5 Internet Marketing Strategies to Steal for Your Business Plan

One of the most important things for a start-up business is establishing an online presence. The world is a click away, and with social media and accelerating business trends online, you must be taking advantage of the opportunities of promoting your business through the Internet.

But that can be daunting!  If you are not technical and savvy, the Internet is complicated and a very scary beast. Don’t fret! We’ve got you covered for 5 Internet marketing strategies that you can use as a starting point in your business plan. So, let’s get into it! Lets look at 5 Internet Marketing Strategies to Steal for Your Business Plan.

Playbooks: Common Internet Marketing Strategies

This article presents 5 models you can follow for an effective Internet marketing strategy. We wanted to outline a blueprint that matches approaches we’ve seen businesses use in common industries. This is not fully comprehensive, and you should always consider your competitive advantage and overall business strategy before implementing these recommendations. But our hope is that you can identify with 1-2 of these playbooks, and implement them for your business:

Let’s start with the playbooks:

  • Local business: Any business with a local market focus. Dry Cleaning, Painting, Plumbing, Restaurants, Real Estate, Automotive, Gyms, Construction, etc.
  • Solopreneur: If you work for yourself, this is your category! Specifically, Freelancers, Consultants, Content Writers, and Influencers.
  • Software or technology: Any business that is making a play in technology – software, hardware, even engineering. The key is you are building something unique.
  • Professional Services and Consulting:  Any business that is offering a service – Lawyers, Accountants, IT Service Providers, Management Consultants. You are selling a service to customers, usually B2B.
  • Ecommerce Business:  If you are selling online, both physical and digital products. Traditional retail looking to move online might also fit this category.   

Local business Marketing Strategy

The Internet has completely changed the behavior of how customers find businesses. For nearly everything we need, a simple Google search gives us a list of local choices that also include reviews, business details, and a handy map if we need to drive over to said business.

But who controls what businesses we find in Google?

The answer is you do.  If you are a local business, think of the Internet as an advanced Yellow Pages. Google My Business, and many other online profiles are completely free. As a business owner, you must be taking advantage of using these tools including the ability to create a profile, tag your location, and capture customer reviews. This is the most critical point in developing your online marketing strategy.  Make sure you have a Google local profile and do detailed research on where customers leave reviews (Angie, BBB, etc.) and monitor those channels closely.

The second most powerful way to promote your business locally is by owning search engine keywords in your local geography.  If you deliver pizza in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you should show up for a search of “grand rapids pizza” – and you can pay for this placement. If you are not familiar with SEO and PPC marketing, it would be very beneficial for you to invest in this area of your business if you have a local market focus.

This also applies in social media. Look at your local market (Grand Rapids pizza) by searching in any given social platform. You will be amazed at how you can connect locally with people that are passionate about what you are doing or looking for solutions.

The final point we will offer is capturing leads and sales. Email lists are a great way to get a customer to act without purchasing anything. “Sign-up for our email list and get 20% off your first order” is a great way to capture a lead and incentivize your first sale. With a little effort, you can run email campaigns to pull business as needed as a longer-term strategy.

Bonus Tip: Connect with local resources online

One of the best ways to get the word out about your small business is through a Chamber of Commerce. While there is usually an annual cost, the benefits of chamber membership are usually a no brainer for a business owner. The bonus of these organizations is that typically you will have a business profile and digital network to immediately tap into. Think about it this way:

  • You should have a profile and backlink on your Chamber of Commerce profile
  • Follow any chamber members in social media with a high expectancy of a follow back
  • Networking and in-person value
  • Local credibility and notoriety

In addition, you can also explore local publications and journals. You will find plenty of bloggers, newspapers, digital newsletters, and more around where you live. Network with these organizations aggressively and be very courteous in engaging these groups. Try to add value and be a positive and generally awesome person to work with.

The final point we will offer – is you need to be very cognizant of your brand and reputation. As a small business, people will naturally post and read reviews about what you do. Make sure you understand intimately the channels where customers are leaving feedback and monitor these appropriately.  A response and comment can go a long way, especially if you are authentic. If you made a mistake, own it.  “Sorry customer X, we strive to have the best pizza in town, and it should not have been cold. We would be happy to offer a coupon to make up for this issue, we are emailing you directly now.”

Quick Review: Local Business Marketing Strategy

  • Tactics to employee:
    • Local profiles and reviews
    • Local SEO and SEM
    • Social Media
    • Email Marketing
    • Online Press Releases / Local Publications
  • Bonus tips:
    • Connect with traditional local resources:
      • Chamber of Commerce
      • Local Newsletters
      • Local Library Events
      • Local City Events
    • Build a local brand in social media
      • Truly connect with social media
      • Always be positive
  • Keys for success:
    • Be responsive and empathetic
    • Build review funnels
    • Find out how your customers search for you

Solopreneur Marketing Strategy

One of the great things about the Internet economy is that it has created the ripest time in history to work for yourself. You simply need a computer and an Internet connection, and you can be off and on your way towards starting an online solopreneur business. And the strategy here for your solopreneur marketing strategy starts with social media – you must build your online brand and attract a cohort of followers.

