Surprising Things You Need to Put in Place in Order to Save Thousands of Dollars on Digital Marketing

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It wasn’t that long ago when an entrepreneur’s marketing options were limited to flyers, tacky magazine ads, or expensive TV commercials.

However, with the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.

Sometimes, when I’m surfing the web—it’s what I do a lot—I find myself thinking, “Wow! So many tactics! So many choices!”

If I were just getting started in digital marketing, I would be in a total freakout mode. Where do I start? Which one should I pick? What do I need to do first?

But it gets worse. Few businesses have the luxury of trying a lot of tactics. Marketing costs money—quite a bit of it, actually. And if you’re just testing out a bunch of tactics, you’ll run out of money before you run out of tactics.

Thankfully, with a little bit of know-how, you can achieve more marketing success than you ever imagined, even on the tightest budget.

How do you go about shaving thousands of dollars off your digital marketing costs without sacrificing the quality and results of your marketing campaigns?

Seems like a tough call, right?

Maybe not as tough as you think.

I’ll show you how.

First, some ground rules

Before I delve into all of the juicy strategies for increasing the success of your digital marketing while saving money, I want to discuss the most important principle of this whole article.

Here it is: less is more

The ultimate goal of all the points I list below is this: eliminate the fluff from your marketing strategy, and focus only on the things that work.

This is why I recommend minimizing your approach and using the 80/20 rule. This rule dictates that

80% of your results come from 20% of your marketing.

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You need to understand that this means that you’ll have to give up good marketing opportunities—but only so that you can take advantage of the great ones.

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If you are looking to save thousands, you want to put your focus and your money only into the opportunities with the highest yield. That way you can not only save money but also increase your results.

With that in mind, let’s begin.

1. Create a rock-solid strategy

I know that the title of this article promised to teach you “surprising” things you need to put in place for a great marketing strategy. Some of you may be scratching your heads right about now, wondering why I put something so seemingly obvious as a rock-solid strategy as the first point in this article.

Quite simply, I put this first because most people don’t do it!

We live in an era when entrepreneurship has such a low barrier to entry that many first-time business owners and online marketers just throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

They don’t ever take the time to develop a proven plan of action with contingencies, review processes, and clearly defined goals.

Sure, it may not be the most exciting part of digital marketing, but it sure is the most important.

Before you even begin to try to save money on your digital marketing, you need to have a clear strategy in place.

Are you wondering how to create a strategy? Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • How much will I spend? This question is essential since it prevents you from spending money on low yield opportunities.
  • What are my goals? Do I want increased traffic, sales, SEO ranking? Everyone wants revenue as the ultimate goal. Back down from this top-level goal, and figure out what KPI-related goals will get you there.
  • What competencies do I have that can help me determine which channels to use? Am I good at SEO, copywriting, ad design? Use your existing skill set and resources to determine which marketing channels you’ll be focusing on.

Don’t just ask these questions. Answer them. And write your answers down.

There. Now you have a strategy.

Remember, like the Navy SEALs say,  “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.”

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Or in our case, “The more you plan in marketing, the less you spend on useless garbage and experimentation.”

Trying out new marketing tactics like Kim Kardashian tries on new outfits will only waste time and money.

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Get your strategy in place, and the smart tactics will follow.

2. Hire a team of experts for your niche

While it’s common sense to allocate a sizable amount of your budget to hiring experts and consultants with experience in digital marketing, it’s paramount to hire the right experts.

Who are the right experts? People who have experience in your specific niche.

Just because someone is good at digital marketing doesn’t mean they are the best fit for your company.

Remember, you need to find the best options, not just good ones.

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How would you like to have the guy in the middle working with you on your music label?

If you run a copywriting firm and are looking to rank higher on Google, what should you do? Hire an SEO expert with a portfolio full of previous clients from copywriting firms for whom they were able to boost rank and quantifiably improve results.

This will ensure you are hiring someone who not only knows the trade but understands how to optimize in your niche as well.

3. Set up a tiered approach to your marketing

It’s easy to get caught up in pursuing all the latest marketing fads and trends. The result, however, is not fun. You spread yourself too thin instead of focusing on one thing and mastering it.

This is why I recommend a “tiered” approach to marketing.

What exactly does this mean?

Basically, create a list of 3-5 digital marketing mediums where you have a certain amount of strength and expertise or affordable access to people who do.

Next, decide what strongest one is—the one you believe will have the highest ROI based on the data for your industry.

Master that one.

I mean really master it. Don’t be content with a novice status. You’ve got to nail this thing!

Once you master the first medium (I’d say Facebook Ads), you can move on to the next one.

