Every internet marketer knows that it takes money to really get noticed on the net. With enough capital, you can craft a strong PPC campaign, hire a good content writer or copywriter, and hook up sites to professional analytics and competitor analysis tools with little worry.

But what if your client doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing? A tiny business with only $400 to spend on SEO and PPC can’t follow in these footsteps. Has internet marketing become a pay-to-win environment?

We don’t think so. It is possible to still get noticed. You’ll just have to work a little harder at it to leverage all of the free and low-cost options you can. There’s a surprising amount that you can do on a limited budget if the rest of your marketing game is sharp. Here are some suggested tactics for low-budget campaigns.

SEO on $200

Honestly, it would be better to use as much SEO budget as you can for PPC instead. PPC is much more of a pay-to-win environment compared to SEO. We’re going to assume that you already know how to handle technical and on-page SEO and you already have an idea of which keywords to target, so let’s focus on the not-so-obvious free SEO boosts.

If your client qualifies for Google My Business or Bing Places for Business, sign up and leverage that to the fullest. These are, hands down, the best local SEO tools you can use these days. Nothing gives you a faster SEO boost, especially if you’re marketing local.

However, to get the most out of it you’ll need to make sure that citations of the business on the web match as closely as possible. This is where you may need to spend some cash to pull the records on business databases and review sites to correct NAP information.

For best results, the address on the search engine registrations should be considered the canonical one. Correct all others, including the one on your website if it doesn’t quite match. Even slight differences can confuse search engines and cause scores to dip.

$200 is a bit too low to create a content marketing campaign (unless you’re blessed enough to have a client who wants to write and can write well), but what $200 can do is hire a mid-range copywriter to give a once-over on the site and make some recommendations for cleanup and tuning. At the very least, should you go the PPC route, the landing and thank-you pages need to be optimized. They are the key financial conversion points. If you’re not using PPC, the product pages and shopping cart pages must be the focus.

Finally, leverage as many free SEO audit tools as you can to detect and clean up any obvious SEO problems. New clients with established businesses can benefit quite a lot just using things like Open Site Explorer or Majestic.com to study backlink profiles and do competitor research.

PPC on $200

$200 is a really low amount for PPC, which is why it’s a good idea to move more money into it if you could. $500 would be much better. Whether or not $200 will be enough will depend on the costs of the keywords you’re targeting and the amount of money your client’s competitors are sinking into those keywords.

The best way we can think of to maximize profit on a single week or two-week campaign is to go with what already works. That means doing careful, thorough research on which keywords your competitors are buying PPC ads for and gauging the effectiveness of those ads. By doing this, your competitors will have already done the hard part of finding keywords that convert with your target audience. You just have to follow the same path and write a better ad and landing page.

Naturally, your competitor’s ad plans aren’t out in the open for everyone to see. But there are several tools out there that can pull public information about a competitor’s ads for analysis. Spyfu and SEMRush are two common ones, but there are others out there with free versions. Auction Insights is another good one to use since it is part of AdWords and will help you discern whether you have enough budget to challenge your competitor’s highest-performing keywords.

Due to the different ways these tools measure and weigh information, it’s better to use multiple tools to analyze the same competitor then weigh the averages. With only $200 to spend, you’re only going to get a short shot. Take the time to aim.

Once you know what to target, you can pour all your creative energy into crafting the best ad and landing page you can before launching the campaign. Since you only have one shot, take your time. Make sure the technical parts work. Look at the landing page on different browsers and screen sizes. Be sure your payment processor and all the notification emails work. You don’t want a hidden technical glitch to ruin everything once it goes live.

That goes for the PPC platform as well. Everything should be narrowed to target the best audience you can. Geo-target, use exact match keywords, whatever it takes to ensure that those who see the ad can take advantage of the offer.

Once you’ve done all that, then it’s time to go live and hope it brings in enough money that you can repeat the process before the money runs out. Once you have some regular capital coming into the PPC budget, then you can expand the campaign into a proper one and start testing ads.

Kicking off a marketing campaign with a tiny budget is hard, but possible. If you follow these tips and take your time, you can create a small and efficient burst of interest that, with luck, will bring in enough to keep the ball rolling. Good luck!

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

1 comment
  1. Totally agree with you regarding Google My Business for a local business. I have seen my clients who have focused some effort here having some great results. Many small businesses seem to focus on Facebook and they are seeing reduced returns from their marketing efforts. Although posts on Google My Business have been around for a while, not all businesses take advantage of them. Posting regularly and making some effort with Google My Business can really improve your local rankings.

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