But this doesn’t just mean using the big social networks. You can also take advantage of many of the freelancer communities online, including sites like Upwork.com and Reedsy. These platforms pool freelancers together into a marketplace, and they do a lot of online marketing to attract potential buyers so you can focus on building your profile and securing high-quality reviews. Nothing speaks more to your capabilities than people that have hired you and will vouch for a quality review.

In terms of larger social media platforms, the key is going to be consistency in posting. One of my mentors would boast how with a strong cadence of posting and consistent engagement, they could easily build a profile to 100k followers in a year. Your specific goal might not be that large, but the point is that consistent effort will pay off. If you want to get a lot of followers, you need to show up everyday and make a post. In addition, comment and engage with content that is within your industry. If you are an editor, make comments on larger publications and magazines that you might target. If you are a plumber, comment on the key brands of faucets that you work with. Keep it simple, positive, and relevant.

Finally, one of the big things you should do as a solopreneur is build an email list. You’ve probably heard the term “substack” and this fits within this recommendation. You can capture leads and followers into your email lists, and then pump out relevant content (and advertising) whenever you want. There are loads of online platforms you can use, including MailChimp as one of the bigger industry standards we recommend at Small Biz Setup.

Bonus Tip: Mastermind networking within your vertical

The concept of mastermind groups is nothing new in business. But with social media, we now see tons of specialized private groups of individuals that band together to help each other. Sometimes there is a fee to join, and you should carefully evaluate the potential ROI because it can be costly. But the general benefit is that these mastermind groups will give you a community of people to help support and boost your online presence.

Tapping into these groups can be a little tricky. Usually you need to find an influencer who is offering a paid class or consulting, and with their offering comes membership to the community.

Quick Review: Solopreneur Marketing Strategies:

  • Tactics to employee:
    • Social Media
    • Freelancer Profiles
    • Email Marketing
    • Targeted SEO and Personal Brand SEO
  • Critical Actions
    • Networking
      • Find mastermind groups
      • Find upsell opportunities in adjacent industries (everybody loves an upsell)
    • Thought Leadership (Articles, Videos, Podcasts)
      • This is how people become influences
      • Its very difficult, but achievable if you put in the work
  • Keys for success:
    • Develop thought leadership
    • Networking
    • Ability to sell yourself

Software Marketing Strategy

If you are in the business of making software, you have a huge opportunity marketing online because you can directly attribute sign-ups and sales to your marketing efforts. The promotional model of “product led growth” has spurned a whole new mindset of how to build and promote software, where you offer low entry (Freemium) options for customers to signup, and then prompt them with callouts to upgrade their account.

The best way to funnel leads into your PLG model is using SEO. There is no medium in advertising that touches search marketing for targeted and direct prospects. You simply need to think about the problems your software solves, create quality content, and then prompt visitors to sign up for your software. Once you have identified your funnel and conversion metrics, you might even consider paying for search engine placement with a platform like Google Ads.

In addition to search marketing, getting targeted content and video of your software in action is critical. Nothing will be more convincing than a demo or tutorial showing people how your software can help. This should match the problems you solve and the keywords you are targeting with SEO. For example, let’s say you sell software that helps with business development and sales management – target keywords like “How to manage inbound leads effectively” – and then have a video showing how your software accomplishes this task.

Social media is another great avenue to help get the word out about your products. Any videos that you develop should be posted online on your website and cross-promoted on social media. You can even cut down 60 second clips into Reels and short videos that can be tagged into Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

Bonus Tip: Finding your customer intent

The key to all these tactics is figuring out how your customers are searching to solve their problems. You should do a heavy amount of keyword research as a software company around your verticals and the types of content that is sticky. Try this simple exercise if you’re not sure where to start:

  1. Write down a list of 3-4 key problems your software solves
  2. Go to Google, and type in the keyword or phrase that represents that problem
  3. Look at the suggested searches in Google! Write these down and then query each of the suggestions and note what kinds of content shows up in the results.
  4. Some keywords will inevitably show your competitors and similar software companies – these are the ones you want to target!

Quick Review: Software Company Marketing Strategy

  • Tactics
    • SEO > PLG Activities
    • Video Marketing
    • Social Media
    • Email Marketing
  • Critical Actions
    • Find your customer’s intent! Software solves problems, and you can reach your customers when they need you with search engines. This will usually be very obvious for the general terms (“WMS software” or “Intranet platform”)
    • Think about how you can extend your competency (“Insurance firm intranet platform”)
    • Show thought leadership and your product (Videos, tips, SME’s at your company, Newsletters)
  • Keys for success
    • Own your customer intent paths for sales
    • Showcase your thought leadership
    • Catpure leads early in the funnel

Professional Services Marketing Strategy

If you are in the service business, there is nothing more important than making a strong first impression on your prospects. Companies spend a lot of time formally evaluating professional services candidates through processes like “Requests for proposal” (RFP) that help them objectively steer and navigate the decision of hiring a firm for services. These can be lengthy, complicated, and rigorous.

