No business, however big or small, can survive without marketing. While big businesses have large marketing departments and big budgets, small businesses are managing on a shoestring. But here is some good news: marketing on a tight budget is possible. It all comes down to creating an effective marketing strategy.
Here are some cost-effective ideas to get you started:
The 7 Marketing Ideas
#1 Publish e-newsletters regularly
Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies that allow businesses to engage with their existing and potential customers via emails. Think email marketing is too time-consuming? Not anymore. MailChimp is a free platform that makes it easier for businesses to connect with their audience by using built-in e-newsletter templates that are easy to customize. Other providers include Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact and Mad Mimi.
Things to look out for when planning your next email marketing campaign:
! Promote your e-news sign up in multiple prominent places – for example, on various landing pages on your website and in your email signatures – to reach a wider audience.
! Segment your lists based on varying needs of your target audience; for example, age, occupation etc.
! Craft compelling subject lines to increase engagement.
! Analyse the performance of your emails through built-in reporting metrics.
! Refine your campaign content based on lessons learned.
#2 Use QR codes to connect physical with digital
The success of a business lies in its ability to evolve with changing trends. By using a free QR code generator, you can create two-dimensional barcodes for your print collateral like brochures. When readers scan these codes using their smartphones, they are taken online to the information that these codes are linked to; for instance, an online survey or a landing page on your website.
#3 Help your online visitors find you easily
Having a website not only helps your business establish credibility but also increases visibility. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process that helps your website rank higher in organic (unpaid) search engine results. Do you know the source of 51% of all website traffic? Yes, it’s organic!
Simply put: if your website has content that is relevant to the search words put in by anyone browsing the internet, SEO will make it possible for that person to see your website, thus giving your business greater online visibility. But there’s more to SEO than just keywords.
Apart from relevant search terms, you will also need to ensure that your web pages have SEO-friendly URLs that are neither too long nor too short. When you access the back-end of your web pages, you will notice empty fields called metadata (such as page/meta title and page/meta description) screaming for attention. These are SEO goldmines. By filling these in with relevant information, you will ensure that search engines find your web page quickly.
As a small business owner with a limited budget, you will need to dig deeper into this type of SEO as your business grows. For now, you simply need to bring as many links from other sources (for suppliers and business partners, for example) back to your web pages.
#4 Help your online visitors find you easily – paid approach
Thinking online advertising? Think Google AdWords Express, which is designed especially to bring increased web traffic to small businesses almost instantly without engaging with the original Google AdWords, a much more complex platform.
But how does it work?
When a user types a key phrase into the Google search engine, the paid service uses that information to show ads that are paid for by the business. The best part is you only pay if someone clicks on your ad. This is called pay-per-click (PPC) and you can start with a small budget limit and only scale if necessary. By starting small you can ensure that you are spending marketing dollars wisely while learning tips and tricks of the trade, which can take some time to fine tune.
#5 Ask existing customers for testimonials
Nothing sells better than real testimonials from real people. Customer reviews have an 89% effectiveness rating for content marketing. People are far more likely to choose your product/brand/service over others if they have heard about it somewhere or from someone. Use these testimonials on social media, on your website, in your sales presentations etc.
#6 Create video content
Visual content marketing is a great way for small businesses to engage their customers, increase web traffic and reach potential customers. Open source platforms such as GoAnimate have made it easier to create videos in-house for businesses on a tight budget. Fiverr is another popular freelance service that charges as little as $5 to create a great video for your business.
The good news is they don’t need to be highly-produced and slick – good lighting and sound are key but engaging, relevant content is equally or more important. How-to videos showing the best way to use your product, or a ‘What to expect from your first consultation’ video for a new customer are examples of useful content that will give prospects an idea of what to expect before they commit to a purchase.
#7 Create Vimeo and YouTube channels
Relevant and engaging videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%.
Make the most of your video content by creating a YouTube channel and increasing your reach. Better still, mirror the content by publishing these videos on Vimeo. Why? Because Vimeo lets you produce high definition videos that are ad-free and thus less disruptive and time-consuming for your audience.