Are you starting an online business or thinking of it, but you’re not sure where to start when it comes to promoting? Or perhaps you have a brick-and-mortar shop, and you’re looking for new ways to promote your offerings online as you move into e-commerce?
Welcome to the wide, wide world of digital marketing where you can share information about almost anything, anywhere, without spending a ton of money. But beyond basic social media activity, what are some other ways to get the word out? Read on for some simple strategies.
1. Email Marketing
Were you aware that email marketing remains one of the least expensive and most effective digital marketing methods? According to Email Monks, email marketing has four times the ROI than other digital marketing methods, and almost 90% of marketers use email as their main lead generation tool.
Why is email marketing so effective? For one thing, it cost basically nothing to start and run a campaign. For another, email marketing tools available today typically come with many built-in features to help you stay organized and on track with specific campaigns – for instance, there are plenty of inexpensive tools that offer workflow organization, segmentation, and social scheduling.
If you’ve already been building a mail list, you’re already halfway there. But it does take some extra organization to develop an email campaign that converts.
Building an Effective Email Campaign
First, you can choose an automation and email management tool to help you get organized. MailChimp and Marketo are just two of many email management tools available today, with MailChimp likely being the most user-friendly and inexpensive. Then you can create a timeline that fits with your overall marketing goals – plan to send your emails consistently but without loading a person’s inbox with what could be perceived as SPAM mail.
The next step is to develop persuasive text and quality content that fits with your marketing goal. You’ll want to ensure that your welcome email is clear and specific so that your audience understands where the following emails are coming from and why you are sending them.
It’s also important to create a title that stands out in a packed inbox. Great subject lines are key to higher open rates and click-through rates. To get people’s attention, consider asking a quirky question, offering a discount, or alluding clearly to your unique value proposition in the subject line.
Create Content that Converts
Make sure that your content adds specific value to their lives and that you make it easy for them to access your products – for instance, if you are advertising a webinar, be clear about the fact that they can watch it later if they need to.
Your call to action should be informative and educational, since email is for brand awareness and information, not necessarily a “hard” sell. It should also prompt them to move towards a next step, which may or may not be purchasing your main product. The key is to make this step as smooth as possible so that they are moving into the next level of the sales funnel without even thinking about it. Make it frictionless and be clear and specific about the unique value you’re offering.
Follow Up & Tracking
Lastly, you’ll want to be constantly following up to understand what’s working (and what’s not working) by monitoring key performance indicators like the ratio of open rates to sales. You’ll also want to pay attention to where traffic flows are stalled, such as looking at unsubscribe rates. Lastly, don’t forget to nurture your leads and ensure re-engagement for those segments who appear to be losing interest.
2. Referral Marketing
Referral marketing is really just another term for “word of mouth” advertising. In the past, it would have been common to open up a store in a small town, pass out flyers and hope and pray that locals actually chose your business over the competitors. Of course, that still happens sometimes, but now more people are doing much more research online, using social media and reading reviews before making a purchase.
The truth is that people trust their peers over brands – and sometimes they do this without even knowing it. For instance, if they advertise something on their social media page, they’re essentially acting as brand ambassadors. According to Nielsen, peer referrals make people four times as likely to make a purchase. The Wharton School of Business claims that referral customers have a much higher conversion rate and customer lifetime value than other types of customers.
It may seem obvious that people are more likely to trust friends and family over anonymous advertisers. But also falling into the scope of referral marketing is news stories, testimonials, influencers (e.g., social media celebrities or bloggers), as well as customer reviews. Yes, those reviews that you read before buying a product on Amazon or trying a restaurant on Yelp go a long way and so long as they’re positive, they basically act as free advertising.
Influencer marketing is just one facet of referral marketing. Influencer marketers are people that have built a name for themselves on social media, but sometimes they are people who already have clout (e.g., movie stars or entrepreneurs) and continue to make themselves visible in the digital landscape for instance, via promoting products.
When you connect with an influencer and get them to promote your product, you automatically tap into a huge audience. And if your partnership is an even exchange (that is, you don’t need to compensate the influencer), this is an extremely cost-effective means of promotion.
That being said, we can use the influencer marketing framework as a good example of why referral marketing works on social media. People follow celebrities or other types of influencers (let’s say yoga teachers) on Instagram because they’re not only interested in the people, they’re interested in a specific activity. So, if you find someone with a big following that is brand- or product- relevant, it’s possible to join forces and create a partnership that also benefits the other arty.
You can also use influencer marketing in innovative ways to promote charities. Omaze is a perfect example of a company that uses “meet a celebrity” influencer marketing campaigns to raise money and awareness for charities. In this way, combining referral or influencer marketing with something that appeals to the emotions – or a cause that someone cares about – when it’s brand-consistent, can be an extremely effective way of getting people’s attention on social media.
3. Affiliate Programs
Affiliate programs are a great way to get the word out about your product or business without spending too much money. This is essentially commission-based selling, where an affiliate (like a blogger) will promote your products and earn money when they make a sale or sometimes when they perform some other type of action.
What you’ll do here is create a URL for everyone who is promoting your stuff and then they can share in their own feeds. Each link serves the purpose of tracking and managing which affiliate is making a sale, and how many they make.
In order to get started with an affiliate marketing plan, you’ll have an account set up with a specific affiliate marketing website like Clickbank, where affiliates will apply to promote your product. Customers click on the link on their site and then are able to purchase your product.
This is one form of free advertising and can be a useful way of getting the word out about your brand, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, this works better for some products than others, and it may only be worth it for a lot of affiliate marketers if they know they’re getting a decent commission. Second, you have to make sure that your affiliates are genuinely excited about a given product and will be consistent about advertising, as well as advertise it in the right way.
Lastly, the person doing the marketing should already have a decent following and understand the basic principles of how to promote a product in such a way that it leads to sales.
Because there are so many options for advertising online, online advertising leaves plenty of room for you to get creative with your ad campaigns. What’s more, you really don’t need a ton of money to get the traffic flowing in – but you do need to have a strong following in place to start, especially if your promotional activities involve social media.
Once you have that, you can create innovative promotions and events to help you engage on a face-to-face level with our followers, or use similar methods of mixed campaign strategies to catch the eye of your best customers.