Internet Marketing is a necessity for almost every business these days. Including yours. However, as any well run business doesn’t have an unlimited budget for marketing, hard decisions need to be made. The first question you need to ask is this: WHERE should we spend the limited amount of money we have allotted for marketing?

While there are plenty of areas where you could spend your marketing budget, the three most common and effective are:

There are also other effective options that would make good use of your time and money, such as email marketing, but not every small business has a big enough email list to work with and email marketing is only effective for certain types of business.

Let’s take an example of a typical small business to clarify the problem and possible solutions. Suppose a small bookkeeping company is willing and able to invest $300 per month for 12 months in an attempt to grow their business. Where should they spend that money? Let’s look at each of the three strategies.

Paid Online Advertising

$300/month is a tiny budget for this particular type of marketing campaign but it can be done. However, in order to achieve success, it will important to set realistic expectations. In this case, you may want to flush the word “Leads” or “Lead Generation” from your list of goals and instead  think of “branding” or “brand building”. Having a monthly budget of $300 will allow you to display your brand across social and be seen by a lot of potential customers at a very reasonable price.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

$300/month might be an adequate budget for ongoing SEO work, depending on your business and the size of your website. Every business would like Google (or Bing) to display their website after a potential client completes a relevant search. This “organic” traffic converts very well, as the prospect was looking for your service, or information regarding services just like yours.

While organic searches cost you nothing (at least for the click to your website), getting on to the first results page of Google is no easy task. It depends on many factors and Google does not publicize these factors for obvious reasons. There can only be 10 listings on page one and page one is the goal. The two most important factors to work on when trying to improve page ranking is website content and inbound links from other quality websites. These two tasks are where you should spend most of your effort. This is a slow process. Think in terms of months, quarters and years. SEO is very different from the Paid Advertising approach (PPC) which is almost instantaneous.

Social Networking

Building your voice on social media includes is a challenge focusing on the usual suspects. (there are many more but we focus on these 5:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube

Your Internet Marketing Budget

The most important consideration here is the industry you are in. In this case… “is a bookkeeper a good candidate for social media marketing?” In general… no. The reason? A business that usually does well using Social Networks tends to be “passion-driven” businesses. Businesses that appeal to hobbyists, lifestyle choices, entertainment, etc. typically do well on social. However, bookkeeping does not fall into that category. Can it work? Sure it can but we would recommend that you spend your $300 on one of the other two types of Internet Marketing first.

So what is the recommended course of action for our example client?

Paid Advertising

If the client wants to quickest and most reliable results.

Search Engine Optimization

If the client is willing to be very patient, take more of a risk but possibly get lots of “free” high-quality traffic then this is the way to go. (Google is constantly changing how it ranks websites so there is always a bit of an “unknown factor” with SEO)

Social Networking

In this case, we would recommend that the client invests 15-30 mins per day doing this themselves and try to build a community by answering questions and being as helpful as possible within the Social Community they choose. Facebook is an excellent start.

So there you have it. The advice that somebody with 25 years of experience with hundreds of businesses would give to a friend.

Please contact us with any questions.

Although this article is talking about Marketing Budgets in General and how Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) allocate budget, it does give a nice overview. Are you using a percentage of sales or profit to help you make decisions about  your Internet Marketing Budget?

Read the Forbes article.