Marketing will always be important to a business in order to continue to get new work and future work, so you should put aside some budget to always market your business. However, when you’re starting out or in times when business is slow, often a marketing budget is the first thing to be cut.
Digital marketing covers a wide range of online activity and opportunity to promote your business online. Now more than ever, there has never been a better time to promote your business online. So understanding digital marketing and how to use it effectively without spending a fortune is a wise thing to do.
Digital channels include things like your website, search engines, social media, email, and other websites, which help to promote you and your business and connect with your customers and prospective customers.
So how do you get started? In this blog we give you some suggestions on marketing your business online without the need for a huge budget.
Have a great website
By having an up to date website and focusing more on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to target keywords and potential customers, you can generate new business or more interest in your business.
Getting a website built is the first step and these days you can easily get a great looking website on a budget or even build your own using sites like Wix
There a some really great sites like WordPress, Wix, GoDaddy and web.com that have ready designed templates and online training. So creating your first website can be quick, simple, and cheap to do. With prices starting at less than £10 a month, building a website doesn’t need a big budget.
Use relevant keywords
Look for and use relevant keywords across your website and social channels. Keywords still matter, but it’s not about the keywords you think are useful, it’s about keywords that your customers may use to search on Google for products or services like yours.
Content is king to Google so ensure you add regular content to your website, whether that’s blogs, pictures of your latest products or events or additional targeted pages. Adding regular content will help you rank better with Google and will just give the right first impression to your potential customers with an up to date, well maintained website.
Publish relevant content on social media and your website
If you’ve now got your head around the keywords that your potential customers may use to search for your type of business, then look to write content that aligns with these keywords. Your content can range from a short 280 character tweet with relevant hashtags, to a longer post on LinkedIn to a full blown article or blog on your website.
Use your content to inform, educate and engage with your potential customers and customers. Answer frequently asked questions, provide longer form ‘guides’ or ‘tips and tricks’ content as well as promoting your business and sharing product or service updates.
Build an email list
Email marketing is still an effective and cost effective route to market. Building a list of potential customers and their email addresses is the starting point of this. You can buy in data from third party providers, but if you really are working on a tight budget then build your own email list. You can easily do this by collecting email addresses from people you meet networking, LinkedIn connections you have (most have their email address on their contact information), Googling relevant companies and looking up email addresses on their website etc.
Use email marketing
Once you’ve got an email list of potential and current customers, then plan some email campaigns to go out to them. These emails could be sales emails like special offers, discount vouchers etc. Or you can use email marketing to promote an event or alternatively if you are writing blogs or articles, create an email newsletter that promotes these articles to drive people to your website to read them.
There are free versions of email software such as Mailchimp and HubSpot. If you use paid for email marketing software, it can contain loads of ready designed templates that you can put your brand onto to send out great looking email campaigns.
Don’t use your main domain or do email marketing in Outlook as you may risk your main domain being blacklisted and Outlook won’t deal with the legality of needing to offer and unsubscribe from your emails. Use reputable email marketing software always.
Use a branded email signature
One simple, effective, and yet often overlooked way to promote your business is to have a branded email signature on every email you send out from your business. Your email signature should have clear links to your website, social channels and could promote special offers or events etc.
Use social media effectively
Social media is fast, easy, and cheap to use but so many people get it wrong or spend a lot of time feeding social media accounts and never getting any return on their investment.
Social media networks continue to grow and even if you look at the biggest networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s easy to think you need to be on all of them. But you don’t! You’ll just find yourself either spending lots of time on them and not getting results or you’ll end up with out of date social accounts that damage your brand, rather than enhance it.
So start by focusing on the most relevant social networks for your brand or the ones where you know your target customers will be using. Our top tips for social media are:
- Don’t try to do them all at once.
- Think about if your target audience is on there.
- Choose wisely and do it well.
- Keep them up to date.
- Don’t make them your only route to market.
- Remember they control who sees your content!
- Engage & show appreciation
Marketing doesn’t have to cost the earth. However, as your business grows remember to reinvest some of your profit into your future marketing and begin to widen your marketing planning and marketing mix to other marketing activity, other than just free channels.
Without marketing, your business won’t grow to its full potential, so starting off small with little budget is fine, but invest in marketing in the longer term to get the right results and grow your business.
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