As a small business, you know that you have to spend money to make money. But how you spend that money matters. It’s easy to waste thousands trying to figure out how to increase sales now.
Fortunately, there are some proven strategies that small businesses with the smallest budget can use to get new customers.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Small Business Advertising Budget Dilemma
Let’s say you’re a local business with a billboard up on Main Street. Thousands of people see it every day as they leave work. If marketing success could be measured in reach alone, you’re doing great.
But the sales numbers don’t lie. That’s why you want to know how to increase sales.
Here’s what’s going on with that billboard.
How many people actually see the billboard? How many take time to read it? How many are actually interested in what you sell? It’s very hard to say.
Your cost for the billboard will depend on how many people see it. You’re paying for 1,000’s of people who aren’t likely customers just because they drive down that street.
As a small business with an even smaller budget, something just doesn’t feel right about this system. And you’re right. It’s not effective. And the smaller your budget, the less effective it gets.
You could use an advertising platform where 1,000 or more people who are likely to need what you sell see your ad. Then you only pay for the ad if someone responds to your ad.
1,000 people saw it. Only 50 people responded. You only pay for those 50 people.
Isn’t this how all advertising should work?
This is how most digital advertising works.
This is why small businesses with small budgets are turning to digital advertising and marketing. They don’t need to pay millions to reach a million people. Any small business budget can fund ads on a digital platform.
But in order to get a return on investment, you need to know how to stretch that tiny budget where it delivers the highest results. Which strategies you apply and how you apply them depends on your industry and business model.
Here’s a few tips you need to know on how to increase sales with a small budget:
7 Simple Ways on How To Increase Sales
1. Target Narrowly
The first and most important thing to know about advertising online with a small budget is to target narrowly.
You’re passionate about what you do. You want to spread the word to every corner of the Internet. But the more people who see your ad but don’t want what you see, the worse you’ll perform. That will cost you money.
It’s really common for a small business to try to target everyone. They just want to know how to increase sales. They don’t care where the sales come from.
Sometimes they’re afraid to outline who the ideal customer is. They don’t want to exclude anyone.
But here’s the magic that happens when you target narrowly:
- You spend less advertising to unlikely customers
- You spend in the right places where your customers are
- You get more great reviews because the people who buy really wanted it
- You generate more referrals, sharing, and customer-promotion
- You increase the perceived value of your services as customers come back again and again
Take these steps to target narrowly:
Identify Who You Want to Target
Develop and write out one buyer persona to get started. Most small businesses will have 5 or 10. But just target 1 type of person for 3 months. The next 3 months, add another target if you know you can manage two targets.
A persona not only includes broad demographics like age, gender, education level. It includes things you can use to connect on a meaningful level like:
- Job Role
- Location (city, neighborhood, etc.)
Use what you know about your existing customers to build these personas. Look for reviews or testimonials, or send a survey to your best repeat customers if you don’t have this information. Speak with your salespeople and customer service. Finding out what your customers want and will respond to will add lots of insight to your overall marketing strategy.
Use the Tools You Have to Target
Facebook Ads Manager is one of the best places for a small business new to digital marketing to get started. There’s a good chance your target customers are there and active.
When setting up your ads, look back at the buyer persona you created. Now choose traits in the drop-downs that best align with that persona.
If a lot of customers come from a particular business like a local factory or hospital, target people who work there.
If your customers tend to be in one zip code, target people in that zip code.
If your target customer loves lifting weights, target people who love the gym.
If you’re a private pre-school, target parents of young children.
Explore your options. You’ll be amazed at just how well you can target with Facebook.
Build Ads Around Your Target
Once you’ve determined who your target is and selected their traits, create an ad that speaks directly to this target audience.
Check out this Facebook ad targeting a subgroup of people with sleep apnea. Who is the target?
- Concerned about health risks
- Wanting a non-surgical solution
How about this career training ad. It asks a very specific kind of person a very targeted question.
