Small Business Guide to NYC Online Marketing [Experts Weigh-In]

Are you a small business in NYC? Have you noticed how your customers are behaving differently over the last few years?


How your customers research and purchase products is changing.


In New York specifically, over 90% of residents use a cell phone, with more than two-thirds of those being smartphones, compared to the only one-fifth of smartphones users in 2011, according to the Siena Research Institute.



There are multiple factors at play that affect them, but what’s paramount is that every customer is connected online 100% of the day.

In the last few years mobile phones have changed how we shop. We were much less connected before the smartphone entered the scene, and mobile devices only truly became popular around 2012-2013. It has been just a few years since smartphone use became ubiquitous, and its effect on buyers behaviors is all around us.

According to Google, a whopping 90% of people browsing on a mobile device will leave a website if it doesn’t perform to their standards and 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their device, the majority of whom will take action after their search.

Want to know how your business can take advantage of buyer behavior? Talk to the Exceed digital marketing team.


Nowadays people no longer ask which restaurant they should go to. Instead they go to Google or Yelp; for retail, they go to Google or Amazon and check reviews. Just last year a study found that 72% of young shoppers research online before purchasing in a store, and two thirds of in-store shoppers will check prices on their phone before making a purchase.

If the majority of consumers are using their digital devices to research products before buying them in store, and you’re not taking full advantage of digital marketing for your shop, you’re missing out on an entire audience that would only boost your sales and revenue.

Bloomberg revealed that 8 out of 10 New York City entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. The New York Times reported that“lack of marketing is one of the top 10 reasons why NYC small businesses fail.”

When was the last time you thought of your business digital strategy?

Do you have one? According to a Purdue University study, most small businesses will be severely affected by changes in online shopping behavior within five years. This study was conducted in 2012: you’re likely to have seen effects of it over last few years.



Small businesses are quickly moving into the digital frontier, but most don’t actually know how to uncover the strengths of digital marketing, and too many lack an online presence altogether. Only
28% of small businesses have a website, yet 44% of shoppers begin by using a search engine. If your business website is not optimized for mobile devices (e.g., touch screen usability, intuitive design) then everyone using a tablet or phone will lose confidence in your product and brand, and returning from a credibility deficit is not something you want to do with fierce competition.

Yet, even if you have a website, it is just the first of many steps leading to a strong digital marketing plan that can explode your company growth whereas a lack thereof can lead to business failure.

If you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities that an optimized online presence offers, you’re squandering a full third of potential revenue. In 2015 researchers found that digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in a brick & mortar store. Without social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to interact and converse with your followers, you are literally losing money.


“You don’t know who your target clients are, or where to find them. So when you do get yourself all set up with your new website, Facebook page and business cards you’ll be completely baffled as to why new customers aren’t queueing up out the door.”

– Huffington Post


In this guide we will lift the veil off digital marketing and explain how NYC small businesses can make the most of it.


Think of how you learned about your favorite shops and restaurants before the internet. You saw a sign or read something in the paper, or more likely, your friends recommended a place or the shopfront looked inviting and enticing so you went inside. Word of mouth will always be a strong marketing strategy, but digital marketing is on the rise in the age of the smartphone, and social media is the new word of mouth.

Over 70% of adults in the United States use at least one social media account. And a full 78% of small businesses attract new customers and engage current ones using social media, yet a third of all small businesses don’t have any social media presence whatsoever.



With everyone using their phones to search for the best of everything, the question of whether you should have a digital presence is no longer a choice but rather a vital necessity to garner an audience and clientele.

You can’t rely on others to market you (Yelp, Facebook, etc.) Your business is either entering or already in uncharted waters, and you need a ship to navigate it.

In May 2015, Google’s Vice President of Sales and Service polled that average Americans spend almost a quarter of their day on digital devices. This is more time spent than on all other media (such as newspapers and magazines, TV) combined. More specifically, in New York, over 90% of residents use a cell phone, with more than two-thirds of those being smartphones, compared to the only one-fifth of smartphones users in 2011. In only a few years, the way we live our lives has completely changed, and business strategies need to reflect that, or fall behind.

According to Google, a whopping 90% of people browsing on a mobile device will leave a website if it doesn’t perform to their standards and 94% of smartphone users look for local information on their device, the majority of whom will take action after their search. That’s an incredibly viable market that’s currently being untapped by small businesses.


Tap into your own potential market. Talk to Exceed to find out how.




If you haven’t implemented a digital marketing strategy already, or you aren’t using yours to the greatest of its ability, you’re missing out on an enormous opportunity to grow your consumer base.

