8 Affordable Small Business Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategies can get expensive, but they don’t have to—an affordable marketing strategy can help you grow your business without breaking the bank. They might require more time and effort, but when your budget is tight enough as it is, a little bit of savings can go a long way.

8 affordable marketing strategies for your small business

Some of the most affordable strategies include:

  1. Create a branded hashtag campaign
  2. Post case studies on your website
  3. Engage your social media followers
  4. Partner with a micro-influencer
  5. Start a video series
  6. Host a giveaway
  7. Optimize your website for local SEO
  8. Run A/B test email campaigns

1. Create a branded hashtag campaign

Hashtag campaigns can drive awareness to a specific cause or content topic. When they’re unique to your business, however, it adds an element of brand recognition as well. One of the most popular examples is Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign:

To distinguish your hashtag from other, more commonly used hashtags, make sure you include at least part of your business’s name or a phrase that speaks to your company’s core values. Then, decide what type of content you’ll feature in your campaign. These parameters should be specific enough that they’re easily recognizable but broad enough that your followers will want to get involved.

A social media management tool can help you plan your campaign posts, and one with social listening capabilities like Hootsuite can help you keep a tab on other users who are using your hashtag as well. 

2. Post case studies on your website

Case studies illustrate the effectiveness of your product or service. Especially if you have a B2B audience, your case study can focus on how your customers are able to lower costs, generate more leads, or expand into new markets. Case studies can also take a variety of forms, including videos, infographics, or blog posts. 

To get started, find a case study subject whose experience with your business tells an interesting story. Maybe they’ve been able to meet a major goal because of your product or service or they’ve seen significant results after switching from a competitor. Regardless of the details, your case study should live on your website as a demonstration of how your product or service works through the lens of an existing customer.

Related: The Best Website Builder for 2021

3. Engage your social media followers

Engagement might be the most important ingredient when it comes to social media. Impressions alone won’t lead to more revenue opportunities, nor will they help you grow your existing audience. Most social media algorithms elevate accounts that actively encourage participation among their followers, so prioritizing engagement will benefit your business in more ways than one.

In most cases, this strategy involves evaluating your current social media content and identifying areas where you can invite your followers to take some type of action. Or, you might develop a campaign that is focused on driving engagement specifically.

Ideas for engagement could include asking your followers to:

  • Leave a comment
  • Tag a friend
  • Give a suggestion
  • Click a link
  • Like or share a post
  • Make their own post

4. Partner with a micro-influencer

Micro-influencers are the people who are natural advocates for your business and want to work with you to amplify your message to a broader audience. Micro-influencer strategies typically have high returns, which make them an effective use of marketing dollars when executed well.

If you’re looking to generate brand awareness and market your business to a new audience, a micro-influencer campaign might be the perfect solution. The cost of such a campaign can vary, but influencers with smaller, highly engaged audiences usually don’t charge as much to promote a brand as those with a huge number of followers. Once you’ve found an influencer who might be a good fit, work with them to set expectations around budget, creative control, and deliverables.

Read more: Is Micro-Influencer Marketing Right for You?

5. Start a video series

Video marketing is one of the most impactful mediums to engage your audience and promote your business. In fact, Biteable’s 2021 survey of marketers and small business owners found that 74 percent of marketers say video has a better return on investment than static imagery. 

A one-off video can generate some buzz around your business, sure, but a well-planned series can establish rapport and brand recognition. For example, Warby Parker’s Oddcupations series showed a fun side of the glasses company’s brand:

Some companies have astronomical video marketing budgets, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money to have an effective video strategy. With a smartphone and a few low-cost accessories, you can create a high quality videos that show your product in action, share a customer’s testimonial, or highlight your brand in a unique way.

Read more: Video Marketing: A Case for Small Businesses

6. Host a giveaway

Although giving away your product or service might not seem like a great way to close more sales, a thoughtful giveaway can have an indirect effect on your revenue goals. Giveaways can grow your audience overnight, whether your objective is to get more social media followers, email subscribers, website visitors, or even foot traffic through your doors. In turn, new prospective customers who don’t win the giveaway will be more likely to solicit your business in the future.

The cost of the giveaway comes down to the item you choose as a prize. The specific product or service you give away doesn’t need to be your most expensive product or service—it could be something that’s limited edition, personalized, or exclusive. In any case, your giveaway prize should be exciting and valuable enough to your audience that it motivates them to take the necessary actions to enter.

7. Optimize your website for local SEO

Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical marketing component if your business has a physical location or is concentrated in a specific geographic area. Even if your target audience isn’t using geo-specific keywords in their search queries, you should optimize your website to ensure search engines can recognize where your business is located.

This includes adding your physical address information to your contact page (or individual addresses to individual pages if you have multiple locations) as well as the metadata for your site. You should also ensure that your business’s listings are up-to-date on Google My Business, Yelp, and similar sites to leverage the location-based information from those publishers as well.

8. Run A/B test email campaigns

A/B email testing can uncover hidden opportunities in your email marketing strategy. If you don’t use an email marketing software already, look for one that supports A/B testing so you don’t have to segment your audience and track each email’s performance manually.

While creating the test campaign, make sure you have a hypothesis in mind that will dictate the differentiations between both emails. For example, if you want to understand how your contact list responds to personalization in emails, create one email that includes the recipient’s first name in the subject line and an exact duplicate of the same email without the personalization. 

Then, make a note of the test results. Does one email have a higher open rate than the other? Does one email get more clicks? This information can inform your future email campaigns to ensure your email strategy as a whole is optimized for your audience.

Spend time, save money on marketing strategies

All of the strategies on this list have two things in common: they’re all affordable, and they all require more time and effort than strategies that require more money. Thankfully, digital marketing tools can help streamline these strategies and simplify your efforts. Check out our list of Best Digital Marketing Tools for Small Businesses to find one that will work best for you.

This article was originally published on May 20, 2013. It was updated by Kaiti Norton.

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