Business Marketing Social Media Marketing

How to Do Digital Marketing for a Small Business on a Tight Budget

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Here’s a situation that I’m sure everyone can resonate with: you have a small budget, but big dreams.

Does this sound like you?

If so, read on.

My agency receives requests for strategy creation or implementation on a minimal budget on a daily basis. Luckily, we love challenges and we’ve become experts at achieving a lot with very little.

How do we do this?

Well, here are a few of our secrets.

Effective digital marketing for bootstrapping startups or small businesses

1. Choose your channels wisely

Caught up in our angst caused by the lack of money, we forget one thing: no one has an unlimited marketing budget. No, not even giants like Apple or Coca-Cola.

Sure, their budgets are huge. But they still work hard at choosing the right channels.


Because no one likes to waste money.

For small businesses with small budgets, this is even more important.

You can’t afford to waste any money, so you have to start by choosing the right digital marketing channels. Mind you, this is no easy task.

There are hundreds of channels with hundreds of options each. Social media, email, PPC ads, SEO, display ads, content marketing – these are just a few of them. And each of them comes with almost unlimited variables.

Choice paralysis is real.

You’d like to use what your competition uses. But maybe you should go off the beaten track and reach new audiences?

In order to make the right choice, you need to start with your buyer persona. Find out who your ideal customer is, where they hang out online, what publications they like and what tone of voice appeals to them.

Answer these questions and your choice is half-made.

The other half depends on your budget. There is no point in spreading yourself too thin. Start with one or two channels that you can afford to properly finance. As soon as they bring in significant ROI, you can think about expanding.

2. Never ignore the power of local marketing

We’ve had excellent results with clients that we steered towards local audiences.

Remember what I said about dreaming big?

Everyone wants to be known as the sole provider of a certain service or product, much like you think about McDonald’s when you say “fast food”. But such a reputation takes time (and billions!) to build.

Plus, it’s not profitable for small businesses, whether local or not.

I’ve given this example quite a few times: it’s hard to rank your website for “wedding dresses”, but it’s much easier to do it for “handmade ivory dresses Tampa Bay”.

Better yet, it’s more profitable: people who use long-tail keywords know exactly what they are looking for and are, most likely, ready to buy. Those who input generic queries are probably window shopping, which means no ROI for you.

Leverage the power of location in your social media, content marketing, SEO and PPC ads. Wherever you can insert the name of your city or even neighborhood, do it.

Is your business a global one?

Do it nonetheless. Why pass on the clients in your backyard? People are more likely to do business with local companies, so why not use this to your advantage?

3. Focus on getting reviews

From testimonials and case studies on your website to social media, Yelp and G2Crowd reviews, every bit of user-generated content is a goldmine for you.

Encourage people to leave reviews by offering small incentives: a discount for upcoming purchases, a free survey, a free report – anything you can think of (and is useful for your customers). Satisfied customers are the best brand ambassadors.

4. Offer incentives for referrals

Birds of a feather flock together.

In other words: each of your customers has friends or family members that will most likely love your products, too.

This way, your customers can be more than brand ambassadors.

Implement a referral program in which you offer your customers incentives for each new client they refer to you. To make it additionally appealing, you can offer discounts or freebies for both of them: your old clients and the new referrals.

5. Invest in content marketing as early as possible

I have yet to see a digital marketing tactic that yields better results than targeted content. If you know exactly whom you’re speaking to, you don’t need to invest a fortune to get lasting results.

Granted, it will take more time than PPC ads. But in the long run, you will have invested much less.

Think about it this way: as soon as you stop pouring money into ads, your revenue stream also stops. A single blog post written by good writers can produce results years after its publication date.

HubSpot calls these gems compounding posts. Briefly put, they are like fine wine. Their value grows in time instead of decaying. Compounding blog posts can account for as much as 38% of your entire website’s traffic.

6. Create video content

Google recently announced that small business owners can add video to their listings. It’s an opportunity that you don’t want to miss in a time when video reigns supreme.

Ideally, you should add your video as quickly as possible, before your competitors have the time to do the same.

But this is not the only way to leverage the power of video.

As I’m sure you know by now, the organic reach of Facebook pages has taken yet another massive dive. For small businesses on a tight budget, it will be brutal to reach new audiences and nearly impossible without paying for ads.

Unless you create live videos.

Whenever your page goes live, your fans get a notification about it. This ensures that you get tons of views and that you can easily send your message to almost all your fans without spending a dime on ads.

However, proceed with caution: if you go live three times per day, you will achieve nothing else than getting a spammer label. Create live videos when you truly have something to say or to show.

Wrapping things up

It’s not fun to count pennies and think about how to spend them best. I know that.

But I also know that, with a bit of creativity and thorough research you can achieve grand results. There’s always a better way to get things done. And not all those ways involve wads of cash.

About the author


Adriana Tica

Adriana Tica is a trend analyst, marketer and writer with 15+ years in the field. She owns two digital marketing agencies, Idunn and Copywritech, and a recently-launched consulting business. On SiteProNews, she shares Ideas to Power Your Future on topics like digital trends, marketing, SEO, copywriting, and more.