Most Digital Marketing Dollars Are Going to Paid Channels – Should Yours?

Digital marketing strategies are an important part of your budget. The decisions you make about where and how to advertise can impact your company for years to come (and dramatically change your ROI).

A recent Gartner study says that in 2022, almost 60% of digital marketing budgets are going toward paid marketing channels, such as social media and search advertising. Does that mean your brand should be focusing heavily on paid ads?

As a small business, every one of your dollars counts. Although social media marketing is important, don’t close the door to other effective (and affordable) marketing methods. Perhaps it’s time to think outside the box to keep your company head and shoulders above the competition.

Let’s talk about it. Here are four types of marketing you can turn to outside of paid channels.

1) Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization may sound like an intimidating marketing strategy at first, but it’s not as complicated or confusing as it seems. Simply put, SEO is the process of improving your company’s website and content to increase visibility across search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

All of these search engines send out feelers (bots) to webpages like yours. There, they crawl and collect information so that they can categorize your pages and put the information into an index – much like a traditional library, only much more advanced.

Why does this matter to you and your small business? You need to be found online, especially in today’s world. 

Unfortunately, it’s estimated that nearly a third of companies are not investing in SEO services and strategies. These businesses are missing out on a valuable opportunity to rank well and draw in organic traffic, outside of social platforms.

Paid marketing is great for getting in front of social media users, but if you want to get in front of online customers on the hunt, you need to invest in search engine optimization.

2) Email Marketing

Email is very much alive and relevant. It’s still one of the top marketing channels in use, and it offers most businesses an incredible ROI.

According to Limitus, email marketing drives an average of $36 in revenue for every dollar spent – higher than any other channel.

Why is that? Well for starters, everyone has an email address – even your elderly or less tech-savvy customers. Email is a great way to hit a wide audience with your strategic messages, and in some industries, it’s the best way to reach your small business’s target audience.

Send marketing emails regularly and remember: they don’t always have to sell something. In fact, it’s usually best that they don’t! Use emails to deliver info, to entertain, to showcase top reviews and success stories—anything other than asking for customers’ money.

At Ayokay, our seasoned email marketing staff doesn’t just help you find new customers. We also keep your current customers engaged and, as a result, invested in your product, your company—your brand. We understand the difference between an email that converts and spam that gets sent directly to the trash. Want to see your open rates skyrocket? Reach out—we can help.

3) Content Production

The value of content marketing cannot be overstated. If your content is strong, your customers will boomerang, stay engaged and become your company’s biggest champion and cheerleader.

And so will search engines.

Up to 90% of marketers that have a content marketing plan will continue to invest in that area, and roughly 66% of marketers say their 2022 content marketing budgets will increase from 2021. This is a crucial area to focus on, and many SMBs are realizing it.

One of the first—and most important—things to know when planning content is: know your audience.

  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What’s important to them?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • How do they consume content?
  • How can your products and services help them?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can begin planning out your content and precisely targeting your audience. Paid marketing channels are important, but as a small business that needs to establish both credibility and value, you shouldn’t overlook strategic content marketing.

4) Community Connections

Small businesses are the pillars of their communities. Although paid marketing will always be a part of your overall marketing budget, have you thought about spending your time and money on the biggest asset: your network? The power of local outreach and collaboration is immense.

Local businesses can benefit immensely from sponsoring events tied to their industry or linked to their products. How about a cross-promotion with another company? Ever think about sponsoring a scholarship? What about funding a community service project?

Every community has youth programs or sports clubs. Go out and sponsor them. Most of these organizations are strapped for cash and would welcome your help – and love to wear your brand name. Is there any better advertising than having your company’s name and logo on the jersey of thousands of children playing soccer on a Saturday morning?

Think outside the box. Network with organizations that have a common interest with your company. Establishing community connections helps your bottom line and gives back to local residents, a win-win for both.

Deciding How to Spend Your Money

There are so many paid marketing and unpaid marketing opportunities that it can make your head spin. It can seem that everyone is pouring their ad dollars into the hippest social apps and platforms, and you might wonder if you should do the same.

But do you know where brands are really spending their marketing dollars?

According to research from Forrester, eMarketer, and Gartner, owned digital channels (email, website, etc.) garnered the highest budget allocation in recent years – ahead of earned digital channels such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others. SEO services, content marketing, and email messaging are still very much alive, and businesses (big and small) are investing in them.

After decades of experience helping brands of all kinds adjust and tailor their marketing strategies, we’ve come to a pretty strong conclusion: it’s the blended approach that works the best. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is never the right move – especially when that basket is paid ads.

Need Help with Your Marketing Budget?

Paid marketing channels will likely always be a part of your marketing budget – but you need to determine what part. Every business is different, and your budget might not look like those used by other small businesses. That’s okay.

At Ayokay, we’re all about marketing with purpose based on your unique needs and goals. We understand what it’s like to find your footing as a growing business, and we’re here to guide you through the challenges of planning and executing great marketing strategies.

Want to learn more about what’s right for your brand? Contact our team of experienced marketing professionals. Let’s start a conversation about effectively promoting your small business.

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