I see it all the time; Our smaller clients have a marketing budget that pales in comparison to their larger competitors, and they struggle to imagine how they can possibly compete in marketing initiatives such as pay-per-click advertising. When competing with a larger brand, small business owners might feel their limited resources will make it impossible to attract enough consumers.
I’ve known startups that have really great online niche businesses. They tried PPC, but because they couldn’t afford to be in the top ranks, they said, “OK, we can’t compete there.” In the face of what they see as overwhelming odds against them, they choose not to compete and unwittingly hamstring what could be a very viable sales tool.
In a 2018 survey from Hanapin Marketing, nearly 80% of marketers described PPC as a significant driver in their business. The truth is that scrappy startups don’t need a massive marketing budget to compete for a piece of the pie.
Are you still convinced it’s all about the money? A report from the financial platform Kabbage indicated that around one-third of successful small businesses get their start with less than $5,000. It’s certainly possible to get by on a limited budget and then test, grow, and scale from there.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money; you just have to spend money on the right people. To make up for a lack of capital, you need a strong understanding of your target audience. When you know your ideal buyer’s interests, psychographics, online behaviors, and demographics, you can ensure each penny spent has the highest likelihood of converting a customer and fueling further marketing efforts.
Once you have a general idea of your initial customer base, you can begin to optimize marketing. To make the most of your budget, make sure you can check the following three boxes:
1. Precisely Target Your Campaigns
PPC is a complex topic, and the nuances can mean the difference between paying $10 for a click and $1 for a click. Understanding PPC could save you from paying hundreds of dollars for audiences that cannot afford your product.
For paid search, it’s essential to refine your targeting by ensuring ad copy is directly relevant to the search term, resulting in a higher-quality score and, therefore, a lower cost per click. You also want to block your ads from showing up for irrelevant terms that indicate the user’s intent is not aligned with your campaign goal.
A common example of this is people searching for jobs at your company or a misaligned product category such as light blue shoes when your company actually sells blue light therapy devices.
When choosing which audience to target for display or social network advertising, it is often more efficient to hyper-target and refine your audience to maximize your return on investment.
Let’s say I was advertising a smart home device. I would choose to target audiences interested in home automation and smart home tech because I only wanted ads displayed to the most relevant potential customers.
By digging deeper, I would find that while a few apartment dwellers might invest in such a product, I’d be better off spending my money to target homeowners. I could then further refine the target audience by income bracket to ensure I was targeting a user base that can afford my device.
2. Understand the Full Attribution Funnel
We’re currently working with a client whose product is priced at $2,000. With such a substantial investment, it makes sense that the attribution life cycle from the first ad click to the sale is longer — in this particular case, it’s an average of 14 days.
Too many startups make the mistake of optimizing their campaigns around the last click and not focusing enough on the original click that drives customers’ interest in the product. Often, allocating ad resources to the last-click point of conversion cuts spending from the ads driving interest too early. The reality is that the entire funnel is important, and the sale on day 14 might never happen without the days leading up to it. Look at how your campaigns attract customers from the top of the funnel to the bottom.
In a 2018 survey from Adweek and Dun & Bradstreet, two-fifths of B2B marketing professionals reported using multichannel attribution, and an additional 44% indicated that they plan to begin using it within two years.
3. Adopt a “Crawl, Walk, Run” Marketing Mentality.
Just because your goal is to bring in $1 million in revenue doesn’t mean you have to have $200,000 ready to spend on marketing tomorrow. Instead, you’ll need to scale your marketing spend by reinvesting in what works gradually.
Marketing will always be kind of nebulous. It takes a lot of testing and iteration to narrow results down to the least common denominator. You normalize and use what you can track as a benchmark.
For example, say you have three running video campaigns — each spending $100 per day with a 100%, 200%, and 300% return on spend. The first campaign might be providing some value, but it’s less effective than the other two.
In this instance, you can look at the top performer and decide that it’s the most promising initiative to scale. That doesn’t mean all others should be abandoned, but you should optimize spending where it’s having the biggest impact.
How Is Your Strategy a Winning One?
In some cases, dollar amounts matter. If you want to run a particular type or scope of the campaign but don’t have the budget, you might be out of luck in that specific instance.
The good news is that no matter your budget, your funds can be allocated in a way that delivers the best results possible. Become more strategic about your methods. Instead of spending lots of money, focus on spending on the right people. If you have good content being directed at the right audience, you can be successful whether you have $10,000 or $10 million.
What strategies have you used to help your marketing initiatives punch above their weight? Let me know in the comments below.
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