If you don’t want to pay for online visibility, you have to get creative. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective online marketing strategies and tools that help you market your brand on a budget.
Startups, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and individual service providers face the same challenge – growing their online presence. Having a website and being on social media is a start, but for most companies, it doesn’t guarantee a lasting connection with their target audience.
If you want to grow your online presence, you need to take an active approach to marketing. You can’t wait for customers to come to you. You need to go after them.
There are two ways to grow your online presence. One is expensive and the other is affordable. Both cost time, but you can outsource at least some of the work to save your energy for other tasks.
Before we get practical, let’s take a better look at the different strategies you can use to grow your online presence this year.
Affordable Versus Expensive Online Marketing Strategies
Pay per click ads
The average small business using Google advertising spends $9,000-10,000 every month, according to WordStream. While you can create short, highly targeted advertising campaigns, online advertising remains one of the most expensive marketing strategies you can use. Promoted search results and click-through ads offer a quick and usually temporary solution to boosting your online visibility.
The average cost per click (CPC) of a Google ad is $2.32 according to the same source. Ad retargeting, or displaying ads to customers who have shown an interest in your website or products, tends to be cheaper, but it still requires a good marketing budget.
Social media ads
While not as expensive as other types of online ads, these can still eat up a large chunk of your marketing budget. Social media ads can be effective, but they work best when they complement organic strategies rather than when they are the pillar of your marketing campaign. WordStream estimates the average CPC of a Facebook ad to be $1.72.
Banner ads or direct ads on a website are one of the oldest advertising strategies on the web. Even if you don’t know a website owner who sells banner space, many sites across the web offer “banner space for sale.” You can negotiate banner ad deals and reach a long-term agreement with the owner of an authoritative website in your niche. Even so, banner ads cost quite a bit and don’t always have the best conversion rates. It’s estimated that businesses have spent around $25 million on banner ads for mobile and desktop in 2018.
In its most direct form, influencer marketing essentially means paying an online influencer – often a social media power user – to mention your brand or promote your product. Micro influencers and nano influencers are nowhere near as expensive as celebrities, but you have to negotiate with them. Influencer marketing costs vary widely depending on the platform and the influencer. You can expect to pay anywhere between $75-10,000 per post.
Articles, eBooks, and reports have a lower long-term production cost than ads because they have a long shelf life. A useful blog post can generate traffic and help increase conversions years after its publication. What’s more, it can inform, entertain, and sell at the same time. The same is true for an infographic or a visual guide. The SEO value of content marketing further adds to its appeal – great content contributes to a good search engine ranking.
Easy to manage with an online marketing platform, email marketing is flexible and versatile. It lets you market products directly, provide informative content that’s easy to digest, or combine the two approaches. Depending on the platform you choose and your target audience, email marketing can cost less than $100.
While it may not seem affordable at first, video marketing offers some of the best engagement and conversion rates on the web. This makes it one of the most incisive marketing tools marketers have at their disposal. Add to that the increasingly affordable cost of video creation services, and video marketing is not something you should ignore.
Collecting and reposting content from reputable sources continues to be a useful marketing strategy. More than filling the gaps in your content strategy, it can help you establish connections with other content creators. Intrepid Travel’s Facebook page mixes its custom content with inspirational travel photos from other users. It’s a strategy that works two ways. First, it enables the Melbourne-based travel company to publish more inspiring content. Second, it attracts the attention of the people whose photos they share.
When you invite your social media fans or blog followers to send their photos, record videos or share their experiences, you are generating user content. Contests, question-based polls, and giveaways make generating this type of content easier.
How to Grow Your Presence Online Organically
If you’re still here, it means that you want to focus on organic marketing strategies to grow your online presence. You’re not alone. 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content daily.
Social media, blogging, video, and email marketing are the simple answer to high marketing costs. If you’ve done the math and found that your marketing campaigns are costing you too much, these strategies can help you increase the value of every dollar you spend on marketing.
