As anyone with even a little business experience knows, getting a startup off the ground almost always takes more money than is available. One of the most important talents that startup entrepreneurs bring to the job, then, is an ability to make each dollar go as far as possible.
Twenty years ago, before the Internet, startups had a hard time managing their marketing on their limited budgets. Television, radio, direct mail, location advertising and other traditional marketing methods were all unaffordable. Many businesses disappeared simply because they didn’t have a way to get their message across. With online digital marketing now, though, everything has changed for startups.
Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing
Local radio advertising usually costs between $100 and $200 a spot. National television spots can cost tens of thousands. Even a humble direct-mail campaign (where you send out postcards and coupons in envelopes) can cost $2 for each piece sent out. These numbers do not even include preparation and production costs.
A television channel (or a radio station) is only able to show one thing at a time. If they play your spot, they can’t play another at the same time. They need to charge a lot because they rent their entire channel out to you for the duration of your ad. A newspaper has the same limitation: they have limited space available.
It’s different with social media ads and pay-per-click ads. Google or Facebook can simultaneously put out different ads for every user at the same time. With unlimited advertising space, then, these digital marketing outlets are able to charge very little.
With any reputable digital agency in Melbourne or another major cities might have, you can put out social media ads for as little as $100 a month. An effective entry-level pay-per-click campaign usually costs no more than $500 a month. If you wish to market your business through SEO or content, you need to spend no more than $1,000 a month, on average.
For startups, clearly, digital marketing is far more affordable and more effective than anything traditional marketing methods offer.
Getting the most for your money with digital marketing
Many business owners believe that putting out a PPC ad campaign is simply about picking a few keywords and preparing a couple of lines of copy for the ad. What they forget, though, is that there are usually many businesses competing for those same keywords. Google auctions in-demand keywords to the highest bidder. For popular keywords such as shoes, coats, restaurant and insurance, the keyword bidding system can raise prices to tens of dollars for each click.
Luckily, it’s possible to use special tools and techniques to stretch your PPC dollar — through the use of the right tools. Many online marketing businesses offer automated PPC campaign management systems that minimize the possibility of wasted clicks. They use algorithms to judge the intent of searchers, rather than simply use keyword matching. Studies have shown that campaigns placed through services such as Adchemy and Deltamethod manage to bring down PPC campaign costs by as much as 30%. These tools require little training to use, in addition.
It can help to learn a few rules of the PPC business
Find the right keywords: Since search is still heavily keyword-dependent, it’s important to find the right keywords to bid for. What the right words are is often far from obvious. It can take months of experimentation to nail them.
If you aim for too general a keyword (or keyword phrase), you’ll usually waste all your money on irrelevant clicks. If you make your keyword to specific, you’ll get nothing, at all. It’s important to find the right balance.
You need to set aside time each day to work on your AdWords campaign and tweak your choice of keywords.
Narrow your area: It can be an excellent money-saving approach to geographically target your PPC campaign to specific areas. This method makes sure that your ads show up only when a searcher comes from a certain location.
Time your ads: If you set your ads to show 24×7, you run the risk of getting wasted clicks. Turning your ad campaign on only at the times that your customers are most likely to come looking can be a good way to minimize waste.
Get a good SEO professional: Many small business owners don’t realize that Google charges different prices for its PPC ads depending on how reputable a website is. Hiring an SEO professional to thoroughly tweak your website can pay off in the form of lower PPC bills.
Pick your competitors’ brains: Finally, one of the cheapest and most effective ways of coming by useful PPC ideas is to pick your competitors’ brains by watching what they do with their PPC campaigns. Whatever they do with their PPC ads will probably work for you, too.
Photo credit: Gwyneth Anne Bronwynn / Flickr