For small businesses, a strong marketing strategy is essential to success.
But if you’re not careful, marketing can eat up all of your time – not to mention all of your funds. Smart business owners know how to stay on top of their marketing without wasting money or time.
Here are seven strategies for marketing your business efficiently on a shoestring budget.
1. Know your audience.
Don’t waste your efforts marketing to people who won’t appreciate your product in the first place. Before you put your next campaign together, figure out who your ideal audience is. The more targeted your marketing is, the more effective it will be.
The best way to understand your audience is to create some buyer personas. Gather as much data as you can about your existing customers. Then use that information to create a few fictional personas that represent your typical buyers. Tailor your marketing to these personas, and you'll see better results with your real-life customers.
2. Define your goals.
What do you want to achieve with your marketing? If your answer is just “more sales,” you need to get more specific. For instance, you might want to grow your mailing list by 1000 subscribers, make a certain number of sales in your brick and mortar stores, or start blogging twice a week.
Whatever you want to achieve, define it in concrete terms, and make sure you’ve got the rest of your team on the same page. Then build a strategy for making it happen. When you know exactly what kind of results you want to see, you’ll have an easier time figuring out which steps to take to get there – and you’ll spend less time and money on dead-end strategies that don’t move you forward.
3. Track your analytics.
Your analytics are like health stats for your website. Even if you operate in the brick-and-mortar realm, your website’s health can tell you a lot about the overall health of your business, so learn to read and interpret Google Analytics. Specific metrics to track: your most (and least) popular pages, bounce rate, shopping cart abandonment stats, and traffic over time.
4. Run split tests.
Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a technique that lets you try out two different marketing strategies on separate segments of your audience. It’s a good way to find out which marketing approaches work best for you, so you can stop wasting your time and money on less effective methods.
Split testing is especially popular when it comes to things like email marketing and website design. For best results, try to test just a single variable at a time – for instance, send out the same email with different subject lines, and see which one gets more opens. Over time, you’ll start getting a good idea of what works with your audience and what doesn’t.
5. Keep your database clean.
If you do email marketing (and you really should), bad database hygiene could be costing you. Many marketing automation platforms charge you by the size of your database or the number of emails you send out, so if you’ve got a lot of out-of-date contacts, you’re wasting valuable marketing dollars on emails that nobody is reading. Besides that, if you let your database get messy, you’ll eventually have to spend a lot of time cleaning it out. Save yourself the trouble by following good list hygiene practices in the first place. In particular, make sure to delete hard bounces immediately, and consider removing contacts who haven’t opened your emails in a long time.
6. Automate what you can.
Marketing by hand is impractical for most businesses. Make your job easier by automating whatever repetitive tasks you can. There are tons of good automation platforms for email marketing, and services like HootSuite can help you set up an automatic social media posting schedule. You’ll still have to put some time and work into running whichever platforms you're using, but you’ll save valuable hours (and your sanity) in the long run.
7. Hire a professional.
It might sound counterintuitive if you’re on a tight budget, but hiring a marketing professional can save you money in the long run. Why? If you try to do all your marketing yourself, you’ll be more likely to make budget-wasting mistakes, unless you’re already a marketing pro. An experienced marketer, on the other hand, already knows how to stretch a budget and maximize ROI. They’ll be able to pick out the tools and strategies that are right for your business with little to no guesswork involved.