Blog on Topics That Engage Your Audience
Blogging is easy, but it’s important to craft every blog post with your audience in mind. Your posts don’t have to be special or unique to resonate with your audience. But they must address issues that your audience cannot fail to react to. Adding emotion to your blogging makes it better.
- Use pain points as the starting point for long-form blog posts that provide in-depth information.
- Write posts that answer the most frequent questions your audience asks.
- Open your blog to guest bloggers from within your audience. In this way, you can generate more content and help to spread it because guest bloggers will likely share it with their network.
- Make your blog posts highly shareable by making them useful – think extensive resource lists and comprehensive guides.
- Comment on authoritative blogs in your niche, dropping a link to your blog or website.
Use Videos to Increase the Impact of Your Online Marketing
With its excellent engagement rates and conversions, video content is a long-term, cost-effective marketing tool. Adding videos to your marketing campaign makes your content more immersive and, at the same time, more shareable.
- Create your own YouTube channel if you don’t have one.
- Use video informationals to spread the word about your business.
- Create 15 to 60-second videos for Instagram.
- Use Instagram’s live video to record candid videos that speak directly to your followers.
- Make your how-tos and guides easier to digest by turning them into videos. Do it yourself or use a video creation company.
Use Email Marketing to Attract Attention
Email marketing is personal and direct. Despite the advent of more sophisticated marketing strategies, it remains one of the most effective ways to make your target audience stop and pay attention to what you have to say. Even if you use an email marketing platform, the cost of email marketing remains relatively low compared to that of other marketing strategies. Email marketing does require some planning, but you can batch up content creation and schedule emails in advance.
- Create giveaways to capture email addresses and build an email list faster.
- Create and send regular email newsletters to your audience.
- Gather together some of your best posts into an informative newsletter.
- Start using an email marketing platform like MailChimp which enables you to track results.
- Include social media sharing buttons to the emails you send.
Use Social Media to Connect with New Fans and Followers
You are probably using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram already. But are you using the same marketing strategies across them indiscriminately?
It’s important to play to the strengths of each network. For example, many young people are migrating from Facebook to Instagram. While you may still see results targeting a young audience on Facebook, you may find that audience more easily on Instagram.
Here are some ideas for making the most of the key social networks this year.
- Use Instagram posts and stories to create more dynamic content. Make your Instagram marketing personal and use the network’s popular IGTV video channel.
- Use Twitter as a content curation tool. Twitter is great for attracting the attention of notable people in your industry and starting conversations that others can join in.
- Use your Facebook fan page to share news with your fans. Facebook is just right for sharing news because it makes it easy for readers to keep track of them.
- Become an influencer on LinkedIn by consistently posting guides, reports, and insights. This is a process that takes time, but it can help extend your online reputation to professional circles.
- Post informational videos, guides, and case studies on YouTube. Learn more about how to grow on YouTube.
How to Reduce Your Content Marketing Costs
Whether you choose one or more of the strategies above, there are a few things you can do to reduce your marketing costs. Implement these strategies from the start to create an affordable content marketing strategy.
Plan Your Content Ahead
Are you creating content every week? A more cost-effective approach is to batch up content creation and map everything on your content calendar. Teaming up with a content writing company can help you stay on schedule and save time. You can invest the time you save into planning more extensive content strategies.
Use Pillar Posts
Coming up with ideas for your content can become draining after a time. The more content you produce, the harder it can get to come up with the right ideas. But the pillar post approach can help.
What is a pillar post? A long, detailed blog post that contains a lot of information on a topic and that serves as a foundation for smaller posts and social media updates.
So, how exactly can you use this approach?
Create a long-form blog post
Make it over 3,000+ words and choose a topic that resonates with your readers. You can add graphics and videos to it. Break the post down into sections with subheadings.
Use subheadings as titles for smaller articles
Expand each title and section into smaller articles. You can publish these on your blog as well as on other channels.
Extract the key facts and turn them into an infographic
Infographics perform well on social media, as they often generate more shares than other types of content.
Write a short video script based on the pillar post or any of the sections
Send the script to a video creation service or make a simple DIY video that your audience will love.
