In the past, advertising campaigns on TV, or Print would require huge budgets as the minimum nuber of impressions was so high. Online marketing is an interesting medium because you can start with essentially any budget. That being said, there are many reasons not to start with a budget under about $500 unless you’re going to be doing everything yourself.
Reasons for this are listed below and you’ll also find tips on things you can do yourself to promote your site at little or no cost.
Paid Advertising Options
For budgets under $500 a month, ad campaigns likely aren’t appropriate. For most companies, the obvious starting point to promote your services is Google ads. With these, your ads appear at the top of google search results for certain terms you specify and criteria set. For example you want to target females in the top 50% of income brackets within your city who are searching for “blue widgets”.
There are a lot of variables involved with a search advertising campaign on Google or Bing so it’s not possible to know actual costs until the campaign runs, but I would estimate you’re looking at approximately:
cost per click – $1-3
5-7% of those would convert into a lead who contacts you
Cost per lead of – $3 / 0.07 = $42.86 to about $25 per inquiry
Unfortunately of those leads who contact you, some will not be viable cases. There’s also the optimization portion of the campaign (where I come in adjusting bids per keywords, testing new ad copy, changing bids for different demographics, etc.) and that is heavily reliant on incoming data so when there are only a few leads a month it’s nearly impossible to properly optimize the ads which hurts results and often ends up with the advertiser losing faith and stopping the campaigns prior to having enough data to tell if it’s having a positive effect for them.
While some agencies may, most established agencies do not consider working with any budget under $1,000 a month with a $300 management fee on top of that, and the potential for growth.
The other alternative which you could go after is Facebook ads, but the recommended budgets would be the same. The costs per lead here would most likely be lower but the target is based on demographics versus search intent so you’ll find many of the leads are unresponsive or inquiring for down the road. Again you could set up your own facebook campaign, but targeting has even more of an art to it than Google ads.
Advertising You can Do Yourself
Google is constantly trying to make it easier for people to set up and manage their own ad accounts so if you’re willing to try it, it’s easy to set up a self-managed account at https://ads.google.com and they’ll walk you through setting up a basic account step by step. There are also google account reps who can answer any questions you may have. Don’t think that the fact they’re Google reps means they have all the answers though since the quality of support has gone downhill over the years and often what they promote is in the interest of Google’s bottom line as well…
SEO service is usually either classified as a one-time website audit to ensure everything is well set up on the page, and monthly SEO service to monitor and try to improve ranks on an ongoing basis. The issue with SEO is that it can take time to build your sites authority and get results so you shouldn’t expect results for the first couple months and nothing is guaranteed regardless of what some agencies may say. For a starting point in SEO you’d be looking at $500 a month.
SEO Promotion You can do Yourself
Some things which Google looks for are:
- The speed of your website – Ideally you want under 2 seconds and you can test your site at Pagespeed Insights by Google.
- The word count and occurrence of related keywords on your website – Google wants to send users to pages which are relevant for their search. The more content the better on all pages, but it’s usually most important to add more text to the home page as that’s the sites most powerful page. There are also back end places to put keywords and copy like title tags, meta descriptions and alt tags on images.
- Registering your site with Google Search Console – This is like mission control for your website on Google and shows the number of times you appeared in searches, as well as allows you to upload a ‘sitemap’ of your site which contains all the pages and tells Google where to look.
- Recency – Google likes sites which are regularly updated. This can either be changes to pages i.e. adding testimonials, images, etc. or with regular blogging about related topics. If possible, it would be great to have someone writing a blog for your site every couple weeks or even monthly. Adding more blog content to your site also helps with overall authority.
- Links – Counting links from other websites pointing to your site is how Google first distinguished themselves from other search engines and it’s still part of how they calculate the authority of a website. These links can come in many forms, either links from industry associations, related directories, and other sites blog posts. The most important ones to establish first are your main social media networks. You can set up company pages for your site on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Pinterest then add your website in the profile to get a link back. Links are something which spammers have taken advantage of over the years so go for quality over quantity and tons of spammy unnatural links can get your website penalized on Google and ranks will drop. Never go with a cheap SEO agency which is offering backlinking and guaranteed ranks, they’re pretty much guaranteed to hurt your ranks long-term.
I hope that helps give some insight into paths which can be taken. If you’re looking to promote yourselves without increasing the marketing budget too much, then SEO is a great longer-term approach and there are some actionable tips in the points above to get you going.
If you have any questions, be sure to add them in the comments below!