When you have limited budget and bandwidth, you need your marketing investments to pay off.

Whether you’re investing time, money, or both, you want to put them to use in the most effective marketing channels – you want to find the best return on investment (ROI).

And you’re far from alone. No matter how big or small a business is, there are still limits – you still need to find the most efficient ways to attract more customers without breaking the bank (even if that bank has a million dollars).

Which channels should you look to? Is it traditional print advertising, television ads, cold calling…

We wanted to make it easier for you to decide where to allocate your time and money – so, without further ado, here are the biggest ROI-boosting channels for marketing a small business.

Short-Term ROI Winners

When it comes to securing phenomenal ROI numbers, there short-term winners and long-term champs. When you need a little boost for the business, turn to the short-term winners – they tend to involve less upfront effort and will more directly correlate each dollar with results for your business.

1. PPC

Pay-per-click ads (or PPC, or paid search) are a marketing darling for several reasons. For starters, it’s incredibly easy to manage budget because you choose how much you’re willing to pay for each click, spend per day, and total campaign budget – you’re completely in control.

But the biggest benefit to PPC is how measurable it is. With tools like Google AdWords and Bing Ads, you can automatically collect data like clicks and bounce rate, and by integrating with analytics, you can see exactly what those leads do on your site once they get there.

All of this data makes it incredibly easy to optimize your ads. It’s clear which sites, headlines, copy, etc. are the most effective, and you can see which ads are leading to actual sales. That makes it seamless to know which ads to invest in and which to pull the plug on – meaning you can reinvest where the ROI is highest.

Pro Tip: Paid search can be an especially effective tactic if you’re looking to target a specific geolocation. With longtail, location-specific searches having less search volume, ads placed in those searches are likely to command lower cost-per-click (or CPC). That means you’re still reaching the local audience you target, but at a much lower cost.

Suggested Reading: How Small Businesses Can Win with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

2. Social Media Ads

Social media ads (or paid social) combine the best of both worlds – the powerful word-of-mouth value of social media with the reach of a paid ad. Similar to PPC, it’s really easy to see which ads are effective and driving revenue growth and which… aren’t. The data is readily accessible, right in front of you.

The biggest benefit of paid social over your usual social media presence is that you can expand your ads’ reach. Typical organic social reach is pretty narrow – only the people who follow or "like" your business page will see the things you post.

By putting some budget behind those social posts, you can get them in front of new audiences; people who don’t already know your business. And what’s more, most social platforms have robust targeting options, so you can ensure your ads are reaching the right new people.

Pro Tip: When setting targeting preferences for a paid social campaign, choose to exclude people who already follow or "like" your social media. This helps to ensure each dollar you spend is actually bringing in new business, not repeats.

Suggested Reading: Get Social with Mary (Part II): Paid Social Advertising

Long-Term ROI Champions

Long-term ROI champs take a little more upfront investment on your part, but they tend to have a longer-lasting effect on ROI and business in general. Unlike short-term tactics, the benefit of these strategies won’t disappear as soon as you stop putting money behind it – they’ll have a more enduring effect, long after the initial monetary investment.

3. Email Marketing

Forget everything you’ve heard about the impending death of email. Hogwash. Studies consistently show that email marketing is the all-time ROI queen. Both in actual revenue driven and marketers’ perception of success, email reigns supreme over every other marketing channel. (If you're interested, try Sleeknote's tool to help calculate the ROI of your existing email campaigns.)

Why? It’s true that email simply costs less than other marketing tactics, but it’s more than a low-budget trick. Email marketing provides a pool of potential customers who are already engaged with your business. They’ve opted in to your email list, and that’s a powerful foot in the door.

Email doesn’t just help convert new customers, it’s also incredibly effective at driving repeat purchases and incremental value – meaning you can squeeze more revenue from existing customers and foster a long-term relationship.

Pro Tip: Go all in on automation. Automatic triggered emails can help scale the email marketing process so you get more return on less time & effort investment. Emails like product recommendations, replenishment reminders, and newsletters can help your business stay top-of-mind and drive incremental value through the roof.

Suggested Reading: Why Email Automation Boosts Sales

4. Search Engine Marketing

If your eyes are already glazing over, know that you aren’t alone. Many small business owners find it confusing to implement quality content and search strategy, and it is harder to track the effect on revenue directly.

That being said, search makes the world go ‘round, friend. It’s a fact of life that internet searches are at the heart of the modern buyer’s journey – and if you don’t show up in Google, other marketing tactics may be all but useless.

What makes SEM a powerful ROI tool is threefold:

Pro Tip: Once your marketing website is ranking well for key terms, add a blog. Quality blog content published on a regular basis can help improve your authority within the niche, both for Google and your potential customers. It can also help you build brand recognition across a wider swath of topics relevant to your industry.

Suggested Reading: SEO & Content for Your Business│Grasshopper Academy

Make Those ROI Numbers Sing

Small business is all about optimizing for that one vital metric – ROI. While there are a million and one marketing tactics that can be effective for growing your business, the 4 mentioned above are undoubtedly the kings and queens of return on investment.

Seen amazing ROI numbers from one of the tactics above? Share your results with us in the comments below.