16 effective digital marketing strategies for small businesses on a budget
From retargeting the same audience for ads to jumping into content marketing, here are 16 answers to the question, “What are the most effective digital marketing strategies for small businesses on a budget?”
DEEPER DIVE: Forecasting 2023 PR and marketing trends
- Retargeting Ads
- Using Infographics
- Generating Unique Insights
- Referral Marketing
- Digital Marketing Contests
- Offering Free Samples
- Refreshing Old Content
- Email Marketing
- Online Reputation Management
- Mobile Focused Ads
- Work With Micro-Influencers
- Harness the Power of UGC
- Maximize Your GMB Profile
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content Marketing
In my opinion, retargeting ads are a cost-effective way to re-engage customers who have visited your website but didn’t convert. It involves showing ads on social media or other websites to bring them back to your site and encourage them to complete the desired action.
Daniel Close, CEO and Founder, We Buy Houses in Kentucky
You don’t need to spend a fortune on paid advertising to gain traction for your business. However, it would be wise to get your message out on the top platforms that your audience uses.
Only a few people know about your articles or website yet. So how do you get more qualified leads to view your content?
I’m a huge fan of infographics because they’re the easiest way to repurpose content. You can design attractive, data-rich visuals for free on sites like Canva, then publish the images on social media.
Many businesses see results by posting infographics on Pinterest and linking them to their official blog. Others succeed at generating leads and social engagement by posting them on LinkedIn and soliciting comments. The exact platform depends on what your audience uses most frequently.
All that’s left to decide is whether you’ll pay a professional to create the graphics and post them or use an existing, in-house professional to keep costs as low as possible.
Stephan Baldwin, Founder, Assisted Living Center
Generating Unique Insights
One effective strategy is to conduct original research, surveys, and case studies that reveal unique insights and emerging trends within your industry.
By sharing these exclusive findings through blog posts, whitepapers, or infographics, you’ll be providing valuable content that others in your niche will naturally want to link to or reference. This not only boosts your organic search rankings but also positions your business as a thought leader and a go-to source of information; enhancing credibility and trust among your audience and potential customers.
Clare Jones, Marketing and HR Manager, OfficeSpaceAU
As a seasoned marketer, I believe that referral marketing is a low-cost digital marketing technique that entails paying existing customers to refer new customers to your company.
Offering discounts or rewards to customers who suggest new business, or developing a referral program that encourages customers to connect your company with their networks, are two examples. Referral marketing is an excellent method for generating new leads and increasing customer loyalty.
Andrew Priobrazhenskyi, CEO and Director, Discount Reactor
Digital Marketing Contests
We’ve been successful with a weekly digital contest that awards customers, inspires potential clients, and encourages future sales. The program is called “Totally My Story,” and the winners are announced weekly on our social media channels.
Our company reaps multiple benefits by giving a $150 gift card each week to customers who share their experiences with our products. The offer is included in customer order responses, bulk emails, and social media posts.
We use this marketing strategy to encourage our customers to send us images and explain how they’ve used their personalized products. We share these images via social media to inspire others to seek ways to use promotional products for marketing, parties, and other events.
Awarding a gift certificate each week encourages future orders and shows appreciation to our customers.
Shelley Grieshop, Writer, Totally Promotional
Blogging is an effective way for small businesses on a budget to implement content marketing. Blogging can be a cost-effective strategy involving the creation and distribution of valuable content, such as articles, how-to guides, case studies, and more. Small businesses can create engaging and informative content that resonates with their target audience by using free or low-cost blogging platforms, such as WordPress or Blogger.
Blogging offers opportunities for search engine optimization, as businesses can optimize their blog posts with relevant keywords to increase their website’s visibility in search results, thereby driving organic traffic and establishing brand credibility. In addition, businesses can use social media and email marketing to promote their blog posts, thereby expanding their reach and engaging their audience without incurring significant additional expenses.
Erik Pham, CEO, Health Canal
Offering Free Samples
Depending on a business’ industry, nothing beats offering value as a free taste.
This can be offering followers the opportunity to join a free challenge to achieve a personal or business goal (i.e. make their first $10,000 from passive income; SEO their website; optimize their taxes by themselves…etc)
Other examples include free downloadable guides; easy-to-use templates; live Q&As; webinars
Or my favorite, free consultations for services and free demos for SaaS businesses
Nadine Abou el Atta, Business Growth Consultant, The Business Storyteller
Refreshing Old Content
If you’re on a tight budget, one of the best strategies you can do is refresh your content. Refreshing these pages will give them an enormous boost on Google, and Google recognizes and rewards content that is refreshed.
Let’s say you have a three-year-old service or blog post that gets you a good amount of traffic; refresh it. This will boost it in the rankings and help you get even more traffic to your site.
Scott Krager, Founder, TubeSplit
Email marketing is a brilliant marketing strategy that doesn’t break the budget. It’s effective because you’re able to reach the same customer multiple times, building up your brand recognition and keeping your company and products top of mind.
