For big brands with massive advertising budgets, £100 is just a drop in their monthly marketing budget. But for small business owners, every pound counts. What’s more, any investment needs to pay off in immediate marketing return on investment (ROI).
So can a small business owner successfully market their business online with as little as £100? We think so and we’re not the only ones. We conducted a survey of over 2,300 small business owners from the UK and 78% of respondents said they spend less than £50 per month on online marketing. And you can too!
In this post we’ll explain how you can market your business online yourself, even on a tight £100 monthly budget (or perhaps even less).
Learn the basics. You’re going to waste a lot of time and money if you don’t first start with a good foundational knowledge of what online marketing entails. So, subscribe to authority blogs in your industry, follow top influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn, attend webinars and go to local meet-ups if you get the chance. Check out these 15 of the best slide decks on marketing to get some practical advice on how to be successful at it.
Use the right (free) tools. There are so many great tools that can help you to properly plan, implement, track and optimise your online marketing efforts. Don’t hesitate to use them to gain insights into your market and your customers.
Here are some invaluable tools you absolutely need to use (along with guides to get started using them):
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
- SEO tools for everything from keyword research and competitor analysis to checking for broken links on a page.
- Social media plugins for WordPress to turn your site into a social butterfly
Now that you have the basic knowledge and the tools, let’s see how you can promote your business online on a tight budget.
1. Research your market
Before you spend any money on marketing your products and services online, you first need to figure out whom to target. Who is your ideal buyer? What are their needs and wants? By conducting a research you will be able to:
- Focus marketing efforts with laser-like precision
- Craft your marketing messages to attract and engage likely buyers.
Here is a nice guide on how to identify your ideal buyer (also referred to as buyer persona) based on factors like:
- Products they have bought before
- Previous purchase price
But your visitors and customers aren’t the only ones you need to “spy on”. You also need to keep a close eye on your competitors. Conduct a competitive analysis to find out what your main competitors are doing online and look for ways to beat them. When you’re aware of their biggest weaknesses or gaps, you will know what you need to improve to get ahead of your competition and grow your business even further.
2. Optimise for people and search engines
The Internet has become the starting point that leads to a buying decision. Whether users are looking to buy a digital camera or software, they’ll usually start their research online. If they can’t find you online when they’re searching for your products or services, you’re missing out.
That is why it’s important to do proper keyword research and to optimise your website so it can be easily found in search engine results pages by prospective buyers who are looking for your products online. When you invest into optimising your site and every piece of content that goes on it, you will be rewarded with a higher ranking in organic search results. That means increased visibility for your business, which can result in more sales.
Check out these resources to get started with search engine optimisation (SEO):
- 7 simple yet vital SEO first steps for a new website
- Six SEO tips for absolute beginners
- How to optimise your WordPress blog posts
3. Add speed to your line up
Cost: £9.99 per month (or less)
Mobile devices now play a larger role in product and brand discovery than desktops. According to the “Mobile Audience Insights Report” from NinthDecimal, 54% of consumers in 2014 “shopped on a mobile device over a laptop before making a purchase” and 34% “preferred to use a smartphone over a tablet or laptop.”
This means that you need to ensure that your site automatically adapts to the screen size of any device so visitors can quickly and easily access your website and the information they need, no matter what device they’re using. Creating a responsive website that is optimised for all devices is worth investing in as it’s likely to pay off in increased engagement and sales. Find out more about our Website Builder and how you can use it to build a responsive and affordable website in a few clicks.
4. Start blogging to generate leads
Blogging is without a doubt one of the most effective methods to build brand awareness, to increase traffic and to generate more online sales. In fact, businesses that blog see 126% more growth per month in terms of leads than those that don’t blog.
Nearly every business can tap into a niche online through blogging – whether that’s fitness, painting, software, and more. Not only is it free but it continues to drive traffic for years to come, especially if the content is informative and relevant to your audience and your business.
While it may not be an immediate traffic sensation, over a period of time of consistently writing content that is not only interesting but also optimised for search engines, you will bring in more new visitors, more subscribers and more loyal readers that will enable your business your boom.
While you don’t need to invest any money into blogging, you will need to spend time research and writing the posts. And that’s not an easy task but it’s worth it. If you want to give blogging a try, read our beginner’s guide to blogging for business to learn how to get your blog up and running and how to promote your posts to reach more readers.
5. Use email to grow your business
Cost: from £4.99 to £44.99 per month (up to 10,000 subscribers) with the 123-reg Email Marketing service.
Regardless of industry or business size, marketers across the world point to email marketing as the most effective tactic to increase sales and grow a business. With a return-on-investment of about 4,300%, email pays for itself.
Not only is it vital to business success, it’s also customer’s preferred channel for brand communications, according to data shared by the marketing gurus at MarketingProfs.com.
If you want to get started with email marketing, watch this webinar to learn everything you need to know about it and also get some great advice on how to run a successful email marketing campaign.
6. Be strategically social
Cost: £50 per month (or less)
If you invest £50 in Facebook or Twitter ads or in sponsored posts on LinkedIn, you can reach thousands of prospects each month. Even with a small budget you can still gain hundreds of new fans and followers on your chosen social media channels as well as increased web traffic, brand awareness and hopefully generate sales down the line.
The great thing about these social platforms is that you can create ad campaigns or promote your posts to reach a specific audience. You have access to built-in tools that allow you to drill down into demographics in order to get these ads and posts in front of your target audience.
If you want to learn more about advertising on Twitter and Facebook, check out the following guides to learn how to get your own campaigns up and running:
- The essential guide to getting started with Facebook ads
- The essential guide to getting started with Twitter advertising
As you can see, the reach and visibility that used to be available only to big brands with huge budgets are now within easy reach of even the smallest businesses. Now’s the time to take advantage!
We’re curious to know: how do you market your business online? What low-cost strategies do you use to raise awareness of your business? Share them with us a in comment below.