This target is not only interested in meditation. They are teachers. Their challenge is that they’re unsure how to get clients.
Create a Dedicated Landing Page
A landing page isn’t just your homepage, a services page, or product page. It’s a page that’s dedicated to one purpose. That purpose is to get a person to take an action that gets them closer to becoming a customer.
If you have a lower price point and little decision-making goes into buying, you’ll go for a quick sale. If your product/service takes some consideration time, this action helps a person consider you for the service.
The landing page below very closely aligns with the ad and the target. There should never be a question why the ad led to this page. In other words, no clickbait.
The action you want a person to take may be:
- Download a free trial
- Sign up for a business newsletter
- Get a free no-obligation quote
The best landing pages make taking the action feel very minimal commitment. Note just how small the commitment is in this example.
If you clicked on the above snoring ad, you go to an article as promised. At the bottom of the page, you’re asked to take a very low-obligation action. It even gives the person an option not to state their age, if that’s too much to ask.
Then you’re taken to a product page that explains the solution.
Under the solution is a clear call to action.
This is a very clearly defined sales funnel that any business can use when they’re questioning how to increase sales. Yours may look a little different based on your business. But every funnel can be this direct.
Targeting narrowly is important regardless of what channel you use to reach potential customers. Facebook Ads. Pinterest. Google Ads.
And regardless of which channel you use in to show those targeted ads, it’s so easy to start small and scale fast.
2. Start Small But Scale Fast
Why is digital advertising so great for small businesses? In addition to making it easier to target small, it’s also easy to start small. Your budget just needs to be big enough that you can gather enough data to see what works best.
Once you do, scale up as you find out how to increase sales in the most cost-effective way.
You already have your buyer persona and know how to create an effective landing page from the last section. Let’s focus on scaling on Google advertising here. But know that most of these principles apply across advertising platforms.
Set a Smaller Ad Budget
Set a budget as small as $10/day for the ad itself. Whether you start this small depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and how fast.
But digital marketing fits any budget. Start small. Test the waters. See what works. As long as you’ve done your homework to have a good starting point, it only gets better from here.
Do Keyword Research
With Facebook, you target traits and interests. With Google Ads, you target common search phrases people use to find information or products online. The searches people perform can tell you a lot about them like:
- What they’re looking for right now
- What their problems are
- What kind of language they use
Use this bit of knowledge to find words that relate to what you sell. Google has a great search tool called Keyword Planner.
Start with a phrase you think someone in your customer base might use to find your website. The tool will tell you how many people look for that term each month. How competitive is that word? How much are people bidding for an ad click?
How much people are willing to bid depends on several factors:
- How closely it describes what you sell. The more closely it describes, the more likely they are to see an ad. And the more likely you are to make a sale when they click your ad. Therefore, people are willing to pay more for a click.
- What the competition is like in your area. If you correctly set up geo-targeting, you’re not competing nationally, just in your local area for a local business.
- The sale price of the product/service. If you’re selling a high-end item like a vacation package or real estate, chances are people are willing to bid higher.
These factors can help put into perspective how much that keyword is worth to you. Here’s an example of what you’ll see if you try to find keywords related to “buy a home”.
Align With Searcher’s Intention
Above, we talked about why it’s so important to align your ad with your target audience. You may not know a lot about the audience, but you do know about their intentions. Align the ad with the intention of the searcher.
If someone has an old car they want to sell, they might type in “How to sell my car fast”
The following appears in the ad section.
Which of these is better aligned with the searcher’s intentions?
The first result doesn’t even address your query and is simply a website URL.
But the JunkMyCar ad says “Sell Your Junk Car Instantly”. They note that you can have an offer in seconds, same day, and they will pick it up. This ad is more aligned with what the searcher wants.
Split Test Your Ads
Before you scale up your budget, know what works. As you begin to see a return on your investment, re-invest a portion of that revenue to scale your campaigns and grow your business.
