How to Start Digital Marketing on a Budget

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Our recommendations of the most impactful and cost-effective ways new and low-budget brands can start promoting their business online.

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Our recommendations of the most impactful and cost-effective ways new and low-budget brands can start promoting their business online.

If you’re reading this, we want to congratulate you on taking your first steps into growing your brand with digital marketing! As the saying goes ”you have to spend money to make money”. We understand when you are taking the first steps towards growing and scaling your brand, more often than not your funds are pretty tight. While it can be difficult to start digital marketing on a budget, you chose the right place to look for guidance: a digital agency. Your most important goal is to connect with your target audience, and there are countless tools and methods to achieve that. In this blog, we’ll walk through our recommended entry points that will give smaller brands the best bang for their buck. We’ll start by discussing what foundational elements you need for a successful marketing strategy and then dive into the drivers of brand growth.   

Starting With The Basics  

There are key foundational building blocks necessary to establish a digital presence and grow brands. While you can start with just one or two of these, we recommend all four of these tools for the best foundation. Dependent on your team’s capacity and skill sets, many of these can be developed and managed internally to keep costs low. However, having an agency’s help can be extremely beneficial so your foundation is developed strategically by a team of experts. It’s always best to start out on the right foot to ensure you create the best customer experience with your brand. Sometimes trying to develop these foundational elements without the proper knowledge and skillset can result in a sub-optimal experience for potential customers and can deter them from considering your products or services in the future. Here are the 4 foundational elements we recommend focusing on and why: 

    1. Website & SEO: You need a landing page and source of information for users to connect with your brand. Taking the time to set that up correctly with SEO research backing up your content will ensure the best possible search ranking and user experience. You need to determine the right CMS for your brands – we love Shopify for eCom brands and WordPress for everyone else.  
    2. Social Channels: Organic social media accounts allow you to engage with your customers, showcase your brand personality and messaging, and also provide a sense of trustworthiness to the customer. Brands should almost always launch Meta accounts first, but we also recommend hopping on TikTok as soon as you have the capacity to do so. Read this blog to learn more about the best way to launch social media for your brand. 
    3. Email & SMS: Through automation and ongoing marketing, these communication methods provide ways to connect with people and keep the conversation going. Klayvio, MailChimp, and Privy are our favorite platforms to work with, but the platform you use will be based on your budget and specific needs.  
    4. GoogleMyBusiness: Of the dozens of tools Google provides to help small businesses get off the ground running, we have a few favorites. Setting up your business on Google helps you establish your brand to ensure you look legitimate to those searching for your brand, product, or service online.  

Each of these tools can scale to fit your needs and budget. There are ways to build out and take on the bare minimum while ensuring the key elements are present, and that way you are using your time and money wisely. For example, your website may start with only a homepage, but as your brand grows, you’ll build out the site map and add more relevant information. Each of these elements can also be consistently updated and optimized so you remain relevant and continue to grow.   

Adding on the Building Blocks 

Now you have a solid foundation and you’re ready to start growing, but you have a limited budget. We approach brand growth in two ways: through builders and drivers.  

Builders help establish your brand’s foundation for long-term success. These elements take time to establish, and won’t deliver immediate results but will be key for your long-term strategy. Examples of builders are Website UX/UI, SEO, Organic Social Accounts, etc. 

Drivers – make things happen to help grow your brand quickly. These elements are often built upon the foundation set by the builders, result in high-quality interactions with your brand quickly, and can be measured easily. Examples of drivers are social media ads, paid search ads, promotion codes, etc.  

When you have a limited budget, you want your dollars to work smarter, not harder. That is why, once your foundational elements are set, we recommend focusing on drivers. Launching paid media campaigns is a great place to start. Paid media makes it possible that you don’t have to wait for a user to find you; we go find them. People are constantly going to search engines and social media to look for a product/service like yours, so we want to meet them where they are. We recommend setting up a strategic campaign, creating quality content, and then letting the algorithms do the heavy lifting. Three good places to start paid media with a limited budget: Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Paid Social (Facebook & Instagram), and Programmatic Display. 

Scaling for Growth  

Once you start to see positive results from paid media, you want to continuously engage with your potential or existing customers. Now it’s time to build out your communication through Email & SMS and Organic Social.  

Email & SMS marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels, and has many other benefits for growing businesses. Your strategy may differ based on your type of business and company goals, but we recommend starting with setting up automation.  Developing your email and SMS automations are a heavy lift upfront, but once they are set up they run continuously, save you a ton of time, and create a better user experience. As a next step, we recommend launching ongoing marketing and sending out emails to your audience about promotions, product launches, and brand updates.  

Organic Social is another great engagement tool. If someone is interested in your brand, social channels are a way for them to discover more about your brand and what you offer. Providing a way for people to connect with your brand on multiple platforms is validating; you’re establishing trust which will help with conversion and customer retention. If you are in the beginning phases of launching your social media channels, don’t feel pressure to post every day. Quality and consistency are more important than frequency. Set a goal that works for your team – we recommend posting 3 days a week to start. As your follower count grows, so can your rate of posting.  

Next Steps 

As you start to see the impact of your efforts, your revenue increases and your budget expands, you’ll want to refocus your attention on your builders. Your builders are never “finished” and should always be updated and optimized consistently. Expanding organic social media channels, developing an influencer or affiliate marketing program, and setting up a subscription model are all examples of ways your brand can continue to evolve and grow over time.  

Whether you are just launching a new brand or you have your builders set, there’s always the next step to take to continue to grow your brand. Once the budget allows, or you determine it will yield a positive ROI, most brands bring on an agency partner to get strategic guidance, outsource a portion of their efforts, or become an extension of their team. Reach out today to discuss where you’re at with your brand growth and we can help you decide if it’s time for BuzzShift to help you get to the next level!  

About BuzzShift 

BuzzShift is a digital growth strategy agency with a focus on mid-market, scaling, purpose-driven DTC Brands. By combining the ideologies of branding, performance marketing, and retention agency, we are able to create memorable experiences with measurable results, and build long-term success for our clients with scalable, sustainable growth. Learn more about BuzzShift. 

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