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5 Online Marketing Strategies for a Tight Budget

In a world where attention is currency, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to attract the eyes and ears of your target market.

Lewis Howes

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Not only are you up against larger companies with nicely funded marketing departments, you’re also competing with social media and a multitude of other distractions for the attention of your prospects.

But that doesn’t mean your marketing efforts have to cost a ton of money or be overly dramatic in order to stand out from the crowd. Here are five creative and inexpensive ways to market your business in a digital world:

1. Get endorsed by a local celebrity.
Many business owners dream of having their product or service endorsed by a global celebrity. But instead of trying to get a superstar to support your business, try seeking out a local celebrity instead.

Who exactly are local celebrities? These are people your local paper is writing about – perhaps an “unsung hero” such as a teacher or a resident who’s doing something positive and newsworthy. Since they’re in your neighbourhood, these people should be relatively easy to locate and contact by phone or e-mail. Let them know you’d like to send them a gift, namely your product or service.

The only catch: you’d like to follow up with them in a few days to get their honest feedback. Their responses can make for useful blog or marketing content.

2. Create a LinkedIn group.
Not only is a LinkedIn group free to create, it can enable you to offer your professional network a vibrant, useful information resource all while driving traffic to your site and increasing sales. Just don’t use the platform to hard sell anyone.

It can take time and effort to get one going, but the goal should be to help provide resources and start discussions on topics that can benefit your community. Groups should also be a place for your members to network with other professionals online.

3. Get published on niche blogs.
While it may be difficult to get on the front cover of a major magazine, you can create marketing opportunities by being featured in a popular niche blog. Identify three to five blogs that target your market then contact the creator and offer a few ideas of how you’d like to bring value to his or her readers. You can:

Demonstrate good will by offering the niche blog owner a small amount of your product or service for free, which they can give away to their audience as a gift. This is different than a product review, which only offers information.

Send ideas for blog posts you’d like to write and explain why they would be helpful for their readers.

Ask if you can interview them for your site. This might entice the blog manager to promote your content since it highlights his or her business.

4. Create videos for YouTube.
With more than 800 million unique visitors a month, YouTube can be a powerful platform for marketing a business online. To do so, go beyond simply posting random videos of your product or sharing your thoughts.

The marketing videos you create should include the following elements:

  • A keyword-researched headline
  • A clear editorial message (don’t try to accomplish too much in one video)
  • A call to action (tell the viewer to do something, such as subscribing to your channel)

While you can spend a small fortune on cameras, lighting equipment and editing software, the camera built into your smartphone should be able to capture suitable online video. As for editing, if you’re on a Mac, for instance, you should already have iMovie in your applications.

Even if you don’t have a Mac you can find free software online or hire a professional editor on sites such as Fiverr.com, possibly for as little as $5 depending on the scope of the work.

5. Write an e-book about the biggest issues in your industry.
No longer do you need a publishing company or thousands of dollars to get distribution for a book. Amazon, for instance, will let you upload a digital book for free, with a 33% take on every sale.

The goal is not to make a profit from direct book sales but to use it as a lead generation tool, encouraging readers to opt into your website for further information.

Even time-strapped entrepreneurs who aren’t great writers should consider this. You can search sites like E-lance or Odesk to hire an affordable ghostwriter who can help you convert your blog posts or audio recordings into book format.

When it comes to marketing your book, set the price between $1 and $5 – which makes it affordable – then use social media, video marketing and e-mail list marketing to promote it. To generate more leads, keep in mind that Amazon allows prospective buyers of your book to take a sneak peek of the first few pages.

Be sure to embed links into these early pages so you can capture leads from people who were interested but didn’t wind up buying your book.

A former professional athlete, New York City-based Lewis Howes is author of LinkedWorking (418 Press, 2009) and creator of the LinkedInfluence training program. He creates educational courses about social marketing for entrepreneurs and plays handball for The USA National Team.

Online Marketing

3 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Tangible ROI With Your Social Media Efforts

Not telling your brand story, posting inconsistently and missing out on paid advertising opportunities could sink your brand.

Colton Bollinger

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When people hear these numbers, they don’t wait long before they too dive in head-long, eager to have their own slice of the huge pie. Typically, they open one social media account after another, in the hopes that one or two platforms will somehow convert and compensate for their overall investment of time and money.

But is “the more the merrier” approach delivering the desired social media returns?

Social media success has little to do with the number of profiles you have, the photos you like or the people you follow – just as the success of your dating life isn’t based on how many Tinder profiles you swipe right on. With so much content out there and just so much time in the day, the mindshare of the consumer is becoming more and more competitive among brands.

It is no longer just a numbers game. Quality over quantity will win every time, which all comes down to your content and how you make it resonate with your target audience. So, create content you know your audience wants to see on their feeds. It’s not about you or your company; it’s about them.

How an online product could be the focus of a “share-able” joke

Just as happens in real life in our efforts to meet that special someone, most of us also go on a blind date with social media: We settle for the “one-night stand” of a few likes and reciprocated follows, then hope to find true love with great returns.

