Everything is easy if you can throw bucket loads of money at it, but what if you trying to manage your marketing on a small budget. Typically you will need to spend money to make money, but you can still get a good return without spending thousands. With digital marketing becoming increasingly important to brands success we explore how you can get started without breaking the bank.

Many small businesses understand the opportunity that digital marketing represents, but many don’t know where or how to get started.

There are only really two ways to get traffic online:

  • Get it organically – people who have found you from the content you have out there through blog posts, social media and forums.
  • Paid traffic – the biggest form of paid traffic is PPC, but you can pay for traffic through social media, paid listings, display ads and mobile marketing.

How to do digital marketing on a small budget – Under £500

Before spending any of your cash on marketing it’s important to a have a few things in place first:

  • Obviously your website
  • Google Analytics – with goal and events implemented
  • Landing pages
  • Email marketing platform (not needed but recommended)

With a budget of under £500, you’ll be doing the bulk of the work yourself as finding a good freelancer if you don’t already know someone may prove difficult. Also bear in mind that if you do find a good freelancer, they will eat up part of the budget, which may or may not be worth it.

Content Marketing

Blog posts

When writing blog posts, your job is to inform, inspire and empower the community that exists around your products. Your posts should talk so much about what your products and services do, rather how they can help the user. You should try to address problems and issues that will connects with your potential customers.

Here are a few brands that do this well:

Buffera social media management tool, their blog has loads of tips help you get the most from social media for your business.

Yieldify: a customer journey optimisation tool, almost all of their content is geared around solving problems for e-commerce brands

These are great examples of brands that know who their customers and what problems they face, and you can do it too.

Establish your capacity for writing content a create a schedule and stick with it. Whether you post 4 times a week or 2 times a month, consistency in important.

Social Media

social media apps - facebook, snapchat, instagram, twitterSo you have a website and you’re writing content, now get it in front of people. All the content you are creating should be shared on your business social media profiles, feel free to share them on your personal ones too.

You will find some articles advising you to create accounts on every social media platform possible. While I understand the point of owning your brand everywhere, a better approach particularly for small businesses is to focus your effort of the platforms where your customers are likely to be.

Along with creating short pieces of content and engaging in topical conversations, you should be sharing all of the content you have been creating.

You can use a tool like Buffer or HootSuite to make it easier to manage and plan your social posts.

Email marketing

There are two way to use email marketing: the straight forward way and the smart way. To send email campaigns, first you need some email addresses to send to (if you dealing with customers in the EU make sure the way you are capturing people’s information is GDPR compliant).

The first place to get subscribers is to ask customers to subscribe when they order. You can also add subscribe boxes/pop-ups throughout your site in relevant places to get people to subscribe.

Straight forward email marketing

The easiest way to get started with email marketing is to use RSS to email campaigns, where the email platform automatically recognises new blog posts and sends them out in an email newsletter. In platforms like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor these are really simple to get set up and you could be up and running with 10 mins. Once you’ve set-up you campaign it will automatically run, so no need to manage the send automatically.

Outside of RSS to email campaigns you could send a simple email blast. Maybe you have news to share, announce new features or just let your subscribers know how much you love them.

Most email marketing platforms will have a range of templates to help you get started.

Smart email marketing

Autoresponders and marketing automation, sounds fancy, but in reality it’s only as complicated as you make it. Sending an email saying “Thank you for getting in touch, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can” after a contact form has been submitted is a form of marketing automation, see it’s not that hard.

Have you ever signed up so you could download something, then received 3-5 email over the next few day, that’s another example of marketing automation.

The last example which pretty much every who shops online has seen and I’ve created hundred if not thousands over the years, is abandoned basket emails. You add some items to your basket and leave the site, and an hour or maybe a day later you get a nice email reminding that you’ve left items in the basket.

You can also choose who to send emails too. Email addresses can be  grouped, segmented, or tagged based on their activity.

You can create as many segments as you deem necessary and most platforms will allow you to mix and match in a campaign, for example: you want to send an email to all your previous customers who have visited your website but not made a purchase in the last 3 months.

Paid Advertising

This is where you’ll actually be spending the money. Whether you choose Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, Bing Ads or mobile advertising, the principles of PPC is the same. Now before you start spending money, you need to understand the customer journey. Some people will refer to this as the sales funnel but customer journey is a more inclusive and accurate representation of what actually happens.

You’ll need to have some landing pages and have your analytics setup to track and analyse paid traffic.

Split your PPC budget

There is no minimum spend on the popular platforms, but some agencies and freelancers will have a minimum amount required to spend to work with them.

If you choose to start with AdWords or Facebook Ads, a daily budget of £10 (£300 a month) is a reasonable start. The rest of your budget to should be spent on retargeting and tools like landing pages. So your budget breakdown may look like:

Standard Ads: £300
Retargeting: £130
Tools (Landing pages, email platform, etc.): £70

Optimising your campaigns

To make the most of your budget, make sure you:

  • Make decisions based on data, not emotion

Testing and analysing your campaigns

Test everything out the A/B testing. Test your copy, colours, landing pages, email subject lines, timing of email send, timing of social posts, literally EVERYTHING.

When testing, you won’t see reliable data in a day, depending on your traffic and the test it may take a few weeks. Another big thing is not to run lot of tests simultaneously. For example, your website gets 100 visitors a day and you decide to test:

  • The colour of your CTA
  • A product image
  • The font of your H1 heading
  • The copy accompanying your CTA

You may think four tests is not a lot, but:

  • If you were to see an uplift in conversions, how would you tell which test contributed to it
  • With 16 possible permutations of the tests it would take 149 days to reach a result that is statically significant. Four individual tests would take 19 days each, all four tests done in half the time.

The data from the split tests will allow you make incremental improvements to the performance of your marketing campaigns.

The key to getting the best out of your marketing budget is knowing who your customers are and tailoring your content and activities to them. I hope these tips help you understand just how much can be achieved with just £500. The internet is about giving people what the need, it may require creativity and patience, but anything is possible.

If you have anything to ask or add, feel free to write your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to respond.