Without an effective online marketing strategy, it’s almost impossible to attract new customers and grow your business, but there is always a risk of spending time and money on a marketing technique that fails to deliver, especially for small businesses operating on a tight budget. Thankfully, effective online marketing doesn’t necessarily require a big investment, and with a bit of planning and know-how, it is possible to stretch your advertising dollar and get your product or service in front of a highly targeted and highly engaged audience.
Stick to One Designer
Many businesses find themselves moving from designer to designer as they create new ads, but you can save considerable money in the long run by carefully choosing a competent designer that intuitively understands your products or services and sticking with them for all of your advertising needs. Not only does this save time, but it also saves money by avoiding the need for each new designer to duplicate your logo and branding. Many designers will also offer discounted rates if you agree to work with them on a long-term basis instead of as a one-and-done contractor.
Research Your Target Audience
One of the most effective ways to cut down on your overall advertising spending is to carefully research your target audience demographics and their habits. Take the time to consider what your ideal customer looks like; factors such as age, income level, and gender can help you narrow down the best way to reach them. For instance, a business that is looking to draw the attention of older, more affluent women would likely want to advertise on Pinterest, while that same advertising strategy would be a waste of money for someone looking to sell to college-aged men. Advertising to a very small but highly targeted audience is a much more effective and affordable method of advertising than taking an unfocused and scattershot approach.
Get Picky About Platforms
Once you have a good picture of your target audience, it’s worth being picky about which social media platforms you spend your money on. Each platform has distinct content strategies and user bases, and spreading yourself thin by trying to advertise on all of them will require an expensive, large-scale advertising campaign and significant time and labor investment, which might be counterproductive for a smaller or self-run business. If you want to take a more colorful, visual approach to your ads, stick to platforms that are highly image-based, such as Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram. On the other hand, if your ads are more information-driven, Twitter and Facebook will likely be a more effective choice.
Set a Budget
Before you even start an advertising campaign, be sure to establish a budget beforehand. Not only should you decide on an overall budget, but you should carefully consider which kind of pricing options you want to use. If you are advertising on Google’s display network, that means choosing between a cost-per-click (CPC) model, cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), or cost-per-acquisition (CPA). CPC pricing is most effective if you are simply trying to drive traffic to your site, while CPM benefits brand awareness campaigns and CPA is most cost-effective when you are trying to make direct product and service sales.
Leverage Cheap Opportunities
Never underestimate the usefulness of free or inexpensive opportunities for public relations exposure or collaboration. Reaching out to local TV and news outlets to promote upcoming business events, sending review products out to popular social media influencers in your niche, or partnering with a manufacturer to engage in cooperative advertising are all great ways to increase visibility and brand awareness without putting a dent in your advertising budget.
Encourage Word of Mouth
Studies show that over 90% of online shoppers read customer reviews, and almost 85% of them trust verified reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation from someone they know. This means that one of the best ways to maximize your advertising budget is to encourage reviews and word-of-mouth advertising from customers. Offering a discount code on a future purchase in exchange for a review is one effective method of getting more reviews, and starting a referral program that rewards people who drive new customers to your product can also be an excellent advertising tool.
Online advertising is an essential component of any viable marketing strategy, but without the right approach, it can easily result in large investments with paltry results to show for it. By applying the techniques above, even a small business with a shoestring advertising budget can take advantage of the marketing potential that online platforms have to offer.