Only a few years ago, creating your own website was considered a major investment. Not only was it time consuming and costly, but small business owners also had to invest in ongoing maintenance and support. Making changes and updates to a site usually required hiring a developer, and overall website creation took up a large portion of a small business owner’s marketing budget. Furthermore, site promotion on the web was complicated. Small business owners lacked access to affordable tools and resources to create a successful online marketing strategy.
Thankfully, times have changed, and DIY website builders have come a long way. DIY website building technology has advanced, offering user-friendly functions and interfaces, easy ecommerce integration, and sophisticated designs and templates. Even if you’re on a shoestring budget, they’re very affordable, and some are free or offer free versions.
Online marketing has also evolved. Since DIY website building is a more cost-effective solution, it can free up a lot of your online marketing budget. You can use these funds toward lucrative online marketing initiatives such as SEO, social media, and email marketing. The importance of allocating part of your budget towards these strategies shouldn’t be underestimated—they’ve generally become necessary to create a successful brand, store, or online presence.
Get started by using the following guidelines to build your own website, and create an online marketing strategy in under $650 annually.
1. Buy your domain ($10)
Start by buying the web address that will be your domain name. It’s not uncommon that your domain name may already be registered to another user.
Domain registry websites will usually suggest some variations that are available, including the same name with a .net or other top level domains. While domains ending in .com outnumber those registered under .net exponentially, you also want to take into account the SEO implications of your domain name. You want your domain to be keyword rich and relevant.
Some website building companies—Jimdo included—will create and host your domain for you. This eliminates the need to go through an additional company such as GoDaddy, Hover, or Namecheap. Be sure to check out this guide to selecting the perfect domain name before selecting yours.
2. Choose a website building company ($100-$300)
Depending on your small business needs, you can usually budget between $100-$300 for your website. More basic versions will include a secure site, design templates, and customer support. These may be ideal if you just need to build a website to showcase a portfolio of your work or explain your services. More comprehensive packages usually include several landing pages, responsive design, ecommerce services, or an online store, as well as more sophisticated designs and layouts.
You may have to shop around to purchase some of these features—such as ecommerce capabilities and templates—from multiple vendors. One great thing about Jimdo is that you can find all the features you need streamlined into one site, such as:
- Multiple pages
- Safe, secure, easy-to-use interface
- Online store
- Beautiful templates
- Mobile-optimized templates
- Live support
3. Optimize your site ($99)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important initiatives of your inbound marketing strategy, as it helps search engines and users find your site. After all, what it the point in having a beautiful and interesting site if it’s buried on the internet?
However, certain aspects of SEO tends to be technical and difficult to understand, and the industry itself can be hard to keep up with. Thankfully, there are companies like Moz, an industry-leading, reliable one-stop shop for optimizing your site. They offer packages with robust, effective, and easy-to-use tools that are tailored toward small business owners and beginners. As far as SEO tools are concerned, there are few that hold a candle to the comprehensive and helpful features in Moz’s toolkit.
4. Integrate social media (free)
Social media management sites such as Buffer and HootSuite offer in-depth plans for as little as $50, but I’ve found that the free versions of both of these tools are plenty enough for small business owners. Each features social media account dashboards to help you manage your accounts, custom scheduling, analytics and data insights, and more. If you need guidance in crafting your social media strategy, a good place to start is with a solid Twitter strategy.
5. Use analytics (free)
One of the most rewarding aspects to building your own website is to analyze how users are interacting with your site. It’s fun to geek out over your data, identify user trends, pinpoint site strengths and weaknesses, and target areas for improvement. You can examine the fine details of your audience such as where they’re coming from, the browser or device they’re using, what they’re looking at, and much more. You can pay for this data through Adobe Marketing Cloud (formerly Omniture) or Hubspot, or you can use Google Analytics, which is free, and comes with plenty of support and tutorials to help you understand and act on your data.
6. Invest in email marketing ($180)
Email marketing is an incredibly effective way to generate leads, increase brand awareness, and strengthen customer loyalty. According to Salesforce—and as discussed in this blog post on the best email marketing service—for every $1 spent, the average ROI for email marketing initiatives is $44.25. It’s a wise choice to invest more of your marketing budget in strategies that are proven to be effective, and do it yourself on other segments such as analytics when you can. Mailchimp offers a comprehensive and popular ‘Growing Business’ package for $15 a month, and you can easily add more services as you grow subscribers.
7. Localize your site. ($49)
It’s important to help local customers find your business online. Unfortunately your domain doesn’t just magically appear in local directories, and localizing it yourself requires some tedious work and a fair degree of organization. There are a sea of location centric sites—Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, just to name a few—and you have to register your location information with each one, and keep track of your presence on these sites on an ongoing basis. Luckily, Moz recently released a nifty tool called Moz Local that does it all for you. For $49 a year, the tool registers your location data with online directories, data aggregators, and manages your business listings for you. All you have to do is enter your address and they take care of the rest. It’s a fantastic way to manage your local search presence.
We’d love to know what segments of your online marketing budget have had a significant impact on your small business? Please share with us in the comments section below.
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