For small business owners, it's hard to keep a marketing budget when your profit margins are already razor thin. But if you’re not taking advantage of what digital marketing can do for your business, then you’re missing out.
Here are a few ways to get started with keeping marketing costs low by going digital:
1. Write Interesting and Relevant Blog Content
Writing amazing blog content is an excellent way to get people to your website.
You need to understand your target audience. What are their interests? What problems do they face? Where do they hang out online?
Combine great content with a good search engine optimization (SEO) and social media strategy —the traffic will start rolling in.
If you have a little extra money, consider outsourcing the writing to someone familiar with SEO and content marketing.
2. Set up Profiles on Review Websites
BBB, Google Business, Foursquare, TripAdvisor – get your name out there.
Don't stop with just your name: fill it up with photos of your interior, exterior, and all the great stuff you have to offer.
Set up an environment where it's easy to review your business and ask customers to leave a review while they're in your establishment.
3. Host a Contest
Contests are an excellent way to get people to visit your website on a regular basis.
Think about it: after they enter, they'll want to keep checking in to see if they won, right?
Asking your audience to like, comment, and share to win is a great way to spread your content. Ask readers to post a selfie or cation a photo to get them more involved.
This process also helps familiarize your audience with your brand, message, and mission statement.
4. Use Social Media to Its Full Potential
Identify where your customers are, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc.
Pick two to three for devoting the bulk of your time and resources. You won't be able to keep them all up without a large budget so don't even try – you'll just get overwhelmed and frustrated.
Push out high-quality content on a consistent basis and make sure the content resonates with your audience as they’ll be more inclined to share it out within their network of friends as well.
Arby's knows what's up: through their verified Facebook page, they create funny and interesting videos people actually share. Yes, people are sharing content from a fast food website.
5. Be a Great Storyteller
If you want people to buy your products and services eventually, you have to educate them about your company. Tell them about yourself. Who are you? Why do you run this company? And most importantly: how can you help them like no one else can?
Use your industry knowledge to teach what you know: be an authoritative source in your niche. Offer online courses or webinars. And, get them to subscribe to your mailing list so they can learn even more.
6. One Word: Email
Social media is great for getting your name out there and connecting with customers, but you aren't in control of your audience.
Email gives you a direct line of communication with your audience —it's invaluable. Once you start building your audience, put some effort into collecting email addresses. Take advantage of slide-in and pop-up plugins for your website.
Run a social media campaign and offer a gift for signing up. Once you build your list through a service like Mailchimp (don't worry, it's free), you want to craft the perfect email.
Stay focused: don't include a ton of topics. Send an email with one great article or piece of information. Craft a personal and interesting subject line that will catch their attention. End the article with a call to action to visit your website for more information.
7. Look for Republishing and Affiliate Opportunities
Your goal here is to get as many websites to link back to you as possible. Not only does this create permanent referrals, but it also improves your SEO ranking.
Plus, it's pretty easy. Bloggers and other websites are always looking for great content to share with their readers. Ask if you can guest blog on their site or send them a link to an article you'd like them to republish.
They'll publish the article with a link back to your website and your name as credit. Bam. Instant and permanent advertising.
8. Host Events
You'll need to get a little creative, so you can develop an event people will want to attend.
- "Come hang out with me" isn't enough. What can you teach someone? How can this event benefit them?
- "Know Your Rights" events are a great option for lawyers or cooking classes for chefs. There's something for everyone here.
Start with free events at first – either online or in person. Google Hangouts is a good option because most of your audience is likely already familiar with Gmail and Google.
Once you build your audience and authority a bit, paid events are a great way to monetize your website further.
What Would Work Best for Your Brand?
At the end of the day, none of these tips will work if you don't figure out the best way to apply them to your company. You need to take your industry, audience, and brand into consideration. With a great strategy, time, and creativity, you really can market your business on a tiny budget.