Digital marketing: tips for small businesses

It is important for every company to attract the attention of its target group. However, many small companies do not have a large marketing budget available to finance large advertisements, television commercials, or extensive campaigns. Online marketing can be a solution for these small companies: Even with a comparatively small budget, many potential customers can be reached via online channels. Scaling the costs also works very well. But which channels are there and how can the individual channels be used most efficiently?

Your own website

Your own website is practically the center of all your online marketing activities. Your company’s internet presence is the first point of contact for many customers when they have questions about products or your company. What you should absolutely consider when creating your website: Regardless of whether you operate an online store or purely provide information, the expectations and wishes of the (potential) customer should always be taken into account. Because almost all of your online marketing measures will lead users to your website, which is why it plays a key role.

What can be achieved with your own website?

Those interested in the company can find all information they need on the company website. At the same time, the website can also be used for sales since online store owners usually place their store on the website. The website can also increase sales by making potential customers aware of any current promotions in the store.

How do you create a good website?

Your website must appeal to the target group - both in terms of design and content. Industry-specific keywords should be used in order for consumers to find your company website via search engines.

Are there tools for creating your own website?

There are many possibilities for setting up a website fast and economically and putting it online, even for beginners. With a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or a static site generator, creating impressive websites is feasible even for beginners.

Social media

The most promising approach is to try to reach people where they are most likely to be found: on social media i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. But the platforms differ - and so do their target groups. Although there are many overlaps, not every customer is active on every platform. Social media marketing means above all: to assess the target group correctly. Is your target group more likely to be on Facebook or Twitter? This must be clarified in advance so that you can minimize scattering loss in your marketing measures.

What can be achieved with social media marketing?

Every marketer wants their campaigns to go viral on social networks. That means that the advertising message is spread by the users themselves, without additional costs, and without additional expenditure. To do this, however, the users of the respective platform must like the content so much that they forward the post (the picture, the video, or the article) to friends, family, or acquaintances on their own initiative.

How does good social media marketing work?

Honesty and an understanding of the target group is essential for successful small enterprise online marketing on social networks. This requires conversing with the community. The social media channel must not be seen as a one-way street: As a company, you should respond to the audience and their feedback in the best possible way, instead of just sending advertising messages to the target group, but never answering any questions. Interacting with the target group strengthens customer loyalty and above all provides them with useful information. On social media you get direct feedback, so it’s a lot quicker than other means.

Are there any tools for social media marketing?

If you plant content on several platforms at the same time, you’ll quickly lose the overview. With the help of social media tools the work is much easier: Posts can be planned in advance, reactions can be monitored, and you can communicate with the community in a much more targeted way. Teamwork within the framework of social media marketing is also facilitated by many tools.


The different social media channels are very well suited to building organic reach. In addition, you can also place paid advertising on them. And as with other programmatic advertising solutions, advertising spaces can be booked for specific target groups.

Influencer marketing

In recent years, the already dynamic advertising industry has once again changed significantly: In the past, the focus was mainly on prominent film and television stars being used as brand ambassadors, but now so-called influencers in online marketing are increasingly becoming involved - and are also very interesting for small businesses. Influencers are personalities who are primarily known for their online presence. The more famous they are online, the more likely they are to get deals from companies and therefore make their money. In the end, both sides benefit.

Influencers are usually perceived as very authentic by their fans, which is why their advertising messages are also met with high credibility. When influencers advertise, their fans, followers, or subscribers usually assume they’re a fan of the product or brand and use it themselves.

What can be achieved with influencer marketing?

Influencers are mostly digital natives: they feel at home on social media and know their target group very well. That's why in many cases they hit the right tone for the target group better than any marketing department could. The influencer’s positive image is also transferred to the advertised brand or product.

How does good influencer marketing work?

The most important success factor is selecting the ideal brand ambassador. There are suitable influencers for almost every product segment. These sometimes do not have as large a reach as the most famous social media stars, but they have a dedicated fan community with an interest in a very specific subject area. Working with so-called micro-influencers is usually cheaper than working with big celebrities - but it can still be very effective if you manage to reach your target group with the help of these micro-influencers.

Are there tools for influencer marketing?

The majority of the work is done by the influencer themselves. You shouldn’t hinder them or try to interfere with what they’ve got planned since social media celebrities know how best to reach their target group. If too many targets are set, either the action won’t work or the influencer will not agree to collaborate, or will end the partnership early.

Content marketing

In content marketing, companies create their own content that is perceived by readers as helpful or entertaining. The best way to do this is to have your own blog: This allows companies to publish content that is targeted to their respective target groups. Instead of pushing a certain product with direct advertising messages, content marketing gradually increases brand awareness over the long term and contributes to a positive corporate image.

What can be achieved with content marketing?

Content created in the course of a content marketing campaign must deliver real added value to the target group. If this can be achieved, the readers will take this positively and they will transfer this positive attitude to the entire company. In addition, impressive content marketing also generates a lot of traffic, which leads to more visitors coming to your website and ultimately increases the chance of conversions.

