Here are a few tips to building your business online while significantly reducing your online marketing spend.
Many businesses owners come to me overwhelmed by the costs of online marketing. Often this has led to corner-cutting and has damaged both their brand and their sales.
We will explain how to get the most out of your money without damaging your website or your reputation.
Note: This is not a guide to free online marketing. Every business should have a marketing budget (even if it is small).
If you are starting a business, I urge you not to give up your day job, just yet. Instead use it to fund your new business venture. Once you have a solid, growing client base, you may consider leaving your old job.
(There's no obligation and we both might learn something!)
Though I recommend methods to reduce costs, your logo & branding should not be sacrificed. For this reason, do not outsource this to friends or family unless they are experienced designers.
Your logo and brand design help to position your business and are an essential part of your online marketing strategy.
However, don’t assume large graphic design agencies will provide a better result. Often the price is inflated, while the quality of the product is poor—think: conveyor belt.
Instead, if you have friends or family that are in business, ask if they can recommend any (decent) graphic designers.
You are looking for an affordable graphic designer with a professional and varied portfolio. Browse their previous work and ask yourself: “Do the logos and branding inspire confidence in their client’s product and service” and “Would I hire their client’s services or buy their products?”
If, through your friends and family, there are no useful recommendations, another option is to browse some of the many freelancer sites—avoid using “Fiverr” logos created at these low costs will be duplicated and will damage your brand.
You are not looking for a cheap logo. You are looking for a graphic designer with an excellent track record that you would consider working with in the future.
For a logo, expect to spend: £100-£350.
Firstly, avoid large web design agencies. Their prices are usually high and you are unlikely to get value for money.
You may find your graphic designer also builds websites. If this is the case, again, look though their portfolio, visiting and testing each site.
There is a big difference between a website designer and a web developer—one designs and one codes. Ideally you want both.
Before you hire a graphic designer to build a website, check that they work with or have a developer on hand. Although, these days, websites can be built with minimal coding, problems can occur. Having a reliable developer to troubleshoot problems will give you piece of mind.
Website development costs vary hugely depending on the functionality of the website. For most businesses, I would recommend a WordPress site (they are the industry standard and are easy for the business owners or employees to edit and maintain). However, some sites may need a different CMS (Content Management System) depending on the necessary functionality.
Keep in mind that template sites are generally cheaper, while custom features are very expensive. Research your competitors making a list of features you need, want and dislike.
Expect to spend upwards of £500.
Digital marketing and SEO agencies are notoriously expensive. Their staff are often inexperienced and lack the skills to support your business online. In addition, many agencies are still using black-hat SEO methods such as PBNs (Private Blog Networks) and paid link tactics. These are very dangerous, long term, as they can cause your site to loose ranking or be dropped from search engines altogether.
We offer SEO and digital marketing packages to suit all budgets and business types. We work hard to keep our overheads low and pass the savings on to our clients. We work closely with web designers, developers, copywriters and content promoters to create a managed agency-like feel. For smaller businesses, I recommend mentoring sessions to boost any work that I do.
If you choose not to work with Smart Sprout, this is how I recommend choosing a digital marketing business:
If your business serves customers in the local area, look for small SEO and digital marketing businesses that rank well locally on search engines—especially on Google’s local pack (the listings next to the map). These businesses are best suited to improving your local search traffic.
If you have the time, I recommend managing your social media accounts in-house. After all, no one knows your customers like you do.
That being said, if you, literally, don’t have any free time, I recommend Lemon Squeezy Social. They have packages to suit all budgets and even their lowest package will provide a valuable presence on social media.
Even if you do choose to outsource, I still recommend supplementing your social media with your own posts when you can.
The main focus when writing articles for the web is unique, high-quality, educational/entertaining content. With that in mind, if you choose to outsource copywriting, you need a skilled writer.
We work closely with professional copywriters. If you are looking for affordable, high-quality copywriting services, get in touch and I will put you in contact with them (no charge).
Before you start publishing content, I strongly recommend working on a content strategy and content calendar (publishing schedule). Knowing which strategy will work for your industry will save you time and money.
We can work with you to develop a content strategy to suit your business type, budget, target market and available time. Drop me a message today and we can arrange a time to chat.
Content Promotion is an often overlooked, but extremely valuable part of online marketing. Content promotion supercharges your content, puts it in front of influencers in your industry and naturally generates high-quality backlinks, social shares & interactions, improves search rankings and boosts brand awareness—I cannot stress enough, the value of content promotion.
If this interests you, I provide an affordable content promotion service and I would be happy to discuss it with you.
As a general rule, to keep costs low and to extend your marketing budget, aim to avoid large agencies and, instead, look for small businesses and freelancers with a proven track record.
Avoid companies that use “marketing speak”. Those who promise the world frequently under-deliver. Alternatively look for those who are upfront and honest and take the time to talk to them over the phone or in person, before handing over any money.