Smart Ways to Spend Marketing Budget

When you launch a new product or service, people don’t just magically stumble across your work. It’s impossible to generate sales without doing something to get the word out about it.

That’s where marketing comes in.

But with hundreds of niches (ranging from advertising to digital marketing) and sub-niches (with digital marketing broken down into categories like SEO and social media), deciding how to best approach marketing can be a task in and of itself. It’s even more complicated when you start to discover how much these efforts can cost.

Maybe that old adage, “You have to spend money to make money,” was coined by a marketer.

Here’s an overview of the smartest ways to direct your marketing efforts and best spend your budget.

Assess Your Budget

For established companies with full revenue streams and a lot of infrastructure in place, the average amount spent on marketing initiatives is 10% of the company’s total budget per year.

This is just the average and definitely varies by industry and product. In general, more money and effort would go into raising awareness of a brand new product, while less money and effort would be needed to maintain awareness of something already established.



If you’re just starting out, you might not have systems in place to even discuss marketing in terms of an actual budget. Especially if you’re just learning the ropes or you’re trying to figure out how to promote your first book.

If you’re in a position where you have revenue that’s substantial enough to budget 10% to marketing, keep that number in mind as you read the following section.

If not, look to the following sections with an eye out for what can be done for free or very cheaply. Many of the strategies discussed below can be scaled to budget (or lack thereof).

Smart Marketing — An Overview

One of the cornerstones of marketing is to go where the eyeballs are.

Marketing is about getting people’s attention, and truth-be-told, the biggest marketplace for attention is online, making the smartest way to spend your marketing budget is on a digital-first strategy.

So we begin with:

The Website

"As a bootstrapped startup every line item on my expense sheet has to earn its way into my marketing budget. I can’t stress the importance enough of investing in your website. It’s the heart of your digital marketing strategy and your best salesperson,” says Anders Rydholm of TypeTrail Media.

Getting a website is easier than ever. If you don’t know how to build one yourself, you can hire a designer for pretty competitive rates. You just need to know what you want to say and how to position your brand. Squarespace offers a great platform for the non-tech-savvy to design great-looking websites. And with a little practice, Wordpress could be a great tool for building your site yourself as well.

Unfortunately, people won’t just stumble across your website by accident. You have to drive traffic to it.

There are a few ways to go about doing that.

SEO and Content Marketing

“The best way for entrepreneurs to utilize their limited marketing budgets is through a self-directed SEO campaign,” explains Tony Mastri, Digital Marketing Manager at MARION Integrated Marketing. “Most other advertising methods will require consistent and significant cash infusions and graphic design work, while SEO results tend to last for long periods of time after your initial investment.”

What Mastri’s proposing can be accomplished with a few SEO-optimized product or service pages—meaning they have a specific number of keywords embedded that people would probably search for in order to find your work.

You can achieve even more search engine relevance by writing blogs on your site about this particular subject as well, also making sure they’re optimized.

Here’s a guide to SEO basics.

‘The key here is to make sure you are implementing SEO best practices every step of the way,” says Mastri. “If you have the time to create these yourself, it will help cut down on costs significantly but you should pay for SEO consulting sessions from an expert.”

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your work. And there are so many ways to utilize it.

For starters, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are completely free to join and use.

Thanks to hashtags, profile tagging, and geo-tagging, your posts can reach a large audience without spending any money. Things do go viral, after all!

Or you can spend money to turn your content into sponsored posts that reach audiences as broad or targeted as you wish.

Social media marketing is a natural extension of your website and any content marketing efforts you make. A post on your Facebook or Twitter can hook audiences about some of your offerings, and then link to the SEO-optimized product or services page on your website.

You can also use social media as a way to circulate your blog posts. And the better the content you’re writing, the more your audience will value your voice and circulate your posts to their audiences as well. Why pay for sponsored posts when you can spread the word organically?

There are so many different types of content to post as well, and they all have different kinds of appeal to your audience.

For example, eMarketer found that the average Facebook native ad attains 135% more organic reach than posts that are just text or photo-based.

Email Marketing

Long before social media came along, email marketing was one of the best ways to build a relationship with your audience. A long-term gold standard in the industry, 73% of high-level marketing pros cite email newsletters and special campaigns as a core component of their promotion strategies.

Email addresses can be infinitely more valuable than followers on a social media profile. Accordingly, email newsletters are great ways to give your loyal customers exclusive deals and insider knowledge. And teasing the promise of this is also a great incentive to get more people to sign up for the newsletter too!

If you’re publishing a newsletter with any regularity, it will have to contain compelling content in order to be opened and read. Emails are another great way to distribute the blog posts you publish on your website and disseminate through social media. They can also be added to an email blast as a way to reach people who either aren’t on social media or who missed it when it was published on one of your profiles.

Are you starting to see how all of these different channels can work together in a smart, cost-effective marketing strategy?

For small audiences, sending mass emails on platforms like MailChimp are completely free, but have affordable prices for larger lists. With email marketing, the cost generally grows with you and your audience and isn’t some steep, fixed price.

Tracking Results

Another bonus of going the digital marketing route is how easy it is to track the results of your efforts. Social media has easy-to-read reports about content engagement. With email blasts, you can see how many people opened the email (giving you insight into the quality of your subject line) and if any of the links were clicked on. With your website, you can also see metrics like how many people have visited over a period of time, how long they spent on each page, and where the traffic came from. If all of your digital marketing channels are linking back to your website, this is the best way to determine which channels are serving you best, so you can direct your marketing efforts to what is most effective.

“Spend your budget in a way that allows you to track the success of your efforts,” says Matt Slaymaker, Digital Marketing Lead at Folsom Creative. “If you spend $200 on Google Ads, you can track the traffic that comes to your website, including information like: their gender, their interests, their income level, how many pages they viewed, which page they spent the most time on, and much more. You won’t get those insights from a billboard ad.”

If you’re looking to get into affiliate marketing, LeadsMarket.com has one of the best networks in the industry, with a complete suite of tools that makes tracking performance easy. Keeping track of your results is incredibly important, and LeadsMarket knows this. That’s why they’ve tailored their affiliate marketing program to meet the tracking needs of their affiliate partners. You can check out the program by going to their website to learn more.

When you circle back to the beginning of this process and assess your budget for the next marketing cycle, following this guide should have increased your sales to give you more to spend, and the experience should leave you equipped to make better decisions.

Happy marketing!

Read next: How digital marketing managers can benefit from the power of delegating (infographic)

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