Internet Marketing for Small Businesses

SEO, social media, and email marketing

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The expansion of e-commerce and use of online methods to reach customers have introduced yet another important aspect of starting a business. Internet marketing or online marketing is the concept of marketing that consists of promotional and advertising efforts that take place online. It can be used as a tool to grow your business as it can promote brand awareness and even generate more sales.

There are a few concepts to understand about internet marketing before getting started. Learn how to use social media and email marketing, understand how SEO works, and see how to set goals for your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Internet marketing, or online marketing, refers to the use of online methods to reach customers.
  • Small businesses can use a variety of strategies to increase their online presence, including SEO, social media, and email marketing.
  • Building a website can help small businesses grow, whether they’re blogging, promoting products, or opening an online store.

What Is Internet Marketing?

Internet marketing allows businesses to reach their customers through various online channels such as social media, emails, and websites, using different types of content such as text, images, graphics, and videos.

With more companies now conducting business online, it is important for small businesses to have an online presence to keep up with competition. Internet marketing has also given an edge to new small businesses entering into the market.

“We're now living in a more hybrid work environment where more and more people have embraced technology in every aspect of their lives. It's really helped to level the playing field for many small businesses who previously had been at a bit of a disadvantage to larger competitors with bigger budgets and reach,” said Angela Giombetti, SVP and head of marketing for Wealthspire Advisors LLC.

Internet marketing makes use of several types of online tools. While paid ads can quickly increase online visibility, there are other tools small businesses can use if they are on a budget or they’re just getting started.

Use SEO Tools To Optimize Your Online Presence

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the activities involved in working to improve a website’s online presence. Companies work to improve their rankings on search engines such as Google and Bing by implementing SEO tools. This way, the companies can have higher website visibility when users search with relevant keywords, which helps them rank higher on the search engine results page, or SERP.

How SEO Works

A variety of factors can impact a website’s ranking, including keywords, content, domain authority, and backlinks, which are links from other websites. SEO can consist of both paid results and organic results, which are not paid but naturally rank due to their content.

“SEO (search engine optimization) is a crucial piece of the digital marketing puzzle, especially for lead generation, but it's an ever-evolving platform that requires ongoing attention,” said Giombetti, who oversees the marketing efforts at her firm. She has worked to build communication strategies using various online marketing methods. “You pay for certain keywords and based on your budget (and many other factors), you'll get a parcel of space online. The goal is for people to type in your keywords to a search engine (like Google) and find you in the search results.”

Cost-Efficient Methods in SEO

While many businesses put money in their websites’ SEO efforts, there are some steps for small business owners who are just getting started that don’t require a large budget. Conducting research to determine commonly-searched keywords in the industry is one way to improve SEO without spending money. Some other SEO tips include:

  • Using relevant keywords
  • Including alt text on images
  • Using headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
  • Guest blogging on other websites for backlinks
  • Linking to websites with high authority
  • Adding meta descriptions to pages 

“Make sure the little things are complete. Make yourself findable and easy to reach,” said wealth advisor Caleb Pepperday, CFP, of JFS Wealth Advisors. Pepperday has worked to educate various clients on their finances. He explained how small businesses can find other affordable ways to promote their brands online.

“Oftentimes when you Google small businesses, they don't have their hours listed, a picture of their office, a link to their website, address, etc. This is all stuff any business owner can make sure is done at no cost on Google,” he said. “Another big piece is having reviews on your website/Google search page. This significantly helps people find your business, provided you have good customer service and your reviews reflect that.”

Use Social Media for Online Marketing

Social media is a great way for businesses to reach out to their customer base. Using platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube allows small businesses to have better understanding about both the needs and interests of their customers.

Social media allows businesses to build relationships with their customer base because it provides a means of direct contact. It can be used to reach a specific target market. Businesses should determine which platforms work best for their brands and focus on those channels. “Don't feel like you have to use every platform just because they are available,” Pepperday said.

Ability To Use Various Content

Using social media allows companies to share a variety of content, from images and videos to blogs. Businesses can also easily link posts to specific pages on their websites. Companies should find what works best for their brands. For example, those that offer expertise in a certain field may benefit from providing how-to videos, while posting photos is better for promoting products.

