Digital marketing budgets can go to being super high, super low or none at all. One day your marketing campaign is swimming in thousands of dollars the next would be your marketing campaign sitting on scraps and a few pennies for a budget.
No one is spared by business changes, even startups that have less cash for marketing. It’s just one of those inevitable occurrences that could make or break a marketing campaign.
Lucky for us all, the heavens of marketing opened its gates of ideas/tips to those who are in cash-strapped situations to get their campaigns started or keep their campaigns running smoothly the best way possible.
Never saw this coming did you? It would make perfect sense to put this in the number one spot since being scanty in the budget means you need to know how, when and where you will be going with the money on hand. Without a strategy, you could well be playing slot machines with your valuable pennies. Simply put, you cannot afford to fail.
2. Marketing or Buyer Personas.
Once you have a strategy in place, you need to know your audience or customer. A farmer’s needs are different from a web developer’s needs. Make sense? Instead of wasting your time and money in talking to everyone, why not spend time on those who really need your solution, product or service. Knowing who those people are, will give you a better understanding on how to approach them and where to find them to expose your brand.
3. Industry Statistics.
Knowing what’s going on in your industry would give you valuable insights on how to map out your marketing strategy and the right message you would like to convey with your brand/service. Or better yet, change the way you are doing marketing in your industry.
Yes, you can get that information for free. How? Google them ofcourse. There are blogs, articles, statistic websites, market research companies, government agencies even infographics that would provide information you need to back up your marketing strategy.
For example, you are a startup in Singapore that makes cool 3D printed products for mobile users. Knowing the statistics for mobile penetration rate would give you an idea how Singaporeans are connected to the mobile world. Since the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore provides those statistics, you found out that Singaporeans own about 2-3 devices and use them for different purposes. This valuable data would then guide your content marketing, structure your website to be responsive and optimized for all devices, do some explainer videos and so forth.
4. Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is not everyone’s forte. Most startups and SMB’s don’t have a clue what it means for their website. And the activity does require a budget to get it started. If your company can spare one for this then do your research for an SEO Singapore agency that doesn’t do bogus promises and results, but one that could back up their claim with conversions and customer retention to get the most out of the amount you are paying.
Still no budget? Luckily there are a lot of free resources, tips, advices and 101’s that are geared towards those who know nothing about SEO and make their websites fired up for search engines to crawl and save in their wide web memory space. A word of caution though, some of the resources are still leaning on the dark side of SEO. Make sure your resources are coming from trusted networks like: Moz, Search Engine Land, Copyblogger, Quicksprout, Matt Cutts Blog, etc.
For those with an existing website with SEO elements on it, a good website audit would find and fix issues that could hinder a site from performing well in search results. This doesn’t require any budget as the internet is full of free audit tools or atleast offer a couple of free trials before deciding to purchase a paid account. Examples would be Google Webmaster Tools, Woorank, Raventools, Screamingfrog, OrganicMetric, MySiteAuditor, and so forth
5. Proper keyword usage.
Wouldn’t it be easier if your website speaks the same language as your target audience/consumer? Proper keyword usage would help your website appear on people who are actually looking for your services/products. Imagine having your seo audit tool website appear on search results for people looking for just the generic “audit tools”. Knowing which exact keywords to use that corresponds to your service or product would spare you from using unnecessary time and budget in marketing to the wrong people.
6. Spy on your competitors.
“Mommy said snooping around other people’s business is bad”(saying it in a kid-like-tone). But we won’t get a spanky from mommy if we do some competitor research in digital marketing.
Before beginning a campaign or even optimizing an existing marketing campaign, get to know your competitors and what you are up against. Competitors would usually leave behind cookie crumbs on what worked for them and what not. This would give you some delectable information that would feed your so-very-budget-hungry campaign. And you can get that information for free. They work like those free SEO audit tools mentioned above. Go on an espionage journey with these top rated and free competitor analysis tools: Alexa, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, OpenSiteExplorer, Ahrefs and a lot more.
On a side note, some of the free tools only provide a snapshot of your competitor’s data. If you need more information, you can Google their brand, look at their social media accounts, LinkedIn activities or do some hard core spy stuff like pretend to be a customer and see how they handle customer experience. The last bit is legal by the way; most companies do them way before the dot-com bubble.
7. Content Marketing.
Now that you know your audience needs/wants and did some research on your market’s statistics, you are on your way to knowing what type of message and tone you would like to convey in every content you will be releasing.
