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Everyone knows that digital marketing is one of the fastest growing and most effective ways to build your business today.  Whether you’re just starting out as a performance marketer looking to make a living online, or you’ve got an established brick and mortar business that you want to grow, digital marketing is essential.

Of course, the easiest way to start bringing in customers through digital marketing is similar to the way brands have always brought in customers.  Spend a lot of money to make effective ads and get them in front of the right people.  For many marketers, however, that is not a possibility.  Working on small or non-existent marketing budgets is the way most people start out, and the way some people operate for quite some time.  Fortunately, there are ways to do marketing without requiring a large budget or even any money at all (if you have some extra time).

If you’re in a position where you need to begin to attract customers through digital marketing, but you don’t have a budget for it, the following four workflows can help you achieve the success you need.  Review each section and the tips on how to become successful in each.  When ready, grab a cup of coffee and get started.  You’ll have to put in a lot of time and effort, but with these tips you will be able to get the customers you need to build a successful business.

Website Design

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure your website not only looks good (which is the easy part) but also conveys the message you want.  If you don’t already have a good website in place and you don’t have the budget to pay a professional to set one up, you’re in luck.  Creating free or inexpensive websites has never been easier.

Using WordPress or other free content management platforms you can set up a professional looking website in less than a day and with no coding or other technical expertise.  There are many free online tutorials that will help you to do it on your own as well.

The following are a few essential items you need to keep in mind when creating or updating your website:

  • Easy to Read – The #1 thing to keep in mind is that if people can’t easily read the text on your site, they will immediately leave. Choose a website theme that has text that is large enough to be easy to read.  Also, don’t go crazy with colors.  Picking color schemes that make it easy to read and see your content is essential.
  • Mobile Friendly – While the vast majority of web themes today are mobile friendly, double check before you choose one. Mobile is getting more and more traffic every day and if your site doesn’t look good on smart phones and tablets, you’ll be missing out.
  • Don’t Overthink – One big problem many people have when trying to make their site is that they take weeks trying to decide what the best option is for every little aspect. The bottom line is, you won’t get it right the first time.  You’ll be making edits and improvements all the time for the life of your business.  Getting something up that looks nice as quickly as you can is more important than trying to get it perfect the first time out.

Email Marketing

The next thing you need to focus on is email marketing.  Email marketing has been used effectively for a very long time, and it is still the most effective type of digital marketing out there.  You can use it to drive sales, to build relationships with customers, to alert them to changes and much more.

Gathering your customers (or potential customers) email addresses is very important.  Once you have those addresses, learning to market to them properly is essential.  The following tips will help you to begin gathering email addresses quickly and capitalize on them going forward.

  • Offer something for Free – People don’t want to give their email address for free. You need to make some sort of incentive for them to provide you with that address.  Free guides, coupons or other items can be very effective.  See the content marketing section below for ideas on how to make free content that can be very effective.
  • Use a Pop-up – While pop-ups on your site have a bad reputation, they are extremely effective. There are many options out there, so just find one you like.  When people come to your site, they should at some point have a pop-up message asking them to sign up for your email list.  The pop up should tell them what they will get in exchange for their email address.
  • Don’t Email Too Frequently – Be careful not to email your list too frequently. Two or three times per week is typically the most you’ll want to do.
  • Email at the Right Times – This will take some experimentation, but test the days of the week and times of the day that work best for emailing your list. See when you should send out emails based on the open rates and other factors you see.  This will take time to experiment with, but it is well worth the effort.
  • Don’t Be Selling – If every email you send out is trying to sell your list on something, you will get a lot of unsubscribes. Instead, provide information for free in most emails, and then try for a sale only occasionally.

Social Media Marketing

Of course, social media is one of the best ways to get your products, service or brand in front of people.  When you’re first starting out, it can be hard to get people to follow you on the various accounts.  Paid advertisements are the easiest way to get people to follow you, but that is not always possible.  The following simple tips will help you to build your social media presence, which can drive potential customers to your business, quickly.

  • Make a Posting Calendar – You should post something to your social media pages on a very regular basis. Whether that is daily, several times a day or every few days you need to make sure you stick to a schedule.  Planning out what you are going to post several weeks or even months ahead of time can be very helpful.
  • Mix Original & Sourced Content – To find enough things to post it can be helpful to mix up original items you make with content sourced from other locations. Posting links to useful sites or ‘memes’ that apply to your business can be very effective.  If you use content from someone else, make sure it is clear that this is not your original content.
  • Reply to Comments – If someone comments on a post you make, you should reply to them. Interacting with people on social media is what can make it so effective.
  • Use Social Media Analytics – All major social media sites offer at least simple analytics information to see how many people are seeing your posts. Use that information to plan out your future efforts on that platform.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most important items.  Without good content, you can’t have a good website or social media or email marketing campaign.  If you are a decent writer, video maker, image editor or have any other skill that can translate into content, do it yourself.  Even if you’re not the best at these things, practice will help you to become better.

To create content that your customers will actually be interested in and engage with, follow these tips:

  • Identify Target Audience (and their needs) – Know who you are writing for and tailor your writing to them. If you’re targeting an audience of stay at home moms, include little stories or references to common issues they would face.  This can make your content much more relatable.
  • Publish on All Platforms – Every time you make a new piece of content, it should be published on your website, your social media accounts and even sent out to your email list. This will help ensure as many people as possible will see it.
  • Make a Content Publishing Calendar – Plan out when you will publish new content, and what type of content it will be. Writing several new articles per week, plus a good image and maybe a video can be a lot of work, but if you plan ahead it is possible.
  • Go for Quality – Quality content that people will actually want to read (AND SHARE) is essential. It is better to publish less often but with higher quality.

Search Engine Traffic

Many people might have noticed that I didn’t comment on how to handle SEO on a budget.  That is because all of the above items, when done properly, will naturally lead to a site that ranks well with the search engines.  You don’t have to take any major steps that are specifically for the search engines in order to rank well.  There are some things you can do to improve the rankings or speed them along, but those are more advanced (and can cost more money).  Focusing on a quality site, email marketing, social media and content will help you to build a foundation for long term success with your business.