Marketing 101

Want more visitors to your site? More customers, more sales? Then you need to do more marketing. Just writing blog posts isn’t enough to get traffic to your website — you need to use a mix of strategies to promote your site, drive traffic, increase sales and finally meet that elusive ROI.

Return on Investment isn’t just about how many visitors you get for each dollar you spend; you also need to consider how much time you put into promotion. Whether you’re strapped for cash or time-poor, these seven tips for marketing on the cheap will set you on the right path for marketing success.

1. Refine your keywords

SEO is code for “I want to be the #1 result on Google.” Plain and simple. To achieve that, the first step is to choose the keywords you want to be #1 for. This sounds easy but, believe me, it’s not.

Most people start with a generic broad keyword that no one really uses to find the information they’re trying to promote. Then, they try something more specific, but technical, because, you know, that’s the real name all the pros use.

For some reason, neither of these approaches increase traffic to your website — the general keyword is so broad that you’ll never get on the front page of Google; and while you might rank well for the specific one, no-one ever uses that search term! You might stumble across the perfect keyword through trial and error, but that’s not the best investment of your time.

Choosing keywords to promote a specific page or post is something you only have to do once. So, a good hack to save both time and money is to start a one-month trial with MOZ Pro and use their ranking tools. During this first month you’ll also get access to all the other tools MOZ Pro offers, including On Page Optimization and link information.

Pare down your keywords like cheese
Refine your keywords

2. Find problems on your site (and yes, solve them)

Finding the right keywords is essential; so is having a healthy site.

First, you need to find out how healthy your site is. Open a free account on Google Webmaster Tools and take a look at the crawl errors. Surprised?

Don’t worry! Many of the errors you see can will probably be related to internal links no longer working. That’s easily fixed! Log in to your site, open the post where the link is, and delete or update the link. Then, tell Google that the issue has been solved by clicking “mark as fixed”.

When you’re finished, and if your MOZ Pro trial is still valid, you might want to check their crawler. It’s not as important as the one from Google (nobody uses MOZ as a search engine, after all), but it’s a great way to get a second opinion.

Search Console - Crawl Errors
There’s plenty of information available to help you speed things up.

3. Pay for (highly targeted) traffic

Of all the websites in the world, which gets the most visits?

Facebook.

And for a low price, you can have access to that traffic. Better yet, you only pay for the right traffic. Target your ads by location, language, age, sex and interest, and you’ll get visitors who fit the demographic you’ve set up.

Check out Audience Insights for help
More helpful graphs!

Don’t just use the “promote this post” button, as you’ll have less control over targeting. Instead, use the Ads Manager (or the Power Editor). If you don’t have images at your disposal, they offer free stock images for you to use.

You’ll have the chance to choose where in Facebook your ads are displayed. By far the most effective spot available is the newsfeed (desktop and mobile), so untick all the other options to make sure your ads are only displaying there.

4. Use retargeting (you’ll thank me later)

Retargeting means showing ads to people who have already taken some action related to your site — perhaps liked your Facebook page, or visited your site.

Both Facebook and Google allow you to use pixels to tag interactors, which means you can choose to show ads only to those people who visited your site, or to people with similar characteristics to site visitors.

Even if you are just starting out, insert those pixels right now. They are free, very easy to use, and the information they’re gathering will be ready to use when you’ll need it.

Aim straight!
Use retargeting to your advantage.

5. Find your hashtag on Instagram

This tip is not for everybody, but it’s a good one.

If your industry produces a product that can be attractively photographed, Instagram could be a great platform for you. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment, just a phone with a good camera, and an editing app like Snapped.

Remember these top tips:

  • Only publish your very best photos. Don’t publish a second-rate photo just to keep up with your schedule.
  • Publish regularly. Try to publish every day, and just post one photo at a time.
  • Learn what your audience likes. Be prepared to change your style as photos get more likes than others.
  • Use hashtags. Spend some time finding popular hashtags for your industry, and use them regularly. Don’t put the hashtags in the caption, but rather in the first comment on your photo. This keeps your caption trim and attractive (and doesn’t clutter people’s feeds) but the photos will still be found by people searching for those hashtags.

Fashion and food are two of the main industries that do well on Instagram, but I’ve seen gyms and small hotels make a killing on Instagram with their photos.

Instagram can be a great tool.
Instagram can be a great tool.

6. Become a graphic designer

Okay, not really. Instead, get a free account on Canva and use their templates to create all your graphics and images. It’s easy and very accessible — you only need your browser. They have a great selection of fonts and stock images, and they also let you upload your own images if you prefer. There are premium features if you want to spend a bit of money, but even the free version is a fantastic tool.

Up your graphic design game with Canva.
Up your graphic design game with Canva.

7. Start your email list, for free

In the digital world, nothing is more valuable than having a direct way of contacting your clients (i.e., their email address). Start gathering these as soon as possible, and use a specialised tool to do it.

My recommendation for those who are starting out is to get a free account on Mailchimp. You get a top-of-the-line tool from the leader of the industry, for nothing but a link and an image.

A warning though, once you hit the subscriber number 2001… it might be time to look for an alternative to Mailchimp. They go from being free to being very expensive, very fast.

Deliver your message straight to your audience's inbox.
Deliver your message straight to your audience’s inbox.

Do it!

Many small business owners put off working on marketing because they don’t think it will be a good use of their time; or throw money at ads that aren’t well targeted in the hope that they’ll magically bring visitors to their website. It’s true, you will have to spend some time researching keywords and creating ads, but this time will be well rewarded.