Chatbots. A/B split tests. Complicated marketing funnels. Forget them all.
If you’re running a small business, none of these things should be your focus.
The digital marketing strategies that deserve your attention are the unsexy ones.
In this post, we’ll cover seven of those strategies and how to make them work for you based on experience rather than just theory.
1. Blogging with SEO in mind
Blogging isn’t writing what you did today. That’s a diary.
If you take that approach to blogging, and you don’t already have an existing and loyal audience that hangs on your every word, then your business blog is going to be a ghost town.
How do you fix this?
Write about the problems your target customers are actually searching for.
Say that you sell computer parts online. Chances are your customers are searching for things like:
Why is my computer so slow?
How to build a computer
How to speed up a computer
If we plug those keywords into Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, we see that there are thousands of searches for each of them every single month.
But here’s the best part:
You can help people solve these problems while integrating products from your store in the content itself.
For example, a slow computer may come down to the RAM, or hard drive, or CPU. So help readers diagnose their problem and offer product solutions in the process.
Same goes for “how to build a computer.” Explain how to do it and recommend the specific components they need.
This concept works in almost every industry.
If you’re a realtor, then instead of blogging about the latest industry award that nobody cares about, write about real-world problems potential customers are searching for like:
How to invest in real estate
How to buy a house
What credit score is needed to buy a house
All of these topics have the potential to attract a vast audience:
Not just any audience, either: these are people in the market for what you offer, who likely have deep pockets and a burning desire to own their own home.
But how do you find what your audience is searching for?
The first option is to guess. The second and better option is to use a tool like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and search for some relevant seed keywords. For a realtor, these might be things like “buy a house,” “real estate,” etc.
From here, head to the “Questions” report to see the most popular questions people are asking.
It’s then just a case of picking out the best keywords for your business, analyzing keyword difficulty, and creating optimized content.
If you can do this and rank, you’ll get free, consistent, and passive traffic from Google month after month
2. Video marketing on YouTube
YouTube is the world’s 3rd biggest search engine, and it’s yet another place where people are searching for solutions to their problems.
For example, there are 17,000 monthly searches worldwide for “makeup for beginners”:
Now, I’m no expert, but I’m guessing that it’s easier to pull off this look when you use the right makeup and brushes.
So if you were a retailer of makeup and makeup accessories or even just an affiliate, then you could easily create a video about this topic and recommend a few products in the process.
This is what popular vloggers like Danielle Mansutti do.
Danielle’s video ranks #1 on YouTube for “makeup for beginners,” and her video has racked up over 2.6 million views to date:
Throughout the video, she recommends the best products to use and tells you where to buy them in the video description:
Furthermore, because Google now shows video results for a lot of searches, her video also ranks in Google for related terms.
In fact, that video gets an extra 2,900 visits per month from Google alone:
Back to business: To find relevant topics that people are searching for on YouTube, go to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, switch the search engine to YouTube, and search for a broad keyword in your industry.
If you sell iPhone cases, then this would be something like “iPhone” or “iPhone X”:
From here, check the “Questions” report to see what questions people are asking about this topic. Right away, you’ll see some great topic ideas like “how to unlock iPhone 6” and “how to replace iPhone 6 screen”:
The latter is a particularly good keyword to target as an iPhone case seller because viewers will likely want to take more care of their phone once fixed—in which case, they may want to buy a case.
For best results with this strategy, make your videos are genuinely helpful and valuable, keep the fluff to a minimum and refrain from being overly promotional.
Doing this has helped us to grow our YouTube channel to over 150,000 monthly views…
… which has led to thousands of new paying leads and customers:
Learn more about ranking your videos and growing your channel in our guide to YouTube SEO.
3. Social media marketing
Most businesses’ social media marketing strategy can be summed up in one sentence:
Keep posting boring updates and promotions to followers across every channel.
If that’s what you’re doing, stop now. That’s not a social media marketing strategy; it’s merely a way to waste time and alienate your followers.
