Digital Marketing 101 for SMEs

People around a computer.

You’ve got a killer product, you’ve got great service and an amazing team in place… so the cash should be raining down on you like a tropical waterfall, right? Well, not necessarily. 

Getting the word out about your business is one of the other key components of any business success. After all, if nobody knows about you, or more people are hearing about you, then growth is going to be next to impossible to achieve. 

Digital Marketing is the go-to solution for most SMEs, and – to be blunt -  if you’re not doing it, then you’re practically invisible to most audiences and customers. The good news is, it’s not hard or expensive to get started with digital marketing, and it’s a great way to get your sales singing.


What is Digital Marketing?

At its most basic level, Digital Marketing can be described as marketing efforts that are sent or accessed through the internet or digital media. It encompasses areas like Social Media, Websites, Search Engine Optimisation, Paid Online Advertising, Mobile apps, Email Marketing, and Digital Data and Analytics.


Why is Digital Marketing important for my business?

Internet usage is increasing for Australians and across the world. According to Yellow’s Social Media Report - 60% of Australians use the internet more than five times a day, and own an average of 3.5 internet-enabled devices. Digital Marketing can be a more cost effective way to reach a wider audience compared to traditional marketing. Digital Marketing offers high levels of tracking and analytics compared to traditional marketing which means businesses are able to report on their ROI more effectively.

Starting your Digital Marketing journey

Brand Story

A key part of your Digital Marketing Strategy is defining what your brand story is and what information you want to communicate to your customers and potential customers. To start off, think about which stories below you would want to tell your customers. This will become the basis of your Content Marketing.

I want to tell customers and potential customers about:

Origin Story

Production Process

Our Existing Staff

New Staff Hires

New Customers

New Products

Social Responsibility

Sales or Promotions

What We Do

How We Work With Our Customers

Workplace Antics

Partnerships or Sponsorships

Content Marketing

According to the long-time leaders in the content education space, CMI in the US, content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

An important distinction to make is that content marketing isn’t about your brand, it’s about your audience. It’s about providing your audience with information to inform, educate, entertain or inspire them, so that they in turn become loyal to your brand.

Content marketing isn’t new. Many of the world’s biggest – and smallest – brands have been employing the strategy for years or even decades. However, the advent of the internet and digital distribution channels has accelerated interest in content marketing, and today it’s considered essential. A quick tip: as the competition to be heard in the online space continues to grow, make sure your content is high quality. 

Content comes in many forms, but it is most typically seen as blog articles, videos, social media posts, infographics, quizzes and podcasts.


Your website is often the primary place for people to find information about your brand and product or service. It’s important to ensure that the website is:

  • Easy to find - either by being promoted through other channels, or optimising your website for search engines so it appears high in search results.
  • Easy to access - with quick speed for loading and mobile-friendly websites
  • Easy to understand - information that is easy to find and comprehend that appears open and transparent.

    You can manage your website in-house or through an agency. It will depend on the time availability and technical capabilities of your staff members.

Search Engine Optimisation 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of optimising components of your website to improve ranking in organic search engine results with the intention to increase quality and quantity of traffic to the site. This is often a long-term strategy that takes time and continual updates. Google’s algorithm changes frequently and without warning so it is an ongoing process.


    Some elements of SEO can be managed easily in-house, however this can often be best left to the experts. If you’re looking for an agency, look into their results for other clients, testimonials, and length of client relationships.

FURTHER READING: SEO tool company ‘Moz’ provides a beginners guide to SEO that will help provide more information and context on SEO. Download the guide here.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free analytics system you can use for your website to track user activity, referrals and interactions on your website. All you need is a gmail account to get started. There is a paid, enterprise version of Google Analytics that is available but is often only utilised by large ecommerce companies.

You can complete free Google Analytics for beginners training available from Google.


Blog posts can be a great way to get users to visit and interact with your website without a strong sales purpose. You may be looking to re-engage them in between purchases, or simply inform or entertain them with information about what’s happening in your business.

Blog posts can also help to improve SEO for your website, providing it’s hosted on the same domain.

Not sure where to start with your blog posts? CoSchedule provides 10 templates for blog posts to help get you started. Download the 10 blog templates here.


Video content can be a great way to communicate information without customers or potential customers having to read a long article. It’s also a great way to showcase your brand, your customer’s stories, and what’s happening if you have an interesting production process, photoshoots, or even events. By bringing the customer into your world and helping them understand how you get the product to them, this can help positively influence their perception of value.

Video editing can be carried out through default editing programs on your computer like iMovie (for Macs) or Windows Movie Maker (for PCs). Fun tools like Animoto also help you to create great videos with templates. Check out the Animoto templates.

