Marketing is all about spending money, right?
Anyone can spend money, but that doesn’t really mean that he or she will see any real return on their investment.
It doesn’t matter if you have millions on your bank account or a few bucks – you have the power to successfully market your business online.
How come? – Well, because marketing is actually all about understanding your potential customers, anticipating their intent, tailoring and distributing creative messages and proposals that actually offer some real value to those who you’re trying to reach.
If you want to get ahead in business today, you cannot accomplish your goals just by being omnipresent on every possible network and offering your services to everyone and anyone with an IP address.
Nope. On the contrary, you need a strategy that fulfills a real and compelling need to a real and precisely defined group of people.
You can’t get 100k users with zero marketing budget unless you have an amazing product that fills a real and compelling need right now.
Once you do that, once you figure out how your services could actually help a specific group of people overcome some of their issues, your outward facing marketing and PR efforts are simply to reach out to and capture their interest and turn them into loyal and fanatical users.
There’s no need to look for oil in places you know you have 0% chance of finding it.
That being said, every smart entrepreneur knows that nowadays all you have to do to elevate your business to the next level is to figure out who’s your ideal shopper, what he likes, what he dislikes and what pain point you need to address in your pitch in order to get his or her attention.
There’s no science behind knowing such a thing. All you have to do is look in the right places. Do a bit of research and understand the numbers that Google is willing to layout in front you for free.
Like everyone who’s in marketing, the word “budget” used to give me nightmares, but then I learned that burning money on Facebook and Google advertisements isn’t the only way to get more leads and conversions for your business.
Just as most small business owners out there, I used to think that it was impossible to effectively promote your brand online without spending a small fortune in the process.
When I first started working within this niche, I was faced with a difficult task: Stimulate people to acknowledge your business and get as much of them as possible interested in acquiring our services, without spending a single dollar on marketing.
In case you didn’t know, web hosting is an INSANELY competitive niche. There are thousands of great companies out there who spend ridiculous amounts of money every year on advertising.
Knowing this, I immediately started to panic and doubt myself. I thought I was seriously outgunned, but then I began to think outside of the box.
Thanks to some pretty lucky shots and amazing advice from a few influencers from my niche, in less than 3 months, I managed to increase my website’s traffic by 40.000 clicks (per month) and seriously grow my customer base without spending any real cash on marketing.
Although it’s always better to have a lot of money at your disposal to spend on marketing, I have learned from my own experiences that it’s not essential. In this post I will try to share a few tips on how to get the most out of your online presence, without burning all your cash on promotion:
Customer avatars, a.k.a. customer personas are of crucial importance for establishing a successful marketing strategy. It’s what helps you discard vague leads and focus only on the valuable ones.
The term customer persona is used to describe a frame, or a tool if you will, that helps businesses find the middle ground between customer experiences and customer expectations while keeping in mind the range of their products and services.
These archetypes are tailored around customers that most commonly go for what you’re selling.
Customer personas enable us to maximize our ROI, send smarter messages that have a lot better chance of provoking some real engagement. These precise psychological profiles serve to efficiently speak to your targeted audience, giving them information that they actually value and need.
The guys at FindMyHost recently talked about this subject on their blog. They wrote an amazing three piece series on how to create your own customer avatars and use them to your advantage. Be sure to read their work. Their series will teach you everything you need to know about this great marketing trick.
As we already wrote on this blog, Google’s keyword planner is a necessary tool for acquiring keyword ideas based on the search volumes of millions of Google’s users around the globe.
It’s free and it should serve as a cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
Using appropriate keywords is one of the key points of website optimization, which has the potential of bringing thousands of users to your web page. Understanding search volumes is the key to finding out what people are looking for and whether there’s any chance that you could effectively respond to their needs and capitalize on those queries.
Even though this tool is pretty simple to use, in order to maximize your research results, it is necessary to get to know it better and constantly figure out new, creative ways on how to make it work for you.
Now that you have your customer avatars and desired keywords, it’s time to get down to business. You need to take all this data and apply it to your content strategy. This means that you need to acknowledge key themes and messages which you’re planning to promote within your work, find correct ways on how to bring these new insights to your potential crowd, design metadata frameworks, etc.
Nothing brings visits to websites like great and compelling blog posts that are built around popular queries and precise customer personas.