How does good content marketing work?

Creating content for successful online marketing does require some effort - but in principle, small businesses can also create it. Important: quality is more important than quantity. It’s better to write few texts, but make them elaborate. In addition, content marketing is also a very good tool for search engine optimization (SEO). Therefore it is recommended to carry out a keyword research before creating the content, so that you can integrate keywords into your content that are frequently entered in the search engines. For small businesses with retail stores, local SEO is particularly important because it can also boost offline sales.


In order for your company to make a good impression online, you should be represented on listings such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp. List Local from IONOS will enter your data for you on a total of 35 apps and platforms.

Are there tools for content marketing?

Content marketing itself does not require tools, but tools can often make your work easier. For those without much IT knowledge, the use of a content management system (CMS) is recommended. This allows content to be quickly and easily integrated into your own website.

Display marketing

One of the oldest online marketing measures is probably display marketing: Advertising through graphic content on websites. Although advertising banners and pop-up windows have been losing their effectiveness in recent years, they should by no means be completely ignored. A well-placed and attractively designed advertisement can still be very efficient.

If you want to do display marketing, you must book advertising space. Payment is usually made per campaign: per click (CPC), per lead (CPL), or per sale (CPS). The booking usually runs via networks such as Google AdSense and is done via automated auctions.


Search engine advertising (SEA) works in a similar way. Here you book advertisements for selected keywords directly in a search engine.

What can be achieved with display marketing?

Advertising banners, pop-ups, and hover ads are usually used to advertise a specific product, service, or offer. The ad is intended to encourage the visitor to click on it so that they can be forwarded to the offer, and then finally buy it.

How does good display marketing work?

The advertisement must primarily attract attention and fit the brand. This can mean that you have to get professional help in the form of graphic designers or video specialists. Banner blindness - users being no longer aware of advertisements - is a real problem for marketers. If an advertisement is not properly designed, the investment will not bear fruit.

Are there any tools for display marketing?

In display marketing, a distinction must be made between the creation and publication of the ad. While appropriate image processing software such as Photoshop is necessary for the creation and design, there are special online tools for publishing it on networks.


Ideally, you should combine your display marketing with retargeting - a process where website visitors are digitally marked and can therefore be addressed repeatedly by advertisements. Visitors to your website will also become aware of your ads on other websites.

E-mail marketing

E-mail marketing is a relatively inexpensive form of online marketing for small businesses. If you have visitors’ e-mail addresses and their consent, you can send messages directly to the individual users. With newsletters and follow-up e-mails, former customers can be informed about your offers or your company - mobile and in real-time. This makes e-mail marketing suitable for direct advertising messages with call-to-actions as well as a special form of content marketing in which you provide your target group with valuable information.

What can be achieved through e-mail marketing?

On the one hand you want to strengthen customer loyalty with e-mail marketing, on the other hand you want to provoke purchase decisions. A typical newsletter can provide news about the company or the product range, for example. It can, however, also provide information on specific offers that are only valid for a short period of time, for example, or on discount coupons.

How does good e-mail marketing work?

The most important thing about e-mail marketing is for your e-mails to not be perceived as spam - either by automated filters or by the user themselves. So you have to be careful when creating the content as well as when choosing how often you send them out: Only send e-mails that have real added value for your customers and do not send them too often.

You also need to make sure that you comply with applicable data protection laws. You should therefore only include users in your mailing list who have agreed to receive them.

Are there tools for email marketing?

If you want to reach several thousand users (or even more) via e-mail marketing, then you need software for address management. On the internet you will find various platforms with which you can design professional campaigns as well as create e-mails and carry out analyses.

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Online marketing for SMBs: Tips & tricks

For all measures in online marketing, it’s necessary to take note of some essential tips for small businesses. If you follow them, it will make your marketing work much easier. And especially being the founder of a start-up, you probably have your hands full anyway. Consider the following tips so that you can develop the most successful marketing campaigns in the shortest possible time:

  • Mobile first design: Make sure that all your marketing efforts are not only tailored to desktop PC users, but also to smartphones and tablets. This aspect is particularly important when designing ads and content.
  • Observe the industry: If you want to be successful, it is often helpful to check how your competitors are faring and how they’re building their marketing campaigns.
  • Analyze efficiency: Don't just pick and choose online marketing measures because of a gut feeling. Instead, constantly keep checking which measures have proven themselves and are likely to work again, which measures are in need of improvement, and which have not been successful at all.
  • Communicate with the community: The internet gives every customer the opportunity to express themselves. Analyze these opinions regularly and react objectively and factually to any bad evaluations.
  • Hire experts: Even if your budget is small, you should consider enlisting the help of professional marketing experts, designers, community managers, or web designers. Because instead of investing time and money in many measures that aren’t really working, you can concentrate on at least one online marketing channel with the help of professionals and use it effectively.

Online marketing offers small businesses numerous means to advertise their products and services cost-effectively and efficiently. A major advantage over offline marketing is that you usually have much more data at your disposal to monitor the success of your marketing efforts and are therefore able to constantly improve them.

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