One of the most important segments of every modern business is digital marketing. Today, without advertising your products/services online it is almost impossible to gain more customers and grow your business.
However, you should be careful not to overspend when it comes to marketing. The effect of spending lots of money on a marketing technique that doesn’t bring new sales and profits can be devastating to your company. This is why it’s hard to find the middle ground between frugality and investment in marketing. Let’s not forget the other expenses such as inventory, rents, and salaries.
But don’t overthink it. It is possible to save money from your marketing budget without sacrificing your brand growth as a result. We’ll provide you with tactics that can help you decide what to cut out of your digital marketing costs while maximizing results.
The Cost of Digital Marketing
Pricing and budgeting of digital marketing is hard. Not just for the clients, but for the consultants as well. Digital marketing prices can vary based on the experience and expertise of the digital marketing agency. The bigger the budget, the more likely you’re able to afford an experienced and bigger agency. A smaller budget allows you to work with individuals and smaller agencies.
A digital agency usually accepts work that is paid in hourly wages. The hourly rate has a peak when you work with an agency from 2-5 people, it is stable when the agency grows from 5 to10 people and drops when the agency is 10+ plus people.
This means that hiring a smaller digital marketing company is fewer hours for your budget. But, that is not so bad if the smaller agency consists of experts that wouldn’t be acquired in a large firm with 40 plus digital marketing interns.
Your budget is just one of the factors for selecting a digital marketing service provider. More important than that is finding the right partner and making a decision that is based on your budget and the quality of the service provider.
Digital Marketing ROI
Reading this article probably makes you aware of the benefits of digital marketing services. However, as a business owner or marketing person, you should know that digital marketing is irrelevant without measuring the results of your tactics.
You can’t improve something that you don’t even measure. Having a positive Return on Investment (ROI) is the only way to find out whether your digital marketing performs or not. The digital marketing ROI calculates the profit or the loss that is produced after an investment in digital marketing is made.
According to Statista, 17% of responding global marketers believed that paid social media ads generated the highest ROI, as opposed to 24% who said this channel generated the lowest ROI.
Before we get into the ROI calculation, let’s look at the key components of the equation.
Average Revenue per Sale
Average revenue per sale is the average value that is produced for each order or transaction over a period of time. A reduced ARS may indicate that your company is adding too many low-value products to its portfolio or lower revenue generating customers to its customer base.
Revenue / Number of Transactions = Average Revenue per Sale
Profit margin shows the profitability of a product, service, or business. It’s expressed as a percentage – the higher the percentage, the more profitable the business is.
Revenue – Expenses = Profit
Customer Lifetime Value
CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) is a prediction of all the value a business will derive from their entire relationship with a customer. CLV helps you think about how to optimize your acquisition spending for maximum value rather than minimum cost.
Lifetime Transactions x Lifetime Revenue – Lifetime Expenses = Customer Lifetime Value
Customer Acquisition Cost
The cost associated with convincing a customer to buy a product/service. It plays a major role in calculating the value of a customer to the company and the resulting return on investment (ROI) of acquisition.
Total Acquisition Spend / Number of Acquired Customers = Customer Acquisition Cost
Now, if your budget is $1000 per month on social media, $500 for 4 blog articles per month, $700 per 2 email marketing blasts per month, $900 for monthly SEO services, $1200 for monthly graphic design and $1500 for web development and maintenance services. That’s a $5800 monthly budget of digital marketing services. Times 12 months, that’s $69600 in the yearly budget.
If for those 12 months you acquire 200 new clients that have an average lifetime value of $4000, you could earn up to $800000!
With that, the grand total would be $800000 – $69600 = $730400
Your digital marketing ROI, in this case, would be the grand total of the number of customers divided by the acquisition cost.
ROI = $730400 / $69600 = $10.5 or in percentage, 105% or for every dollar invested, you get $10 dollars back.