So what should you be doing?
Here are a couple of tips.
Focus on one social network
Building a following takes time and effort. If you spread yourself too thin, then it’s not going to work out.
For that reason, it’s better to focus on just one social network, at least initially.
But which one should you choose?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily the one with the most users. It’s about finding the network where your target audience hangs out and understanding whether you can serve their reason for being there.
If you have your finger on the pulse in your industry, then that first part shouldn’t be too difficult.
For example, most SEO professionals hang out on Twitter or Facebook. Few of them are on Snapchat or Instagram—at least not in a professional capacity.
So, for us, we’d want to focus on building a following on either Twitter or Facebook.
However, if you’re a food blogger, Pinterest would likely be a better option.
But what about that second part of the equation?
Cater to the platform
Regardless of the platform you choose, you need to make an effort to understand why your audience is there and how you can serve them.
For example, people tend to go to YouTube for entertainment or to learn something.
Facebook, on the other hand, is different. People don’t want to see 30-minute tutorials or promotions popping up in their newsfeed. They want to see interesting, funny, or shocking content which they can share with friends.
To get peoples’ attention here, you need to tell a story, create a short video, or do something else that’ll stand out in an endless sea of promotions and vanity shots.
On Twitter, it’s more about communicating quickly, efficiently, and not overwhelming people.
That’s probably why we tend to get more attention on the short tips we share…
… than links to in-depth YouTube videos:
There are two ways to market your business with podcasts:
Create your own podcast
Get interviewed on someone else’s podcast
Creating a podcast is great for brand and audience building, but it can take a while to build traction. Also, most of us don’t have the equipment or industry connections to create a popular podcast.
Getting interviewed on podcasts is a different story.
Podcasters are always on the lookout for interesting people to interview. You don’t have to be a celebrity for this. As long as you have some industry experience (online or offline) and are willing to share some serious value, you’ve got what it takes.
Don’t believe me? I’m a nobody and I’ve still being interviewed on podcasts:
But how do you find podcasters that might want to interview you?
Look through your favorite podcasts for interviews of others in your industry.
Looking at the podcast page for Entrepreneur on Fire, we see this episode with Jim Kwik.
If we then click through to the interview, we notice two things:
The guest’s name is in the title.
The page links to the guest’s website—specifically, the homepage.
Both of these are very common for podcast interviews, and we can use that fact to help discover other podcasts that this person has been on.
How? Paste the person’s homepage into Ahrefs Site Explorer, set the mode to “URL,” then go to the “Backlinks” report.
Next, use the “Include” filter to see only backlinks where the person’s name is in the title of the referring page.
Now we have a list of over 100 podcasts featuring Jim.
From here, all we need to do is filter through to find relevant prospects, then pitch the host by telling them why they should interview us and what we have to offer their audience.
PRO TIP Although podcasters usually link to their interviewee’s website from the episode page, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes they link only to their social profiles.
For that reason, it’s often worth repeating the process above but with the interviewee’s social profile URLs.
For example, if we repeat the steps with Jim’s Twitter URL, we find this podcast: This didn’t show up when we analyzed links to his website because the episode page doesn’t link to it.
5. Email marketing
Each time we publish a new blog post, we send out a newsletter.
It takes minutes to do, and it sends thousands of people to our blog.
But this didn’t happen overnight…
We’re able to do this now because we’ve spent years building our email list, and now have tens of thousands of subscribers who actually want to hear from us.
So if you haven’t yet pulled the trigger when it comes to email marketing, the best time to start is right now.
How? The first step is to generate traffic to your site.
There are plenty of ways to do that, but blogging with SEO in mind (see #1) is the best long-term strategy. We’ve been focused heavily on this for a few years, and we now get an estimated ~230,000 monthly visits to the Ahrefs Blog.
The next step is to convince those people to sign up to your newsletter.
There are lots of tips and