Keep doing this until you have mastery over several forms of digital marketing.

If you take this approach, you’ll be able to understand the best practices for each medium, know how to optimize your investments within each medium for maximum ROI, and automate your marketing systems.

You’ll be amazed at the impact. Not only are you gaining solid ROI, but you’re also building a foundation for future marketing efforts.

For example, let’s say you own a landscaping company in Tennessee. You understand Facebook marketing, AdWords, and have a basic grasp of SEO.

Your approach may look something like this:

  • Master Facebook marketing with a budget of $1,500/month and an ROI goal of $2,250 a month.
  • Once you hit your ROI goal and have created systems or hired experts that allow you to continue this marketing, move on to AdWords.
  • Using the ROI from Facebook, invest into AdWords marketing with a budget of $750 a month and an ROI goal of $1,500.
  • Now, you have mastered both mediums. Plus, you’ve been able to boost your ROI within each. You are now spending a total of $2,000/month for digital marketing between the two mediums but netting $5,000/month. You’re already winning. But don’t be content.
  • You can now systematize both your Facebook and AdWords marketing based on the mastery in each field. Use a set amount of the profit from the marketing to fund your next step, maybe SEO.
  • And on and on it goes until you start dominating each marketing medium.

You see, most people (myself included) dive into a new project and focus on far too many things at once, blowing their budgets and diminishing the potential for their ROI.

By limiting yourself to a single medium at a time, you’ll be able to master each one and save yourself time and money in the long run.

4. Analyze your metrics, and be willing to adjust

If you’re familiar with Murphy’s Law—”anything that can go wrong will go wrong”—you understand the struggle many digital marketers face.

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Even if you have a rock-solid strategy, completed an 80/20 analysis of your business, have a team of experts at your disposal, and you are focusing on one medium at a time taking a tiered approach, you can still fail at your digital marketing efforts.

Which makes this point the most important.

Analytics.

And pivoting.

Marketers must know their numbers. Become BFFs with Google Analytics or whatever analytics platform you choose. Know your numbers. Understand them. Interpret them.

The only way you can make smart marketing decisions is with data!

For example, if you have an analysis system in place, you’ll be able to see why your conversion rates significantly increased between the 15th and 22nd of June. Then, you would be able to replicate the process moving forward.

You wouldn’t know any of that if you aren’t tracking your progress and monitoring your analytics!

To be successful in digital marketing and save yourself thousands of dollars, you need an efficient way to analyze your efforts.

This happens through knowing data.

For example, let’s say you have gone against my previous advice and are trying to master Facebook marketing and AdWords at the same time.

After you’ve run a few campaigns and been investing for a couple of months, you decide to take stock of your efforts.

Let’s say you are spending $10 on AdWords a day and are earning back $10.50. That’s a positive ROI. Great!

But when you look at your Facebook marketing, you notice that you are actually losing money on the ad campaign. You’re earning more likes but seem to be hemorrhaging more money.

This presents an interesting conundrum.

On the one hand, logic would say to ditch Facebook marketing and double down on AdWords. However, depending on your niche and your vision for your company, those likes and views may be worth more than the pennies you are earning from AdWords (especially if you earn money from affiliates or sponsorships).

Without a clearly defined goal and an understanding of your ultimate vision for your marketing, you’ll be like a ship in a storm with no anchor, getting tossed around by the waves of emotion and confusion.

That’s why it’s important to know your numbers, analyze your data, and make strategic pivots based on what you discover.

Once you’ve clearly defined your goals and selected a marketing medium to pursue, don’t be afraid to discard other campaigns and move on.

If you are not seeing the results you want after a reasonable amount of time, pivoting is your best option.

5. Build a personal brand

I’ll let you in on a little secret:

People rarely buy from a company; they buy from a brand.

Others have made this point and even written books about it (so maybe not that much of a secret, after all).

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It’s true.

A company is about profits, losses, products, management, revenues, and shareholders. How boring is that?

A brand is about excitement, engagement, smiles, experiences, and personality.

You’ll understand this dichotomy if you recall the old Apple ads.

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Think about it: there are thousands of companies failing every year. While there could be a great number of reasons for their demise, one of those reasons is poor branding.

People like to buy from people they trust.

I want you to take a look at the branding behind 3 SUPER successful online entrepreneurs.

Here is Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income:

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Here is Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to be Rich:

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And here is, of course, the 4-hour emperor, Tim Ferriss:

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Do you notice anything in particular about these blogs…other than the fact that the owners are multi-millionaires?

All of them are about PERSONAL brands. They are focused on the face behind the site, not some ambiguous logo that people can hide behind.

