With the World Wide Web being a tool with endless possibilities, creating and maintaining an online business has become more practical than ever before. Even when there are many e-commerce companies springing up out of the woodwork, sustaining the operations is, however, easier said than done.
The immense amount of information available on the internet and users having control to view exactly what they want can make publicity reception for a brand extremely challenging.
Over the years, marketers have learned a lot about what works when it comes to promoting a business; especially when times are tough. At present time, most organisations have very little room left in their budgeted accounts, even when it comes to basic brand advertising.
Being online matters
Mobile devices, with time, have become main utility platforms – connected gadgets continuously collecting data about customers, with people using social media throughout the purchasing process.
In other words, being online matters, and the ability to be found online easily is even more important. This is especially essential for small businesses seeking to boost service recognition and compete with the ‘bigger dogs’ in the major market space. According to a survey on small business digital marketing habits, more than half of the start-ups, around 56 per cent, prefer not to engage in digital marketing. On the other hand, those that do, focus more on social media networks the most.
While reflecting on the aforementioned survey’s findings, the owner of AG Integrated Marketing Blog, Anthony Gaenzle, explained why small businesses are reluctant to resort to digital marketing practices. He urges start-up owners to develop a low-cost strategy, and explore more avenues than just social media.
Mentioned ahead are 5 such tips to follow for developing a successful digital marketing strategy on your small-scale business’ limited budget.
1. Evaluate your market
Unless and until you have a clearly defined target market, your marketing methods will never bear fruit. Therefore, make sure to figure out your audiences first before spending your already-limited resources on brand promotion. There is no such need for you to outsource marketers from a fancy research firm.
If you know your product well, you should be able to figure out your target market yourself. For instance, ask yourself these questions: who will be most interested in your product? Men or women? Where do your customers’ main interests lie? What is their financial situation most likely to be?
It becomes easier to reach your potential consumers once you have their thorough profiling carried out. This process may be time-consuming but that’s alright. It’s better than wasting dollars in spaces that will never reach or have an impact on your future clientele. Just because Pinterest and Instagram are growing rapidly does not mean your target audience uses them.
- The criteria
The following model of STP (segmentation, targeting and positioning) process highlights the selection of target markets that occur after a few important steps. First of all, the company looks for the exact market they want to target. The next step involves grouping customers into altering market segments using a variety of segmentation variables. Segment profiles are developed once each segment has been properly validated. Finally, using the information in the segment profiles, the target markets are evaluated and selected, most probably by putting the minimum requirements or an established model into use.
Set a budget
Now that you have your target market figured out and business goals set, start planning out your budget accordingly. The best thing about digital marketing is that you can be successful even if you’re on a strictly limited budget. Many online domains are available free of cost. Sticking to only the free platforms for initial brand promotion, however, might not be an ideal strategy for your start-up. Make notes and carefully determine which outlets are most relevant for your product and be willing to spend some greens to get results.
There are millions of companies trying their best to sell products online, hence, you must learn to set your brand apart from the competition. This begins from developing an attractive product website. If possible, your domain name should be the same as your company website’s name.
Additionally, there might be other websites with names similar to yours, if that is the case, you should consider changing the name to one that will not be easily confused with another brand. Even though, hosting a distinctive domain name has a small fee involved, hosting a service is quite an affordable venture even for the smallest of business budgets.
Lush is unlike any other makeup brand in the marketplace. They have a ‘warm and fuzzy’ approach, garnering a wholesome international reach. One of the best things about their marketing methodology is their attempt at understanding their customers. For example, they appeal to the woman with strong beliefs who has had enough of standardised beauty products. By offering free samples and in-store trials of almost everything, they have successfully established a ‘selfless’ business image online.
The way you want your brand to be portrayed is entirely up to you, however, once you do figure it out, stick with it. Having a strong social media presence is important, but as a brand manager, you should also take time out to interact with the clientele and build relationships with them. The only cost involved here is the number of hours you put into the process, which is eventually reduced once your product is firmly established.
Utilise social media networks
The time invested by start-up owners in small businesses is huge. With so many online marketing platforms now available, if help and time is limited, it is recommended to only use a couple of websites for work. Whether it is a social media scheduling software, small business sales software, or a basic network domain, make sure to use the tools as productively as possible. Choosing the most suitable media site depends on the type of small business.
- Facebook flex marketing
Flex targeting on Facebook is one of the most effective ways to scale up your social media marketing campaign by allowing you to find profiles that match two or more characteristics. Through this convenient feature you can target consumers that, for example, buy online and have a pet, or users with small children and have also bought a mini SUV.
- Lead adverts
With Facebook’s lead ad service, businesses can provide more information about their products to users without having them leave the social network.
If you’re promoting a service or two, you can also utilise lead ads to arrange newsletter signups, offer discounts and deal, and create a VIP mailing list.
- Instagram ads
Instagram ads are now run and managed via Facebook, so you are no longer required to make and manage a profile on the former. Additionally, without filtering through an Instagram profile, you can click on any insta-ad which will directly lead you to landing pages or website URLs. And since Facebook has over 600 target options, you can easily specify groups that perfectly fit your company’s profile.
One of the commendable social media marketing attempts has been that of Staples, an online stationary shop. The brand has turned boring, compelling stuff into fun with its brilliant strategy. By incorporating the mundane stationary into entertaining messages, it has made its way into helping people poke a little fun in the office atmosphere and selling their products at the same time.
Interact with customers
Email marketing is one of the best, cost-effective ways to stay in touch with customers. The technique helps small businesses keep their brand up front and centre in front of those who are genuinely interested in it. The recipients of your email marketing are most likely the ones who signed up to receive emails. Consumer loyalty is the best kind of return on investment, while email marketing helps build the brand.
A great example of consumer engagement would be that of the Microsoft support community. Since the domain is clean and easy to navigate, options for self-service, great videos, and a compelling gamification programme are easily accessible, driving high levels of interaction as a result.
All in all, once you carefully identify your business needs, you will be closer to identifying the right budget needed to promote your small-scale business, putting the brand on the industry map.