With this in mind, here’s our look at online marketing for small business, and how you could use digital media to grow your business.

Why online marketing matters

The benefits of developing an omnichannel online presence for your business are many, including:

  • Building brand awareness
  • Connecting with new customers
  • Giving you control over how you market your brand online
  • Engaging directly with your customer base
  • The ability to manage your business’ online reputation
  • Increasing sales.

According to research by PwC, over half of Australian small businesses use online sales channels, and they account for more than a third of all sales.

Why build a business website?

Your website is often the first port of call for anyone interested in your small business. If you don’t have a business website, potential customers looking for information about you may find it from other secondary sites – such as review or aggregator sites – instead. This means you won’t control their first experience or impression of your brand.

A business website is the centre of your online presence. It helps you provide accurate and up-to-date information about your business – including your location, opening hours, offering and contact details – and communicate your brand in your own way.

Tips for building a website

These days, building a website doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. There are a range of website builders – such as Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, and Weebly – that greatly simplify the process. These allow you to create a professional-looking website that is well designed, user-friendly and mobile-compatible at a reasonable price.

When you’re building your website, costs to consider include:

  • Domain name registration
  • Website design
  • Hosting
  • Image licensing costs
  • The cost of any professionals who help you create your website, such as a graphic designer, web developer, copywriter or photographer.

Additional features – such as an online store, chatbots which field basic customer enquiries after hours, and content such as blogs and e-newsletters – can offer your customers greater value and help differentiate your business from competitors.

Get social

If your website is the face of your business online, then social media is its voice. A 2017 report found 79% of people who use the internet are on social media, with 59% using it at least once a day. Social media lets businesses connect and engage with these customers through stories, images and content.

You don’t have to be on multiple social platforms, but you should find the best ones for your business. For example, a restaurant may use Facebook to share events, take bookings and share news, while a graphic designer may find the visual nature of Instagram ideal for sharing images of their work.

Tips for creating social media for your business

Social media requires ongoing monitoring and moderation. Developing your social media strategy before you create your pages will give you a plan for how you share content, as well as guidelines for how you use the platform – for example, how you’ll deal with any negative feedback.

Make sure your social media posts are consistent with your brand, and work with your team to make the most of social. For example, advertising on social media can be a cost-effective way to target and grow your customer base.

The role of aggregators

While aggregator sites such as hipages, Find a Mover and Airtasker and review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Zomato have their place in your small business’ online presence, they shouldn’t be standalone.

They can be a great medium for generating testimonials, referrals and business leads, but they don’t provide a complete picture of your business. When you use aggregators and review sites, monitor feedback and aim to address all of it – the good, and the not so good.