Contrary to what you may think, marketing your business online isn't limited to Fortune 500 companies with million-dollar marketing budgets. Small businesses can benefit from internet marketing. You can win more customers and get the word out about your business and products or services for not very much money depending on the service you choose.
With traditional advertising avenues, your audience is limited. However, with internet marketing services, which we define as a software application with an online portal and tools to help you with all aspects of advertising on the web – search-engine marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), email and social-media marketing – you open up your business to an entirely new world of potential customers.
How We Tested
Whether you're an entrepreneur, a small business or a medium-size one, there are a range of internet marketing companies that can increase your reach and sales without busting your budget. Here, then are our recommendations of the best internet marketing services based on size (enterprise-level or small business), cost, ease of use, or certain features, such as social media or analytics. Be sure to check out our complete ratings here. We sought out services that offer website-design tools and helpful reports and analytics. Some services on our lineup offer consultations and guided, company-specific strategies to help you develop a marketing plan specifically tailored for your business. We evaluated more than 30 online marketing services, ultimately whittling the list down to the 10 best based on the number of features available, the different purposes for each platform and the option of enterprise-level solutions. We looked for companies with email, social media and SEO marketing features as well as capabilities to help you nurture leads and convert them into customers.
Best for Enterprise
Enterprise businesses require comprehensive and aggressive marketing campaigns, and they need a large ROI for their time and work. Several of the companies we evaluated offer solutions for enterprise-level businesses.
Our Top Choice: Oracle
An especially powerful tool with strong email and SEO marketing features, Oracle integrates with Oktopost, a social media manager, to connect you with customers through social media. Oracle can help you with website design and landing pages, plus it offers thorough reports on how your online marketing strategies are performing. It can even give you information on how your competitors are doing.
Best for Small Business
Small businesses need a powerful platform that can help them with marketing campaigns without being overly complicated. However, the service still needs to be comprehensive.
Our Top Choice: HubSpot
An all-encompassing marketing automation service ideal for online marketing for small businesses, this online marketing company has packages for enterprise-level companies. HubSpot offers lead nurturing and automatic media campaigns as well as email and social-media marketing. Additionally, it has SEO services, offers assistance with website design, and has a long list of analytics and reports.
Best for Budget
If your business needs a boost in the marketing department but you have a limited budget, an internet marketing service is still a good option.
Our Top Choice: iContact
iContact Pro is a popular marketing automation software application that includes top-notch email marketing features. You can also use it to connect with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. This software is helpful if you need to create landing pages, and it integrates with Salesforce for reporting and analytics. It does not currently offer search-engine marketing or SEO services.
Best for Ease of Use
Several internet marketing platforms require an entire marketing team to run and understand. If you don't have that type of personnel to spare, you need a service that's easy to use.
Our Top Choice: Salesfusion
Easy to navigate and use, Salesfusion has a thorough and helpful onboarding process. This software has strong email and social marketing offerings, and it can also help with SEO. However, it does not assist with website design.
Best for Reports
Reports and analytics are an important part of any marketing plan. For the best reports and analytics available in the industry, we recommend Salesforce. Many businesses integrate with Salesforce for its reporting features.
Our Top Choice: Salesforce
With Salesforce, you have access to email and social-media marketing. SEO marketing is only available with Salesforce's B2B marketing platform Pardot. Both Marketing Cloud and Pardot are powerful tools with excellent reporting and analytics. The product best for your business depends on the type of marketing you want to do.
Best for Social Media
To stay connected with customers in the information age, you need a strong social media presence. All of the companies in our review offer some form of social media management system, but most integrate with a third party for this feature.
Our Top Choice: CallidusCloud
With strong email and social-media marketing features, this service can connect you with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Its reports and analytics aren't as thorough as others we reviewed, but CallidusCloud offers website audits, which can help you improve your site's SEO.
In our review, we focused on five main aspects of internet marketing: email marketing, social media marketing, SEO marketing, web design and analytics. These tips tell you more about each aspect of online marketing.
Studies show that email marketing is still the primary converter of sales. With email marketing, you can reach customers individually and segment your email list into groups so your leads get the specific message that's most likely to influence them to buy your product.
Several services we reviewed offer spam filters, which help your emails reach customers' inboxes instead of their spam folders. In addition, the best online marketing services include personalization fields, where the program automatically includes things like the lead's name or other information, and automated emails, which let you set up automatic email campaigns.
Trigger emails are another feature found with the best online marketing services. These messages can be scheduled to be sent out after your customer acts on previous emails or meets other criteria to prompt a specific message. For example, if a lead clicked a link in your email for a particular product but didn't purchase it at the time, you can automatically send a follow-up email about that product to persuade your customer to buy it.
Social Media Marketing
These days, your business can't afford not to connect with customers via social media. Channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are great resources for engaging with leads and learning more about what customers want and expect from your company.
We sought out marketing platforms that allow you to reach out to customers and interact with them through social media. Each of the services on our lineup has a platform that lets you schedule posts ahead of time across several of your channels to foster interaction with your clients.
Despite the best online marketing efforts, your hard work could very well be wasted if your website is impossible to find. For this reason, we looked what each company offered in regards to SEO. Search engine optimization isn't something all of the companies on our lineup offer. In some cases, a different product from the same company might offer this service. For example, Salesforce only offers SEO services through Pardot, its B2B marketing solution.
SEO makes it easier for your customers to find your website when they enter keywords into search engines. The best internet marketing services provide you with insight into the terms consumers are using to find your business or service. You can then use these same keywords on your website so potential clients can more easily find you.
The online marketing service's platform should have the ability to perform an audit on your website so you know where you can improve your SEO to, in turn, boost your rankings in searches. Many services also offer pay-per-click services and link building, both of which can help you get more traffic to your site.
Once customers find your website, you want them to stay there and purchase your products. Your website's design, or at least that of your landing page, can heavily impact customers' buying decisions.
A poorly designed site could drive a potential lead to click out of your site quickly, increasing your bounce rate and lowering your sales. Online marketing services with web design capabilities can help solve this problem and increase click rates and purchases.
Having the capability to market your business through email, social media, SEO and your website is a great start, but unless you can gather data and continuously improve your marketing campaigns, these tools aren't necessarily going to grow your business.
An important feature of internet marketing services is reporting and analytics. Each company on our lineup offers detailed reports through proprietary analytics or Google Analytics. These reports can include many things, from information on the interaction occurring on your social media pages to your website's traffic – even whether or not your emails are being opened and who clicks on what inside your emails. Some companies analyze competitors' websites so you know where you stand in the market.
Analytics help you see what your company is doing well and where you need to improve your marketing efforts. Additionally, you can easily see which segment of your customers is ready to buy and what other behaviors they are exhibiting so you can target them more effectively.
Each of the companies on our lineup offer solid web marketing services.
Act-On and Oracle Marketing Cloud have the most comprehensive features: email and social-media marketing, SEO, web design and analytics. HubSpot and Salesfusion are designed to be easy to use, whereas other services may require the efforts of an entire marketing team. Salesfusion has a stellar onboarding process.
IBM Marketing Cloud stands out for enterprise-level services with its ability to handle a large number of contacts through a variety of marketing campaigns. iContact Pro is especially helpful if you're looking specifically for marketing automation, particularly email marketing.
For more information, visit our articles about online marketing services.
Contributing Reviewer: Jill Bowers