The Low Cost of Marketing an Online Business

The present time is arguably the best time in history to market a business. With the advent of the Internet and search engines, social media and online directories, there has never been a time in which highly effective marketing can be done by even the smallest of businesses.

open for business sign

In the past we were relegated to traditional advertising avenues; TV, radio and print. Each of them reach a certain audience. Even if, say, your TV or radio spot aired during shows with an audience possibly receptive to your message, odds are only a small percentage took action. If at all. Ad rates were (and are) high.

The brick and mortar business of old meant substantial fixed costs or renting an office and the overhead of storing your products on site. Employees. Insurance. The list goes on.

Enter the web.

An online business means an insanely low overhead. Some businesses can be run from a website alone. Certainly one selling products through e-commerce can set up drop shipping, eliminating the need for a warehouse. But other businesses that do need a physical location (doctor’s office, auto repair shop, etc.) can significantly increase their visibility by having a website.

There is no yellow pages anymore. Oh it still shows up on your doorstep, but only a handful use it. By and large all searches are online. So compare the cost of a print ad to setting up an introductory website. It’s the difference between hundreds or thousands of dollars for print versus peanuts for a website. Of course a really good website will cost money, but even for a beginner site this is 24/7 advertising. An online presence allows a small business to enter the same playing field as the big guys. The price of entry into the business world has come down tremendously.

So the barriers are lowered. Initial costs can be insignificant. What next?

As we said, searches are done online. Nowhere else has there been such an audience available. Hundreds to millions of people are searching each day for the product or service you provide. This is targeted traffic and they’re looking for you, not the costlier and less effective methods of the past. Google knows this all too well. That’s why Google Adwords ads are bug business.

Paid online ads (Google, Facebook, etc.) or an online store (Amazon, Shopify, etc.) may be good choices depending on your business, but the savvy businessperson knows he or she can tap into the organic search traffic on the web through optimization. A good SEO company can take that intro website and make changes to its content and other things that make search engines like Google sit up and take notice. The goal is to make your website appear at the top of the search engine results page. Depending on the keyword targeted, the traffic (people searching for your product or service) can be in the hundreds or thousands. This is where your marketing budget should go because nothing can deliver ready-to-buy customers like a search engine.

An SEO firm will do this for you, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look yourself at the traffic that’s out there. Using Google’s keyword planner will give you an idea of how much traffic is out there for specific terms you want to target. Some have higher or lower competition levels which affect the cost of optimization. Higher competition take more time and resources to overcome. With an idea of what keywords you want to target, create a marketing budget to use for optimization purposes. This may be one of the bigger expenditures you’ll need to make but it’s worth it. The alternative is not having your site ranking which means invisibility.

The traditional hurdles are gone, but there are still steps we need to take to make our websites work for us. It’s well worth the effort.