You can also do more than just marketing with email; you can add additional value by sharing advice and tips, which are a value add for prospects. By sharing this type of content, it encourages people to open up your messages each week, further increasing your likelihood of conversion at a relatively low cost.
Cynthia Davies, Founder, Cindy’s New Mexico LLC
Online Reputation Management
One of the most effective digital marketing strategies for small businesses on a budget is online reputation management, which involves getting user reviews, leveraging them in your marketing, and responding to your reviewers.
User reviews are a powerful tool in digital marketing because they provide social proof to potential customers that your business is trustworthy and offers quality products or services.
To get user reviews, you can ask your customers to leave a review on a third-party review sites.
Responding to user reviews, both positive and negative, is crucial in building a positive online reputation. Be sure to thank customers for positive reviews and address any issues mentioned in negative reviews with a sincere and empathetic response.
Finally, leveraging user reviews means using them in your marketing efforts, such as featuring them on your website or in advertising materials. This can help build trust with potential customers and increase conversions.
Joe Kevens, Founder and Director, B2B SaaS Reviews
Mobile Focused Ads
Each year the number of people using their smartphones to conduct searches and make purchases increases at an accelerating rate, and this makes mobile focused ads a great digital marketing strategy for small businesses on a budget. Over 75% of all smartphone users shop using their mobile devices and over half do so multiple times a month, which means that these devices offer a very targeted and fertile field for your marketing efforts.
Mobile ads are less costly than their desktop or tablet counterparts, and since they are delivered to the devices that consumers most utilize, it delivers a tremendous ROI. By focusing your marketing efforts on mobile ads, you can ensure that you will be using the most direct path to your target audience, and will be able to effectively drive conversions without increasing expenses.
Alexandre Bocquet, Founder and CEO, Betterly
Work With Micro-Influencers
Small businesses on a tight budget should consider collaborations with micro-influencers. These are social media creators with followings that are typically between 1,000 to 50,000 users but highly engaged. These influencers are great for building an audience base among a niche following and tend to be more cost-effective than working with bigger creators. To ensure you get the best value, look for influencers who are directly within your niche and find ones who align with your brand values.
Kirkland Gee, Co-Founder, Perfect Extraction
Harness the Power of UGC
Content generation and execution can be a resource-consuming process that most small businesses can’t afford. This is why an excellent method to do both while creating a community of your customers is to collect and use UGC. Customer testimonials, videos, reviews, and more can help you with content generation and build trust among new customers. With the right incentives, your customers will be happy to support you in this process and help you get ahead as a brand.
Adam Wright, CEO, Human Tonik
Maximize Your GMB Profile
One of the best starting points for small businesses on a budget is to maximize their Google My Business (GMB) page. GMB is a free tool from Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence and appear in Google Maps searches. By optimizing their GMB page, small businesses can increase their visibility in local search results and attract more customers.
To maximize their GMB page, small businesses should ensure their profile is complete and accurate, including business name, address, phone number, website, and hours of operation.
They should also regularly update their profile with new photos, posts, and customer reviews to keep their page active and engaging.
Additionally, businesses should use relevant keywords in their profile descriptions and posts to help Google understand their business and improve their ranking in local search results. Small businesses can effectively promote their business online without breaking the bank by taking these steps.
Shane McEvoy, MD, Flycast Media
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I’d say SEO is one of the most beneficial, budget-friendly digital marketing tactics out there – only if you can start doing it on your own. There are many simple on-page and off-page SEO tutorials available online, and they are not as complicated as you may think.
Since SEO is not a one-time thing like PPC ads, I find it very worthwhile to optimize for it. Working on it will require time and effort, but you will reap the benefits in the long run. The longer you work on them, the better it gets and gives you a higher ranking on Google.
It’s been trending for years that Google’s assessment algorithm is becoming more human-like, and this trend will continue. Hence, human-readable, shareable content will always be favored. I suggest you take advantage of free AI tools that could generate content for you. However, add a human touch by showing data and figures that could help readers. It’s true that content is king, but if it’s generic, it won’t make an impact on your business.
Tristan Harris, Demand Generation Senior Marketing Manager, Thrive Agency
Content marketing is a cost-effective digital marketing strategy for small businesses. Content marketing uses valuable, relevant, and consistent information to attract and maintain a precisely defined audience and promote profitable consumer action.
Small businesses on a budget can benefit from content marketing for these reasons:
- Low cost: Content marketing is cheaper than advertising or paid search. High-quality content requires hiring a writer or designer, but the recurring costs are usually lower.
- Builds trust and authority: By providing useful knowledge, small businesses can become industry thought leaders and gain audience trust.
- Increases visibility: Small businesses may reach more people by developing and sharing content on multiple platforms.
- Long-lasting results: Content marketing has long-term effects, unlike other marketing methods. Well-written and informative content can draw attention and lead for months or years.
Vikas Kaushik, CEO, TechAhead