Every business owner knows by now that attracting customers through the internet takes an investment. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend a fortune online, since you can substitute time, expertise, and customer equity for hard dollars in many instances.
For example, we work with a lot of business owners who write their own website content and blog posts. That obviously cuts down on the budget for hiring creatives for content creation and some enjoy working on their website's content management system to create new pages and update content. Likewise, many business owners are in a good position to manage their own social media accounts.
That being said, your business should budget for online marketing if you want to seriously use your website as an effective sales and marketing tool. Your online budget doesn’t have to be oppressive, but it should exist and should expand as effectiveness is measured. That’s easy enough to understand, but a better question is how you should spend. Where would you get the biggest impact for the online marketing dollars you want to put to work?
If you will accept the obvious caveat that every client situation is different, let’s look at a few areas where most small and medium-sized businesses get big returns from their online marketing budget.
Website Updates and Additions
Given that your website is the hub of your online marketing efforts, and often the first place people will turn for any sort of information about your business, it only makes sense to keep it up-to-date. That means refreshing your content, of course, but also investing in good hosting, mobile web compatibility, content management system improvements and more.
It costs next to nothing to implement email marketing, even if you choose a plan from one of the best-known providers. Additionally, every newsletter can generate consistent returns. You should invest in customized responsive layouts and landing pages, but dollar-for-dollar there are few better investments than email.
Typically, when we advise businesses to budget for organic SEO efforts we are telling them to put aside some budget for keyword research and on-site content improvements. These investments might not pay off overnight, but investing the effort long-term will yield results and a top Google search position can do wonderful things for your bottom line. Good search visibility pays dividends for years to come.
Content creation is valuable in a number of ways. It affects your organic search position, of course, but good messaging can also be put to use in your blog, social media accounts, email newsletters, and pay-per-click advertising. If you aren’t a skilled writer, and don’t have anyone like that on your staff, then it’s worth paying a firm or a good copywriter to help out.
PPC advertising can help you ensure your most important marketing messages are shown to your best potential customers. Using platforms like Google and Facebook, you can narrow in on the perfect target audience and present timely and targeted offers for a few dollars each day. You will only pay for clicks, so it can be an effective way to improve returns from your online marketing budget.
Reputation management is a big and growing topic. Many buyers are going to "Google you" before they ever decide to make a purchase or appointment. If you can show them other customers have good things to say about your team, your product, your service or pricing, it will magnify the positive effects of all your other online marketing efforts.
One Reminder about Online Marketing Budgets
While we have used this article to point out basic tips for budgeting your online marketing, it is important to remember that these areas all go hand-in-hand. Content creation and organic SEO can be two sides of the same coin, for instance, and landing pages that are generated as part of an email marketing push could also work with pay-per-click advertising. And, having a great website and reputation will always help you to boost sales and conversions regardless of whatever else you happen to be doing with your marketing budget.
If you would like help putting together the various parts of your online marketing strategy – and getting the most from every dollar you budget to make your website effective – contact us today to set up a free consultation!