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Which Online Marketing Channel Should I Invest In For My Small Business?

The importance of online marketing is as clear as it ever was. As online searches and time spent online soar, businesses have capitalized on the Internet’s ever-growing importance, making way for increases in leads, sales, scalability, and more. Using online marketing channels in ways that align with your business goals can help you build brand awareness, gain qualified leads, and grow your business to new heights.
There are three important schools of online marketing that coincide well with small businesses in general, and by delving into what functions each of these channels serves, you will get a better understanding of which one to invest some of your well-earned dollars in.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO), or the process of ensuring that a site appears high in the organic, unpaid portion of search engine results pages, is a critical way to get your website more visitors and potentially more conversions. SEO is a great way for small businesses to garner qualified visits. If a person is searching for something, they are already in the investigative stage of the sales funnel.
That being said, search engine optimization is a process that requires time and patience. In order to appear as a relevant answer to whatever the user is searching for, your website must appear authoritative to the search engine. Building this authority is a process that, put simply, does not happen overnight.
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Establishing a presence in organic search can bring you free traffic that is already interested in the product or service you offer.
PROS:
  • Garner free traffic that is interesed in your product or service
  • Gain exposure and build brand awareness through impressions
  • SEO efforts typically last for a while
CONS:
  • Results take time
  • No guarantee of results

Paid Search

Paid search, much like SEO, gives your website visibility within search engines, but through much different means. Search engines sell out prime space in the search engine results, giving businesses the ability to bid on ad space for guaranteed visibility. Paid search is yet another way to garner qualified traffic, but in this channel, you do not have to wait for visibility. The second you begin paying is the second your website begins showing in the search engine results. Conversely, the moment you cease payment is the moment you will see your ads fall off the search engine.
Paid search can be tricky and it is important to keep a close eye on what you are paying for. You want to ensure that your paid search campaign is set up and optimized properly, making way for lowered costs and qualified traffic.

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Paying for space in search engines can help garner impressions and visits immediately.
PROS:
  • Immediate visibility upon payment
  • Gaining exposure and building brand awareness through impressions
  • Garner traffic that is interested in your product or service
  • Track your results using services like Google AdWords or Bing Ads
CONS:
  • Must pay for clicks or impressions
  • Should know best practices for paid search in order to avoid wasted spending
  • Immediate loss of visibility upon termination of payment

Social Media

If you have the resources, social media can be a great investment for small businesses. Creating unique and engaging content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest will build brand awareness. You can also leverage social media to gain brand loyalty, using your profiles to spread the word about promotions or giveaways. Beyond that, you are able to interact freely with users and respond to reviews and comments to show your audience that you care.
Advertising on social media is also an option, and quite a good one if you are looking to boost engagement and reach a larger audience. Some social media sites offer options for advertising that are more affordable than paid search, so be sure to take this into account when entering the social media space.
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Creating unique and engaging posts on social media outlets can build brand loyalty, especially when highlighting promotions or giveaways.
PROS:
  • Build brand identity by using engaging content to show customers what your business is about
  • Create a dialogue with your audience by responding to comments, whether positive or negative
  • Build brand awareness in a free space
  • Ability to amplify results using paid social media
CONS:
  • Can attract negative users
As you can see, your optimal online marketing channel varies based on your business goals and the time and resources that you can allocate towards online marketing. In some cases, integrated marketing campaigns can maximize efficacy and show the most ROI. Regardless, whether you are a company that is just getting started and wanting to build brand awareness, or an established business that is wanting to maintain your customer base, online marketing can have a huge impact on the success of your small business.
written by: Jessica Dahlstrum

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