Friday, February 19, 2016

5 Online Marketing Strategies That Work on Any Budget

The following marketing strategies can theoretically work on any budget--as long as you're willing to put in the time.

When you're trying to get a startup off the ground or keep your small business running, every dollar counts. You're working with a limited pool of revenue, a restricted number of resources, and pressing expenses that demand your immediate attention--so it's no wonder why marketing often gets neglected.
Unfortunately, marketing is a necessary expenditure if you want your business to grow. Otherwise, you might remain strapped with those limited revenue streams indefinitely, and all your scrimping and saving will turn into a self-perpetuating cycle. Is it impossible to break out without spending an exorbitant amount of money?
Of course not. This is the digital age. The following marketing strategies can theoretically work on any budget--as long as you're willing to put in the time:
  1. Content Marketing. Content marketing can refer to a number of different interrelated tactics, but they all boil down to one idea: earning more traffic for your site by producing high-profile, valuable pieces of content. For example, you might publish a whitepaper or eBook that attracts people to learn more about your brand, or distribute an infographic that leads users back to your site. If you have a computer, a website, and an Internet connection, you have practically everything you need to get started with the basics of content marketing. Write about what you know--write something original, with specific and detailed information, that's valuable for your target audience. Do this regularly, at least a few times per week, and syndicate your material to increase the visibility of your work. In time, you'll build an audience and you'll be able to invest in better content (posting more frequently, posting new mediums, etc.). Content marketing offers a ridiculously high ROI over the long term, but you can get started for almost nothing.
  1. Social Media Marketing. Don't be fooled into thinking that social media marketing is quick or easy. It's not a get rich quick scheme, nor does anything on it happen automatically. There are several fundamentals you have to pay attention to, and even maintaining best practices, it's easy to lose traction or visibility. Still, it costs nothing to establish your brand on most major social media platforms, and you can distribute all your content for free. If you engage with individuals, spark conversations, and syndicate truly valuable content, you'll naturally attract more followers, who can spread the word about your brand and convert to paying customers given the right opportunity. In combination with a solid content marketing campaign, this is even more effective.
  1. SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) has developed an almost mystical reputation; professional SEO experts are seen as practitioners of magic, who can make a site rise to the top of Google search results by executing their secret tactics. The reality is much less fanciful. SEO is actually pretty simple if you break it down to its bare components. You'll have to dig into code for onsite optimization, but it's nothing a few online tutorials can't walk you through. Beyond that, content marketing and social media marketing can help you build your domain authority (in coordination with a link building campaign), and they're both nearly free as well. Granted, you won't be able to compete on a national level without the help of an agency or an in-house expert, but you can get started with the basics after a few hours of independent research.
  1. Email Marketing. It's free to create a basic MailChimp account, and not very expensive if you want to buy some extra credits. You can also start building a list based on your current or prospective customer base (and I don't recommend buying one). From there, one email a week, backed with good content and special deals, can help you earn more traffic and conversions, and not just a few--email marketing can net you an ROI of 4,300 percent or more. It takes time and effort--but not much money upfront.
  1. Influencer Marketing. What if you could get someone else to market your company for you, for free? Sounds sweet, right? The truth is, you can accomplish this with a little bit of research and a decent value proposition. Influencer marketing is the process of identifying high-authority individuals in a given industry (for example, a thought leader in your industry with a massive social following), and getting them to meaningfully engage with your brand. That could mean sharing your content, hosting guest posts, or even engaging in an interview with you. How can you accomplish this without bribery? Simple: you ask. Make it worth their while, stay respectful of their time, and be genuine--eventually, you'll have no problem recruiting influencers to your cause.
These aren't the only marketing strategies that can be executed for next to nothing, so don't limit yourself. Do your research, diversify your strategies, and keep progressing toward your ultimate goals. The beauty of these strategies is that they can work on a passable level with a minimum investment, but if you invest more money, the payoffs start increasing proportionally. You can start off with almost no investment, and by the time you start earning enough revenue to double down on these strategies, you'll be experienced enough to know how to maximize your ROI.
But in order to get to this point, you have to get started--and the sooner the better. Stop using a limited budget as an excuse not to market your business, and start building the momentum you need to succeed.

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