The Internet brings with it a new world brimming with possibilities, opportunities and risks.  I know from my mentoring work that for small businesses new to the internet that the reality is also of an overwhelming and brave new world where old school tactics will not cut much muster.

A first step which will go some way towards demystifying the internet experience is to understand the skills needed to be successful. Education to future proof your success, if you like. Small businesses marketing on the internet can no longer rely on traditional knowledge and a great product, hard work and perseverance; whilst these qualities will help, what is really important is an appetite to embrace the opportunities 21st Century marketing tools & technology brings.

Here is what I believe are the key skills for small businesses to learn:


1.   How to write


Content is king on the internet. And its execution must be done very well. Small businesses will need to know how to write well, and use the write tools to assist them with generating content (such as keyword analysis), how to plan, organize, prioritise and set out their content.

2.   How to ‘join up’ marketing channels

For many small businesses internet marketing is tantamount to being on the main social media platforms; however it is of more than this. Small businesses will need to ‘get’ how digital channels work both independently and together so they can work to deliver a strong message that delivers return on their investment. They will also need to appreciate alternative channels offline where digital exists.


3.   How to ‘do’ Social media

Small businesses will need to learn that social media is more about being part of important conversations and less about ‘selling’. It is also important that businesses understand that there is life beyond facebook, twitter and LinkedIn and to carefully work out the most appropriate platforms for their businesses.

4.   Marketing Automation


Marketing online is made easier and slicker thanks to a range of marketing automation tools. Small businesses will need to seek these tools out – be they trigger marketing, lead nurturing, , personalised landing pages etc and  select those that will give the most ‘bang’ for their ‘buck’. Furthermore, thanks to digital, much information can be accessed very easily and free web tools should be used to make access to information even easier.


5.   How to plan a Content strategy

The ability to generate content and write great content has already been mentioned in this list. This however is not enough and small businesses will be better placed for success if they can align their content to different stages of the buyer cycle and be able to adapt their content for different uses and in different formats. They will then need to market that content .


6.   How to use data

Small businesses will struggle to generate sustainable improvements without measurement. With so many possible metrics out there it can be overwhelming to settle on even just a few and many small businesses will simply not use any measurement tools.  Free tools such as Google Analytics provide easy access to vital information, and it is even possible now to track visitor engagement.

7.   How to test

Developing a mentality of ‘testing’ may not be one familiar to small business new to the internet. However testing will pay off for small businesses who will gain vital learning from experiments to determine their optimum positioning.

8.   Customer focused

Social media gives businesses the opportunity to show the personal, caring side of their brand. This is what the customer of today wants. Being customer focused requires a large degree of transparency and openness, it means that you will be happy to seek out reviews and deal with tricky issues – online, demonstrating in the process your commitment to retaining your customers. Social Media is not the only way to be customer focused however, Polls, surveys, industry events are just a few other means of gathering customer feedback and there are automated systems too that provide a degree of customer service( although one to one interaction cannot be replaced by any automated system.


Are there any skills that you feel have been missed out of this list? If so please email us and let us know!

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Ihubbusiness is an information hub for small businesses who wish to learn about internet marketing. The site was founded by Lola Bailey in 2010. Lola is a member of the Institute of Digital Marketing and has over 20 years sales and marketing experience. She is also a full-time copywriter at, a copywriter consultancy which she founded. Email:

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