It’s a very effective strategy because you already know what topics to write, where to post your content, who should be reading and who would be benefiting the content. This would show your audience how knowledgeable you are in creating solutions for them and addressing their concerns.
Not sure how to start? Brian Clark of Copyblogger has 7 content marketing ebooks that is so easy to digest and would help give you that “aha” moment for your content activities.
Content marketing strategy is free. Done correctly, it will open doors to authority, natural links to your website and brand mentions.
Like they always say “content is king”, so start pushing those pencils on paper. I am just a bit old fashioned, still loving pencil and paper for writing but if you want to go digital by all means you can do so.
8. Visual Marketing.
This is much like content marketing. The difference is you will be making easily digestible content via images, slides and videos. Visuals get more attention than text as most of us require these to learn and appreciate what is being presented. Everyone loves to see visuals. Period.
Before creating your masterpiece, gather the information you need first and make a draft on how you would like to present it. You cannot just go on publishing visuals that doesn’t make sense. Always put yourself in the shoes of your readers, if you find your visuals to be dull, boring and uninformative then abandon it.
Budget is not an issue here as you can create awesome visual content that gets noticed that doesn’t require top dollars or complicated software for a finished product. Even your mobile phone camera can act as a medium to take snapshots of things around you or do videos on topics about your product. There are free moviemaker software tools on the internet that will help you edit and complete your video.
Once your visuals are done, post them on Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Slideshare, Haikudeck, and on your social media accounts. This will get eyeballs on your content and create some ripples around your brand/service.
9. Right platform usage.
You may be wondering why I did not use the terms “social media platforms”. Even though social media will always be the darling of digital marketing and the go-to-platform for businesses, not everyone can bring home the bacon. Because each platform caters to different kinds of communities, personalities, interest and demographics.
Quick example would be Pinterest. Their profile shows that most of their users consist of women. If your product is all about hardcore software, would you spend time and energy in this platform as oppose to using LinkedIn and connecting to IT managers and CIO’s?
There isn’t a general rule of thumb when using social media, the point is, using THE right one would generate better results especially if you do not have the time, budget and manpower to handle all of these platforms.
Do your research and get to know which ones would give leverage for your campaign. Remember, you already know/studied your audience in the first part of this article; it will now be easy for you to know where your audience are.
10. Local SEO.
Local SEO is not just for the brick and mortar business. It’s for everyone. Appearing on local search results would help push more eyeballs to your site for people looking within your target location. Another benefit is that it’s for free. Now that’s a good route to take if you happen to be out of budget, manpower and in dire need of some movement.
Much like it’s big brother SEO, you will be optimizing for local search results instead. Core activities would include:
- Setting up Google My Business page, which would automatically give you a Google Places account. Make sure all the details in this account are correct, including choosing the right category. Google Places acts like your mini website slash community platform where you can post shareable and informative content.
- TOP local directory listings. I emphasized the word “top” because there still some spammy directory listings that is still alive and kicking. Those authoritative directories would be Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Yellow Pages or any directory within your location. For example STclassifieds.sg is a high authority local directory in Singapore.
- Build local links. It’s much like link building but geo targeted. Work on getting links or brand mentions from companies, websites, media or bloggers that is within your industry location.
- Generate and promote local content. Just like the general content marketing but the voice of your content/article would be targeted for audiences in your location. Make your article titles location targeted as well. For example, writing an article about Irish beers in Singapore. Your title can be: Where to Get Drunk with Irish Beer in Singapore, Irish Beer Pubs in Singapore for Irish Tourist, Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Some Irish Beer in Singapore.
- Local keywords onsite. Let’s use our previous Irish Beer example. Imagine you are a business supplying Irish Beer in Singapore. Keywords you will be using on your website would be: irish beer suppliers in Singapore, Singapore Irish beer suppliers, Irish lager beer suppliers in Singapore, Guiness beer supplier in Singapore, Singapore Irish Beer Distributor, etc. Have those keywords within your website page descriptions, page titles and content. But, make sure you DONT overdo it. Write your titles and descriptions for the user not for the search engines.
It doesn’t matter if your marketing budget sits on scraps, pennies or nothing at all; money is not the key to having a successful and quality marketing campaign. With the right strategy, knowledge and passion, you can gain real traction.
The only thing you need to worry about is the time and huge effort requirement in order to pull it off. So, set realistic expectations for your campaigns, for your bosses and for yourself as well. This will prevent burn outs and foster motivation and inspiration during the course of the journey.