Although digital marketing is key for successfully reaching a wide variety of consumer categories such as millennials, the cost of using online tools can be enormous, particularly if you’re running a small or medium-sized enterprise. For instance, developing a custom mobile app would include personnel expenses, R&D losses as well as funds allocated to its promotion.
Does this mean that if your budget is tight, online marketing becomes completely ineffective? Absolutely not! This article establishes 10 valuable tricks, by relying on which you would be able to keep up with the most recent marketing trends still remaining within your financial projections.
1. Focus on One or Two Channels at a Time
When thinking about digital marketing, the first major complication coming to mind is the sheer variety of the platforms for reaching the customers. Combining Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, YouTube and other tools into an integrated strategy could be costly both in terms of finances and time. However, you don’t necessarily need to maintain a presence on all of these websites.
By spreading your efforts across several channels, you risk on losing the opportunity to establish in-depth relations with the users of one particular media. It could be valuable to instead focus on one or two channels to minimise costs and establish a loyal following from a strong customer base. Fortunately, many social media offer capabilities in distributing interesting and varied content while remaining within the confines of a single platform. For instance, Facebook has recently launched Facebook Live, its own service for live-streaming. You can take advantage of these solutions and stay on top of your marketing game.
2. Share Costs with Your Partners and Co-Brands
When running a digital marketing campaign, it’s easy to focus entirely on your own brand. But the reality is that by doing so, you could lose valuable opportunities for promotion and customer communications. Since any business invariably has partners (such as intermediaries or co-brands), you should re-formulate your strategy to share costs for digital marketing. One example of this is to run contests or online events, which would benefit from the increased audience attracted by you and your associates.
Another is to strategically distribute the marketing channels among yourself and your partners. While you can be a powerhouse on Twitter, your co-brands may have a developed Instagram following, benefitting you both. Don’t be afraid to reach out to new firms and companies! Although establishing these relations can seem daunting, the fact of the matter is that no reasonable business would refuse an opportunity to reduce their costs and raise consumer awareness at the same time.
3. Research New Marketing Trends and Consumer Habits
One of the main characteristics of the digital environment is that the opportunities provided to its users are constantly evolving. This means that an organisation that does not keep ahead of the major trends and changes in consumer habits risks spending its time and money on actions that would ultimately prove futile in attracting new customers or retaining the existing clients.
This is best demonstrated by highlighting that nearly 20% of all search queries are voice-driven, which is caused by the availability of Siri, Cortana, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. In turn, this means that the existing SEO techniques are outdated. Instead of focusing on repeated key terms, voice search is likely to include full sentences, which directly affects how content should be written. Understandably, keeping track of all the recent developments may be tricky. Nonetheless, this could also be vital for the long-term online success of your business.
4. Rely on Influencers and Opinion Leaders
Each social media invariably has its own influencers and opinion leaders such as celebrities with their follower count reaching thousands or even millions. Due to the sheer significance of these individuals and their ability to quickly reach a wide audience, their value for digital marketing cannot be overestimated.
Instagram is a major highlight of how businesses can benefit from partnering with highly popular accounts. Paid posts have become a staple of Instagram marketing by providing the users of the media with valuable promotional info and giving companies an opportunity to quickly arouse consumer interest. When having a tight budget, negotiating with well-known celebrities (e.g. Kanye West) could be nigh impossible. That said, you could (and should) circumvent this by searching for niche opinion leaders.
For instance, popular artists sharing their work on Instagram could be partnered with if you’re manufacturing art supplies. However, it might prove beneficial to account for the possible fit between the audience of a particular account and your target customers to ensure that your messages resonate within the community.
5. Encourage Word-of-Mouth Sharing
Sometimes you could struggle with gaining traction in the digital world simply because your product information or other promotional content is not shared by your customers. Understandably, aside from the major social media accounts, it’s hard to find a person who would want to display advertisements on their personal page.
Nonetheless, you could still rely on your followers as partners and additional promotional outlets. Instead of simply suggesting to hit the ‘Share’ button, you could encourage your customers to post honest and detailed reviews of your products and services. Discounts and other promotional incentives could be offered to the clients who respond to this offer.
