Digital marketing tips for small businesses

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Digital Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Go digital. Learn the fundamentals of social media, email, and text-based marketing with Dave Charest, Director of Small Business Success at Constant Contact.

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We’ve partnered with Dave Charest, Director of Small Business Success at Constant Contact to help you learn how to use social media, email, and text marketing to attract and retain a strong and loyal customer base. Get tips and additional resources below, as well as access to a special offer. 

Digital Marketing for Small Business Session Overview 


In this Amazon Business Small Business Summit 2023 session, Dave will show you how to take advantage of the word of mouth that now happens online by building great relationships with your customers and prospects. More specifically, he’s going to cover how to use social media, email, and text marketing to attract and retain a strong and loyal customer base. Read the transcript from Dave’s session below: 


It’s important to recognize that each channel has unique aspects that make it worthy of having in your marketing toolbox. 

You can use the strengths of each channel to provide a unique, but unified experience for your customers and prospects, giving you more opportunities to keep your business top of mind and ultimately drive more engagement and sales. Let’s look at each of these channels:


Digital Marketing Channels


Digital marketing includes, but is not limited to the following channels:


Social Media

Social Media allows you to take action in public, and by engaging with people, you can reach a new people, which allows you to grow your following. But keep in mind that algorithms control who sees what, and limits your reach, plus you don’t own that audience. That’s where both email and text separate themselves from social; email and text are channels you own. That means you decide when to communicate with the people on your list. 



With email, you can reach people directly, whenever you want. But you’re also competing for your reader’s attention in a likely, overcrowded inbox. Email allows you to send more robust messages, including branded design, images, and formatting. And you can provide more details in your emails. 



Texts are personal and immediate — when someone receives a text, they look at it — but you must be careful not to abuse this connection, or you’ll turn people off. Texts are also easier to create because they’re short and text-based. So, you don’t have to worry about things like design. Texts are great when you have something that is time sensitive, offers something exclusive, and can be handled with a short message.

Social Media Channel by Strength

Let’s take look at each of these areas a little more closely.


Social Media Marketing 


When it comes to social media, it’s all about engagement and awareness. Did you know that, according to a social commerce report by the The Influencer Marketing Factory, Source: The Influencer Marketing Factory, Social Commerce 2022 Report, of shoppers use social media to make a purchase. That means people often turn to social to find out more about products or services they may be interested in. So, how do you take advantage of this? 


First, you’ll want to:

  • inform people that you’re on social media. You can include links on your website, in your day-to-day email signature, hang signage around your store, and include details on print materials. 
  • then, engage with the people that connect with you, you expose your business to new potential customers. 


Now there are a ton of social media options, and as a small business owner, you probably don’t have time to post great content on all these channels unless you have a dedicated social media person. Even then, the opportunity comes from choosing one or two channels where your customers are active and gaining a deep understanding of how to engage best on those channels. That way, you’re focused and not spinning your wheels because you’re trying to do too much. 

It’s also important to note that every social channel has its own personality. So, to get the best results from a specific channel, you’ll want to modify the things you’re posting to best suit the channel. 


Let’s take a closer look at some of the major platforms.



On Facebook you’re competing with friends, family, and news. So, your content needs to work in that space.


Instagram, for example, is a highly visual network. You can show people what’s happening with your business with engaging photos and videos.


Pinterest allows you to create virtual boards with tips and ideas to engage people. And if you use content from your own website, it’s one of the few social platforms that still drives a good amount of traffic.  


LinkedIn, whether you’re using a personal and business page, is more of a professional network and works great in the business-to-business space.


Twitter works like a public news feed of what’s happening now. So, it’s great for timely information about the world at large. 


TikTok loves quirky video content this is educational and entertaining. 

Social Media Channels by Type of Content

Purpose of Social Media Marketing 

No matter which channel you use you can think of it as serving three purposes for you: awareness, customer support, and engagement.


How to Raise Awareness 

Raise awareness by letting people know about your products and services. Answer questions from your customers and prospects. And create posts that encourage people to engage. Another reminder here, though. I mentioned algorithms limiting your reach earlier. Additionally, if a social site goes down (which happens) or decides to make another sweeping change, it could have a negative impact on your business, over which you have no control. This is why owned channels like email and text marketing are so important. You should encourage your social connections to join your email or text list so that you own those contacts. How do you do that? By making people aware that they can join your list from time to time. Wherever you’re spending time on social make sure you’re letting people know about your owned channels. What makes these owned channels so powerful is that people give you permission to contact them directly. They typically do this by filling out a form. 


The Importance of Opt-Ins 
Forms allow people to explicitly say ”yes” to getting messages from you. And because of this they’re going to be more engaged with your business. So, you'll want to make sure you use clear opt-in language on your forms, so people know what to expect in exchange for giving you their email address and mobile number.


How to Avoid Emails Being Marked as Spam 
There are two things I’d like to warn you against. 

1) Don’t just add people to your lists because you have their contact information. 

2) And don’t buy lists. 


Both actions can lead to people marking your messages as spam. In the long run, this hurts your businesses reputation. 

Instead, grow your list in ways that allow people to opt-in and give you permission to send to them. And of course, Constant Contact has tools to help you do that.


