This is a guest post written by Brett Melville of Digital Treasury.

You can have the best product or service on the planet, but if your business marketing isn’t effective, new customers won’t find you and you’ll struggle to grow business revenue.

In the internet age, in order to attract new customers who are genuinely interested in buying a specific product or service, most small business owners realise they should be implementing a digital marketing strategy.

At the same time, most small businesses don’t have a mountain of money to invest in their digital marketing. Thankfully, in large part because of the power and reach of the internet, you don’t have to have a massive digital marketing budget to attract new customers.

Below, we’ve spelled out some of the key low-cost digital marketing channels for you to focus on when looking to start marketing your small business’ products and services.

 

Email - Leverage Automated Email Software

Email is still a great way to connect with former and potential customers. Best of all, sending emails is a low-cost strategy. All you need is bulk email sending software and an email list to get started.

There are overwhelming choices when it comes to bulk email software, but the free plan provided by Mailchimp (up to 1,000 subscribers) is a great starting point for most small businesses. It also has plenty of documentation and support in case you get stuck setting up your account. From the email software you’ll be able to set up lists and send emails in bulk, tracking how many people open those emails and if they click on links you place in the email content.

Build your Email List

Once you’ve got your email software set up, you’ll need to create an initial list of names and email addresses. This is where most small businesses come unstuck, believing that they don’t have this data, but you’ll be surprised once you start going through your past customer emails how many contacts you’ve built up over the years. It might be a bit of a tedious process manually going through old emails, but you should be able to import lists of names/emails into your email software from a CSV file you create.

Another source of emails could be accounting packages that you use like MYOB or Xero where you’ve entered email addresses into invoices or contact lists. Again, these can be input into a CSV for uploading into your email software.

To further boost your email list, add an email newsletter sign up form to your website. To encourage sign-ups, offer incentives like discounts or valuable information in the form of a PDF ebook.

In terms of what to write in your emails, a good ratio to stick to is the classic “Three Step” approach to email marketing: two educational content emails followed by one sales/pitch/discount offer email, rinsed and repeated monthly.

 

Website - Build your website on top of a proven CMS

Your website is going to be the first thing that most of your customers come in contact with and it’s often going to be the ONLY part of your business that they interact with – especially if you intend on selling your product online!

This means your website must be:

·         professional looking

·         well-designed

·         easy to navigate and understand who you are and what you do

·         fast loading; and

·         optimised so that you can offer all of your products and services efficiently while at the same time collecting orders in a single source kind of platform.

Unless you have the budget to invest in professional website development, you may want to build your website on top of a proven CMS – like WordPress, for example – to speed things up significantly.

It doesn’t hurt that WordPress (the CMS for literally millions of websites online today) is 100% free of charge, either. The only costs you’ll pay will be for website hosting storage ($5-15 per month) and if you use a premium theme design from a market like Themeforest ($60-80 USD). This is money well spent to give customers a great first impression!

 

Use social media to drive traffic

Paid search advertising (something we are going to touch on in just a second) is getting a little bit more expensive these days, but social media has a fantastic reach as well – and might offer more targeting opportunities (and potentially better conversion rates) when you use it correctly.

Rather than spend a small fortune getting one of the Kardashians to promote your content, you’ll want to instead think about getting influencers in your market – or even direct competitors – to help you attract more customers to your sales pages and online platforms.

Giveaways on social media (particularly if you are a service-based small business) can be a game changer and cost nothing. People love getting something for free and if all they must do to enter is follow you on social media or share your posts, the barrier for entry is almost nonexistent.

 

Paid advertising can still be worth its weight in gold (if you have the budget)

Paid advertising (like PPC advertising, sponsored guest posts, banner advertisements, etc.) is still the number one way to push floods of targeted traffic to your sales pages.

Unfortunately, this has also made it pretty expensive – unless you’re more creative and more strategic in how you leverage your opportunities.

Rather than pay a mountain of money for a couple of click throughs on expensive keywords it might be a better idea to co-sponsor an email series with one of your biggest industry influencers, footing the bill for the content creation and distribution in exchange for being able to market to all of the prospects you collect during that campaign.

This kind of creative approach can be implemented in a variety of different ways and will almost always pay off big time, increasing the ROI of paid advertising.

 

Start focusing on your backend

The number one thing that ultra-successful companies do better than any of their competitors is understand the lifetime value of their customers and aren’t afraid of spending more money than anyone else to “buy” customers – knowing that they’ll make a whole lot more money on the backend over a lifetime of transactions.

This requires you to really understand the metrics of your business, but it also requires a fundamental shift in how you approach each transaction. When you stop thinking of each customer as an individual sale and instead as building blocks towards a more lucrative relationship – with each successive sale more valuable and more profitable than the last – your whole approach to building a business through your marketing changes.

For example, if I sell website design packages, I could determine that the lifetime value of a new customer to me is $2,000. Therefore, this helps me determine the exact amount of money I’m willing to spend to acquire a new customer.

This is when you can start creating premium lead generation products, loss leaders, and other seemingly high dollar approaches to acquiring new customers while understanding that it’s really the cheapest and fastest way to gain access to profit for years and years to come!

Brett Melville is a mentor with the ASBAS Digital Solutions program. Melbourne Innovation Centre is delivering ASBAS Digital Solutions to small businesses across Victoria.