I’m not saying that every business needs to have a figurehead like Ferris or Sethi. What I am saying is that your brand needs personality.

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Before you invest a cent into digital marketing, you need to make sure your brand has attitude, emotion, and an authentic feel.

And then, by all means, build your personal brand too—the brand of you.

As an ambassador for your businesses, you can use your personal brand to drive your business.

The better you brand yourself, the less business-focused digital marketing you’ll need to do. People will find you, and they will want to buy from you without needing to be persuaded to do so.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars on courses and seminars I knew very little about. Why? Because I trusted the person selling it and knew their track record as a top performer.

Conclusion

Saving money with digital marketing is more straightforward than many “gurus” would want you to believe.

To have a bigger marketing impact you don’t need a bigger budget.

What does it take instead?

It takes discipline.

It takes discipline to pick a single marketing medium at a time and stick to it.

It takes discipline to invest all your money into your personal brand and continue doing so even when you aren’t seeing an immediate ROI.

It takes discipline to develop a strategy, hire the experts to execute it, and then trust them to do their jobs even when results aren’t coming as fast as you want.

Like most things in life, mastering digital marketing on a budget is simple but not easy.

If it were easy, everybody would do it.

Tactics are tempting, but it’s the rock-solid strategy—driven by experts, strategically structured, backed by data, and built upon a personal brand—that will get you places!

How have you learned to save money while also improving and expanding your marketing reach?

Comments

  1. I believe that people will buy from somebody who will trust, and you can’t build your personal brand only on a few good looking images and a few words.
    Your acts (and facts) should be the foundation of your own words.
    And if you can’t (or just don’t want to) build a personal brand that can stand-up for your business, than you can hire or work with a brand evangelist that can evangelize your brand!

    • Yep and remember your brand is something that needs to get developed, and that happens over time

      • This is very true Neil. Most people don’t have the patience in this line of work to stay the course and have patience building their brand. Those who wait it out and endure trying entrepreneurial times end up the most successful down the road.

      • Anil Agarwal :

        You are so right about Ramit, Tim and Pat’s strategy to using their professional images as to boost their online brand Neil!

        I think everyone who is running a blog to build their online presense should start doing the same instead of using some random logos. Even Derek from Social Triggers, Backlinko are doing the same.

        Great stuff as always.

    • Hi Neil
      Why do you hold recorded customer acquisition seminar and call it LIVE? You are good in what you do so why not be honest in the way you hold the seminar.

      • I don’t say it is live. We used to do live ones and say it is live, but my team removed all wording of “live” at least as far as I am concerned. Maybe we missed something?

        If so, I am sorry and please email where you see live at neil@neilpatel.com so I can fix it.

  2. Organic good ol’ content marketing on blogs and website works wonders as a stable means of driving traffic using creative digital marketing tactics. One thing people fail in is having the consistent mindset to create lots and lots of content on a daily basis as a means of getting good SEO and passive traffic from search engines; yet, they’d rather resort to “easy street” in terms of PPC or other illegitimate means of getting traffic. Natural content marketing is a foolproof method for staying relevant online and earning trust from site visitors.

  3. Nora McDougall-Collins :

    It always amazes me how often the Quick Sprout posts mirror what I tell my clients. Today it was almost spooky because a couple of hours before reading this article, I posted the following on Facebook:

    OOOOOH, SHINY!
    Many years ago, I had a client who chased every possible new technology and digital toy. His staff just could not keep up with the constantly changing tasks and priorities, and the organization was in a general state of chaos most of the time. Not only did he expect everyone to implement the new ideas, but he expected them to complete the multiple layers of previous new ideas.

    What it was really about was the gambler’s illusion of finding that magic thing that would catapult the organization to unbelievable success. This delusion eventually led to his losing, not only his developers, but his whole staff. But, in the several years of working with this situation, we had a great relationship with his staff. Everyone developed the code word, “Oooooh, shiny …” as a response to discussions on how to fit the new direction into the mix.

    Social media is like that. There’s always this new shiny platform with the promise of instant success. While it’s important to watch trends, it’s also important to do a great job at the platforms that you have started, and not waste your time at a hundred new starts and zero full implementations.

    • Happens all the time, I’ve seen so many just come and go. People forget that they need to master just 1 and then they can leverage it to grow the others.

      Thanks for sharing your story, great to hear things are going well 🙂

  4. Hi Neil,

    Excellent post. I’m in the middle of reading Perry Marshall’s 80/20 book, and actually wrote a blog post on the Pareto Principle as it applies to email copywriting/marketing.

    Regarding hiring an expert in your niche…I agree completely. You must hire the right experts in order to get maximum value from your marketing campaigns.

