Your Guide to Online Marketing On A Shoestring Budget

Small business = small budget, we get it; it’s hard to know where to start. The advertising world is consistently changing mainly due to the explosive world of ecommerce. The good news – we just happen to be in the business of web presence. So, if you are reading this, you’re on the right track.

Online Strategy on a Shoestring budget


First – take a deep breath.

Okay, now we can get started. As an ecommerce software and hosting platform, our first step to practicing successful, organized and inteligent web presence is to provide a website that best fits your target demographic; which in all cases for online stores in their most basic form, is the online shopper. Start with the basics by hiring somebody to do a quick analysis of your website, focusing on usability, functionality and visual appeal.

Usability – Wow this website is great, I was able to find exactly what I was looking for and add it to my cart with ease!

Functionality – Oh boy! I put the product I wanted in my cart and it took me right back to the page I was shopping and didn’t direct me to a new one.

Visual Appeal – Oooh awe, what a beautiful image slider of all the products I now want to purchase! I have never visited this site before and the second I laid eyes on it I didn’t want to leave. 

Want to see what a site successfuly implementing all 3 of these key compentents looks like? Take a look at 

                                                                         Visual Appeal

Successful website trio, usability, functionality and visual appeal


Website usability

Social Media

Social media strategy, pick two and focus

Now that you’ve got that down let’s move on to Social Media. Don’t stop reading! It’s going to be okay.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to use all platforms.  Of course, utilizing as many social platforms as possible would be ideal as your business can benefit from the multi-channel web presence, BUT your business can also be taking a blow if you aren’t managing them all successfully. So here’s our advice – pick 2 and focus.

Yelp, Vine, Vimeo, Pinterest, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Xing, MyLife, Flickr, Tumblr, Digg, Reddit, most recently introduced Ello and many more. Are you overwhelmed yet? Don’t fret! Your business will not fail if you aren’t “pinning” every day.  We suggest you pick 2 platforms that best fit your target demo and fine-tune those first. Since all of these platforms are free to setup your small business proabably already has a handful of accounts open, but are they active? An innactive Facebook page is a huge red flag to consumers, so spruce it up! Provide a compelling “About” section and introduce your employees to the public – consumers will eat up the personal touch you bring to their news feeds daily. And most important, link up! According to, a successful business page on Facebook links the consumer to a website in 80% of their content. 

So while you are focusing on just 2 platforms, remember the end goal is to create a strong social media presence one platform at a time. If you are currently trying to juggle a handful of platforms and feel some are falling through the cracks, put those accounts on idle. A consumer will judge your brand more negatively if they come across a half-done Pinterest or Yelp page vs. the absence of the page all together.

Think that’s a good start? We think so too. But with running your business there is always MORE. So with that being said, we’d like to touch on one more topic – Email Marketing.

Email Marketing

Most business owners are aware of it, but are they practicing? We did a little research and found that 80% of consumers review online marketing materials on their mobile device every day. Does that make your ears perk up a bit? That’s what we thought.  So what’s the ROI on email marketing you ask? Well, seeing that email marketing is little to zero of your reputation management dollars the ROI can be one of your greatest margins, working in your favor of course.

Take Petco for example; they have a very successful email marketing strategy putting out 4 to 5 emails a month. In the body of their emails they provide suggestions on pet grooming supplies, services provided in-store, discounts, events, pet apparel etc. That email goes out to their over 2 million customer database. According to email marketing statistics, half of those emails are opened, half of the opened are actually read, and half of those readers clicked through to the website. That number is just over 666,000 people now shopping their store online. You get the idea. And although your database might be exceptionally smaller, why not cast the line?

Scottevest a good example of successful brand identity. So what kind of content should you include? That’s simple; what is your product? What are your most frequently asked questions and what does your business provide to the consumer that they can benefit from? Or even better, what will make them want to purchase more of your product? Now, that doesn’t mean you need to get all “Sales-y” on them. After all, this particular group of consumers is your most trusted group. Providing you with their email address, they have either shopped with you before or they are just simply a marketers dream come true. So, keep your email marketing strategy consistent with your brand and try not to come off as sales-driven, even though we all know that is the ultimate goal. Some of the most successful online retailers do just that.

SCOTTeVEST is a great example of consistent and smart email marketing – they keep it streamline staying consistent with their brand throughout all platforms. Their email blasts look very similar to their website, inviting the consumer into a mini shopping experience before they even click through. Genius.  Brand consistancy and usability are key components and should not be overlooked.

Time to take to the web!

Now we’re going to pop the question – are you ready to hit the web and tackle these cost effective, time saving tips? Need more resources? No problem. Click any of the helpful links below to learn from the experts. Just remember – pick 2 and focus!

Learning Links:

7 Ways to Tell Your Small Business Story –

Best Email Marketing Platforms –

Social Media 101 –

A Beginner’s Social Media Guide for Small Businesses