Small budget? Here are key factors to look at when deciding on going the digital marketing route or sticking to local marketing tactics.

At the beginning of the year, I accepted a meeting with a small business owner to discuss the climate of his brand’s marketing initiatives and staffing. He knew something was off and that things could get better– but what was it exactly? I was very excited to dive in and see what was going on within their company for PR, how the gears were turning for social media content building, the small business digital marketing opportunities available, branding, and the whole shebang. Sometimes it just takes an outsider to pinpoint what is stuck from keeping the gear moving forward. 

It was off to a great start whenall of a sudden the pandemic hit. Panic mode set in for the brand. I got a call from a top partner of the company as he was going through their tight budget, asking if they should cut back on their digital marketing spend. This question comes up often with small businesses on a shoestring budget. It’s easy to focus on cutting costs if you don’t know the actual ROI of marketing elements. It’s important to take into account the benefits of digital marketing for your business. 

This seems to be a common question: does digital marketing really work? 

For this conversation, I am referring to digital marketing such as: 

  • Google & Bing Search Advertising
  • Targeted Smart Shopping Ads (the ones that follow you around the internet like a stalker)
  • Paid Social (hello, Facebook + Instagram)

In the case for the company I was consulting for, the brand was trying to increase their ecommerce traffic and sales to their own site (versus dropship partners, like Nordstrom, Macy’s, etc.) because it is more profitable for the brand. Additionally, the brand wanted to increase its tiny social media following exponentially.    

I’m here to tell you that yes! Digital marketing is incredibly important for brands– especially brands that are based primarily online. I was shocked that the digital marketing budget was even in question– but I have come to learn a lot of people are unsure of the success rates if they don’t know its impact and where to look. They’ll just see the initial cost, but I’d argue it’s definitely an investment that can pay off.

Let’s take a look at this more common than not scenario and see where you land, and if you should invest more in digital marketing initiatives or cut back.


If you are a…



If you’re located in a small town and rely on mostly in-person sales, you may be able to scale back on digital marketing as you see fit. While digital marketing may be bringing in extra traffic from the web, it may not completely hurt your business if you cut your digital spend a little bit to save some green. There is a tool on Google Analytics (if you’re marketing through Google) that can track customer sales and foot traffic into your shop. This can give you a better grasp on if this form of advertising has actually been a big draw of traffic for you or not.

If you can rely on locals popping in through the door, that is great! You can amp up the sales volume by using many other marketing techniques with in-store merchandising, local events, eye catching signage, etc. Maybe throw a few dollars into social media ads by boosting posts to your local target audience– which you can do for as little as $5 a day and you can control when it starts and stops at the click of a button. It’s as simple as that!


If you are a…


PUMP IT UP! Okay, I know you’re saying, “ummm Blaire, this is common sense.” But I can tell you from personal experience, not everyone realizes that a digital direct to consumer business absolutely should use digital marketing. I spoke with someone a few weeks ago and her D2C business wasn’t doing well with digital marketing (they had literally just launched the brand), so she cut it out of her budget completely– and asked me where she should allot her marketing spend.

I understand that maybe you just don’t have the money you initially had for marketing, so it may be necessary to reduce your spend. If your business can relate to this, I recommend going through each digital marketing avenue you’re utilizing to see where it makes sense to cut back as needed. Analyze and pinpoint areas you could shift around. If you’re advertising on Bing, perhaps you should switch your ad spend to Google instead which reaches a larger, more relevant audience for your brand. For areas that aren’t working, switch it up. Dive in and really get an understanding of the ROI. If some areas have been inconsequential for increasing sales, cut that segment off.

It takes about 4 weeks for Google Analytics to optimize new budgeting shifts and for it to become apparent where the strengths are and the opportunities for improvement. For an exclusively digital business, you can trust it is safer to wait the 4 weeks for results than to have no money coming in at all from digital marketing opportunities. If you’re not taking the steps to be in front of your target audience, someone else is, therefore taking your potential sales.

So, if you’re a digital brand I believe that you must use digital marketing. Otherwise your beautiful brand’s website will be living amongst digital tumbleweeds, slowly rolling across the page. (Kidding, but you get the point.) 



Obviously I am all about the digital marketing to build sales– but in this case, you need to sit back and track what is bringing your customers in. Is it through digital marketing strategies? Is it through local marketing initiatives? If one is clearly more successful than the other, consider shifting more of your marketing budget into the more profitable marketing avenue to continue to build sales even more through an avenue that is working. It takes trial and error, but if you’re on a small budget you can try to invest a small amount initially while testing the waters and increase to the successful areas as you’re able to. Get that money flowin’!


Digital marketing can be a tough topic to understand. You see the money being invested in it, but might not get what the ROI is. Maybe you have a hard time looking at all the percentages, spreadsheets, analytics in web jargon and you prefer the old school methods you know through and through. I recommend taking the time to sit down and really look at the numbers. What is a good percentage of click thru rates (CTR) for example? It’s as easy as a quick Google search for clarity. Start to look up these terms, and it will become clearer for you and way less stressful.

Take a look at your current business set-up and compare the scenarios I have listed above. Every business is unique, but these scenarios can clarify and narrow down where you stand, and what kind of digital marketing route you should take to increase your sales and store traffic, whether it’s digitally or in-person.

I hope this has been helpful! If you’re having a debate on digital marketing, what did you choose to do? Happy to hear your success stories, trial and errors– in a world that is changing daily, we can all learn from each other on our paths to success!

hi there, I'm blaire!

I’m an expert at marketing & entrepreneurship, and completely obsessed with helping business owners transform their dreams into booming success stories. Sometimes it just takes an extra set of hands and another person’s perspective to make the business magic happen. Contact me today and let's talk shop! 




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