    Great post!

    • The better you understand what it is you’re doing, the more effective all your efforts will be

  5. Himmat Chahal :

    Very useful article to remind us to ensure we have a solid foundation in place, before we start spending 10 grand on chandeliers.

    The part about people buying from brands and not corporations was a good reminder for me in particular.

    I must say, ever since reading Avinash’s article on “renting vs owning” in the context of social media vs newsletters, I have been somewhat skeptical of the value of Facebook marketing for B2B. I don’t have the experience to know for sure, but it’s something I plan on looking into further. (Article link: http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/marketing-analytics-intersect-newsletter-avinash/)

    Thanks for another great read

  6. According to My view this article is good researched one. Thanks for such an article neil.

  7. Great post – different to what we typically find on Quicksprout, but I’d say one of the most insightful, interesting and useful so far. Thanks so much for pulling this together and sharing…. can’t wait to implement! thanks

  8. Femi Louis Ogumah :

    Neil,

    Good nugget from you again.

    I want to implore all to focus and master one traffic source before starting another. There are wells of traffic source out there and no one can draw it all.

    As a marketer don’t jump from one learning curve to another without completing the one you’re into.
    Most times I always advise getting to know one traffic source, use it, see where you have lapses and improve before starting another source.

    If you jump from one to the other, you’ll find yourself not using what you’ve learned before and also become a starter somewhere again. And before you know it you’re overwhelmed.

    Overwhelming kills and destroys great future if you allow it.

    And the tragedy of life is not what man suffers but what they miss.

    And I know one thing too sure “For small beginning come great things”

    Focus and master what you learn before you start another.

    So please let’s not do things in hasty.

    You will get there with constant progress.

    Thank you Neil for sharing.

    Regards

    Femi Louis Ogumah

    • Yep, you hit the nail on the head Femi

      Become a master at one thing and then leverage that to do other things

  9. Jeannie Hill :

    Hey Niel,

    Love learning from you!

    Question: (hope it isn’t too off-topic), I noticed the URL length of this post:
    https://www.quicksprout.com/2016/07/01/surprising-things-you-need-to-put-in-place-in-order-to-save-thousands-of-dollars-on-digital-marketing

    My digital marketing strategy has tended toward shorter URLs. Could you speak some about your thought processes and choice here?

    Thanks in advance.

  10. Thanks you very much for the very surprising article once again.

  11. You have no idea how useful this is to me. I have been fumbling around trying out various mktg efforts with little success. Now I know I should start with only ONE; master that and then move on; master that and move on. Guess we’re so geared to instant success; but that’s not reality that’s so much for the reality check.

  12. Great words of advice, Neil. Back to the fundamentals of marketing ?. I think an awesome book that goes along with this is Traction – https://www.amazon.com/Traction-Startup-Guide-Getting-Customers/dp/0976339609. You are probably familiar with it but anyone reading this post and wanting to gain some insights into how specific tactics helped different businesses grow will love it. It gives details like how Mint grew their email list to 60,000 subscribers before even launching the product. Thanks for the reminder to start with the basics, master one thing, analyze and pivot when needed. You really need to include a picture/meme of Ross from friends saying, Pivot…Pivot….. ?.

    • Lol, thanks for that book recommendation TJ, I haven’t read that yet, but I worked with mint and Intuit properties 🙂

  13. I’ve got the worst habit of jumping from one strategy to the next so I really enjoyed your point about mastery. Master one strategy, then and only then move to the next.

    I think trusting the process is another point that helps. Test your idea, collect data, adjust and repeat.

  14. Hi Neil
    These tips are really helpful for me and my profession.

    Previously, I was confused in AdWords and Facebook ads. Now, I would use your ideas to win my dreams.

    Thanks
    Anand

  15. Subhradeep Chatterjee :

    Hi, Neil!
    Awesome post! Really helpful!

    I spent some bucks on Facebook ads for my tech news website without much results recently. Now, I think, I can give it another try and get results following your guidelines. 😀

    Cheers,
    Subhradeep

  16. Hey Neil, I think a key part where marketers fail is creating a sound strategy. Glad that its on the top of your list.

  17. Great post.. Yeah it’s important to stick to basics with discipline but being new to the digital marketing it’s not that easy to stop experimenting with lots of ideas popping in my head ?

  18. harpreet kaur :

    what do you suggest about social bookmarking for e-commerce website

  19. You hit the nail on the head, Neil–planning and preparation are KEY to success in the online marketing world. It takes time and effort to develop something truly valuable for users.

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Thanks neil
    for sharing this wonderful article with us.

