The internet provides unlimited potential in terms of customer reach and opportunity, and while there is some online marketing that can be done for free, most effective strategies require a marketing budget.
My agencies focus on performance-based digital ad buys and influencer marketing -- both of which require a sizeable monthly budget. While not for everyone, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to market a business online using a much smaller budget. I’m often asked for alternative options for those with a limited budget, and the number that’s thrown out more than any other is $500.
I spoke with ten business owners and asked them to share their best tip for marketing online with a $500 budget. If you are working with a small budget, use these ten strategies to help you get the most out of every marketing dollar at your disposal.
1. Launch a Facebook ads campaign.
“With Facebook ads, you know exactly where every dollar goes. You are able to place your offer in front of a very targeted audience and you see how much each dollar you spend brings back in. It can take some time to fully understand, but once you get a firm grip on how to optimize your ads you can scale your efforts.”
Simon Nowak, Founder of Cafe Credit
2. Hire a dedicated content writer.
“Updating your company’s blog gives your website visitors fresh content to engage with each time they visit, and also helps your business gain visibility in Google’s organic search results. It’s an important part of online marketing that requires a lot of time many business owners don’t have. Hire a freelancer to ghost-write your blog content -- just make sure he or she is familiar with your niche and your SEO goals.”
Elizabeth Verdura, Founder of Sell Fast Fair Offer
3. Invest in your own SEO education and training.
“With a new website, search engine optimization is a high priority for me, but it can be very costly. There is a lot of great free information available online if you are willing to take the time to read it all, along with some courses and eBooks you can purchase that are fairly inexpensive. For me, self-education has several benefits aside from just the money savings.”
Marc Lewandowski, Founder of Artisan Movers
4. Hire influencers to promote your business.
“With a small monthly budget you aren’t going to land a major celebrity, but you can strategically align your business with a handful of local influencers that can help put your product or service in front of a large audience. Consider local news personalities, socialites or even other local business professionals. With some creativity, you can really expand your reach.”
Ryan Dale, Founder of We Buy Cars
5. Create an animated whiteboard video.
“We have seen some of our website design clients experience a much better response to their landing page offers when they added a whiteboard video. Consumers don’t like reading -- they would rather watch a video. Also, with a video you can do a much better job at explaining the benefits of your product and push the viewer towards a specific action. You can then use the video in other marketing campaigns, like Facebook ads.”
Andrew Ruditser, Founder of Maxburst, Inc.
6. Hire a virtual assistant to seek out PR opportunities.
“There are several ways to secure free press and exposure for your business, but it requires a large time commitment that most business owners simply don’t have. Services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) present you with plenty of opportunities, but they send out multiple emails daily and you need to respond fast. Consider hiring a virtual assistant to screen them real-time and send you the relevant ones to respond to.”
Christopher Ligori, Founder of Christopher Ligori & Associates
7. Publish an infographic and perform outreach.
“Infographics tend to perform very well because they allow you to take any topic, even boring ones, and create a visual post that educates and informs your visitors. While they can cost several thousands of dollars from an agency, you can find freelancers with infographic experience to save you some money. Once you publish it, spend some time doing outreach. The goal is to get your infographic published on additional websites that will help expand your exposure.”
Ramzy Ladah, Founder of Ladah Law Firm, PLLC
8. Invest in your email marketing appearance and effort.
“Email marketing can be a continuous source of new business, but in addition to spending money building your list, you need to make sure your emails stand out. I find it very beneficial to have a custom email template created for several reasons. It helps with branding and it also gives you the opportunity to include several calls-to-action within each email, automatically. Make sure whomever is creating your email template makes it responsive so it displays your messages perfectly on all screen sizes.”
Steven Seigel, Founder of The Luxury Team
Related: Your Brand Is Not Too Good For That
9. Hire a virtual social media manager to increase personalized engagement.
“As a hands-on business owner, the time I have available to do marketing is very little. Since Facebook has the largest user base, we have a page that helps potential local customers find us. I feel that a personal approach, especially for a small local business, is best. Rather than just let your accounts sit idle, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help manage them. Responding personally to messages really helps to land more customers.”
Tom Sondergeld, Founder of Tom Sondergeld Plumbing
10. Run pay-per-click ads on Google AdWords.
When someone is in need for a specific product or service, where do they turn to? Online, it’s Google most of the time. Running an AdWords campaign allows you to target specific keywords and search phrases that will attract ideal, ready to purchase customers. Even with just a $500 monthly budget, you can test and optimize, finding ads that convert. From there, as your revenue increases from your AdWords effort, increase your budget to scale your budget and growth.”
Mark Yonker, Partner at Winters & Yonker