5 Inexpensive Ways to Grow Your SMB Online

Tim Johnson

For most small- and medium-sized businesses, competing online against the big players can be daunting. How are you supposed to match their seemingly infinite marketing budgets when you may just have a few thousand dollars a month to work with?

If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. There is still a lot you can do without a large marketing department and massive ad budget.

Before we get to those five tips, remember to refer back to the Marketing Stack. Disclaimer: The key to growing your business is not one channel/tactic.

Marketing Stack

I won’t go into too much detail here. Instead, follow that link above the chart. Portent CEO Ian Lurie is much better at explaining it than I am. Here is a quick overview, though:


Having a well-functioning site can go a long way. Users expect a seamless experience, so do what you can within your resource restrictions to make your site easy to navigate, load pages quickly, etc.


Google Analytics is free and relatively simple to set up. It is a very powerful tool that will help you understand your audience, how they interact with your site, and what content resonates the best with them.

Knowledge is power. If you understand your audience you can tailor your site and content to better fit those needs.


Your first thought here might be blog posts. That is what most people think of when we talk about creating new content. Blog posts are part of it, but content is so much more than that.

Content can be anything from a video to social posts to evergreen content that lives on your site. If you build it, they will come. Create quality content and make it easy for users (and search engines) to find.

Once you have addressed your foundation, you can start to think about the top of the stack and that’s where our five tips come in. Without further adieu, here are five ways to improve and grow your business online without breaking the bank.

1. Promote your content

If you create a piece of high-quality content that you think your users will love, don’t be afraid to spend a few hundred bucks to promote it. You’d be surprised what a couple hundred dollars promoting a post on Facebook or boosting your content on Outbrain or Taboola can get you.

An initial push could be all you need to get the visibly you’re looking for. If your content is indeed interesting and useful, your audience will help you out by promoting it within their own circles at no cost to you.

2. Engage with your users

You are producing great content and doing your best to get it out there. That’s great, but don’t stop there. Engage with your audience on their terms. That may mean replying to comments on a blog post, replying to online inquiries, or engaging on social media.

Go to them where they’re talking about you or asking questions and join in on the conversation to help create a better experience for your customers.

3. Email marketing

Over time, you should be able to (if you haven’t already) develop a list of customer and potential customer email addresses. You already know these people are in your audience so take advantage of it.

Use an email marketing tool to generate a newsletter of some sort to keep these people engaged with your business. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple monthly “Hey, check out this cool thing” email will keep people coming back.

4. Guest blog

Don’t be afraid to think beyond your own site. We already talked about engaging your audience where they are but what if they aren’t engaging with you? Find the online community where your customers are and become a voice in that community. This will help you become an industry leader and build better industry relationships.

Contribute to discussions on forums, answer questions on Quora, and most of all, write industry blogs. Most blog owners love this sort of connectivity and engagement from outsiders.

5. Retarget

Finally, retarget to your website visitors. In Google Analytics you can create audiences based on a variety of different things like how long people are on your site, what pages they view, demographic information, and more.

Once you have these audiences built, you can target them with banner or text ads as they travel around the Internet. Retargeting traditionally has much lower cost-per-click averages than other forms of PPC through Google AdWords. The reduced cost and high-level of intent already shown by your audiences should help produce high return on ad spend (ROAS).

Sure, it helps to have a massive marketing budget, but that’s not realistic for everyone. If you are on a tight budget, focus on tactics like the ones listed above to get more visibility and grow your business. And be sure your overall strategy involves all aspects of the Marketing Stack. If you do, you’ll be surprised at how far you can get.

Small Business Marketing Solutions

Tim Johnson

Timothy Johnson

Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead
Small Business Solutions / PPC Team Lead

As Portent's PPC team lead, Tim manages both the agency's PPC efforts as well as the Small Business Solutions team. He is dedicated to working with clients to maximize the results of their advertising budgets, constantly looking for out-of-the box paid search strategies to meet–and exceed–their goals. Tim he carries full Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, and Google Analytics certifications.

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