You can see that digital marketing can produce a huge ROI for your business. If you have a lot of expenses and you think of cutting something out first, understand the concept of digital marketing ROI and think how much you’re prepared to spend on the marketing tactics that are available from service providers.
Digital Marketing Techniques That Don’t Require Big Budget
If you didn’t get a big amount of funding as a startup or you’re a small business, chances are you can’t afford a budget of 70K plus per year for digital marketing services. So, what are your alternatives?
The beauty of digital marketing is that a lot of the tactics that can bring long-term beneficial results for your brand don’t even require a huge amount of spending on advertisements and a big budget. They just need the right team dedicated to producing valuable content and marketing plans.
1. Link Building
It says link building, not link paying. Over the years of digital marketing practices, link building became one of the most effective growth hacking techniques. A quality link-building strategy demands dedicated planning and consistency. You want to have links that search engines consider relevant to the keywords that you want to rank for and this way bring more traffic to your page.
If you manage to convince pages that have bigger domain authority to include your link, your position in SERP can skyrocket. But, link building is not as easy as it sounds. You have to earn your links. When an authoritative site links to your page, they literally recommend you for the same quality standard. And standard, quality, and integrity are everything in the online world and in business.
So, how can you use a cost-effective digital marketing tactic like link building to your benefit?
Social Media Links
If you want an instant brand presence on search engines, you need to be the first search result for your brand keywords. Insert your website link into the appropriate places in your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Social media sharing matters too. If part of your content, an article perhaps, gets a lot of shares and mentions on social media, there are bigger chances for you to be noticed from the authority pages in your niche that can link back to that piece.
Write Guest Posts
Guest blogging is a long-term link building tactic that can produce remarkable results for your digital marketing strategy.
Again, from the aspect of link building, you’ll want to be featured in a page with bigger domain authority than yours. When you know where you want to be featured, the hardest part is to pitch your guest blog idea and wait for it to be accepted. When you pitch a blog post, remember the following:
- Be Honest – Authoritative blogs receive hundreds, if not thousands of pitches on a monthly or yearly basis. You need to separate yourself from the competitors by personalizing your guest blog pitch with an honest appreciation of the blog, the owner, and their authority.
- Follow the Rules – Speaks for itself. Nobody would consider adding your link to their site if you don’t follow the guest blog guidelines.
- Stay Humble – You need to stay realistic and humble when you pitch your topic. Mention your previous successful guest posts and know that an authority website in your industry can live without you.
- Always Follow-Up – Everyone is busy, including blog owners and editors. Sometimes, they just need a little poke. Check if there’s a better time to contact them or ask them if they can discuss your guest post idea in more detail with you.
Rebuild Broken Links
This is a little more tedious approach but can yield great results for your online presence. Neil Patel, the Digital Marketing King did an excellent job in popularizing this tactic:
“If you find a broken link on a website, you can contact the owner. Since you did him/her a small favor of pointing out a broken link, they might do you the favor of including a link to your website. You can even offer a replacement link when appropriate.”
To discover broken links, use Ahrefs, a competitor research tool used by some of the best marketers in the world, including Neil Patel. You just need to enter the domain name in the search bar, then go Backlink Profile > Backlinks > Broken
Check the links thoroughly and then offer resources or content to fill them in. By doing this, you can also enhance your link building strategy.
2. Lead Generation
Finding quality leads and turning them into customers is the pinnacle of digital marketing. When it comes to making the most of lead generation, everything is not in the budget. Even a startup, with a one-man sales and marketing team, can do a great job in finding leads and bringing them into the sales funnel.
Understanding Target Customers
In digital marketing, there’s nothing worse than optimizing the campaign for the wrong target persona or having no persona at all. Knowing who buys, or who will opt for your products/services is vital to helping you maximize your digital marketing ROI and lead generation success.
If you want to work on a budget, you have to be very specific about who you market to. Don’t fall in the lie that “Everyone is your customer” when you’re on a budget. A targeted group of people will bring you more profit than people that will only skim your offer and move onto other online activities.
