SMB Marketers: Small Budget? Small Team? Search and Social Are Key

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Photo above by Mike Petrucci.

SMB marketing departments are often challenged by smaller budgets and smaller teams. In the past, this meant marketers had to put in a lot of elbow grease to cobble together campaigns that produced results, and they had almost no time to try new channels or iterate upon new creatives. Pressed to prove their worth and their ROI, SMB marketers had to stick to the tried-and-true year after year.

While SMBs may face smaller teams and budgets, they now have many more tools to amplify their resources—particularly in search and social media. In recent years, Google has launched a suite of tools for time-constricted marketers to help them reach and engage their target audiences, without demanding a minimum spend. Additionally, social platforms have launched new tools to help marketers implement highly targeted, image-driven ads without much creative fuss.

With the barrier to entry lower than ever, third-party platforms have also made inroads to make it easier for marketers to leverage search and social more effectively. These platforms have made it attainable for marketers—regardless of their team size or level of experience—to launch and optimize sophisticated, targeted campaigns, providing an ideal foundation to build upon as their capabilities and budgets expand.

With that, here are five reasons SMB marketers should consider digging deeper into search and social right now.

No minimum budget. One of the best reasons to start using these channels is that you can afford to. With a few hundred dollars, marketers can easily start campaigns on Google, Facebook, and other platforms on a PPC or CPM basis. With a few thousand dollars, those campaigns can easily drive thoughtful engagement with a targeted audience for weeks or even months. Given the low financial barrier to entry, there’s no reason not to test these channels and see what works.

Easy to get started. Now more than ever, training materials and courses on search and social platforms make it easy to get started. With Google leading the way, the self-service platforms run by the leaders in search and social offer intuitive interfaces, as well as excellent learning tools. The Google AdWords certification program offers easy-to-follow, digestible video courses, and its expanded set of classes and certification programs are better than ever. Similarly, both LinkedIn and Facebook offer ample training to get rolling. Now, marketing managers can easily learn everything they need to know to not only get started, but also make the first steps toward meaningful campaign optimization. Admittedly, mastery is another matter, which is perhaps why so many teams seek additional online training, hire specialists, or otherwise enlist the service of a pro.

Targeting & audience discovery. Finding audiences on search and social are inherently unique processes, and the true power lies in something that previously seemed impossible: getting the disparate walled gardens to work together. Fortunately, there are now third-party tools and platforms that make this process easy enough, for even new-to-data marketing specialists. Between keyword suggestion tools and social’s geo and affinity targeting, marketers can now build fairly complete audiences across platforms. Many platforms also have retargeting partners, so marketers can continue to engage prospects even after they’ve left the social network or search engine. All of this creates a clearer perspective across channels, providing marketers with invaluable audience insights into the factors driving engagement, helping them better understand how to invest effectively for their next campaign.

Fast launch, fast results. SMB Marketers generally don’t have the luxury of time to launch a full content strategy and wait for the results of their campaigns. Often reporting right to the founder or CEO, they need to be able to show results quickly—and self-service platforms allow them to do that with easy campaign setup and real-time results. Now, marketers can easily create a shared library of compelling ad units for any platform, pushing them live across search and social platforms to create a cohesive cross-channel campaign. With the right tools, those campaigns will even share performance and ROI metrics with one another into a cohesive dashboard from which spend can either be manually or automatically reallocated.

Grow with ease. Marketers are likely to find search and social so easy to use that they’ll be relatively self-sufficient in a few months, though learning will undeniably continue for years to come. With results that prove success, SMB marketing leaders may even find that they have increased budget to work with—and they may want to try new channels like Yahoo, Bing, Pinterest, and Instagram. Why not look for new opportunities that will help your budget and confidence grow?

Running campaigns across search and social platforms will not only help marketers drive the results their CEOs crave but also give them the education they need to take the next step in digital marketing and advertising. As their budgets increase, or as they move on to new positions, SMB marketers have a strong digital foundation to continue to expand their knowledge—and their career.

Chris Clark is director of paid search and social at AUDIENCEX. Chris began his career as a clerk on the American Stock Exchange in New York, where he became a member and broker. After relocating to Los Angeles, he worked for a Beverly Hills real estate law firm. He became involved in their internal marketing efforts and later moved to paid search at Dex Media, handling the firm’s largest national client, as well as several SMBs. During his time in paid media Chris has served a handful of large enterprises including CenturyLink, Transamerica, and most recently The Walt Disney Company, where he oversaw all paid search efforts for Disneyland and Aulani. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Miami University.