Digital advertising platforms like Google Ads are designed to make testing easy.
If you buy junk cars, you might want to test the two ads we saw above.
Get actual data that supports your instincts that “Sell Your Junk Car Instantly” is better than simply promoting your website URL.
Set up two identical ad groups targeting the same keywords and going to the same landing page. Determine which ad gets better results. Google gives you very insightful data to determine this.
Once you find your winner, increase the budget. There’s no reason to wait. You’re seeing the immediate effects of your efforts. You know it’s worth the money to increase that budget.
Over time, as you improve, costs will go down.
Split Test Your Landing Pages
Test your landing pages the same way. You want to know how to increase sales. But you want to do it in the most cost-effective way possible. That means that you need to know that after you pay for a click, a high percentage of people will buy.
Once you’ve got the perfect ad copy, make small changes to your landing pages. See which one leads to more conversion and/or sales.
3. Set a Clear Budget
It’s easy to see the cost for a click and think that that’s all that goes into an ad campaign. But seeing the whole picture will help you plan well and get more sales.
You will either pay in time or money for the following:
- Create ad copy & design
- Landing pages
- Research & Planning
- Ad Management
- Ad Testing
While digital advertising is how to increase sales on a budget, it does require the above to be effective.
Get it down in a saved document. Adjust it if needed. But have a plan and consider the costs before you begin.
People who don’t budget when advertising:
- Get surprised by unexpected costs
- End up spending and spending, not realizing that it’s not working
- End up having to increase their overall budget because they don’t know how to increase sales properly with the budget they originally set
That’s not how to increase sales on a small budget. Getting purposeful about what you need to budget and how you spend your budget is.
4. Don’t Let Warm Leads Go Cold
Lead Simple shared this enlightening graphic on lead nurturing.
By the 4th outreach in a lead nurture situation, 80% of salespeople have given up. It’s no wonder. Even if you’re a professional, this much rejection hurts.
If you’re still trying to make sales like this, it’s time to explore all that digital marketing has to offer.
Digital marketing has completely flipped marketing and advertising on its head. Most lead nurturing now happens online. It can be automated. It can be very personalized.
And, yes, it works.
It doesn’t matter if you sell real estate or iPhone protection plans.
57% of a person’s journey to becoming a customer now happens before they even contact your company.
Over 70% of people say they’d rather a company provided information online that they can review in their own time. They’d rather not work with a salesperson until those very last stages in the decision-making process.
But inconsistently and ineffectively nurturing leads will cause all of this interest in what you sell to go cold.
Instead, keep people coming back. Continue to build interest. Make the sale. Then turn customers into repeat customers with a strong digital marketing campaign.
There are several ways to do this.
Nurture Leads Through Social Media
Engage people through social media platforms. Set up a great profile. Share high-quality content that is helpful and/or entertaining. Build your following by networking with other important people in your industry. Join groups. Respond to comments.
Getting social on a platform like Facebook is a great way to build brand awareness and get people invested in your brand. But ultimately, lead them somewhere where you have more control over the message and experience. Social media management and content marketing combined can improve your followers’ customer experience and help direct more leads to your website.
Nurture Leads through Your Website
Use your business blog to share helpful tips and information. Further a potential customer’s understanding of what you do and sell.
Avoid direct promotion in a blog. Your goal is to build trust and interest. It becomes brand equity that you’ll cash in to make more sales.
Nurture Warm Leads Through Email
Email is the best place to nurture leads. 77% of people say they prefer permission-based email marketing when it comes to communications from a business.
Create a monthly newsletter. Share your latest blogs. Offer exclusive discounts or industry advice. These regular interactions will help you stay top of mind. They reduce the chance that a competitor can steal your lead away at the last minute.
And thanks to automation, email marketing is easier and less time consuming when you have the right tools. You can easily manage email lists and send out more personalized emails depending on where your current customers and subscribers are at in the sales process.
