Is a tight budget preventing you from marketing your business online?

If you have a business without the financial resources for anything outside of essential operating costs, then you probably answered ‘yes’ to this question.

Fortunately for you there are still ways to do effective Internet Marketing on a budget and we’re going to tell you how.

Internet Marketing on a Budget

What’s Considered to be a “Limited” Budget?

Since limited can carry a different meaning for each situation we want to be sure to define what the word means in the general context of this post.

A business with a “limited” budget is typically one that has less than $500 a month to spend on Internet marketing. This limitation typically comes from one, or both, of the following situations:

  1. Business does not have any funds to cover anything outside of its operating costs
  2. Business does not perceive the value of Internet marketing to be worth more than $500 a month

The second reason is seemingly more common as past experiences and/or misinformation has caused many business owners to de-prioritize and undervalue online marketing efforts.

Before you give online marketing a backseat you should know why it’s incredibly important and how much your business should be allocating towards it.


Why Internet Marketing is More Important than You May Think

A reason to market your business online is not because everyone else is doing it, but because of the following reasons (amongst many others):

  • Over 95% of consumers use online media before making a local purchase (source)
  • 90% of Internet searches led to a follow up action like contacting or visiting a business (source)
  • Over 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine (source)
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (e.g. direct mail) have a 1.7% close rate (source)
  • Inbound leads cost 61% lower than outbound leads (source)

Everyone uses the web now – whether on their mobile device or computer – to find what they need. If your business cannot be found or if it gives off a poor first impression, then you’re going to lose business to your competitors.


Determining an Appropriate Internet Marketing Budget

You need to make online marketing a necessary piece of your business if you want it to grow. To do that you should be allocating funds to your online marketing efforts in a way that allows it do just that.

TIP:
A good place to start, if you have no other frame of reference, when planning out your annual Internet marketing budget is to allocate at least 10% of your annual forecasted gross sales to your online marketing efforts.

 

Ten percent, for most businesses, is actually very conservative so if you have a lot of ground to gain (e.g. new businesses), then increase that number to adjust to the competitive landscape of your market. And if you want your business to grow each year, then don’t forget to increase your marketing budget by the percentage you are planning to grow by.

What if money is already being spent on marketing, should that get replaced entirely with online marketing?

The correct answer to this is – IT DEPENDS.

The reason for this response is that it really does depend on how your current marketing efforts are performing for you. Although other forms of marketing (e.g. print marketing) may not be as easy to track down to the cent as online marketing, if it has been your only form of marketing and it’s been generating calls or walk-ins, then you probably shouldn’t replace it completely – at least not yet.

Now, if the money you’ve been spending hasn’t generated consistent business for you, then it is definitely time to reconsider how your budget gets allocated.

Our recommendations below should help you allocate your budget – especially if it is limited.


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Is your business on a “limited” marketing budget?

If so, this is your chance to get some FREE advice. Ask any questions you may have in the COMMENTS BELOW.


Internet Marketing Budget Planning

Ways to Market Your Business Online…On a Budget

Let’s get something straight right off the bat…

Effective, long-lasting results from an online marketing service cannot be purchased for less than $500/mo.

If you think we’re wrong, then prove it. Until then do not expect these types of results if you’re not willing to invest the proper time and resources for them.

If your budget is limited, then avoid cheap, package solutions that promise (or even worse, guarantee) results. Instead, use your funds wisely and your time efficiently.

Here’s how.

Foundational Internet Marketing Tips for Budget Conscious Businesses

1. Learn the basics. You’re going to waste time and money if you don’t start with a good foundational knowledge of what Internet marketing entails. Subscribe to industry blogs, follow top influencers, listen to podcasts, watch video tutorials, attend webinars and go to local meet-ups.

ESTIMATED COST: $0
RECOMMENDED TIME: 2-3 hours per week (minimum)

Want to know which resources to start with? ASK US ON TWITTER

 

2. Get some direction. One of the most under-utilized services offered by even the top marketing agencies is coaching / consulting. Take advantage of this one on one time to get some specific recommendations and oversight from those that have already racked up more experience than you’ll ever be able to acquire this late in the game.

ESTIMATED COST: $100 – $300/hr
RECOMMENDED TIME: 1-2 hours per month (minimum)

Want to get some personal time with one of our consultants? SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION HERE

 

3. Grab the tools. Get familiar using the tools to properly plan, implement, track and optimize your online marketing efforts. What most people don’t realize is that even the top experts use the same tools that a novice has access to. Use them.