This would provide the consumers with an opportunity to express their opinion and you with a major word-of-mouth channel. While it is impossible to directly control what would be stated by your followers, the appeal of this tactic as a boost to consumer interest in undeniable.
6. Choose Low-Cost Channels
When designing a digital marketing strategy, it could be advantageous to assign inherent costs to each of the possible marketing channels. Due to the content and audience differences between the existing platforms, some platforms could present a substantial strain your budget from the get-go while others may be more effective in terms of expenses and reaching the intended audience.
For instance, the resources spent on ordering advertisements from Google is significantly higher than the costs of inventing a humorous and engaging caption to a creative photo posted on Instagram. Similarly, holding a brief live stream on Facebook Live is less expensive than placing advertisements in popular apps or marketplaces. That said, it would be necessary to be on the lookout for new techniques and instruments that could present further benefits for your budget.
7. Maintain Close Relations with Interested Customers
Acquiring new customers carries significant costs not only in traditional marketing, but also in the digital environment. In fact, statistics show that making even 15% of the visitors to your website interested in your value offering is a major achievement.
This is because the Internet is a massive playground for alternative evaluation, allowing the consumers an option to immediately compare your value offering with that of your competitors. Instead of spending the vast majority of the budget on new clients, it might be advantageous to build stronger relationships with the existing customers in an effort to encourage repeat purchasing. One method of achieving this target is email marketing. While this practice was notorious for being abused by many companies, the in recent years email has experienced a resurgence.
In order to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with this channel, you could personalise the newsletter to directly communicate with your clients of offer these followers recommendations based on their prior shopping history. Furthermore, adopting an online loyalty programme by assigning points and rewards to specific actions (such as posting a review of your company’s products or services) is also a valid tactic.
8. Leverage PR through Forums and Message Boards
The concept of PR becomes mudded in digital marketing as almost every message is available to the general public, blurring the line between this dimension and dedicated promotion. This is further complicated by the fact that almost every decisions made by firms concerning the digital world is under close scrutiny of online magazines or news outlets.
For many firms, this is enough to cease their PR online efforts altogether in an attempt to minimise costs. Nevertheless, PR could still serve as a valuable strategic tool without demanding a significant portion of your budget. The popularity of such websites as Reddit or Pinterest shows that companies could successfully reach their audiences beyond the traditionally established social media. In addition, relying on forums and message boards could be a major boost to your company’s image as these outlets demand frequent direct communications with your customers, thus giving your more control over how your messages are perceived by your audience.
In addition, the concerns and feedback expressed by your clients could be a valuable source for new marketing directions.
9. Outsource Tasks to Freelancers
Creating your own digital marketing department may prove costly, particularly with regards to personnel expenses, namely recruitment, training and retention. Fortunately, you don’t have to create all content in-house. Relying on the services of freelancers is a valid solution to this problem.
Platforms like Fiverr provide access to hundreds of thousands of trained professionals who would be able to use their expertise and benefit your marketing efforts. That said, outsourcing is certainly not a universal remedy for concerns related to structure and human resources. It might be difficult to find a writer delivering a consistently high level of quality.
In addition, as your company grows, outsourcing expenses may prove to be higher in the long-term perspective than producing in-house messages.
10. Automate Mundane Tasks and Processes
Digital marketing could certainly be taxing in terms of workplace processes and the sheer amount of time needed to establish online strategies. This includes not only creating the messages and choosing the most relevant platforms, but also distributing your content to the customers on a regular basis. Even the most basic Instagram post requires creative effort, introducing ambiguity into project and budget management. At the same time, you and your employees don’t need to do everything by yourself.
Powerful software such as HootSuite can instead by leveraged to schedule social media posts, automate the email newsletter and keep track of your audience reactions. The costs of implementing these solutions are generally low with many service providers having discount plans for business owners or even offering feature-limited free options.
In summary, digital marketing can certainly be daunting for firms operating on a tight budget. The sheer variety of platforms, the unique characteristics of different media and the difficulties in establishing a strong online presence all serve as notable barriers to success in this field. However, the tricks covered by this article should be sufficient to not only reduce your marketing expenses, but also provide you with new options to distribute your messages among your target customers. By making use of these tips, you would be able to turn digital marketing from a money-consuming necessity to a valuable strategic instrument.
Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in both freelancing and academic writing industries, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.