But who controls the companies that are included in an RFP? And how can you stand out to win business?

The secret is that while companies formalize selection of vendors, usually they rely on the same tactics we use for finding our next contractor to fix our sink.  They browse search engines, look at social media, and key into review content. Taking this into consideration, you can formulate your professional services marketing strategy.

The first place to start is search engines. When you offer a service, you are typically solving a problem or providing expertise in each field.  Let’s say for example, you are a lawyer or accountant. The problems you solve are “reviewing my families will” or “how to manage your business expenses by category.” Sometimes people will search more categorically, including your profession in the keyword query – “Estate lawyers” or “small business accountants” and then group those with local geographies. “Estate lawyers Chicago” or “Small Business Accountants Minneapolis” – often these will be the money terms you should target.

In addition to search engines, you should make sure your business has a strong presence on social media and are posting content regularly. This is a great way to stay on top of mind with prospects, and to continue to build your thought leadership. LinkedIn has become a gold mine for content producers because many professionals spend hours every day on LinkedIn, especially those in HR, Sales, and Marketing.

Finally, you should be making sure to have a lead capture mechanism. We recommend using an email list, because signing up is quick and easy, and it gives your company the ability to use the content you spread on social media through email channels. Ideally your email list is also tied into your CRM system for easily tagging, managing, and harvesting leads from your sales team.

Bonus tip: Network within your peer circle in Social Media

One the quickest and easiest ways to build a following in Social Media for your professional services business is to network. And instead of targeting customers and prospects (which can appear spammy) – seek out your peers in adjacent industries. If you are in a Chamber of Commerce, follow all the other businesses in the Chamber. If you are a Microsoft Consulting company, follow other consultants that specialize in cloud software. Get the idea? You will find that these companies have the same problem you do, which is getting attention and followers. Engage with their content, make comments, and you will be shocked how that comes back to your company in a positive way.

Quick Review: Professional Services Marketing Strategy:

  • Tactics
    • SEO
    • Social Media
    • Content Marketing
    • Email Marketing
  • Critical Actions
    • Build thought leadership
    • Find your customer intent
    • Network within your peer circle in social media
  • Keys for success
    • Own your customer intent path for sales
    • Capture leads early in the pipeline
    • Have a strong CRM strategy

Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

The world of Ecommerce has exploded in the last 20 years, with almost 20% of all commerce happening online. If your business is primarily selling online, or drop shipping products through a website, this playbook is for you.

How can you maximize your marketing budget to drive online sales?

The first piece to consider as an Ecommerce company is the product mix. You will naturally have certain products that are your top sellers and highest margin items. These are where you start with your marketing strategy – and you should focus on search engines. For your best sellers, you want to have the mindset that you will “own” the keyword queries. Whether that means paying for placement short-term with pay-per-click advertisements, or spending the time and money needed to rank organically.

Next, you should focus on social media channels to help spread awareness of your products. Short videos with product spotlights are a great way to catch people’s attention in social media, and with Reels becoming a dominant form of content in Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, now is a great time to focus on your video content.

Finally, you should think about feedback loops where you surface your advertisements and products to customers who have visited your website. This type of marketing is known as “remarketing” and the general idea is that you use tracking cookies on the Internet to retarget customers after they visit your site.  And you can do this on a 1:1 basis with your products! Have you ever been on a website looking at say a new pair of shoes, only to notice a nice image and discounted price of said shoes when you’re looking at a news article?  This is remarketing.  And you should be taking advantage of this!

Bonus Tip: Economies of scale and cost per sale

If you are selling products, you need to double down on your measurement in Analytics. Ideally you should have a directly attributable cost for every sale of a given product. Lets take a simple example – you are selling dress shoes, and you set up an ad campaign targeting “cheap men’s black dress shoes” – add up your marketing costs on a monthly basis and divide that by your total unit count in sales. You should be able to project “I spent $11 for every paid of shoes I sold on the website in June.”  This is never a perfect science, but it gives you a way to measure, refine and optimize your marketing efforts.

Quick Review: Ecommerce Marketing Strategy

  • Tactics
    • Product level SEO and PPC
    • Social Media
    • Email
    • Remarketing
  • Critical Actions
    • Ensure your top selling products rank in search engines (or pay for it)
    • Measure cost / acquisition and model how you build economies of scale
    • Put your products on social media and own your reputation
  • Keys for success
    • PPC / SEO cost model
    • Conversion tracking in Analytics
    • Email marketing / early lead capture to funnel sales

Now, It’s Your Turn

We hope you learned a few things from this tutorial of 5 Internet Marketing Strategies for your Small Business. And you can steal these blueprints! We highly encourage you to think deeply about your business strategy to craft and mold these to your own liking, but this should give you a great start!

Now it’s your turn. Pick the best model from this article and start getting to work on your marketing. Focus on a monthly cadence and make sure you are measuring your progress. Marketing is like getting in shape – it takes time to get healthy, but eventually it will be a daily habit that helps drive your businesses success.