Retail giants like Netflix and Costco remain prevalent brands because of their strong value propositions and their economics of scale. But, as digital marketing becomes more common, it levels the playing field for all brands. By successfully utilizing digital marketing strategies like SEO, PPC and social media, brands can gain fans, drive traffic and increase sales.

In the Wpromote Online Marketing Scorecard, we found that out of the Internet Retailer's Top 500 retailers, 124 of those brands were failing in their digital strategy. And interestingly enough, some of the lower ranked brands are leading online marketers. Shutterfly ranked 50 on the IR top 500, yet ranked #1 our list. Costco on the other hand, ranked 14 on the IR Top 500, but their lack of digital marketing landed them at 436 on our list. If small brands continue strengthening their digital marketing strategies, they can out sell big brands.

Here's how each section of online marketing can help smaller retailers beat the big boys:

  • SEO: In our online marketing scorecard, Costco received a 59 percent in SEO. Biblio Inc. ranked 492 on the IR 500 list and received a 74 percent in SEO. Launching a successful SEO campaign can lead to increased rankings, traffic and a larger return on investment. Small brands can outrank big brands and show up higher in searches by maintaining a strong site architecture and onsite content generation to optimize their page and sustain a strong search presence.
  • Paid Search: Zenni Optical ranked ranked 29 on our digital marketing scorecard, partially due to their successful PPC strategies. Earning an 82 percent in the PPC category, Zenni's strategy is stronger than the IR 500's 72 ranking, Restoration Hardware, who received a 3 percent grade in PPC. PPC allows retailers to target audiences strategically to provide fast and efficient service. Companies that utilize PPC can reach audiences searching for industry-specific products, while driving website traffic and increasing sales.
  • Social Media: Social media serves as a hub for consumers to talk and interact with their favorite (or least favorite) brands. By utilizing social media, retailers can build genuine relationships that result in brand ambassadors, and use these relationships to drive traffic. Take Starbucks, for example. While Starbucks ranked on the IR 500 list at 444, they received a 100 percent in social media for their engagement on multiple social media profiles. Social media engagement leads to sharing and sales conversions.
  • Email Marketing:  Target Marketing Cloud claims that 95 percent of consumers use email and 70 percent open emails from their favorite companies. This creates an opportunity for retailers to reach their customers with action oriented emails that drive sales. Smaller retailers with loyal customers can rely on their fans to open emails that add value to the overall consumer experience. By utilizing email marketing, retailers can offer promotions and discounts to increase sales and build brand loyalty.
  • E-Commerce: Artbead.com ranked 488 on the IR 500 list, yet scored within our top 100 with an E-Commerce grade of 90 percent.  Kohl's, who ranked 23 on the IR 500 list, fell short, scoring a 46 percent in E-Commerce. As online shopping rises in prevalence, retailers must find ways to set themselves apart. Brands can do this through E-Commerce--conversion rates, shipments, returns and price matching. Retailers who offer these perks have the opportunity to build brand loyalty and maintain customers. If small brands maximize on E-Commerce practices, they can become a reliable brands that meet the customer's needs.
  • Mobile:  Abt Electronics--ranked 149 on the IR top 500--scored a 97 percent in the mobile category. PC connection, who ranked 47 on the IR top 500, received a 45 percent. User experience is quickly paving the way for advertising. Mobile is a powerful resource for creating a measurable return on investments. With mobile use increasing every year, mobile advertising can lead to sales and new business.
  • Blogs: NBA Media Ventures LLC, who ranked  436 on IR Retailers top 500, scored a 90 percent overall in the blog category. Gap ranked 19 on the IR top 500 and scored a 0 percent overall in the blog category.  Blogs provide an opportunity for retailers to create original content that will boost SEO results and drive traffic back to their website. Creating and maintaining a blog is great for brand image, thought leadership and maximizing ROI.

By utilizing each category of digital marketing, retailers can strengthen their search results, drive traffic back to websites and enhance the overall customer experience. You don't have to be a retail giant to dominate the web; you just need a solid digital marketing strategy.