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Moneyless Marketing: 4 Cost-Effective SEO Strategies For Startups On a Budget

Starting a business in the current financial climate can be tricky. With a flurry of online competition and a target audience with rising demands, bootstrapping your business from the ground up has become a costly affair. 

According to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the average startup cost across the globe now stands at around $30,000. From office costs to hiring expenditures, many may feel strapped for cash when it comes to marketing.

However, while many startups may be short of a flashy ad budget and newcomers to a competitive marketing scene, there are still plenty of things they can do to effectively promote their business at a low cost.

From content writing to getting local with your SEO strategy, we have you covered. Read on as we jump into startup marketing on a budget and reveal the key tips and tricks entrepreneurs can follow for a moneyless marketing campaign. 

What is a low-cost marketing strategy?

A low-cost marketing strategy describes any promotional tactic that doesn’t have a great impact on a startup’s budget. 

With over 80% of new entrepreneurs claiming that they are clueless when it comes to introducing the best promotional tactics to their small business, startups should not be throwing their cash at SEO, PPC and social media campaigning when they are unsure of their payoff. 

The key here is to start small and build a marketing strategy from the ground up. Taking time to assess target consumer data and the success of competitor campaigns is a great place to start. 

With this in mind, it’s time to start trialling low-cost yet effective marketing strategies. Not only does this allow a startup to focus its funds on other crucial business building, but essentially allows you to test the water and find out what marketing strategies work for you. 

Introducing Cost-Effective SEO

There are plenty of low-cost strategies you can incorporate into a startup marketing campaign. Your key goal as a new business is to build brand awareness, increase initial engagement and create a buzz around your new products/services. 

This is where SEO comes into play. Also known as Search Engine Optimisation, SEO is one of the most effective marketing strategies for SMEs. Working to increase your organic placement in a Google search, the better your site SEO, the easier it will be for your target audience to find you. 


(Image Source: Seoczar)


This said, SEO strategies can often be costly. Many large businesses throw cash at expensive tracking tools, interactive web design and even pricey partnerships with brands and influencers. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t work on your SEO success at a portion of the cost. 

If you don’t believe us, here are four low-cost SEO strategies to trial on your journey to campaign success

Prioritise High-Quality Content

One of the easiest ways to kick off a cost-free marketing strategy is to just start creating content. Whether this is in the form of blog posts, social media stories or even product descriptions, the more content you create, the more engagement you’ll drive.

The key here is to ensure each piece of content you put out is of high quality and drives organic traffic to your site. One way to do this is to gather as much information as you can about your industry and its target demographic. With this in mind, you can create blog entries and social posts that attract the attention of your potential leads and centre yourself as an opinion leader within your niche. 

Better still, if you find that a particular piece of content performs well, why not repurpose it in a new format? For example, if your blog post on ‘The Best Herbal Remedies’ performs well on your website, why not turn it into a YouTube video that will drive engagement from another platform?

Once you’ve started to build up a following, you can also leverage User-generated content (UGC) in your content marketing efforts.

“UGC can be a powerful marketing tool, as it adds authenticity and social proof to your brand,” says Sneha Lundia, Founder & CEO of Step2Growth. “Encourage your customers to create UGC by offering incentives or running contests. Repurpose UGC in your marketing campaigns, social media posts and website to showcase your happy customers and build trust.”

Collaborate With Industry Leaders

Another way to increase brand awareness at a low cost is to start collaborating with industry leaders from day one. While this may appear pricey, there are plenty of ways to partner with competitors on a low budget.

For example, if you’re an avid content writer, why not offer a competitor site a guest post full of industry insights but also a backlink to your website? This equips your partner with traffic-driving content and you with more chances to score click-based engagement. 

For startups with a slightly larger budget, collaborating with a higher-scale industry player could also be beneficial in the long run. Take Andriod’s partnership with KitKat as an example. Combining efforts, KitKat customers were able to learn more about Android’s newest 4.4 model while tucking into a classic KitKat Chunky.

Android 4.4

(Image Source: Neil Patel)

“Even if you can’t partner with a company as large as KitKat, look to find a strategic partnership that can help your brand gain visibility in the marketplace,” says Neil Patel, co-founder of NP Digital. “Making valuable connections with other brands and publications can provide a huge boost as well, giving you tremendous reach at a low cost.”

Utilise Local SEO

Did you know that a whopping 93% of online searches are aimed at local businesses and contain localised keywords?

Local SEO

(Image Source: Bright Local)


It’s no secret that SEO and advertising efforts can be costly when reaching out to a large audience. From social campaigns to pop-up PPC ads, the price quickly stacks up, and the returns are often disappointing. 

With over 80% of mobile searchers now entering ‘near me’ type keywords into Google daily, it could be time to start utilising your local marketing for an engagement payoff. 

The key here is to optimise your website for local search. This includes localising your keyword use and introducing location-specific meta tags to your content to help boost viability in a local search. 

Better still, why not create a Google My Business (GMB) profile for free, and keep it regularly updated with your business address and opening hours? This helps Google rank you as a local contender, improving search rankings at zero cost. 

When you create a website online, prioritising localisation is essential as a startup. Not only does it half your competition, but you’ll find that local content and keywords are much easier to rank for in a competitive search market.

Introduce Referral Programs

Last but not least, it’s time to leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Not only is it free,  but a staggering 92% of people trust personal recommendations more than any other marketing strategy.

Personal recommendations

(Image Source: Neil Patel)


One way to introduce more word-of-mouth marketing is to introduce a referral program into the mix. Make sure that you encourage your satisfied customers to keep talking about your business post-conversion. Whether this is in the form of a review or social post, their network of followers and friends are likely to take their word for it when it comes to your products/services. 

“Word-of-mouth marketing can be incredibly effective, and referral programs are a low-cost way to tap into this power,” comments Sneha Lundia. “Encourage your satisfied customers to refer your business to their networks by offering incentives such as discounts, freebies or exclusive access to new features. Use referral codes or links to track referrals and reward your customers for their efforts in promoting your startup.” 

Even if you can only offer a 10% discount or free shipping, taking the time to make your loyal customers feel special is a sure way to keep those referrals flowing without breaking the bank. 

A Low-Cost Future

Startup marketing can be testing, but with the right strategies in place, you can certainly reach your audience on a budget.

Whether you’re new to SEO or want to trial a campaign on a budget, taking the time to get to know your audience is a great way to ensure these moneyless marketing strategies are effective.

From targeted content to appealing to local consumers, your demographic is your key to success in a highly competitive online landscape. 


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