Most people don’t take advantage of digital marketing because they don’t know how to implement it best. A bar might post their daily specials schedule and call it done, but that doesn’t generate traffic to your site or tell a potential customer (or Google) what kind of establishment you truly are. Whether you’re a retail business, a restaurant, or a hotel chain, you want your business to come up easily when searched online. If you’re not in the top four, or, for more generous Googlers, the first page, you’re basically invisible.



But digital marketing is new and people don’t know where to start. Do you use SEO, write content or post on Facebook or something else? Without a clear direction, it is extremely difficult to have a starting point, and this is an issue more relevant to small businesses which tend to have twice as much of a challenge developing a digital strategy than large enterprises.

“Businesses are constantly failing, but it’s easy to see why. Business owners have no idea about analytics, SEO or benchmarking, so as much as they are fantastic at their own profession, they cant sell themselves.

Less than 30% of small businesses use website analytics or call tracking and 18% of small businesses admit to not tracking anything. They decide not to enlist the help of professionals and instead try to figure out everything on their own, spending hours each week on non-money making tasks. Business owners end up scared, overwhelmed and lost, and frustrated at the lack of results.”


Discover how your own business can put digital marketing to use. Talk to the Exceed team.


Without intricate knowledge of adwords, analytics, ROIs, business modeling, benchmarking, CPCs, visitor site interaction, targeting demographic, social media ad infrastructure, search engine optimization your business will suffer.

What’s your lifetime customer value? Do you manage your own data monitoring? Not only will having a digital agency explain these terms and manage their complexities, but a firm will be your guide that allows you to tap into new markets, discover and hook new customers, and most importantly explode your business growth.

The term SEO has evolved and Google algorithms have become smarter. The internet isn’t just a source of information but also a place of entertainment and engagement. In fact, 54% of shoppers, when polled, said they would consider ending their relationship with a retailer if they are not given tailor-made, relevant content and offers.



Your brand will enter at the crossroads of informative and engaging. There you will be able to educate while simultaneously amusing your audience, thus overall increasing your presence and influence and conversion rates as a small business in an extremely competitive market.

But how do you be engage and inform at the same time? One method is through social media. Reported by Forbes in May 2015, almost three-quarters of salespeople who exceeded their 2014 quota by at least 10% recognize the vital importance of having an exceptional knowledge of social media in advertising, fostering connections, and converting sales. In contrast to their peers with little to no social media operations, these proprietors were more than 6x as likely to surpass their businesses respective quotas.

Every business and industry will have different optimal strategies they can employ to produce growth, but they all involve having a digital action plan.

In May 2016, a hotel chain in Southern France was struggling to find customers after the French terrorist attacks and feared losing their business for the summer after experiencing one of the worst declines in business they’ve ever faced.

Then they hired Exceed Digital Marketing Agency in the hopes of improving their sales, but the results truly exceeded all their expectations.

By implementing the latest SEO, content, and social media strategies, their lead generating traffic increased by 9.5 times. Exceeds ultra targeted campaign led to 3x more on-page engagement and readership on the hotels website and social media pages. The hotel went from struggling to overbooked within a 1.5 months time frame, with many articles going viral (having 1000+ likes, 400+ shares and thousands of visitors to site per post).

There’s a digital solution out there for any business. Not doing digital marketing is like forgetting to write your name on a test; all the effort you put into it wont get you the results your business needs to survive in the mobile era. The business might be sound, but it’s a problem if no one can find you online.

Another client of Exceed, a private personal fitness practice with multiple gyms in New York City, was struggling to obtain new clients. The majority of their clients was by word of mouth from patrons of their services for years.

After fully revamping their site to be SEO friendly, as well as rolling out a tailored content marketing campaign, the number of clients they obtained monthly increased by over 11 times. They were then able to expand their business, open their largest gym in New York City to date (which included their first cafe) and a develop a scalable digital marketing strategy for years to come.


Digital marketing is hands-down the most operative and most cost effective method of driving new traffic to your business and establishing a lasting online presence that translates into the brick and mortar world.

If your potential customers cant easily find you on Google, then it’s literally as if you don’t exist unless they happen to be passing by your business on the street — and even then they’re probably looking down at their phone, right where your website should be. Not only can you direct new customers to you but they are more likely to spend more, (roughly 22% more) if digitally influenced.

Running a business in New York is already so full of challenges that leave you with no time and no clue how to focus on the digital partof your business. With so much involved in digital marketing strategies: analytics, adwords, benchmarking, social media, SEO, locating KPIs, data monitoring, sales conversion… it’s easy to miss a few steps (or miss the mark entirely) and get it all wrong. Yet creating a digital marketing strategy for your business is the only viable solution for its continued survival and growth in an increasingly online world.

Hope you enjoyed this article as much as we enjoyed writing it! If you need any help, just talk to Exceed.


Want to find out how your business can benefit? Talk to Exceed.