Five powerful (but affordable) marketing channels for small businesses

Want to put your small business on the map – and reach and convert new customers? Here are five powerful (but affordable) marketing channels to try.

As a small business you may not have the marketing budget, resources or expertise of a large company, but that doesn’t mean that you can afford to ignore marketing.

Quite the opposite: your small business won’t survive if you don’t have a strategy to find and convert new customers.

So how do you plan and implement a marketing campaign when money, people, time and expertise is in short supply? To help you get started, here are five powerful (but affordable) marketing channels to try.

1) SEO

One of the first things to consider is search engine optimization. Customers look for and research virtually everything they want to buy online, and you need to make sure that when they do, it’s your products or services they find.

Larger companies outsource their SEO to agencies, or employ specialists in-house. But, while small businesses don’t have the financial means to pay for professional help, there’s plenty you can do to DIY your own SEO.

To help you get started, here are three things you can do to improve your own search ranking:

  • Find the right keywords – Research what keywords your customers use to search, and make sure you use them in your content. You need to use them in your headlines, URL links, subheadings and in body copy. 
  • Always include internal links – Help your customers (and search engines) to find other helpful content on your site by including internal links in your copy. don’t miss the chance of letting your customers know more about you.
  • Research your competition – What keywords are your competition ranking for? Or trying to rank for? The more you know what your competition is doing well, and the opportunities they’re missing, the easier you’ll find it to plan an SEO strategy that will help you gain market share.

Love help to confidently plan and implement an SEO strategy that works – even if you’re a complete beginner? Find out how our SEO Kit for small businesses will help.

2) Video marketing

Video marketing is an increasingly popular and highly effective mobile marketing channel. However, it’s also very easy to get wrong if you don’t follow some basic good practice.

The first, and are important, factor you need to bear in mind with video is that your intended audience isn’t you – it’s your customers. So you need to create engaging content that they’ll find interesting and useful.

Simply telling people how wonderful you are isn’t likely to be well received. And it’s certainly not a video they’ll eagerly share.

So consider what your audience are interested in, and brainstorm ideas for videos that will inform and entertain them. DIY videos and simple tips often go down well – especially when they position you as a helpful expert in your niche.

Whatever content you decide on, here are three tips to help your videos reach and convert a warm audience:

  • Come up with a catchy title – The first hurdle you need to overcome in video is helping people to find it, and encouraging them to click ‘play’. So think carefully about your video title. It needs to be easily searchable (so consider keywords) but also enticing enough that people want to watch it. You may find these headlines tips helpful.
  • Tell an intriguing story – As we’ve just explained, the star of your video is its content. So you need to make sure you tell an interesting story from the very beginning of the video. Start by telling/teasing your viewers what they’ll learn or can expect from the video, and encourage them to keep watching.
  • Keep your narrative active – The last thing you want to do is bore your audience. So make sure you keep a quick pace, and don’t make your video any longer than it needs to be. Use plenty of calls to action too, to encourage viewers to act after watching it.

3) Text message marketing

One of the most direct and immediate ways to reach your customers is via text message marketing. Unlike emails, which we may check a few times an hour or day, we usually check texts as soon as they come in.

Text messages also feel more personal, as we’re not as used to receiving marketing messages through them. (For this reason, you need to use this medium with care and respect – if you abuse text messages you’ll irritate and put off your customers.)

As a result, text messages have around 98% open rate and over 25% conversion rate. However, given the potential to outstay your welcome in your customers’ inboxes, you need to follow some basic advice when using text message marketing:

  • Keep texts short and to the point – Not only do longer texts usually cost more, they’re also less effective. Your customers are more likely to read shorter texts that get to the point fast. 
  • Use sparingly – Save text message marketing for very special occasions only. Not only will your customers be more likely to read them as they’re not used to hearing from you in that way, but they won’t get irritated by an uninvited stream of notifications from you.

4) Social media marketing 

Done well, social media can be an effective and cost-effective mobile marketing tool. But note those two words: “done well”. Too many businesses leap into social media with no clear strategy, with predictably poor results.

Just like any form of marketing you need to know why you’re using social media, who you want to communicate with, where they are, what you want them to do, and what will convince them to do it before you start creating any content.

You also need to spend your time, energy and budget wisely. Don’t assume you need to have a presence on every social media channel – you’ll just find yourself juggling several average accounts with minimal interaction and results. Instead, focus on the one or two channels where you know your customers are active, and do those brilliantly well.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of social media marketing:

  • Be consistent with your activity – It takes time to build a following and engagement on social media. And in that time you need to be posting and engaging yourself consistently. Diving in for a week and giving up because you don’t have hundreds of followers will never work. So plan a realistic posting schedule, and make clever use of automation tools to help you build a following over time.
  • Plan separate strategies for each of your social media accounts – Don’t assume you can plan one social media strategy and roll it out across all your accounts. Every platform works in a different way, so you need to tweak your strategy to fit.
  • Consider using influencers – If you want to give your social media campaign a boost, and quickly reach a warm target audience, consider using influencers. Obviously the big names are likely to be out of your price range, but there are thousands of micro-influencers – people with smaller but very niche followings, and extremely loyal fans, who could be very useful. (We recommend reading these dos and don’t before approaching an influencer.)

5) Google Ads

Google Ads can be a useful tool to promote your business, with advanced analytical tools to help you monitor and adapt your campaigns for maximum ROI.

Google Ads enable you to segment your ads based on demographic or personal preferences. And the pricing is fen affordable for startups and small businesses.

The price range can be from $0.20 to more than $30 per click, with the average price per click around $2. You can set a daily budget to remain in control of your spending.

Here are three tips to help you get the most from Google Ads:

  • Always set a location for your campaign – Think about where your target audience are, and set your campaign to that location for maximum efficiency. You can set your location as a country (or countries), areas within a country, a radius around a location, location groups or even places of interest. You can read more about location targeting here.
  • Make sure your landing page works properly – When people click through from your ad you need to ensure your landing page works properly – otherwise you’re just wasting your money. It needs to be optimised for conversions and have a similar message and look to your ads.
  • Include a CTA in your ads – Your ads need to compel people to act, so include a powerful call to action in them.

Get more marketing help

Need more advice or help with marketing? Here are some useful resources:

Photo by Merakist