Analyze in detail the target persona’s problems and worries and how your products can solve them. Think about how you can effectively market your products/services to them.
Have a Sales Funnel Strategy
Before you start receiving income as a result of your digital marketing strategies, you need to know how to form relationships with your future customers. It is always a smart strategy to build a sales funnel and plan out every move for your target clients.
When you map the customer’s journey into the funnel, you can start creating the content that will attract leads and customers. For each funnel stage, you can use blog posts, social media posts, infographics, email messages and other types of content that can help you convince prospective leads.
Use Exit Intent Pop-up on Your Page to Build Your Email List
Let’s suppose that the users land on your page, but some of them for some reason don’t stay long and want to leave the page. There’s a cheaper way to prevent this and it’s called an “exit intent popup”.
An Exit Intent Popup is a popup that is triggered to appear right before the users leave the site. This works by trailing the mouse position and velocity of movements. When the user makes a movement towards the top of the screen to close the browser tab, the popup window will be displayed.
It is an excellent and cost-effective lead generation solution that doesn’t impede the customer’s experience while he/she browses product pages. It allows the users freedom and reminds them that there is more if they decide to leave your website.
3. Connect with Influencers
Everyone wants to hang out with the cool kids. It’s the same when it comes to the online world. In the marketing world, the cool kids are called influencers. They have all the followers, everyone likes their photos and everyone carefully reads and consumes what they post. So, you can imagine what they’d do for your company if you could get a positive mention by one of them.
But, building a relationship with influencers is not easy, even though chances are you only take a simple mention, outreach or even a great piece of content to get their attention. So, how can you connect with these people effectively?
Know Who’s Popular in Your Niche
Everyone feels connected with influencers. Following and engaging with them feels like a close friendship. So naturally, people in the industry that they promote, trust them and rely on their recommendations. But, to connect with these people in your niche you need to research who they are.
The easiest way to find influencers is called BuzzSumo. This is the go-to tool to find the most influential content and the people that share it.
Go to BuzzSumo and start the search by selecting the ‘Influencer’ tab. Then type your topic into the search bar and BuzzSumo will provide you with a list of influencers, starting with the most relevant ones. You can then sort this list by the number of followers, retweet and share ratio, reply ratio, or page authority if they own their own blog and website.
Provide Them Value First
You can’t expect to write to someone who is not aware that you even exist to help you out immediately. Some of the influencers acquired a big audience just to be able to make money upfront for a promotion.
But that is not always the case. What you can do is provide them different kind of value. For instance, you can write a roundup post where their opinion is included or, suggest them to collaborate for an interview or a case study (content that they’d gladly share on social media).
Or, if you’re, for example, sports apparel manufacturer but you don’t have the budget to advertise like Puma or Adidas you can offer influencers free clothes and goods to wear while they take a photo or do some workout. This is a tactic that can be extremely effective, especially if you want to get brand exposure on Instagram.
4. Social Media Marketing
Digital Marketing is nothing without SMM. If you want to boost your brand on a budget, social media is the best way to do it. An interaction and a conversation online costs nothing but can bring more followers and build relationships in a flash. Here are the best tips on how to use social media for your brand:
Figure Out the Best Platform for Your Brand
You don’t have to be present on every social network to achieve success. For example, if you’re in the B2B industry and you want to target CEOs, managers, and professionals you need to present on LinkedIn more than any other social media channel. If you’re into fashion clothing, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram are all great places to be present.
Constantly Interact with Followers
There are over 55 million Facebook updates per day. And more than 68 million active Twitter users just in the United States. You don’t want to miss out on these opportunities if you want to develop a successful digital marketing strategy. But, social media is not called “Social” without a reason. It’s not just a place where you can post your link and expect traffic to flood in. You have to earn the traffic.