  21. Arifuzzaman Arif :

    Discipline is needed always and everywhere. It is really a surprising article. Most of the marketers don’t stick to a simple strategy. They always try different and waste money but you have proved in your article that after experimenting some things, one simple strategy is enough to get the expected results.

    By the way, I just loved reading those less and more examples.

  22. Jerome Perrin :

    Dear Neil,

    What a great article again!

    When I read your articles, I have sometimes the feeling as if you could read in my soul, your words are very helpful.

    Concerning my strategy, each time I investigate a niche, I start with SEO. Then, according to the TO results, I decide to invest in FB and Google Ads – or not. I have a ROI approach then (the SEO does not cost me anything but time).

    Maybe I should do the contrary. The fact is that I do not want to invest thousands of Euros without knowing if it will bring any sales in return. I prefer to dedicate 10% of acquired sales (acquired through SEO, website conception and content marketing) to digital marketing investments.

    I wish I received your feedback!

    Cheers from Paris,

    Jerome

  23. Thanks you very much for the very surprising article once again.

  24. Branding, branding and ripping off the benefit. That’s what I can conclude from this article. Creating a better team dedicated to a particular task can also help you a lot in a long run. The other best thing to do is have a different social media team to take care of social media marketing tasks.

  25. Very nicely written blog!!

  26. Hi Neil,

    These tips are really helpful for me and my profession. Now i come to know briefly about digital marketing strategies.

    can’t wait to implement! Thanks for sharing valuable informative article.

  27. Another great article Neil and awesome advice. I 100% agree, no buys from anyone (or company) they do not trust. Branding is building trust. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
    Mark
    @relnlca

  28. Scott @ St. Louis SEO :

    1. Create a rock-solid strategy

    The number one mis-step is failing to plan.

  29. Deepasha Kakkar :

    Hi Neil,

    Great piece. Agree with all your points, especially about building brand personality and mastering a marketing strategy for higher ROI. I can complete relate with those.

    Last time I tried my hand on adwords marketing, we only got a modest result.

    Since then we have redesigned our website in an effort to bolster our brand personality, and have also been careful with our brand voice on Facebook and social pages.

    And, now that we have strengthen our foundation (which I think we lacked last time) we are considering to do adwords again, and see how it plays out.

    • That’s great to hear Deepasha. More often than not, when you’re first trying out something, it probably won’t work as well as you want it to. The goal here is to learn and keep learning and keep improving

  30. I wasted me 2000$ because of not having a right plan in place, instead of targeting my competitors I was trying to target an audience which was not relevant to my business.

  31. Thank you friend for sharing this article

  32. Building your personal brand in something which everyone skip and now i am try to make my own brand. Hope i will succeed.

  33. Rajesh Singh :

    Great post Neil!

    All the points are very brilliant.
    And yes, persistence is the key.

  34. Great Article I love to read your articles because your writing style is too good, its is very very helpful for all of us and I never get bored while reading your article because it becomes more and more interesting from the starting lines until the end. So Thank you for sharing a COOL Meaningful stuff with us Keep it up..!

  35. Josh Manion :

    Great post with awesome tips =) I always love reading your posts…they’re like mini-books!!

  36. tbt stands for again :

    This is a term borrowed from the military which means demilitarized zone.
    A step in the right direction is to make sure that you
    know what ingredients you are using. Mean tbh

    She has been called this generation’s Hester Pyrnne without the Scarlet Letter.
    This would be like buying a car for $20,000 when it has a
    sticker price of $18,000.

  37. flower pictures :

    So, it’s time and energy to talk about how to acquire your subject in focus without placing them
    directly from the center within your picture. Flower bouquet
    or arrangement is usually a craftsmanship which requires an incredible deal of creative energy and
    exertion to create. Flower ring i pick you For example, it is possible to use an image of your pink lotus mainly because it represents calmness and
    spirituality.

    These Great pictures is usually purchased about floral vases, clothing, scrolls, to be a silk filled duvet.
    The stem on the flower is liable for ensuring the flower receives water and
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  38. How do you find out if there is conflict of interest with your job? Can there be conflict of interest applying skills you learned on your job even to businesses of other sectors?

  39. Let's Fly Travel :

    I wasted me 2000$ because of not having a right plan in place, instead of targeting my competitors I was trying to target an audience which was not relevant to my business.

  40. Let's Fly Travel :

    Great post with awesome tips =) I always love reading your posts…they’re like mini-books!!

  41. Tu?n Tr?ng M?t :

    Building your personal brand in something which everyone skip and now i am try to make my own brand. Hope i will succeed.

  42. Tour Tet Nha Trang :

    The number one mis-step is failing to plan.

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