducing them to your instructors, describing your class offerings, and offering a free first class. 

Drip campaigns keep leads engaged when they’re actively in need of your product or service—and they’re easy to create. Email marketing tools like AWeber and Pabbly, which offer automation with their free plans, can guide you through the process of creating each email in your sequence and setting up your trigger. After that, emails will engage your leads without much extra effort on your part.

2. Re-engage customers with email newsletters

Most marketers identify email marketing as the best way to achieve customer retention. By sending regular emails with valuable content, you can keep existing customers (who spend 31% more than new customers) coming back.

A weekly or monthly email newsletter is a great start. Build loyalty by regularly updating customers on your business, current promotions, industry news, and more. Build your first email marketing campaign using these basic email marketing strategies.

3. Offer value through blogging

Blogs are excellent content marketing tools that allow you to position yourself as an industry leader. You can build trust by writing in-depth blog posts answering specific questions your target audience may have. For example, a landscaping business may write a blog post about artificial grass installation, detailing what it is, how to do it, how much it costs, and how professionals can help.

To ensure your blog reaches the right readers, use search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. Inserting keywords—for example, “artificial turf” and “artificial grass installation”—throughout your post, linking to other pages on your website, and linking to external sites with high domain authority can help you rank higher on search engine results pages.

4. Optimize your site for best results

Another key SEO tactic is website optimization. Search engines don’t just take your content into consideration when determining your rank; they also consider how easy your site is to use. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, your navigation is well-organized, and your web pages load fast. Pro tip: Reducing file sizes can help.

5. Boost engagement with video content marketing

Marketing tips for small business: Blogger creating video content

Video is expected to make up over 82% of consumer internet traffic by 2022. Plus, Facebook and YouTube—two major platforms for video—are the world’s most popular social networks, while TikTok is quickly rising.

You don’t need professional video editing skills to take advantage of this online marketing tactic (or even go viral). With just a smartphone camera, you can use video to:

  • Do live Q&As with potential clients
  • Give followers a behind-the-scenes look at your business
  • Explain a process (like how to fix a clog for plumber marketing)
  • Do a product demo

6. Start conversations with social media marketing

No digital marketing conversation is complete without mentioning social media, which 72% of U.S. adults use. From Facebook and LinkedIn to Twitter and Snapchat, social media platforms drive conversations, which help build brand awareness and relationships with clients.

Beyond publishing social media posts that offer value to your followers, make sure you’re engaging with your potential clients. Respond to comments and direct messages (DMs), share posts you’re tagged in, and join trending conversations relevant to your brand.

7. Generate word of mouth with a referral program

Even with the power of the internet, word-of-mouth marketing is still a powerful marketing tool. More than 80% of consumers trust recommendations from family or friends, which means direct referrals can help you get some of the highest quality leads.

Don’t wait for clients to refer you on their own. Use your email marketing tool to automate a follow-up email request within a day or two after a client buys from you. To incentivize your customers, offer rewards like gift cards or discounts for successful referrals.

8. Amplify satisfied customers with reviews

Most shoppers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. When a client gives you a positive review online, they’re basically referring thousands of people to you at once. But if you want to keep getting great reviews, you have to respond to all your reviews.

When you claim your Yelp Business Page, you can start managing your online reputation by responding to every review in a timely manner. Thank your happy customers for their reviews to build loyalty, and respond professionally to negative reviews to show your stellar service. Some reviewers may even upgrade their star rating as a result of your courteous responses.


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9. Partner with local businesses

A great way to generate more referrals is by partnering with other brands. Work only with reputable brands offering complementary services so you can share exclusive referrals. As an example, a carpet cleaning company may partner with housekeeping and window cleaning services. This tactic helps you reach leads actively in need of your product or service.

10. Build a brand that sells itself

No matter which of our marketing tips for small business owners you add to your marketing plan, excellent branding should be part of all your efforts. A consistent brand experience can help you gain loyal clients, build trust, and help consumers remember your business. Get started with small business branding by:

  • Using the same visual branding (colors, logo, font, etc.) across all marketing channels
  • Using the same tone of voice for social media, customer support, and beyond
  • Sending the same key messages in all your marketing campaigns

11. Enhance your marketing with a CRM

Customer relationship management tools (CRMs) help you organize your client contact information, details about past interactions, and more all in one place. With a CRM, you can offer seamless, highly personalized client experiences. By collecting client data over time, you can better target your campaigns and understand your existing customer base. And when a client reaches out to you as a result of your campaigns, anyone on your team can instantly look up client information and provide personalized service.

Plenty of free CRMs are available to help small businesses maximize their marketing efforts.

3 cost-effective marketing tips for small businesses

If you want to expand your reach fast, investing a little money can go a long way. These three marketing tips for small businesses can help you wisely spend your budget and achieve high return on investment (ROI).

1. Reach your exact target audience with paid ads

Most digital advertising platforms offer sophisticated tools for reaching the right users. With these targeted online ads, your marketing dollars go toward users who fit your ideal client profile, and you pay only when you earn a click. Plus, you can set your own budget for ad campaigns, so you never have to overextend yourself.

Some platforms allow you to target your audience based on interests and demographics while others, like Yelp Ads, let you target specific locations and keywords.

With Yelp Ads, your brand will show up above search results for select keywords and locations, so you can capture more clicks and calls from quality leads. Plus, you can adjust your budget at any time, and you only pay when a customer clicks on your ad.


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2. Work with micro-influencers

Influencer taking selfie while drinking coffee

Micro-influencers, who typically have 1,000–10,000 followers, are some of the most effective promoters around. They develop highly engaged niche audiences—often more so than big-name influencers—who trust their recommendations. They’re also affordable. You can spend as little as $100 to reach 10,000 users. Some micro-influencers may even be happy to accept a commission or complimentary products or services instead of monetary payment.

To choose the right influencers, ask for their audience demographic data, engagement rates, and case studies. Also, be sure to scroll through their social media posts to get a clear sense of their voice and style and how they engage with the public. You want to make sure you partner with someone who is aligned with your brand values and mission. 

3. Improve ROI through text messaging

Text message marketing offers a higher average open rate than any other channel: 98%. Whether you’re sending details about a sale or inviting shoppers to an event, texting gets your message across fast. Text can even improve the customer experience by sending important reminders or purchase confirmations on a convenient channel, which can inspire loyalty.

The best part—it’s cheap. Business text messaging platforms charge as little as 1–5 cents per text (compared to $1 or more per click on search engines).

Expand your customer base today

Whether you’re a growing business or the most popular brand in town, you need marketing to reach more potential customers. Implementing these 15 marketing tips for small businesses—from using your social media channels to gaining more reviews with a Yelp Page—can help you stand out from the competition without blowing your budget or your time. Get more cost-effective marketing tips with our free online advertising ideas.

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.