But true social media success stories are not developed over a night. They are built with strong foundations and strategies in place for sustainable, value-adding content creation that engages with target audiences. Imagine how much more successful you could be on those blind dates if you had your date’s entire life history pulled up in front of you to stir conversation, instead of awkwardly sitting there for half the night twiddling your thumbs.

In today’s world, you don’t step into the batter’s box hoping to hit a home run, you step in with a strategy based on the limitless data at your fingertips, expecting to hit one. Successful content opportunities don’t just pop out of thin air into your lap, they are facilitated. If you take the time to understand not only who your target audience members are, but their correlated interests and passions, you’ll be on your way to effectively preparing a unique content-creation strategy that will lead you to those returns on social everyone is buzzing about.

Related: 4 Key Social Media Mistakes You Might Be Making – And How To Avoid Them

So, if you’re not seeing enough returns on your social media efforts, here are three possible reasons why:

branding

1. Not telling your brand story

Stories are powerful, because they engage the mind. If well-scripted, they can attract visitors to your product or service, engage their emotions and get them doing exactly what you want – without being salesy or downright “in your face.”

If you sell umbrellas, for instance, you could post a picture of your product and say, “Buy this umbrella now.” But no one would like that post. However, what if you took a picture of a man opening an umbrella for his date and helping her out of her car? You’d be telling a story that aligns with your product in a way the consumer can relate to: “This month’s forecast calls for rain, and lots of it … and as our fathers used to say, ‘Always keep protection handy in your car; you never know when you might need to use it, but she’ll appreciate it.’”

Without directly asking people to buy your umbrella, the picture you paint with words generates the feeling of desire for the umbrella. If you’re targeting single men, they’ll chuckle at the witty spin on sexual protection and put themselves in the situation most have been in when their date asks, “Do you have an umbrella?” And because the answer is typically “no,” next thing, they’ll be clicking “Purchase” and sharing the joke with friends.

The message? Compelling, brand-optimised stories that your target audience can relate to are key. 

A brand that does this well: Warby Parker doesn’t sell just glasses, but fashionable glasses that don’t break the bank, especially for the millennial generation. To do this, Warby Parker turns every post on social media into a story, and allows customers to relate and “see” themselves in the product, illustrated by this recent Instagram post showcasing the brand with kids.

A brand that’s missing the mark: Lincoln Motors sorely misses the mark on its marketing, especially in telling stories. Lincoln is not always top of mind in many car-buyers’ decision process, in contrast to its parent company, Ford. If class and high-end appeal are Lincoln’s goals, storytelling will be how the brand reminds the market it still exists – and let itself be a consumer’s “second thought.” In contrast, Ford dominates, because of how its creative team connects with consumers through social strategy efforts.

social-media-engagement

2. Not engaging consistently

Consider the expression “Out of sight, out of mind.” In that context, any business with a “when I can” approach to engaging online customers will eventually see its brand buried. The reason is that even more crucial than crafting persuasive content is consistent content.

In the fast-paced social media space, you must consistently push out compelling content (by developing a content marketing strategy and sticking to it).

The message? If you post content today, then skip several days or weeks before posting the next one, your overall online engagement efforts will fail to deliver desired returns.

A brand that engages its audience consistently: Look at Wendy’s Twitter feed to see how consistent the brand is in engaging with fans. These tweets are the humorous go-to source for laughs, and often get into play “fights” with other brands. All eyes are on Wendy’s because it “gets” engaging consistently.

A brand that’s missing the mark: American Airlines had an automatic responder go out on Twitter to all that mentioned the company. But this was a big error because many tweets looked out of place and responded to offensive messages. The automatic responder wasn’t doing any favours for the brand, which clearly needed to have a real person engaging the audience.

Related: Social Media Marketing For Start-ups: Essential Tips

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3. Missing out on paid advertising opportunities

Captivating copy + consistent posting = successful engagement, but are you engaging the right online audience? Facebook, alone, has an impressive 2.2 billion active users daily, but that’s just traffic if you’re not targeting and generating the right leads (those more likely to buy from you).

Paid advertising offers a great opportunity to target your ads. For as little as $1 a day, you can advertise effectively and affordably on a platform of choice like Facebook. But 62 percent of small businesses still fail with Facebook Ads. This is because (a) the target audience isn’t spending time on Facebook; (b) The business doesn’t understand its audience; or (c) The business doesn’t have the right hook.

Again, businesses must tell a story that gets into the heart of the audience, and tell it strategically and consistently. To do this, they should take advantage of paid ads on social media. This can result in impressive returns on ad efforts almost immediately.

The message? If you aren’t continually testing new content ideas behind your ads, you will lose to a competitor who is.

A brand that does a great job with Facebook ads: One of our own advertising success stories centres around the product Gorilla Bow. With creative content, the mix of perfect targeting offered by our Facebook advertising manager together with a team making sure the product was stocked and ready to resulted in a 3.5x return on ad spend, a 350 percent increase in total sales and a 450 percent decrease in cost-per-click.

