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It’s no secret that the most effective marketing plans are those that are multichannel, and don’t rely on just one avenue for getting the word out. Sometimes, however, small and micro business owners make the mistake of thinking that this means they have to do everything all at once when they first start out. This often leads to an “all or nothing” situation in which busy entrepreneurs who don’t have the time to market on every channel end up doing nothing because they get overwhelmed.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to make sure that you choose the most feasible strategies for you, and start with those. You can certainly build on that foundation over time, but as they say, done is better than perfect.

The most popular strategy isn’t necessarily the best.

Search Engine Watch wrote a great article on this topic. They pointed to a survey by BrightLocal, which studied various lead sources among US business and reported the following:

Word of mouth: 26%
Search Engine Optimization: 19%
Online local directories: 15%
PPC: 3%

Now, we are all familiar with how percentages work. More leads = better strategy, right? Not so fast. Sure, when Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is done diligently, it’s a very effective and efficient means of bringing new leads to your business. However, many small business owners would be making a big mistake if they dedicated all their efforts to SEO. First, it can be time consuming. To be clear, we’re not talking about the basics like having a quality website with a good description and some well-placed keywords. That’s a given. SEO in this sense refers to more advanced website optimization and the implementation of a content strategy. Content marketing involves regularly creating relevant, engaging content that links back to your website and gets indexed by search engines. It’s a fantastic strategy for marketers who have a little time to invest in doing it properly – but it’s not exactly low-hanging fruit.

Paid search advertising might be right for you.

Looking at these numbers, I know PPC (paid search, or SEM) does not look like the most glamorous choice. But the relatively low start-up costs and quick return potential make it a good first choice for small business owners. If you’re still not convinced, consider the fact that 72% of marketers that use PPC plan to increase their budgets for it in 2014. Why would they do that if it wasn’t working well for them? Once you get a strategy in place and get comfortable with the process, you can monitor your progress and see how it’s working for you. If you’re seeing good traffic to your website and through your front door, you’ll know that you’ve hit the sweet spot and you can start looking into new strategies to grow your business even more.

The Search Engine Watch article mentioned above makes another great point that is worth repeating: Don’t sleep on the email marketing channel. Even though it’s not getting a whole lot of press these days, it’s still an inexpensive and potentially very effective way of communicating with your customers.

Want to learn more? Here’s a handy guide to paid search written by Webs’ own paid search (SEM) marketing manager.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the resident blogger at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social marketing tools. Loves marketing, small businesses, and whales. Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog and Google+.

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