Paid Media On a Budget: Maximizing Impact With Minimal Resources


Paid media is a valuable tool in many brands’ overall marketing plans when it comes to demand capture, and preferably, to increased revenue. However, there are times when choosing paid media as part of your marketing plan can feel overwhelming, specifically from a financial standpoint. Regardless of managing media in house or paying management fees to a partner, the media spend expense itself is frequently a large line item on your P&L.

Whether you’re operating with a limited budget from the jump, or your company is experiencing economic volatility that forces a reallocation in resources, finding yourself with little dollars to spend on paid media can create a challenge in maximizing impact. 

Fortunately, there’s a few things you can do to make these scenarios not so intimidating as you carry out your paid media efforts. Let’s unpack four steps you can take to accomplish your goals on a limited budget. 


  1. Prioritize Clean Data

The first step to take should be to prioritize clean data. Knowing that your numbers are up-to-date and accurate allows you to make the best possible decisions with the data you already have at your fingertips. Gather all of the information you need in order to make smart choices of where your budget will be spent. 

Additionally, pulling all of your data will give you a clearer picture of how your current campaigns are performing — highlighting which could benefit the most from some paid media dollars. 

But how do you determine if your data is clean? Start by asking yourself the following question: Are you able to track leads clearly from initial impression through to sales? If the answer is no, then your data isn’t as clean as it could be. You want to understand the impact of all channels that you are using for paid media so that you know where you get the most bang for your buck and where you should be focused. Do you need full-funnel attribution to make educated decisions in your campaigns? No, but it’s important to compile as much as possible, particularly when much of this data is readily available — you just need to gather and organize it.

If you’ve determined that your data isn’t clean, there are a number of ways you can begin the process of cleaning it up. Some easy ways to get started include removing duplicates and irrelevant data, ensuring consistent formatting, and fixing errors and inconsistencies. One extra digit or letter in an email address from your lead form could be the difference between targeting a real customer and sending an unwanted message to the wrong contact.


  1. Take Advantage Of The Marketing Funnel

Ahh, yes. The good ‘ol marketing funnel. You know how it goes. Starting from the top with awareness, and working down through interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and finally reaching the bottom of the purchase stage. If you don’t have the budget to allocate resources to each stage of the funnel, start with channeling your media dollars on the awareness and intent portions. 

For the awareness stage, do what you can to make your targeted audience aware of your brand, what you do,  and what you offer. But how do you know which paid media tactics to focus on within this stage of the funnel? Well, start by conducting an inventory on the assets you have available. A really high-impact awareness tactic is CTV/OTT (connected TV/over-the-top television). Think of it as traditional commercials that you see on TV, but only for streaming services. Instead of choosing the channel and spot and hoping that your audience is watching, you actually buy the audience and then the ads appear within the content they are watching. Another great option for awareness is social media, where you can run engagement campaigns with video assets or traffic campaigns. You can even combine behavioral/interest targeting with tools like Look-A-Like targeting based on your customer list.

Then, spend some time and resources on the intent portion of your funnel, working to convert your awareness audience into this stage. A great paid media activity to start with here in the intent stage of the funnel is paid search — the most bottom-of-the-funnel tactic you can get. Here, people are actively searching for a solution to a “problem” and you want to appear as that solution. Filling your funnel from the top allows you to use your dollars most efficiently by reaching a large, broad audience where you can test what works and what doesn’t at an effective speed. 

Use your consideration stage to take that awareness bucket you’ve spent some media dollars on and use the internal activities you already have like email and organic social to drive your audience down the funnel. When your audience reaches the intent stage, come back in with those dollars to get them through the remainder of the funnel. Focus on spending your money at the very top and very bottom of your funnel when you don’t have the budget to do so at each stage. 


  1. Know Your Customer Journey

Using the clean data you gathered from step one, determine when your customers are reaching that highest chance of possible conversion at the bottom of your marketing funnel, the point when they are actively searching for a solution to the problem you can help solve. 

It can be difficult to determine when your customers are at this stage, however, this is also something that your CRM’s clean data can tell you. It can help you draw patterns in your audience’s behavior – what actions are “most people” taking before purchasing. Can you draw any parallels between their actions during the different phases of the decision-making process?

Once you’ve answered those questions, come back in with your CRM list and use your paid media dollars to target your customers with the exact messaging they need to actually make the conversion based on their behavior.


  1. Be Willing To Adapt

The final step in this process is to be willing to adapt and pivot when needed. This process may work for a week, a month, or a year. But at some point, hopefully when you have more dollars at your disposal, you’ll need to come back and re-evaluate what parts are working and what parts aren’t. 

Additionally, don’t be unconscious of external factors, like economic issues. Ask yourself if this factor would impact your audience’s ability to buy? If the answer is yes, you won’t be able to use paid media to force your way through it and “buy” purchases. Get creative. Think of other ways to provide value to your customers so that you are top-of-mind when they are ready and able to make a purchase.

Having an adaptable attitude surrounding your paid media plan is what is going to help you be as effective as possible while you weather the constraints of a tighter-than-ideal budget. 

Abby works to evoke emotion and tell story in all things Element Three. Whether it’s crafting educational content to elevate others or sharing stories of growth in our employees, you’ll find Abby constantly working to refine her craft and take on new challenges.

Related resources.

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