Effective marketing is vital to increasing your business’ overall profitability and success, but putting together a strong campaign may seem impossible if you're operating on a meager budget.
This can create a vicious cycle in which small companies feel the need to bring in more revenue in order to pay for marketing but need better marketing to attract more business in the first place.
Don’t let the dog-eat-dog world of digital marketing chew a hole through your budget. Even if you're scraping by on limited funds, there are a number of strategies you can use to boost your marketing success without breaking the bank—including powerful and affordable email marketing tactics.
Here are a few essential marketing strategies for SMBs you can use to get your word out without going into the red.
Sharpen Your Focus
While a modest marketing budget isn't necessarily a barrier to success, it does require maximizing your use of resources.
In order to get the most bang for your advertising buck, it's essential that you understand as much as possible about your core target market. Every dollar you spend on the demographics you're unlikely to reach—or offering messages that aren't resonating with your audience—is a dollar wasted. Instead, hone in on a specific niche and deliver a concise, consistent message.
Email marketing allows you to track your customers purchasing habits and use this information to send specifically targeted email campaigns. To search for additional customer information, try tools like Wordtracker, Facebook Audience Insights and Google's AdWords audience insights. Do all you can to hone in on specific trends and keywords that connect with your audience and their personal interests and needs.
Create Quality Content
When it comes to wringing the most value out of your marketing budget, email marketing is the most affordable and effective for small businesses. Here you can target in carefully, reach the correct people and send the right message.
Use the insights you've gleaned from the previous tip to hone in on what your core audience is and what they care about, then create compelling content and specific emails that speak to their interests, needs and desires.
Additionally, a blog can be an especially effective, low- or no-cost way to reach a wide audience, and guest blogging can expand your reach even further without overextending your budget.
Foster Strong Relationships
Attracting new customers is important, but your marketing efforts should also involve keeping your existing customer base. After all, it's far less expensive to entice previous customers to come back than to draw in new ones.
Use email and social media to stay engaged with your customers but be careful not to go overboard. Utilize email marketing to offer value—often in the form of helpful information or valuable promotions—or simply send a thank you or birthday wishes. The more valued and appreciated your customers feel, the more likely they are to continue doing business with you.
It's also a good idea to follow up with new customers through email to ensure that they're satisfied, and if there's a problem, do everything in your power to rectify the situation as quickly and completely as possible.
Leverage Social Media
Another marketing strategy to incorporate email marketing into your budget is to integrate it with social media.
Social media has exploded over the past decade from a fun novelty into a genuine institution. It's infiltrated virtually every aspect of daily life, making it an exceptionally powerful advertising channel. You can use simple strategies to amp up your social media presence, such as adding social icons to emails, promoting email subscriptions through your profiles and providing incentives for your customers to connect and share.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms also all offer various advertising options, and most of them are highly cost-effective. Additionally, consider allocating a portion of your budget to a PPC campaign for highly targeted, proven advertising.
If you can't muster up the cash flow to support your marketing efforts, you may also wish to use a business credit card to cover some of the costs. Business credit cards are easier to obtain and more flexible than traditional loans, and if used responsibly, they can also help to establish strong business credit.
“Free-mail” (Coupons and Samples)
There's a reason even some of the largest businesses and corporations in the world offer coupons, free samples and other incentives: they work. If you believe strongly in your product or service, what better way to sell it than to let it speak for itself?
E-mails teasing a free sample or free trial are a great way to get your name in front of new customers, and any money spent on coupons or samples will be recouped when sales start coming in.
Studies have repeatedly shown that consumers are far more likely to purchase things with which they already have experience, and spreading a sampling of your product for free may also engender invaluable goodwill and word-of-mouth buzz.
Create Perks for Loyal Customers
Sometimes the best marketing tools aren't tools at all. If you can create strong relationships with your customers and reward their loyalty, you may find that they become your greatest advocates.
Customer referrals are very powerful but many businesses neglect to even ask. Make a point to request that your customers tell their friends if they're satisfied with your business, and consider offering them discounts, special access and other perks for doing so.
Small and mid-sized businesses simply can't compete against the million-dollar budgets that large businesses can afford to throw at their marketing, but that doesn't mean you can't be successful. Operating on a tight budget simply requires a sharp focus and a dedication to maximizing every dollar you spend. With the marketing strategies for SMBs above, you'll be better positioned to keep your business healthy and thriving—no matter your budget.
About the Author: Maricel Tabalba is a freelance contributor for Credit.com who is interested in writing about personal finance advice for Millennials and college students. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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