Investing in marketing is always important to growing a brand and reaching customers, but there isn’t always a lot of room in the budget for large marketing campaigns. Being efficient can be better than being expensive. Luckily, there are a multitude of cost-effective ways to market your company.
Tell the story of your brand
On a tight budget, one way to connect with customers is through content marketing. As traditional marketing becomes a less efficient avenue for spending money to attract customers, creating a long-term, ongoing relationship with customers through content (whether it’s email, social media, blogging, etc.) can be a low cost alternative.
Moreover, when creating that content, it’s important to remember that every brand has a story. Relating that story to others can make a brand stand out. Telling the story provides an opportunity to make a connection with customers, to make them care about your brand above others.
Find your voice — one that is authentic, unique and resonates with the target audience. Deliver content that is valuable, but at the same time, relate more than just the product features. Content marketing that goes beyond the informational to aspirational can engage customers in a different, more emotional, longer-lasting way.
Monitor the conversion rates
When a marketing budget is limited, stretch your dollars and make the budget last longer by closely taking a look at the conversion rates. Focus on content and marketing campaigns that convert into sales. Use Google Analytics (or other analytics programs) to look for markers of customer engagement — visits, return visits, bounce rates, conversions rates, social interactions, and more.
Track everything — all pages, campaigns, content channels — so there is plenty of data to see what is working and what isn’t. Moreover, when you find something that isn’t working, cut it off. Move your money towards producing and promoting content that does perform. Look for areas where customers expressed interest in the brand but didn’t convert. Try to find ways to engage those customers to turn them into sales.
Focus on evergreen content
You don’t need new content every week. Quality content is much more important than quantity. By focusing on increasing the quality of the content, you can create evergreen content that can be repurposed and used over time. The message is timeless, stays relevant, and can still attract customers a year or two later.
One way to find topics for evergreen content is to use Quora. Through Quora you can find content that has already been covered by others, but you can also write on the same topic from a different, unique angle. Take a great idea for content that engages customers and use it in different ways — write a blog post, create a Top 10 list, develop slideshow, publish an infographic.
Listen to and engage with your audience
Social media represents an enormous opportunity to hear what customers are saying: what their pain points are, where they need help, and what they think about products that are available. Listen to what customers are saying through social media. Notify.ly is one free tool that allows you to choose keywords that represent topics of interest to your business and notifies you when those keywords are mentioned.
Through social media, you can build a community and engage with customers. After listening to customers, you might find that you can create content that answers a question that they have or provides further insight on a topic that interests them. It can also be helpful to actively engage customers — perhaps quickly providing tips or solutions to help them with problems.
Building a community can take time. Similar to creating content, quality can be more important than quantity. Find the right mediums to engage your customers. Often, creating a small network of loyal customers can be a valuable way to create brand evangelists who help spread your message.
While it sounds somewhat expensive and costly, newsjacking can be a low cost way to gain traffic and attention if it is executed in a timely and thoughtful manner. While focusing on engaging your customers with quality content and listening to social media to find topics that interest them, you can set up free Google Alerts for keywords that relate to news events that your target audience might be following. When an Alert is triggered for a relevant, popular news story, act quickly. Use that story to create content that benefits your business. Don’t just reword the story; add to it in a way that engages the reader and makes your version stand out.
One great example of newsjacking was Oreo’s efforts during Super Bowl XLVII. When a blackout delayed the game, Oreo’s social media team quickly put together an ad that they released through social media. The caption on the ad read, “You can still dunk in the dark.” During a time when everyone was talking about the blackout online, Oreo found a timely and engaging way to get their message out there.
Use employee advocacy
Your own employees might be your most valuable, under-utilized resource. Employees can share brand content through platforms such as LinkedIn, where their network might be much larger than the company’s. Moreover, your audience is more likely to trust the message of the content if it comes from an employee — a person they connect with — instead of the company itself. On average, employee re-shares of company content have a 2.1x higher click-through rate than of the original company status update.
Employees, beyond just the social media team, are likely already talking about your company through social media in some way. Create content that engages your employees and empower them to share it and talk about it. Giving your team guidelines for using social media as well as tools such as Newsio can enable your employees to share content and be your best brand advocates.