A brand missing the mark: This would be any brand on Facebook now that doesn’t have an advertising budget. With Facebook’s limits on your business page’s reach, businesses are left with no “air space” on the Facebook feed. If you have a product or service worth sharing, then paid advertising on Facebook is a must.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Online Marketing

Black Friday Automated Marketing: 7 Must-Do’s

If you’re going the automated marketing route, whether through email or SMS, here are seven key fundamentals to implement before the big day.

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The popularity of Black Friday in South Africa seems to be exponential in nature. Battling it out for consumer attention on the day will be, quite frankly, impossible, so a coordinated effort to do so beforehand is key. If you’re going the automated marketing route, whether through email or SMS, here are seven key fundamentals to implement before the big day.

1. Start small, build up to big

For Black Friday, there’s no need to go all in from the get-go. Start small and work diligently to craft your emails and build an audience. If you’ve been busy with automated marketing throughout the year, remember your wins and learn from them. Black Friday is going to be all about audience curation and timed delivery, so don’t wait – but certainly don’t rush either.

2. Hypertarget!

Talking about curation, yes, you can offer a broad variety of offers, but hyper-targeting will get the best results. By starting to offer different types of content beforehand that your customers can click on to show interest, you’ll be able to subdivide them into very specific audiences, each with its own preferences.

Remember that in the lead up to Black Friday, if you market the right message to the right person before others do, you’re set to score big.

Related: How SMEs Could Cash-In On Black Friday And Cyber Monday

3. Getting the message right

By advertising compelling offers that provide real value, you’re already halfway there. When crafting your email message, most important is getting the subject line right, but equally important is having an engaging preview message. A general rule is to have a question in the subject and the preview message hinting at the call-to-action required.

A/B testing is crucial to this, as you can send smaller samples and get feedback on which subject/preview pair is working best before opening the floodgates. The A/B testing of content is done quite easily with marketing automation systems, which include detailed email-click heat-mapping.

4. But when?

Being too late with your marketing is not going to get you anywhere, but starting too early will be money thrown down the drain, especially with expensive SMS campaigns. Two weeks ahead of the big day is about right, keeping in mind that the Black Friday buzz will really kick-off on the Monday of the same week. If you are dependent on a call centre to manage sales, ensure that you are able to scale your marketing efforts either up or down depending on the amount of seats available.

5. Marketing co-ordination is key

The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing. If your social media person is different to your marketing person, let them come up with a coordinated strategy going forward. While marketing automation works as a stand-alone solution, it performs best if the company incorporates other marketing efforts around it. Constant retargeting of the consumer puts your message front of mind.

Related: How To Prepare Your Business To Win Big On Black Friday

6. Have a back-up plan

Apart from receiving no response on Black Friday, perhaps even worse is getting the response but your site crashing. We’ve seen this happen to the best of them over the past few years, so have a strategy in place in case something horrible happens. Make sure you can put a hold on outbound email and SMS messages.

If the system sends out all one million emails you have no way of stopping the onslaught and your marketing budget has been wasted. Critical is that you are able to adjust your outbound marketing immediately, based on your call centre or site uptime.

7. And don’t forget about Cyber Monday

Yes, Black Friday is important, but don’t forget Cyber Monday. Usually reserved for online offers only, email marketing is by far the biggest value driver for e-commerce sales in general. Use the lessons learnt during the Friday to get the marketing message right for Monday. Don’t forget the mantra: The right message to the right person at the right time. Get it right and you’re heading towards major success on the day.

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How The 21st Century Digital Marketing Landscape Changes Our Lives

For more insight into the fascinating digital marketing landscape of the 21st century, join the Wits Plus Digital Marketing short course and learn how to select suitable digital marketing channels for specific needs.

Wits Plus

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Vital Stats

In the course of only 25 years — a single generation — Amazon has grown from a start-up online bookseller to one of the most powerful corporations in modern history.

Consumers trust Amazon with everything from their personal information and buying habits to the literal conversations they have in their own homes through the purchase of smart home appliances and technologies. One possible explanation for this trust is that the company has a strong relationship with its customers, thanks to both its commitment to low prices and an apparent never-ending quest to make modern life more convenient in every possible way.

They started with print books, moved on to digital versions and e-readers and continue to crash through technologies and the media industry at an astonishing pace. All the while, they maintained an aggressive push into even faster shipping and all new retail formats. Prime Now, the same-day shipping initiative, and includes groceries — even fresh produce and refrigerated and freezer products —and makes Amazon competitive in still more types of retail industries.

Related: Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

Digital advertising spend worldwide finally surpassed TV in 2017. Paid online search — through Google Adwords — is one way that companies/advertisers can get their message across. And in an online, connected world, many customers are reached through their mobile devices, which they carry wherever they go. Mobile commerce has not yet overtaken desktop but a typical customer journey now has more touchpoints than ever before, which means that mobile devices factor into purchases most of the time, even if the actual transaction happens somewhere else.

On top of all its other achievements, Amazon has become as much of a search engine as it is an ecommerce platform. Research has showed that Amazon has been the starting point for more product searches than Google for the past few years. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. What will be next?

For more insight into the fascinating digital marketing landscape of the 21st century, join the Wits Plus Digital Marketing short course and learn how to select suitable digital marketing channels for specific needs.

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