Although essential to your marketing strategy, as I previously wrote here, producing quality content for the Web isn’t really an easy task. There are all these things that you have to do before you even think of starting to write your case studies and blog posts.
Despite the fact quality content marketing in combination with great SEO is the most efficient and cost-effective way to grow your business and brand online (if you know what you’re doing), this strategy tends to take an insane amount of time from your life.
Many elements come to play here. Just like any other content marketing professional, I have developed a formula on how to write engaging, data-driven 2000 word long article in less than 4 hours. Be sure to read my tips. I wish I had someone, back in the day when I was starting, to teach me how to streamline this process. Also, check out my 6 Golden Rules For Writing Killer Content For The Web post. I think it will provide you with everything you need when comes to putting your newfound data into cohesive texts.
Now that you have your content, you need to locate your potential users and get them to actually read it.
Having all this in mind, it’s of crucial importance that you become active on all sorts of social media sites and forums. Becoming an influential member in your community should be on top of your priority list. If you manage to make the most out of your presence here, social media and forums will become your most powerful marketing weapon.
You need to figure out where your customers social media habits and do your best to reach out and interact with them on daily and weekly basis.
When coming up with a social strategy for your business, it is important to avoid focusing on mindless growth and the sterile distribution of your content. Be sure to do your best to actually interact with your community members and really get to know them as people.
That will help you turn your brand into a real lovemark, which will eventually make it quite easy for you to amplify your content and convert leads into sales.
Once people start to like you for who you are, what you stand for, and not just what you’re selling – everything will come quite easy to you.
That being said, be sure to constantly read what other people from your community are sharing on their social media profiles and do your best to smartly comment on all the relevant blogs within your industry. I would also suggest that you develop a guest blogging strategy. Writing engaging and data-driven guest post on other people’s blogs is a great way to expand your network and win over more and more relevant leads.
When you finally move out of the production process and start distributing your work online, you’ll start to receive pretty uneven results. Don’t panic. That’s normal. Some of your topics and posts will resonate better with your targeted audience than others. That’s ok. This will help you understand which subject you should pursue further and which you should instantly drop from your roster.
When you go over your analytics page and figure out what’s your best work, your next move here is to repurpose it into all sorts of different formats.
What’s the point in all this?
Repurposing content is a great way to get high mileage from the time you put into creating content.
If you repurpose that post as a presentation, animation, video, podcast, and infographic you’ll suddenly end up with a much broader possible audience and the investment you’ve made earlier will only get you more and more users.
If you don’t have any design or video production knowledge, this sort of content repurposing may cost you a few bucks. However, there are still ways to keep the whole thing at $0.
Let’s say you did a webinar or a training – you can use the transcript to make a blog post with the video or webinar. All you need to do is cut the blog post into several pieces and share that over an x day period on Twitter and Linkedin. Take the presentation used in the webinar and post it on Slideshare.
This part is all about user navigation. Before you even start thinking about making money via your website, first you must set up a proper marketing funnel.
Exposure, discovery, visits, consideration, product pages, conversion, customer service, retention – these are the things you need to think about in advance before you start to chase people to visit your website. This could also cost you $0 if you educate yourself more about this subject. Luckily for you, Rand Fishkin from MOZ wrote about optimizing your marketing funnel numerous of times on his blog. Check out these three posts to learn more:
1. Building Your Marketing Funnel with Google Analytics
2. Visualizing the Marketing Funnel
3. How Content Relates to the Marketing Funnel
Moving on to CTAs.
Call-to-actions are really important for business. They take on many different forms and purposes, but in they end, they all come to serve one common goal – provoke action from your website’s visitors.
Having noticeable call-to-actions is of crucial importance for any stronger brand who’s no longer interested in just educating their visitors.
As I already wrote above, CTA come is all sorts of shapes and sizes. A popular CTA is now some form of an integrated live chat or an email system.
Although I am not a fan of pop outs or rollouts, I have seen examples of pretty great ones. Outreach Ninja, for example, has great pop-ups that stimulate a lot of actions. They’re smart, subtle and on point.
When it comes to CTAs, various business owners have figured out ways on how to subtly get someone talk to a real person about your product or some form of AI. This often leads to a more meaningful relationship and conversion.
Having all this in mind, make sure to track that interaction the same way you would any other CTA.
I hope you this blog post provided you with some interesting ideas on how to successfully marketing your business online for $0. If you have anything to ask or add – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
That’s all for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.
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