13 Affordable Digital Marketing Tactics that Work for Small Business Ecommerce Websites

by | November 1, 2022 | Digital Marketing

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One of the ways I discover new content is by following industry leaders on Twitter. When it comes to digital marketing and search engine optimization tactics and strategies, @ahrefs is right up there at the top of my list. Ahrefs has been skimming search engine data for decades. They have a metaphorical boatload of unique and interesting data points to fall back on and support the insights they share like this list of 13 affordable digital marketing tactics that work.

  1. Create blog posts that rank and convert.
  2. Rank videos in search.
  3. Keep your email deliverability healthy.
  4. Write guest posts.
  5. Pitch to podcasts and newsletters.
  6. Ask bloggers and magazines to review your product(s).
  7. Answer journalist requests to get free press.
  8. Leverage user-generated content on social media.
  9. Try affiliate marketing networks for merchants.
  10. Create link bait content.
  11. Repurpose your content.
  12. Amplify your content.

Keep in mind that although these 13 digital marketing tactics work they might not work for you or be the best option for your business. Furthermore, many of these strategies will work for any type of small business website marketing — not to be limited to e-commerce businesses or people selling products online. However, my opinion of most of these digital marketing strategies is that they’re best suited for companies selling products on the internet — as in, a business that’s more universally available than a local brick-and-mortar store. The local vendors running a shop on Main Street, USA won’t get as much benefit from spending oodles of time catering to online customers they can’t actually do business with.

Create Blog Posts that Rank and Convert

Creating blog posts that rank and convert is search engine optimization 101. Rank your website higher for more — and more relevant — search results and you’ll inevitably be rewarded with more people (aka potential customers) visiting your website. And if all goes well, good results beget more good results.

Here’s another way to see the process in a visual flowchart Ahref’s Twitter account shared titled How to Rank Higher on Google.

Ranking higher on Google flowchart

Rank Videos in Search

Ranking videos in search is a multi-pronged strategy. Consider that first you’ll rank within the search context of whichever website you’re hosting your videos on (e.g. YouTube’s search results). And second, you’ll have the opportunity to rank as a video result in Google’s search results, too. The cherry on top is that Google displays video results on search engine results pages above the normal blog post results. Assume Google has data to back the idea that the average person is largely a visual learner and gets more relevant answers from watching a video than interpreting writing — monkey see monkey do.

Keep Email Deliverability Healthy

Keeping your email deliverability healthy isn’t really a tactic you can fire up as a digital marketing strategy, but I do agree that it’s a best practice and admirable objective to ensure any email marketing you do or plan on doing in the future executes as effectively as possible. The goal of staying above board with email is to keep your future emails out of the spam and/or promotions folders of your recipient’s email clients. You don’t want to end up in the catchall folders people aren’t looking at or expecting a good email from.

Write Guest Posts

Writing guest posts on other businesses’ blogs or websites is a great way to circulate customers and share audiences. No business lives in a bubble, so imagine somewhere out there there are other businesses who share your customers and operate in your industry but aren’t your direct competition. Some of their customers might not know you and some of your customers might not know them, but all of those customers could potentially benefit from knowing about both of you. Striking up a collaborative relationship between your business and those other businesses is a quick and easy way to spread the word about what you do in a way that’s backed by a lot of pre-existing trust, and therefore, reliable.

If you’ve been around the SEO world as long as I have then you may remember Pro Bloggin Networks (PBNs). PBNs are when digital marketers played SEO as if it were a game of Monopoly and bought up as much real estate as they could in order to create a network of professional blogs in slightly different niches that linked back and forth to each other. At one time, it was a sophisticated way of creating a lot of buying interest in a product — creating an illusion of a lot more public support for a product or service than there actually may have been by showing that support in a lot of different places those potential customers would inevitably find on the internet through related searches falling up and down the different levels of a sales funnel. Since then, PBNs have been shunned and discouraged by search engines like Google because that’s disingenuine, however, recreating the same effect through a network of websites owned by many different people is real social proof and actually, a great way to increase brand awareness, trust, and affinity. If you’re familiar with the history of the stock market it’s also very similar to Andrew Carnegie’s approach to beating monopolies in the railroad industry by leveraging trusts — you can’t do it all yourself, but if you get others to play your game then you’ve got an opportunity to run the table and the house always wins.

Pitch to Podcasts and Newsletters

Pitching ideas and products to podcasts and newsletters presents a unique opportunity for you to position your business in front of pre-qualified captive audiences. Think about that for a moment.

When you’re able to advertise to people who subscribe to a podcast or an email newsletter the level of confidence you have that you’re marketing to people who are actually interested in what you’re selling increases exponentially. Not only that, but more often than not you’re advertising in a space where no one else is advertising, so the audience you’re presenting your promotions to is all yours. Thus, you have both a captive audience and an audience filled with a higher percentage of potential customers vs one filled with just a random group of people — like what you get when running graphic ads through Google’s display network (the banner ads that show up on any random website that allows them).

Advertising on podcasts and newsletters is one of those tactics where you may not get as many eyeballs, results, or click-throughs for your campaign, but the ones you do get are high-value.

