Here are 15 blogs that I think are extremely valuable for SMB marketers trying to stay on top of things. They offer a mix of technical, tactical and sometimes inspirational content to help you stay informed.
NOTE: I don’t read any of them daily, but I do check-in 1-2 times per week.
In the Trenches Marketing
These sites offer a mix of research, tools and techniques that you can apply to your current marketing or integrate into new campaigns. You’ll also find some great data and explanations of current marketing opportunities. An especially good list for SMB marketing practitioners handling multiple channels.
Duct Tape Marketing’s blog does a great job of balancing business development/sales content and more “in the trenches” marketing advice. You can find tips on social and content marketing for your SMB, as well as, best practices for finding clients. Lately, the sites been featuring more guests posts that broaden the topics covered.
All of Neil Patel’s posts provide a great mix of data-driven insights and advice. He tends to alternate between comprehensive guides and shorter data analysis posts. One of the strengths of his content is the time he gives to explaining why certain tactics work and how you can apply them to your publishing.
The HubSpot marketing blog leverages the data available via their fast-growing inbound marketing platform and the huge amount of content they generate. Inbound marketing might not be your cup of tea, but this blog provides great advice on getting the most from every blog post, whitepaper and webinar, along with tips on maximizing the benefits of SEO and social.
Growth Hackers is more of a clearing house for marketing content than a publisher itself. As you’d imagine, the emphasis is on growth hacking techniques and tools. But you don’t have to consider yourself a growth hacker to take advantage of the articles shared on the site. Visit regularly and you’ll learn about ways to optimize marketing campaigns for improved customer acquisition. Occasionally, the articles will be heavy on technology, but don’t let that dissuade you from digging in — you can usually find a tool or alternate approach to get similar results.
Jeff Bullas’s blog offers advice and ideas that you can put to work right away. Most of the content focuses on getting the most from content and social media, but there are some posts that look at tools. My favorite pieces from this site are about the psychology and structure of good content. I’ve gotten (a bit) better at writing for my audience by keeping his suggestions in mind.
Smart Ideas & Perspective
Sometimes you need to shift your perspective or clear your mind. Visit these sites to gain a fresh outlook on what your SMB is doing or get out of a rut. Look here when brainstorming campaign ideas.
The Gong Show shares Andrew Parker’s thoughts on trends in venture capital, technology, business development, books, and innovation. Read it to get a snapshot of the VC ecosystem and learn how investors think about companies.
Danny Brown writes about social media and content from creative and cultural perspectives. You won’t find a lot on the nuts and bolts of social or content marketing, but you will find some great writing on why social matters, how to connect with audiences, and how to nurture community.
Brain Pickings is where I go to clear my mind and get inspired. The site shares thoughts from literary luminaries, thinkers, and artists. You’ll probably never see the word “marketing” on the site, but the profiles and excerpts offer examples of great writing and thoughts on topics ranging from beauty to citizenship.
Channel & Industry Perspectives
Sites to visit when you’re addressing specific issues within a marketing channel. Also good places to get updates on changes to platforms.
PPC is the backbone of many SMB marketing programs. PPC Hero does a great job of sharing what works and explaining how PPC works. Check this site regularly for updates on the ad networks and explanations of what’s happening in PPC marketing.
Tim Peter’s blog is heavy on advice for travel industry marketing. That said, he also highlights shifts in mobile and provides great thoughts on the importance of customer experience. One of the things I like about this blog is all the links he provides to other great content on the web. You can think of this blog as a mix of marketing tips and reading lists. Take the time to click through on some of the links he shares and you’ll discover some great research and thought-provoking pieces that you wouldn’t know about otherwise.
The name says it all with Practical Ecommerce. I’ve been reading this site for years and think it’s a great resource for ecommerce marketers both big and small. The content leans a little more toward the retail space, but there is plenty for lead gen marketers. The site is especially helpful for SMBs trying to improve their ecommerce operations or diversify online sales channels. They regularly share tips and guidance for using 3rd-party sellers and advertising services to increase sales.
To me, SEW stands out because of it’s ability to provide both snapshots of the search marketing ecosystem and articles that explain key concepts in an easy-to-digest way. It’s my preferred source for news about deals, events and updates happening in both the paid and organic search spaces.
A little of everything. These sites offer content on different facets of running an SMB, not just marketing. Visit these sites when you need to review your strategy, solve business problems or are looking for a a little moral support.
Open Forum’s small business section is a great place to get ideas and advice from other small business owners and experts. The content leans more toward ideas and straightforward advice. There isn’t a lot of technical content, so you wouldn’t look here for how to get something done, but it’s a great place to find ideas for adjusting your strategy and solving problems.
Small Biz Trends offers a little of everything for the SMB owner and marketer. It provides a steady supply of articles on the impact of technology without becoming too technical. I’m a big fan of their local marketing content and interviews with marketers from technology companies.
If you’re looking for a single place for a little of everything, then Small Business Edge is a great site to bookmark. The content covers not only marketing, but also management, accounting, and work/life balance issues for SMBs. This isn’t the best place for deep researching on a marketing topic or channel, but you can always find tips for incremental improvements and maintenance.
I hope this list helps you streamline your reading, and improve your online marketing. Share your favorite sites in the comments and they may be added to an updated this list early next year.