When it comes to internet marketing, Bristol IT professionals—many of whom own or are working for small start-up companies in “Silicon Gorge”—are experts at making it work on a budget. Through years of trial and error, they have learned how to market effectively when times are lean, thereby avoiding the often-fatal mistake of removing internet marketing from the company budget altogether.
While techniques may vary slightly depending on the nature of your firm, in general, for successful and affordable internet marketing Bristol professionals recommend the following six strategies:
Always Research your Market
One of the worst mistakes many amateur marketers make is believing that any audience their efforts attract is a good audience, and that targeting marketing efforts can be postponed for later.
One cannot effectively build a brand without knowing the niche it fits, however, so market identification needs to be step one. You don’t need to hire an expensive market research firm to get started—so long as you know your product, you can look at it objectively and begin to assess the market for it yourself. Think about whether your product will appeal to one gender more than the other, which age group(s) it is likely to appeal to, what your customers’ interests are, and what kind of expendable income your target demographic will have.
Once you have a picture of your customer in mind, the channels through which to reach them and the messages which will catch their attention will become much clearer.
Track your Goals
It’s essential to have clear goals (i.e. increased awareness, increased revenue) and track how your marketing efforts are moving your company towards those goals, otherwise you will be essentially firing in the dark. As you meet your goals, set new ones and keep the whole process moving.
Budget for your Expenses
While free platforms can do a lot, they cannot do everything—here and there, you will run into situations where paid accounts and software become necessary to success. Once you know your market and how best to reach them, look into the potential costs associated with the platforms you will be using, determining which are necessary and how much they will set you back.
Dedicate Time and Effort to Branding your Company
When attempting budget-friendly internet marketing, Bristol professionals face a major hurdle: How to stand out from all of the other start-ups attempting to market the same or similar services.
The internet has, in general, become a much more crowded place, and as such, brands need to master the art of becoming unforgettable. This process begins with your website: Your URL should be relevant and easy to remember (nothing too long or complex) and match the name of your company. If your competitors have similar names, you may wish to consider changing your own.
Keep your brand consistent across both your website and all social media outlets, and take the time to actually interact with people on social media in a way that reflects the image of your company. The more of a “human face” you can put on your company, the more people will come to trust your brand.
Start Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Early
Search engine optimisation is a slow, ongoing, and absolutely necessary process—one which results in a lot of organic, unpaid traffic to your site when done correctly. Rather than optimising for search engines after your website has already been designed, make sure it’s designed with SEO best practices in mind from the outset. Likewise, start developing quality content for your site early and frequently.
Content—text content in particular—is King in the eyes of search engines. Adding a blog to your website and updating it weekly is an excellent way to build your rank and authority, particularly with the juggernaut that is Google. Likewise, engaging content that interests humans in addition to search engines will drive social shares, furthering your company’s exposure.
“By blogging at least twice a week, you significantly increase your website’s ability to be found on search engines,” explains Mike Lieberman, chief marketing scientist and president at Square 2 Marketing. “The more you blog, the more traffic your site will get from Google, Yahoo and Bing… [because] you are adding fresh content to your site. If each of your blog posts includes a call to action, you might even generate some leads from your blog.”
The only downside to blogging is the sheer amount of labour it requires—time, after all, is money. If you lack the time to blog yourself, however, you can always consider outsourcing the task—a bevvy of freelancing platforms (Elance, Odesk, etc.) have sprung up to help start-ups connect with affordable freelance writers.