How to Get People to Join Your List 
If you want people to join your lists, you have to ask. You can do this:

  • In-person 
  • In-print
  • Online 


You’ll find you can grow your lists faster when you provide something of value in exchange for their contact information. What does that mean? We asked consumers the main reasons why they subscribe to lists. And they told us: 

  • They’ll sign up to receive promotions and discounts 
  • For exclusive content like an e-book, a guide, or a list of tips to do something.
  • They’ll join to show support for your business or organization. 


Focus on giving people a reason to subscribe. 


Email Marketing Basics 


So, what happens once they subscribe? Let’s start with email. Email is all about deepening those relationships to drive business. According to Constant Contact’s Small Business Now Report [Source: Constant Contact Small Business Now Report 2021], Emails from small businesses are the most helpful communications to consumers when they’re making a purchase decision. I like that you can start simple and get more advanced with email as you go along to get better results. So, how do you start? 


Two Types of Emails: Promotional and Non-Promotional  

You want to include two types of emails in your strategy. A combination of promotional and non-promotional emails to drive sales and build relationships. The reality is not everyone is ready to buy all the time, so a mix of sales-driven and informational emails works nicely here to keep your business top of mind. 


Email Content: 3 Questions to Answer 

What should you say in these emails? Regardless of the type of email you're sending, you're essentially trying to answer three questions. And in doing so you'll end up writing an email designed to drive action, whether that's engagement or sales. You can improve your emails by thinking of email copy like this: 


What are you offering?

A headline grabs the reader’s attention


How will it help the reader?

A message body gives them more detail

Call to Action (CTA) 

What should they do next? 

and a call to action to make it clear what you want them to do. 


How Often Should You Send Emails? 

The answer is…it depends. Ultimately, you need to determine YOUR best send frequency. Every business is different, so you’ll want to consider your audience. It’s also important to consider the expectations you’re setting when people sign up.  So, if you let people know you’d be sending a daily email when they signed up, they expect a daily email.  If you’re unsure what to do, send at least once a month to keep your business in mind. 


Promotional Email Considerations 

Here’s another thing to consider for promotional emails if you’re running a sale or special offer, it’s good to consider giving people multiple opportunities to take up the offer. So, when it comes to promotional emails, think about using a three-email series

  • Announce your offer
  • Remind them
  • Send a last-chance reminder


Overall, you’ll want to try different things to see what works for you.

SMS/Text Marketing 

Texts really shine when you use them for exclusive and timely messages. 

And the good news is that today. 91% of consumers are interested in signing up for texts. [Source: Attentive SMS Marketing Consumer Trends Report 2021]. Adding texts, otherwise known as SMS, gives you the option of not only connecting with people in a channel that many prefer but it also gives you immediacy, in that when most people receive a text, they look at it right away.  


To get the most from this channel, use texts to:

  • Be exclusive – offer things here you may not offer in other places. 
  • Bring value – In this case, we’ve got a great example on the screen from a salon with hairstyle ideas. 
  • Be conversational – make it feel like you’re talking directly to them.


Let’s discuss some examples of ways your business or organization might use text messaging.


Retail Text Messaging 

In retail, you may use text for:

  • Sales or information on coupons/discounts
  • You can send abandoned cart reminders.
  • You can even let people know when something comes back in stock


B2B Text Messaging 

If you’re in the business-to-business world, you can use SMS too. 

Some examples here include:

  • Event announcements and reminders
  • Details on scheduling a consultation or a review.
  • Announce a new service


Non-Profit Text Messaging 

For nonprofits, texts are great for:

  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Fundraising
  • Communications related to events


Digital Marketing Using Social Media, Email, and Text Messaging 

Now how do you bring it all together to create a positive customer experience? One thing you’ll want to think about is using these channels to support one another. For example, you can start a conversation about a particular topic on social media to stimulate engagement, discuss that topic in more detail in an email, and then you could call attention to something pressing related to the campaign in a text. When you use this cross-channel approach, it’s likely to have a greater impact on your overall results. Ultimately, the actions you take on social, email, and text are all about keeping your business top of mind and increasing your word of mouth.

How to Increase Your Word of Mouth

So, when people find their way to your door, whether it’s in person at your store or your website or any place where they may interact with you, you want to provide a great experience..Then you want to entice them to stay connected with you so you can engage with them again and bring them back to you. And when this engagement happens online, this drives social visibility because their connections see those engagements, which allows you to increase your exposure and connect with new prospects, bring them to your door, and continue the cycle. This is how you use social, email, and text to attract and retain a strong and loyal customer base.


Explore these additional digital marketing posts from Constant Contact:


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Amazon Business Small Business Summit 

Check out other small business sessions presented at the Amazon Business Small Business Summit 2023 and Amazon Business Small Business Summit 2022


About Dave Charest

Dave Charest is Director of Small Business Success at Constant Contact, the online marketing leader trusted by millions of small businesses to provide email, web, social media, text and event marketing tools. In his role, Dave acts as an educator and an advocate for small business leaders, marketing professionals, and nonprofits by providing them with practical marketing advice that can help them achieve their goals. He is a dynamic leader, speaker, creator, and award-winning marketer who strives to inspire small businesses by simplifying the complex world of online marketing

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