ESTIMATED COST: $100 – $200/mo
RECOMMENDED TIME: 1-2 hours per month (minimum)

Want to know which tools are the best to start with and/or worth paying for? ASK US ON TWITTER

 

4. Start blogging. As you start out, don’t focus on writing the next Pulitzer Prize winning piece. We’ll come back to that later. For now, get in the habit of communicating your thoughts, experience and expertise in writing form. Sure there are many other forms of content you can create (e.g. videos, graphics, etc), but you need to start with the basics. Crawl before you walk.

ESTIMATED COST: $0
RECOMMENDED TIME: 1 hour per week (minimum)

Need some ideas on what to write about? READ OUR TIPS HERE

 

5. Build relationships. Every time you meet someone new, think about how you can help them. Notice how we didn’t say ‘how they can help you’? You need to give to get. The more relationships you solidify, the easier it will be for you get exposure for your website, blog, event, etc in the future.

ESTIMATED COST: $0
RECOMMENDED TIME: 2-3 hours per week (minimum)

Not sure where to begin? START A CONVERSATION WITH US

If you were to combine all of these tips you would be looking at spending approximately $500 and 20 hours per month. That’s just about $16 and 40 minutes per day. If you can’t budget for this, at the very least, then you might need to reevaluate your priorities and adjust any ambitious expectations or projections.

 

25 Tasks You Can Do Now…For Less than $500/mo

Whether you’re a business owner and don’t have the budget for an aggressive online marketing campaign and/or don’t perceive the value to be worth more than $500/mo…

OR

… you’re a marketing manager that has been handcuffed with a limited budget there are still many things you can do to market your business online.

The following 25 tasks will not win you immediate market share, but they will get you on the right path and make more of an impact compared to doing nothing.

Feel free to spread these tasks out over time, but try to make it a point to get them all covered within the next 3 to 6 months.

  1. Setup Google Analytics on your website
  2. Verify your website with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools
  3. Use Google Alerts or Mention to stay on top of mentions or relevant content surrounding your business
  4. Write at least 2 quality blog posts per month
  5. Implement fundamental on-page SEO on your website’s pages and blog posts
  6. Setup these primary social media accounts (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter)
  7. Setup your Google+ Author profile
  8. Pre-write 20-30 social media updates 
  9. Start using a social media management tool like Buffer, HootSuite or SproutSocial
  10. Start capturing email addresses
  11. Take great photos and use them everywhere (website, blog, social media, etc)
  12. Make an interesting video and put it on YouTube
  13. Find an influencer with Followerwonk and build a relationship with them
  14. Write a newsworthy press release and submit it via PRWeb to create branded search results
  15. Become a source for authoritative journalists and publishers
  16. Add evergreen content to your website
  17. Use GetListed to setup / claim your local business listings
  18. Optimize your website and local business listings for local search success
  19. Do some PR / interviews for local newspapers and media outlets
  20. Claim your brand name to manage your online reputation
  21. Start / join and get involved in a Facebook Group, LinkedIn Group or Google+ Community
  22. Start and run a small Google AdWords campaign
  23. Amplify your Facebook posts with paid promotion
  24. Be accessible, responsible and knowledgeable to grow a following
  25. Get a consultation from a professional

Leave a comment

Have any other sub-$500/mo marketing tips?

Did we miss anything that you’d recommend? If so, please share in the COMMENTS BELOW. If it’s good, then we’ll add it to our list.


Is Your Money Worth More than Your Time?

Since most people looking to do Internet marketing on a budget are going to be more likely to invest their time over their money, it’s important to understand the value of time as well.

For this purpose, let’s assume you’re a small business owner in the United States.

According to a study from American Express OPEN, the average small business owner takes home about $75k a year. Let’s assume that these owners work 50 hours a week on average. This would mean that 1 hour of their time would be equivalent to about $32.

If you’re budget strapped, then you’re going to be looking to spend at least 16 hours per month ($512 value) to learn and do your own bare-minimum online marketing.

Do you have an extra 16 hours per month for this?

Actually a more realistic question would be…

Do you have twice this much time?

Remember, you’ve got to budget for the fact that most tasks will take you twice as long as someone who does these things professionally and efficiently.

Also keep in mind that you will more than likely be doing just the bare minimum so results will take you comparably longer as well.

So, the real question to ask is this…

What is worth more to you – your time or your money?

If you find your money to be more valuable to you, then you need to get to work. Follow the tips we’ve provided above and tap into all of the free resources available to help you get your business some much needed exposure.

And if you find your time to be more valuable to you (smart choice), then there are plenty of reputable professionals willing to help – especially us.

 

Ready to plan and implement a cost-effective online marketing strategy?

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

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Vinny La Barbera

I’ve been working in online marketing since 2000 and have helped thousands of companies improve their online presence and grow their business through better web / mobile design, development and online marketing.Learn more about me or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.