Growing a small business can be an immense challenge, regardless of industry. This is especially true for small businesses that have a lot of competition, both locally and nationally. The key to finding success as a small business is to work toward improving your marketing strategy in as many ways as possible. Still, many companies focus on the wrong types of small business marketing, which can end up being extremely costly. Online marketing is the future for today’s small businesses, and it’s not nearly as difficult to get started as you might think.

Here are 5 key elements of online marketing for small businesses that you simply can’t afford to ignore.

1. Strong Web Design

While you may not consider your website part of your small business digital marketing plan, it may be one of the most important elements at play. You could have the best products or services out there, but they’re not going to sell if your website is stuck in the past. Also, never overlook the importance of making your site easy to view on mobile platforms, as you have to expect that much of your audience will be on their phones when visiting your website.

2. Blogging / Content Marketing

Blogging is a huge part of small business marketing online. It’s one of the best ways not only to connect with an audience but also to assert yourself as an expert in your field. Starting a blog is completely free, and building followers will happen over time if you’re careful with how you schedule and share each post. Finally, your blog should be connected and linked to and from your website, which will help drive traffic in both directions, boosting your small business’ digital marketing efforts.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You could have the most beautiful website in the world, but if people aren’t able to find it, it won’t be anywhere as effective as it could be. This is where SEO, or search engine optimization, comes into play. Improving SEO should be one of the main components of your small business online marketing strategy, as it will make it easier for your audience to find you, regardless of how big or small your business is. What many people don’t realize is that the SEO techniques are constantly changing. For best results, work with a firm that has a deep understanding of SEO and how it works.

4. E-Newsletters

While direct mail may quickly be becoming a thing of the past, it’s beginning to take a more digital form. E-newsletters are the ideal way to concisely help your audience learn about what’s happening with your business and how they might benefit. Starting an e-newsletter is free, and the larger you can grow your list of subscribers, the more effective it will be as part of your small business online marketing strategy.

5. Social Media Marketing

Social media is extremely popular today, and this isn’t going to change anytime soon. Learning how to use social media to your advantage is essential to finding success in digital marketing, and it can be extremely cost-effective. Regularly posting quality, educational content on your Facebook or Twitter profiles and properly tagging your posts will open up a discussion between you and your audience, thus improving the visibility of your company.

Online marketing is truly the way of the future, and ignoring this trend is going to cause your small business to fall behind. It can seem overwhelming at first, but the benefits (and low costs) that come with digital marketing are hard to ignore. Learn the finer points, kick the process off, and watch as your audience and customer base grow.

Be sure to read some of Fundation’s other articles for more small business marketing tips and financing advice.

Need alternative financing to start or improve your small business digital marketing efforts? Contact Fundation to learn about the short-term business loans available to help take your company to the next level!