Everyone understands that marketing is a necessary cost to grow a business. But for brand new online companies, there is not a whole lot of extra funding to spend on marketing right off the bat. This puts business owners in a difficult place – after all, you need to spend money with marketing to earn revenue through sales.
The fact is that marketing is an investment. Generally, the more you put into it, the more you will get out. Yet, many small business owners do not have a set marketing budget in place. Moreover, 27% agreed that their greatest challenge in marketing was securing any amount of money for their strategies.
It may seem like you have nearly nothing to invest when you are first starting an e-commerce business. But the reality is you need to allocate some funds towards advertising if you are ever going to grow as a business. But how is this possible when the money is tight?
Here are a few tips to help you stretch marketing budgets when first launching an online business.
A. Define Your Budget First
First and foremost, you need to determine the exact amount of money you have available to spend on marketing. Shockingly, 61% of SMBS do not have a set marketing budget and are merely guessing at how much they spend – and how much they receive in return.
So, your very first step is to take a good hard look at your finances and calculate a realistic budget for your marketing plan. The amount that most companies set is equivalent to about one-fourth of their annual revenue. If you have revenue projections set or some current sales data, this can be a good starting point.
B. Focus on Growing Organic Traffic
Another helpful tip for marketing budgets is to focus on free or low-cost strategies that will bring you a high return – such as growing organic online traffic.
Organic traffic is free, so keeping this as a top focus for marketing is a cheaper way to make your marketing budget stretch in the long term. Focusing on SEO allows you to tackle this marketing strategy once (with ongoing updates) and drive in compounding results over time, rather than having to continually pay for ad space.
Now, brand new online companies are not going to get a lot of organic traffic off the bat through branded searches. However, you may be able to snag organic traffic by optimizing your content for SEO through keyword inclusion. This will help you earn higher ranking spots on the SERPs and drive in traffic through relevant searches – even if they are not searching for your company.
To do this, you will need to start by conducting some fairly in-depth keyword research to find opportunities and trending phrases to incorporate into your website.
C. Know Where to Invest
You need to understand how to properly allocate all of your funds to the marketing types which are most important for growing your brand. It is best to have a customized marketing mix (especially in the beginning) until you find the outlets that work best for your brand.
This mix could include:
- Content marketing – blog posts, product videos, landing pages
- Email marketing – planning campaigns, automation
- PR – press releases, content features in publications
- Social media – content creation, engagement growth
- PPC – targeted advertising
Now, the amount you spend on each type of strategy will depend on your business and targeted audience. If you take a look at the survey results from Deloitte, you will see that B2B and B2C companies disperse their marketing budgets differently depending on what works best for them.
Keep in mind, trying to save money by doing everything on your own could end up costing you more in the long run.
If you aren’t great at keeping up with social media or handling content creation, it could lead to lost sales or costly mistakes.
Know your weaknesses and where hiring or outsourcing will be helpful, especially to get things going in the very beginning. Partnering with an agency for a set amount or hiring freelancers for specific projects may be a better option than trying to handle things on your own.
Narrow in on Niche Audiences
Another way to make your marketing budget stretch is to focus in on the precise type of customers you want to reach. You can get the most “bang” for your buck by focusing on a small, super-focused audience that is more likely to convert – while filtering out irrelevant leads. This can help you cut down costs on ad spending while simultaneously increasing your conversion rates.
Now, the tricky part is, of course, finding the niches to target. For some businesses, this will be fairly easy based solely on the products or services they offer. It may require a bit of creativity for others, but you need to find the segments whose needs you are fulfilling and focus your marketing on those audiences.
If you have any previous sales data, this can provide an excellent starting point. Gather as much information as you can about your customers to create a buyer persona profile that helps you understand the types of niches to target. Some ways to get started are by looking for data (or simply asking yourself):
- What are the most common overlapping demographics for our customers, such as age, gender, location, career type, or income level?
- What makes our customers unique?
- What details disqualify a customer, such as spending budget, industry type for B2B, or intended use?
- What motivates our customers most to find our brand?
- What is the problem the customer has that your business/product can solve?
Answering these questions will help you find smaller niche audiences that you can start to target. Get as detailed as you can! This will help you to narrow down your advertising pools and pinpoint keywords to attract targeted audiences.
Just because your budget may be tight doesn’t mean you can’t invest in marketing.
By using these tips and suggestions, you can lay the foundation for a stronger brand and drive in new customers right away. Every dollar counts when you are starting a new business. Be sure that you are getting the most out of your budget by investing in practical marketing solutions.
Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.