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Tools and services abound to help marketers reach diverse audiences across multiple channels, providing unprecedented access to customers and allowing them to meet their many departmental and company goals. In the past these solutions typically consisted of paid advertising campaigns in mass media; needless to say these “amazing” silver-bullet solutions often came with hefty price tags, well out of the reach of all but the most generous marketing budgets.
Fortunately, today’s marketing landscape has largely gone digital providing those with smaller budgets a chance to compete and be seen. Search, social, and mobile aren’t just add-ons to traditional campaigns, they must all be integrated both with each other and with offline elements to form a cohesive unit that shows off your brand to the world.
As complex and varied as digital marketing is, that does not mean it has to be an expensive proposition. There are numerous tools, websites and strategies that can be used to keep costs down. Whether you’re an early-stage startup or a large corporate organization, here are 5 great ways to make your marketing budget go further:
1) Put social media to work
Though it may seem like it has been beaten into the ground by every marketing book, blog, website and talking head, social media is an important weapon in every marketer’s arsenal – and it’s (still) free to create these social sites and accounts to promote your brand. While it does take a lot of effort and patience to build a following through social media, if you have a solid communications plan and messaging strategy in place, you can eventually get them up and running to a point where they will only take an hour or two a week of tending. Plus, with the right plug-ins, you won’t even have to log in to post to your accounts; you can do it directly from your web browser or other marketing software.
2) Write a blog
Blogs are a great way to boost the overall effectiveness of your digital marketing, especially on the search side of things. All blogging takes is a bit of expertise, a few keywords, a little research, and the time it takes you to write them all down. It is an excellent way to generate lots of new content (which search engines love, especially for that all important page ranking) and it helps position you and your business as industry experts. Oftentimes when people first consider buying a new product or service, all they want to do is learn more about the options that are out there. If you can beat them to the punch and provide detailed information on exactly what they were interested in, you’re already a step ahead of the competition in mindshare when they decide to make a purchase.
3) Utilize free tools (and trials)
Google Analytics is probably the most popular free tool out there to obtain actionable insight into what your website visitors view, click and download. However there are many other widgets and utilities out there to consider as well. Though most free tools usually have a limit to their functionality or have paid premium versions with more fully realized features, try out a variety of them to see what works best for your individual requirements. The more experience you have with them and the data they provide will at least give you an idea of which to purchase should you find the extra budget room.
4) Repurpose what you’re already paying for
Many software products and services you already pay for can provide extra value by being repurposed for other areas of your marketing efforts. Tools and widgets provided as add-ons by services your company already pays for are usually there for a good reason: someone already decided they were useful and took the time to build them (or assign the precious coding time for their creation). Site platforms such as WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger provide data on page views and click-throughs, as do comprehensive reports from paid advertising campaigns. All of this performance data can be reused to generate more effective content, optimize header and meta tags, improve email subject lines and even let you know what messages will make a splash with your social media audiences.
5) Hire a lead marketing communications agency
While hiring an outside agency may not seem like a great way to save money on the surface, if you take a little time to consider everything they can do and where your time is best spent, they just might make sense. Marketing agencies specializing in social media and integrated marketing can often do in hours what it might take you days or weeks to do, and if your time is better used on other tasks, the value they create can pay for their fees. If you are under tight deadlines, they can even be lifesavers by providing emergency backup on demand. The right agencies can often even negotiate better rates with vendors due to bulk purchasing agreements or long-term working relationships.
Digital marketing campaigns don’t have to be a large expense on your already stretched budget. With the right planning, messaging and strategies in place (and these tips) you can make an impact on the cheap.
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