Google Small Business YouTube has provided a great video on how Small Business can create great Content Marketing:

Social Media

Social Media can be great for storytelling, promoting products and updating your customers. You can also follow your competitors on social media to see what they’re up to. Below is a guide to organic social media (non-paid) channels and their strengths and weaknesses.





  • Strong range of content posting options
  • Can post links directly to website or products
  • Can tag products (for ecommerce sites)
  • Limited organic reach (Facebook reduced this to encourage advertising)


  • Highly visual platform
  • Can tag products (for ecommerce sites)
  • Can post links in Instagram stories to website
  • Highly visual and well curated content required


  • Good for company profile building and B2B
  • Not as strong for B2C customer marketing (depending on your target market)


  • Short messaging, useful to get information out quickly without much disruption to audience
  • Short messaging, can limit interactions
  • Declining usage


  • Video content
  • Live streaming
  • Comments and interactions with viewers
  • Relies on subscribers or advertising to promote videos on platform.
  • Requires promotion of videos on other platforms.
  • Limited content opportunities (no photos etc)


Social Media tools

There are a bunch of free tools that will help SMEs with their social media content. Have a look at these options to improve your social media marketing.

Free Stock Imagery Platforms - Use these for free stock imagery to use in your online marketing:

Free Scheduling Tools - Schedule your content in advance so you’re all set to go for the week/month/quarter:


    Social media is increasingly used as a customer support platform for customers and potential customers. It can be useful to keep management of this function in-house so that customers are replied to quickly and accurately. Agencies can provide and schedule content to make the process more efficient.

Crisis Management

To prepare for crises on social media or via email you will need to determine the escalation points for different levels of issues. An issue can be as simple as a customer complaining about their product being faulty on social media or via email. Your customer service or social media staff will need to know how to respond accordingly. 

Email Marketing

Email Marketing is a great way to interact with your existing customer base. While you will need to make sure you abide by local and international spam and privacy laws, it is a great way to update customers on what’s happening. You might collect emails when your customers purchase with you, or via a sign up form on your website. You can have these connected with an email marketing program. There are a number of different email marketing platforms that vary on price based on the different requirements of your business (size of list, number of sends, frequency of sends).

A few platforms that SMEs might find suitable are:

  • MailChimp
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Vision 6
  • Klayvio
  • Constant Contact

A number of these platforms have free subscription options. For example, MailChimp offers a free plan providing you have less than 2,000 email addresses in your database, and send less than 12,000 emails per month.


    Some email marketing platforms are easy to use for amateur digital marketers so you could keep this in-house. You may need assistance from your website agency to connect your website and your email marketing platform initially.

Paid Media

If you’re not experiencing the organic (non-paid) reach that you have through search results or social media, then you can pay to put your brand in front of people similar to your customer base. Two main options are Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Facebook/Instagram Advertising.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are paid ads that appear within your search results on search engines like Google or Bing. The purpose of these ads are to increase your visibility for potential customers who are searching for relevant keywords or phrases. These ads have strict requirements for characters and punctuation/grammar.

Here are some SEM terms you might want to familiarise yourself with:

  • PPC (pay-per-click)
    • PPC (pay-per-call) – some ads are charged by the number of clicks that resulted in a call from a smartphone
  • CPC (cost-per-click)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions)
    • Most search ads are sold on a CPC / PPC basis, but some advertising options may also be sold on a CPM basis.

Google have put together an easy to understand video to explain how their Ads work.

SEM ads can be a more effective channel for converting customers (compared to some others like social media) since customers are already looking to buy or find more information.

Facebook & Instagram advertising

Facebook and Instagram advertising can be good for creating brand awareness and getting your brand in front of more people that you’ve targeted. Facebook and Instagram ads are both created through Facebook Ads Manager, then you can select the specific channel once you’re creating your ads. There are a number of different objectives you can set for your Ad campaigns which determines the type of ad you can serve.

There are a number of different ad creative types you can create including single image based, image carousel, video, Instagram story and text-based. There are plenty of options and good reporting so you can determine your ROI.

Not sure how to start with Facebook or Instagram advertising? Well the great news is Facebook provides its own learning platform to help step you through the different parts called Facebook Blueprint. Visit Facebook Blueprint to find out more.

What are the next steps?

Before you get started, consider writing a digital marketing strategy or content marketing plan. There are free templates for these online offered by many content tech companies, such as Hubspot. Business Victoria provides a library of free templates and resources to assist SMEs to build their business online. Visit Business Victoria’s SME business resources.

Once you have that all in place, it’s time to flick the switch and get going with your digital marketing activity. With time, you should see your sales grow and your businesses’ journey towards the next level will be underway. Remember, it takes ongoing work and commitment, so stick with it!