Social Media Engagement

One of the main advantages is the ability to engage with customers. Users can easily comment, share, or even send a message directly to the company. Businesses can work to improve engagement by creating polls or asking questions, posting more frequently, and responding to comments.


Engagement can contribute to insights like social media metrics, which can help the business track the progress of its marketing efforts and determine effective methods. Business accounts on social media platforms typically provide data about their content, such as the reach or video views.

Email Marketing Strategies

Email marketing is a strategy that can be used to reach consumers who are already interested or connected to your brand. Businesses can use email marketing to alert customers about current promotions and events, as well as new products and services, via email. It is important to determine the type of content that is sent and the frequency of these messages.

For email marketing to be effective, you’ll need to first have a list of subscribers who want to receive emails. This can be created with a simple form on your website that allows users to enter their email addresses to start receiving the emails. Provide incentives for users to subscribe, such as creating a monthly newsletter or offering special discounts, so you can expand your reach.

Format and Layout

Emails that are sent out should be formatted to generate interest. To do so, make use of blank space and use concise language for better readability. You may also want to check the color contrast and see if it is impacting readability.


Make sure your emails are responsive, meaning they are able to be viewed clearly on both computer devices and mobile devices. If you’re using a variety of graphics or images, you can also include a plain text version for users.

Opt In and Opt Out

It is important to obtain permission from users before adding them to an email marketing list. Subscribers should be able to easily opt in to emails, as well as opt out. Businesses should include an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email.

Open an Online Store or Sell Through Another Website

There are many ways to make money online. Small businesses that want to expand their customer bases can reach users globally by creating websites. Platforms such as Wix, WordPress, and Shopify make it easy for those who don’t have expert skills in web design to build a website. Those who already have a website might consider creating an online store if they offer products.

Freelancers who don’t have a business set up can also bring in an income through online sites such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. These platforms allow freelancers to bring in extra income with their own designs or products and may provide benefits, such as delivery or fulfillment services and access to reach a customer base.


Income paid out in royalties or made from other self-employment projects is still taxable, if over $400, and must be reported when completing your taxes. Typically, these platforms will provide a 1099 form with the amounts paid for that tax year.

Set Clear Goals for Marketing Efforts

Businesses must first set the goals they want to reach and determine whether they are attainable. Goals can clarify what needs to get done and what resources are needed, as well as provide direction and encourage motivation. As businesses implement marketing activities, they should measure their progress. Some goals, however, are easier to measure than others.

So how do companies measure success in internet marketing? Giombetti said it depends on your goals. “If you're a newer company looking to establish brand awareness in a certain geographic area or with a certain demographic, success might mean name recognition, respect, and established thought leadership on your expertise. That can be hard to measure (or justify digital marketing spends) without some metrics around things like lead generation, client retention rates, or earned media hits,” Giombetti said.

Internet marketing can be measured using various metrics including social media engagement, surveys, click-through rates (which show the percentage of clicks on an ad), and website visitors, as well as many other SEO tools and metrics.

“If your goal for establishing an online marketing strategy is directly tied to lead generation, for example, success could be measured and tracked by clicks on a digital ad, conversions on a landing page, website visits, email open rates and click throughs, and the more traditional methods of determining if a strategy is successful,” Giombetti said.

The Bottom Line

Internet marketing doesn’t need to be a considerable expense; however, investing some time or money into your brand’s online presence can help it grow. Figure out which social media channels and email strategies work best for your brand and determine the type of content that is relevant. Implement SEO tools and track the progress of your business to work toward your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much does online marketing cost?

Monthly costs for online marketing can range from a few dollars to about $10,000, depending on the needs and goals of your business and your preferences. For example, website design can cost several thousand dollars per month; however, it only costs about $25 per month to set up a basic business website on your own. Email marketing, social media advertisements, and pay-per-click can be cheaper since you can set the pricing based on the number of people you want to reach.

How is online marketing different from e-marketing?

Online marketing and e-marketing are similar concepts as they both use the internet to reach users. Online marketing consists of any type of marketing efforts that take place using the internet with the aim to bring awareness to a brand. On the other hand, e-marketing aims to focus on building relationships with customers and may also incorporate traditional advertising efforts, if the materials are created using technology or software.

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  1. IRS. “Self-Employed Individuals Tax Center.”

  2. Wordpress. “Homepage.”

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