Online marketing done the smart way: save costs without scrimping on effectiveness

smart marketer

smart marketer

Web marketing has come a long way from the tacky, blinking banner ads on AOL and Yahoo to laser targeted ads delivered through search engines, email, social media, mobile apps and the rest of the digital space. AdAge reports that the share of digital marketing budgets vis-à-vis traditional media is set to touch an all-time high of 25% this year.

If budgets for digital marketing are soaring, so are the demands on the return on investment from every aspect of digital. Unlike traditional media where exposure was a function of how much money you throw at a particular medium, digital media operates very differently. This is a platform that is a great leveler. With the right strategy, savvy tools and smart resource allocation, even the smallest of businesses can take on the Goliaths of the world on digital media with equal aplomb.

Here are a few things a smart digital marketer would do to make that dollar stretch a little longer, without letting campaign goals from being affected in any way.

1. Repurpose content
From blogs to social media posts to how-to guides and video tutorials, content marketing takes various shapes and forms, but is all geared towards the same fundamental goals –improve your online visibility, grow traffic to your site, maximize conversions and make sales.

However, creating content that does all these things with equal flair, is easier said than done. Creating fresh, unique and interesting content is an expensive affair – something that deters many small businesses from content marketing altogether. Besides the cost, there’s also the question of having the time and research resources to come up with new and original content on a daily basis.

Don’t let this burden – on your wallet or time – scare you away from content marketing. Begin with a baseline of good, valuable content that can then be modified or reworked to create a brand new piece altogether. Time-strapped and need quick results? Simply convert existing content into a different format, target it at a slightly different audience, and voila, you have a fresh piece on your hands.

Car under wraps

Repurposed content helps you reach out to newer audience segments, lets you use various mediums to spread your message, keeps your message top of mind through multiple but subtly different exposures. What’s more, it also helps improve search rankings as repurposed content puts a fresh spin on your existing content and revolves around search terms that matter to your business.

2. Maximise organic social media
What started out as a completely free medium, has now evolved into a complex, multi-dimensional paid platform where you pay for nearly every interaction with your fans, followers and customers. Facebook went from being an ad-free site to earning $3.2 billion in Q3 of 2014, an increase of over 50% over Q3 of 2013. During the same period, Twitter made $361 million and grew by 114% over Q3 of last year. LinkedIn shows similar results.

What I am trying to get at here is that with this new focus on earning advertising revenue from social media, the lifespan of your organic posts has started to drop; and fast. From just about a couple of hours on Facebook (that too immediately after you put up the post) to a few minutes on Twitter, organic posts have never had it so bad.

Does this mean paid advertising is the only way to go on social media? No! This means, it’s time you get creative about your posts on social media. There’s a ton of things you can do to squeeze out every bit of social juice out of your social media accounts like:

  • Analyse past patterns and figure out what time the majority of your users are online on social media and publish posts around that time.
  • Publish extremely relevant and high value content that users truly appreciate.
  • Instantly increase visibility by posting great content multiple times a day. Don’t go overboard and spam your fans, but post enough number of times of your posts to get noticed.
  • Repurpose champion content that has worked well for you in the past and post it once again to increase visibility.
  • Get a quotes, endorsements or interviews from the leading lights of your industry.
  • Encourage conversations by publishing posts that are slightly controversial – fans love to express their views on hot topics and this engagement will keep your content on top of users’ social media feeds.

3. Get on-page SEO spot on
According to online software development firm Conductor, over 64% of all traffic to your site comes from organic search. This means that as long as your site is easily findable by Google and other search bots and offers valuable data in your domain, you are assured of a steady flow of visitor traffic (of the right kind).

To get your website into the crosshairs of search engines, you need to ensure you are doing every single thing possible to leverage your on-site SEO ranking factors. Some of the most important things you can do to boost your on-page SEO circa 2014 include:

  • Write page titles and meta descriptions that provide clear, concise and click-worthy (think Buzzfeed) descriptions of the page content. Don’t be afraid to test their effectiveness by changing/rotating them.
  • Separate your content into sections with the right headings (and header tags).
  • Use Alt tags for images with descriptions of what they represent to help search engines process the data easier.
  • Keep creating useful, reasonably long but easy to digest content, updated on a regular basis.
  • Make sure your site is fast and simple to navigate. The speed helps in keeping distracted users engaged and is also a ranking signal on Google’s SERPs.

4. Pick the right tools
“Clothes Maketh the Man,” they say. Couldn’t be truer for digital marketers and their kitty of tools and software that create, curate, discover, publish, monitor and manage marketing efforts online across various platforms.

However, just because tools are critical to marketing success online, does not mean that you need to spend a small fortune paying for and maintaining these tools online. We thankfully live in an age where there is nearly always a free alternative to a paid software product.

Tools

Begin with the basics:

  • There’s a new web hosting service that webmasters are talking about: Hostt. This will definitely save you large one-time as well as recurring fees. Why is that? While there are loads of “free” web hosting services out there, this is the only one that allows unlimited disk space and domains, as long as you register the domains with them.
  • There’s a whole lot of free and inexpensive keyword tools that you can (and should) use. While the Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a must, here are some alternatives.
  • A free content discovery tool like Swayy helps busy marketers find awesome, yet relevant content that can be used on social media, your blog, even on your email newsletters.
  • Let’s face it: All online marketing evolved from SEO. And its primary objective, even today, regardless of what anyone will tell you, is to rank on Google for your keywords. While there are umpteen rank trackers of varying accuracy that you can use to check rankings, here are two good ones:
    1. RankWatch will show you your (and competitors’) rankings (on different Google sites) for keywords that you’ve defined (and not thought of), tell you if they’re going up or down, archive SERP history with snapshots, help with on-page SEO, and watch your backlinks.
    2. SERPWoo, created by CCarter, reverse engineers the SERPs to help you spot new competition and platforms, along with insights from other tools for a better picture of why the sites that are ranking are, well, ranking.
  • GetResponse is a great tool that lets you send out email newsletters to your audience and many other marketing automation tasks such as setting up autoresponders and conducting A/B testing to help you grow your business.
  • Use a social media management tool like Oktopost or Hootsuite to create, curate, schedule, post, reply, manage your social networks for free till you grow beyond their generous limits.

The notion that “If it’s free, it must be worthless” has been proven wrong over and over again by various digital innovations that are available to us for absolutely no cost. I shudder to imagine my life if Google started charging for each search query I type into its search box!

Step into 2015 a tad smarter about simple ways that help you save huge on your marketing. The best part? You’ll notice that not only do these steps save you money, they also improve the efficacy of your marketing efforts!

All images used under CC license from lifeofpix.com

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