Social Media

Marketing on a budget

Patricia Hursh from [SmartSearch Marketing](http://www.smartsearchmarketing.com/) recently wrote an article called “[Winning Big with a Small Search Marketing Budget](http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=3623275)”. The article discusses how companies with small marketing budgets can effectively use their money to get the most bang from their buck.
>* Tip #1: Build Web sites that provide good, solid content that is unique and truly useful to your target audience.
* Tip #2: Web site optimization efforts and search ad campaigns should replicate the way customers think and act. “Focus on the words that customers actually use when they search, even if these aren’t the highest volume keywords in your industry,” said Laycock.
* Tip #3: Small businesses must track and manage ad campaigns down to the keyword level. Laycock explains, “Remember, it’s not about buying clicks, it’s about buying customers.”
* Tip #4: Jennifer stressed that link building is really not about soliciting loads of links. It’s about forming long-lasting business relationships. Think of a link as a business relationship… a referral.

These are some great tips on how to effectively use your marketing dollars, but here are my thoughts on what companies with small budgets should do…
1. Leverage the new mediums out there. Use (http://www.digg.com), [del.icio.us](http://del.icio.us), [blinklist](http://www.blinklist.com) and the other social sites that have the potential to drive traffic to your site and increase your link popularity. By writing content, creating videos or by doing something creative/unique you can create a lot of buzz. The cost for this can be as low as your own time and effort so you don’t have much to lose if you have a low budget.
2. Search engines can drive a lot of related traffic and you can get that traffic by optimizing your website. You do not necessarily have to pay a firm to optimize your site; there are a [lot of sites](http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/top-50-seo-resources.html) that provide detailed information on how you can do it yourself. If you plan on doing it yourself I recommend reading the [Beginners Guide to SEO](http://www.seomoz.org/beginners.php) and [Getting Ranked](http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/getting-ranked-1-of-5.html). To start off I would suggest going after niche, lower traffic keywords and staying away from the broad, high traffic keywords.
3. Getting involved in your community is a great way to get your company name out there. You can blog, participate in the forums or leave comments on other sites. This can help make both you and your company become established as an authority in your field and it can also help build links.
4. The design of your website can affect your conversion rate, when customers go to your website you don’t want them to have to search hard for your buy button. Make things easy on them so that they do not have to make unnecessary clicks or fill out unnecessary form fields. If your design is also [CSS](http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/) and [XHTML](http://validator.w3.org/) compliant you can leverage the [CSS galleries](http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/showing-off-and-getting-traffic.html) who may feature your site and drive thousands of visitors to it.
If you have a small to no marketing budget many of these techniques can be used. The costs are low to nothing, but they are time intensive. If you are looking to spend a little more money, you can do things such as pay-per-click advertising and email marketing campaigns. Whatever route you decide to go, don’t be discouraged by failure because the chances are you will fail before you succeed, the key is to learn from your failures and keep trying different things.

 Marketing on a budget
Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics, an analytics provider that helps companies make better business decisions. Neil also blogs about marketing and entrepreneurship at Quick Sprout.