Create relevant content for your target audience and capture their interest in social media. Respond to every reply and every comment. Use private messaging to ask questions and respond to private messages. Make sure that your reply is within a reasonable time of 24-48 hours because the longer it takes for you to interact the worse the impression you leave online.
You want to reach your audience everyday, 24/7/365. You can’t do that if you only post once per week or worse, once per month. The reality of social media is that one day you have a successful post and the next day you don’t post and you’re forgotten. If you don’t have the time or personnel to post on social media, there are tools like Hootsuite or Buffer that can help you automate to make sure that you have a fresh post every day.
5. Build and Grow Your Email List
In order to build grow your email list, first, you have to make the subscription process easy. You’ll need a well thought out opt-in form on your website. The best places to use opt-in forms on your website are:
- Your Sidebar
- In Your About Page
- Inside Your Blog Posts
- Your Website Footer
Growing your email list requires 3 important steps:
- Incentive –You’ll have to offer something of value to users if you want them to give their email addresses to you. This can be an exclusive deal or discount, a contest, or, you can offer them free content – something that users can absorb and use.
- Landing Page – A page that is entirely focused on getting people to leave their email address. It should contain a convincing headline, customer testimonials, content about your incentive, the benefits of joining your email list and the opt-in form.
- Web Traffic – To make people subscribe, you’ll have to bring them to your page. The most cost-effective ways to bring traffic to your landing pages are social media engagement, email marketing, and SEO.
Segmenting Your List
Every subscriber from your email list is not always the right customer. If you sell products from different groups, it’s very likely that you have subscribers with different interests. You need to segment your email list based on the following criteria:
- Types of Buyers – You can have different buyers in your email list, including potential buyers, new buyers, loyal customers and visitors that are not your customers.
- Interests – By not sending emails with the product to people that are not interested in them, you’ll increase your open & click-through rates and diminish the unsubscribe rate too.
Email marketing can be a powerful digital marketing tactic for business. Build your email list so that it will continue to drive new and repeated traffic to your website.
If you want online success you must run a blog on your website. Running a consistent blog and regularly supplying your readers with valuable content has the following benefits for your brand:
- Better SEO – When users search for a solution online they usually don’t type a brand name. They type their questions. For your clients to find you in the search results you have to be ranked well. Having high-quality articles on your blog that will index the targeted keywords and search phrases makes your page rank higher. The higher your ranking in SERP, the more traffic you will receive.
- Lead Nurturing and Conversion – Regularly informing your followers through your blog can help you connect with topics that your target audience likes. Your articles will address problems that target users have and will offer compelling solutions. Your most valuable leads will always come back to read your content and if they’re convinced enough, you’ll nurture them all the way to the purchase point.
If you’re a small business, besides your tight budget you probably have a lack of time to do every digital marketing tactic that is outlined above. While it’s always smart to save your money, you can still opt for outsourcing, at least for the activities that take up too much of your business development time.
With an average CMO salary of $160000, an experienced marketer on your team may be one of the most expensive hires for you. Add the health insurance and other benefits and you’re in for a bigger liability on your balance sheet.
However, a trend has emerged. As freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork have emerged they’ve become an excellent place for outsourcing digital marketing work. There are some experienced marketing professionals on the platforms that have worked with hundreds and thousands of clients.
So, you can hire an experienced marketer while protecting your budget at the same time. You can even form a team of more than one freelance marketer, each of them with a different purpose for your campaign in order to develop out-of-the-box thinking and create a digital marketing powerhouse with a fraction of what you might pay out for an in-house employee.
Budgeting is never easy, especially when you want to achieve results in digital marketing. We hope that our guide can help you come up with ideas and strategies to decrease your marketing spending without hurting your brand in the process.
Bottom line, your marketing budget will probably never stay the same. If you get rid of a marketing tactic, you can always incorporate it again if you need to, or you can introduce new marketing trends that require outsourcing ora little extra of your money.
Whatever you decide, make sure that you invest your money wisely.
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