Recycle Old Content
Who said you have to create content from scratch? Old articles and blog posts that are still relevant can help fuel your current marketing strategy. Update old articles and reshare them on your blog and social media. You’ll reduce marketing costs.
How to Increase Online Visibility
Find a Voice That Attracts Attention
With millions of articles and social media posts being published every day, how can you rise above the noise? On the web, as in real life, it’s not just what you say that matters. How you say it is just as important. Discover three examples of brand voices that characterize many brands today.
The Empowering Voice
Should your voice be unique, special, or dazzlingly creative? Maybe not. Sometimes, expressing your message warmly and clearly makes it more powerful. Shopify is one brand whose voice is empowering because it talks directly to its customers.
The Casual Voice
The casual voice works well for brands in the fashion and accessories industries. A good example is Ray-Ban, who makes its products look fun and stylish while staying casual.
The Witty Voice
Dollar Shave Club has been making waves in the marketing world with its videos. But its copywriting is just as straight to the point and incisive.
Writers are often told that finding their voice is a process. For startups that is true. But when it comes to content marketing, you don’t always have to wait too long. Even if you don’t have a creative team to set the direction of your online marketing campaign, you can team up with an article writing company. The process of working with a company will not only help you create more content but also find your voice.
Send a message that resonates with your audience
What you want to say is not necessarily what others want to hear. Have you considered this? Take an outside-in approach instead.
Study your audience using all channels at your disposal. Conduct a survey if you can, draw on your marketing data, keep an eye on competitors.
Sending a strong message becomes more natural if you know a few crucial things about your audience:
- Pain points
- Purchasing power (if you’re selling to them)
Don’t expect to get the message right from the start. Measure the reaction to your content using engagement and conversions as key metrics.
Babylist offers many great examples of articles that answer some of the most important questions first-time parents have. For parents looking for the best stroller or baby bottle for the money, Babylist’s informative, in-depth articles with product recommendations are just great. Their “best of” articles are exactly what a parent needs to make the right decisions.
Win trust before you sell anything
You want to grow your online presence because you have a great product or service to sell. That’s great. But wait a moment. Consumers are more likely to buy from brands who are responsive than from brands who are cool.
It takes a bit of time before you can persuade customers that you are responsive. Trust plays a vital role in this process. Here are some of the best ways to win trust online:
- Provide useful, actionable information not available anywhere else
- Answer questions and requests as fast as you can
- Engage with fans and followers on social media
- Respond to all the comments you receive on your blog
- Address concerns and debates in your area of activity
- Feature transparent testimonials
Offer valuable stuff for free
It’s a common marketing play, but it’s one that works. Everything you can provide for free, from reports and whitepapers rich with insights to actual products (whether your own or not), draws attention and invites participation. Giveaways tend to generate a lot of shares and have the potential to turn into viral marketing campaigns.
But wasn’t this post about marketing on a budget? Here’s the thing – giveaways don’t have to cost you a lot because they don’t have to be physical products. You can create digital giveaways regularly as these are easy to distribute.
So, what types of digital giveaways can you create? eBooks, reports, white papers, visual guides, resource lists, and anything else that you think your audience would like.
One of the best online marketing campaign examples including giveaways comes from LinkedIn. Back in 2016, LinkedIn introduced its secret sauce. Well, not quite what you’d think but an eBook that shows how the LinkedIn team used their platform to market their brand. You can learn two lessons from LinkedIn’s Secret Sauce free eBook.
The first is that free downloads are always a good way to make people stop and pay attention to what you have to say. The second is that sharing house recipes increases the value of your marketing.
Don’t Stop Here
Can you come up with other ways to market your brand online? Thinking creatively about your marketing is one of the best ways to improve your online visibility while reducing marketing costs. It’s also a great way to get your voice heard in all the content noise on the web.
If you know what your audience wants, growing your online presence on a budget becomes a more straightforward task. Start with content and explore new channels and strategies as you go. Reinvent old strategies if you have to and appeal to people’s emotions. It’s a sure way to make a splash online.