You can also try connecting your email campaigns to chat. And how do you do this? Simple. Make it easier for your subscribers to switch to real time conversations by including your chat link in your email content. You can either add it on the top of your message, add it as a “P.S.” or add it in both places. This way, your subscribers won’t have to scroll down to see your chat link.
Once you have someone’s email, use email to consistently engage this person with highly relevant content.
5. Automate Monotonous Work
When you start DIY marketing, it’s very easy to fall into a trap of doing everything manually. Or you pay someone like a receptionist to spend hours doing a very repetitive and boring task.
The problem with this is that you’d be getting much better results if you cut out these monotonous tasks and focused efforts on things that make a bigger impact.
Often the tasks need to be done. But they don’t have to be done by a person.
The marketing and advertising industries have many tools for various budgets. It’s worth it to explore your options. Many offer free trials. Or you get a limited version of the software indefinitely.
In most cases, these are enough to get a small business started. But when you want to grow a business out of that just getting by stage, you’ll need to invest in some of these tools.
Many businesses find these tools cost-prohibitive. They work with a digital marketing agency that has access to these tools already.
6. Know What the Data’s Telling You
When you ask how to increase sales, be prepared to get the honest answer. You can use Facebook ads and Google Ads. You can build a following on Twitter. But are you sitting down for a good length of time to review your reports? Do you know what your data is telling you?
Like all industries, understanding the data is the lifeblood of success.
Data will tell you things like:
- Who’s seeing your ads
- How are people interacting with ads
- Which ads have the highest click-through rate
- Which ads have the highest conversion rate
- Which ads are increasing return customers
- How can you cut costs
- How can you improve performance
- How to beat out the competition
Review your data regularly and on an ongoing basis. That’s how you increase purchases and improve your sales performance.
7. Apply Strategies to Cut Acquisition Costs Over Time
As a small business, you definitely need to know how to increase sales now. That income provides proof of concept. It allows you to maintain operations without staying in the red.
But to get profitable, really profitable, you have to maximize your ROI. That means cutting costs while increasing revenues at the same time.
Can you do both? Can you have sales now and reduce costs over time on a small business budget?
Yes. But you have to be smart about it. And once again, digital marketing helps you do that.
Start Building Brand Equity
We mentioned selling cars earlier. You may not have already known the businesses that appeared in the ads in our search query results. But you may know Carmax. This is a national brand that most people probably know. But how did they get to this status?
When we mentioned selling your car, you may have remembered a Carmax commercial you once saw or liked. Or you may have heard from others that they are a good place to sell your used car. You may have seen a video on Facebook that they shared about a customer.
All of these positive interactions added up to what we call “brand equity”. Over time, brand equity adds fuel to your advertising.
People click more often because you’re the brand they recognize. They’re more likely to buy because you’re a name they know and trust.
Each ad campaign you run may feel completely independent. But they should all work together to build this brand awareness that enhances ad performance.
You can do this by being consistent with:
- Color schemes
- Web Design
- Image Types
- Interacting with people on social media
- What you share other than your own stuff
- How you approach blogging or video-making
- Language you use
- Your domain name
These elements become your style guide. They help potential and repeat customers instantly recognize you and remember you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is another way a business like yours thinks long-term to increase ROI over time. It involves applying specific and purposeful SEO strategies when building and maintaining a website.
These strategies make it more visible in search results for keywords you want to target. They help you attract more potential customers through the search results.
When you’re most visible in the search results, you can spend less on pay per click advertising. Your high search engine ranking and advertising work together like an unstoppable team. This is how to increase sales and maximize profits.
It pays to think long-term as a business.
How to Increase Sales on a Small Business Budget
This is how it’s done. Target narrowly. Start small. But scale quickly. Have a written budget. And think long-term.
Are you having trouble figuring out how to boost sales on a tiny budget? We’ve helped business owners and brands like yours increase sales by 714% on a $500 ad budget. Contact us today to see how we can help you grow your business.