Ask Bloggers and Magazines to Review Your Product(s)

People are more likely to trust, accept, and seek out products and services that are recommended by sources they know and trust — whether that’s their favorite niche blog or a magazine delivered to their mailbox every month. The publications get new content to publish and you get more high-value inbound pathways that lead customers to your storefront. And, is there any better type of content than the content you don’t have to create yourself?

Ideally, bloggers, magazines, publications, and other influencers will find you on their own, fall in love with your product or business, and give you free exposure. However, it’s just as beneficial for you to find your perfect pairings, reach out on your own, and negotiate to pay for a sponsored article. Ultimately, the goal is to be discovered by a wider audience and new potential customers by positioning your business in worthwhile locations — in front of buying eyes.

Honest reviews are profoundly helpful to potential buyers doing product research at multiple stages during a buying journey — whether they’re at the top of a sales funnel figuring out what options there are to solve their particular problem or they’re nearer the bottom of a sales funnel determining which solution is the best variation for them personally.

Answer Journalist Requests for Free Press

Answering a journalist’s request for the free press is an easy way to get your company’s name out there. Similar to asking for reviews or guest blogging, it’s another method for someone else to spread the good word and assist with doing your marketing for you — low effort on your part with a higher potential for returns on the backend. If you’re looking for clients, sales, and growth then what better way to find it than giving the go-ahead to allow someone with an established audience and readership to promote you to them, right? All PR is good PR.

Leverage User-Generated Content on Social Media

Manufacturing social proof is a repeating theme in this list of strategic digital marketing tactics that work. Leveraging user-generated content on social media is yet another opportunity to let your services and products speak for themselves. User-generated content can mean unsolicited reviews, rants, and raves about your business or discussions about your products — the creation of freshly minted brand evangelists fighting on your behalf simply because they like your stuff. Or it could mean literal user-generated content that’s been submitted for a contest you’re running that requires people to make, tweet, or do stuff geared toward your brand.

As an example, I’ve seen plenty of user-generated content disguised as contest entries. As in, in order to enter a contest to win a prize you require people to share your content or mention your brand on their social media profiles. It’s the type of slightly-coerced content people are willing to create for a reward, but also comes across as natural to the average passerby scrolling through their social feed. It’s kind of genius if you can pull it off on a large scale.

Try Affiliate Marketing Networks for Merchants

Trying affiliate marketing networks as a merchant is another way to bootstrap a sales team. Offering a commission or referral bonus for anyone who can bring in a sale on your behalf is incentive enough for digital promoters to take a crack at it. Helping out affiliates by providing sales and marketing material like pre-written email drip campaigns, promotional text and actionable links, eye-catching banner ads, and pre-built landing pages is a great way to keep your external marketing on-brand and get the ball rolling in the right direction for the marketers out there trying to help you help them.

Many big-name-brand companies are already using affiliate networks to grow their sales. Referral marketing is an established industry with a number of reputable providers to advertise through and established blueprints and successful strategies to mimic — Commission Junction, ShareASale, Impact, and ClickBank are just a few options available to businesses for creating partnership opportunities.

Create Link Bait Content

Create link bait content — lead magnets — that others will naturally backlink to. I’m talking about content that’s so darn good it can’t not be shared. When you write stuff worth reading about — or create content worth consuming — people can’t help but consume it, spread it, and seek it out. It’s as though there’s some magnetic force in the universe that draws people to you because you’re what they’re looking for. It’s more than brand recognition — although, brand recognition can be a benefit of achieving magnetic content — but, it’s like people recognize greatness as greatness because it’s great. Michael Jordan or LeBron James don’t need to tell you they’re the greatest NBA basketball players on the planet because they’ve shown you each and every time they step on the hardwood. That’s magnetic.

Maybe you’ve got the best guide or tutorial. Maybe you have the best photos or a genuinely unique and ingenious approach to problem-solving — a novel creative solution that no one’s thought of before or an angle no one’s approached from. Whatever it is, you’re creating something worth consuming or doing something worth creating about.

Repurpose Your Content

Repurpose content to squeeze more juice out of it. Turn a podcast into a blog post. Turn a blog post into 10 different social media posts. Run a banner ad as a local newspaper or magazine ad. Reach more people on more platforms in more ways without duplicating the work you’ve already done.

Amplify Your Content

Amplify your content by finding more ways to disperse what’s already working for you. Do you have an article on your site that’s performing well? Figure out how to re-publish it somewhere else. Amplification is like a culmination of employing all the other digital marketing strategies in this list. If you’re going to say something — or advertise something — then advertise it as loudly as you can. Find your bullhorn. If your content is fire then pour some gasoline on it with social media. Great ideas are meant to be shared because as human beings we all do better when we are all doing better.

“Content is fire; social media is gasoline.”

–Jay Baer, Bestselling Author, Marketing Expert and Founder of Convince & Convert
Floyd Hartford is a website developer from southern Maine. He's focused on creating and building WordPress websites and loves spending time digging into code like HTML, CSS, scss, jQuery, PHP, and MySQL.


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