With the immense amount of information on the Internet and users largely having the control to view exactly what they want, getting your product in front of potential customers can be challenging to say the least. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what works (and what fails terribly) when it comes to marketing online. Today, times are tough. Most companies have little room left in their tight budget when it comes to marketing. Here are 7 tips to follow to develop a successful online marketing strategy on your startups limited budget.
#1. Know your market.
Your marketing strategy will never be successful if you do not have a clearly defined audience. Before you spend a dime on marketing, figure out your target market first. There’s no need to pay top dollar to hire a fancy market research firm. If you know your product, you should be able to figure out your market yourself. For example, who will be most interested in your product? Men or women? What is their age group? What are your customer’s interests? What is their likely financial situation?
Once you have a thorough profile of your customer, determining how and where to reach them is much easier. This step may take awhile, and that’s OK. If you start marketing before you have a clear customer profile though, you will likely be wasting your dollars in places that will never reach your customer. Just because Pinterest is growing rapidly, doesn’t mean your audience is the one making it grow.
#2. Set and reset goals.
Determine what you are looking to gain from online marketing. Increased awareness? Increased revenue? You will probably have multiple goals, but keep track of what they are so you can measure your success. When you reach your initial goals, set new goals so your company can continue to improve.
#3. Set a budget.
Now that you know who your target market is and have set goals, plan your budget accordingly. The good thing about online marketing is that you can be successful even when on a tight budget. A lot of platforms are available at no charge. However, sticking solely with free forms of online marketing might not be the best strategy for your company. Carefully determine what outlets are most necessary for your product and be willing to spend some money to get results.
#4. Brand yourself.
Set yourself apart from the competition. There are thousands of companies trying to sell products on the Internet. Thus, you need to make your brand unforgettable. This begins with your website. Your domain name should be your company’s name if at all possible. If there are other companies online with names similar to yours, you may even want to consider changing your name to one that will not be easily confused with another product. Acquiring a domain name has a fee involved, but using a hosting service is very affordable even for the smallest budgets.
The way you want your brand to be viewed by customers is really up to you. But once you figure it out be consistent and stick with it. Having a professional website and a strong social media presence is important here, but you should also take the time to interact with potential customers and build relationships with them. The main cost involved in this step is just the man hours put into the process, which will drastically be reduced when you’ve established your brand.
#5. Search engine optimization.
When someone enters a search query into a search engine about something relevant to your company, obviously you want to be one of the first results displayed. So how do you make this happen? Essentially, you need to make your website more appealing to search engines. Do this by using keywords that are commonly searched, backlinking your site, customizing the headline and description, etc.
SEO can admittedly be a complicated and time consuming process, however the time needs to be spent here to ensure your website is getting found. Your best bet is usually going to be spending a bit more of your budget and hiring the right people to do the proper research. At Ciplex, we stress the importance of not including keywords to simply rank your site, but using the terms your audience is looking for. That is what will get you the highest conversion rates.
The more content on your site, the more opportunities there are for search engines to pick it up. Blogging can be a great (and free!) way to generate leads and links into your site. But don’t just be producing content to produce content. Write quality blog posts that will engage the readers. Guest blogging on more established blogs is another way to get more traffic to your own site.
#7. Social media.
Don’t just sign up for these services and then forget about them. Start being active on social media. These sites should be used to promote your blog posts and communicate with customers. However, most people don’t follow companies on social media unless the company gives them a reason to. So, of course, give them a reason!