Internet Marketing on a Budget

For those who want to start up an online business, one of the biggest challenges is controlling expenses. One of the biggest reasons that people fail when creating an online business is spending too much money on trying to promote the business. Without proper planning, the result is often that a marketing budget gets cash strapped and the website project and plans die before it even has a chance to get off the ground with serious traction.

While there is no such thing as “free” when it comes to marketing your products or services, there are ways to promote who you are and what you do for far less money. What follows are some good, proven tips that will help you manage your expenses while getting the type of promotion needed to sell your products.

Research your Potential Customers

Before you spend one dime, you will need to understand your potential customers. Every business has a customer base that is clearly defined in terms of the following;

  • Age Range
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Financial Situation

You don’t need to hire a research firm to find out these four facts, all you really need is enough time to do the proper research to get the information. Profiling your future customers is fairly straightforward as you can start with the blogs and websites where they purchase products similar to the ones that you offer. See what the typical customers are and make notes as to their general age, gender and interests. Their financial situation can be discerned to a large degree by the items they tend to purchase. Plus, where your potential customers hang out is very helpful as well. For example, do a lot of them have Pinterest accounts? Perhaps they can mostly be found on blogs? Knowing where they are at is immensely helpful.

Once you have created a general profile, you now have the basic information needed to properly plan out your marketing campaign. You may even want to seek the advice of those who have succeeded in terms of what they offer their customers as incentives.

Set a Budget and Create Goals

You are not ready yet to spend any money as once you have completed researching your target audience as the next step is setting a proper budget. You need to account for all the money that you are willing to spend and keep accurate records as well so that you don’t find yourself without any money.

While you may sell a few items early on, it is best to plan your expenses as if you don’t sell any for the first few weeks or even months. What you do sell during this time should be added to your expenditures in terms of marketing so that you can maximize your efforts. Basically, you are trying to get your business to become self-sustaining which can take a little time, so prepare yourself by allocating enough funds to get you through the early phase.

Now that your budget is in place, the next step is creating both long term and short term goals. The long term goals are where you want to be while short term is how you get there. Your goals in terms of marketing should generally start with increasing the awareness of your business and then gradually focus more on creating profits. The more people know who you are, the easier it will be to generate profits.

Set Up Your Website

Now that you know what you’ve got and where you are going, it’s time to get started. You’ll want to purchase a website that is relatively inexpensive, but provides your online business the ability to grow. Fortunately, there are many options for your website design and we even offer a line of web hosting solutions that have these features built into the websites that we offer.

Be sure your business name is attractive to potential customers and create a simple, easy-to-navigate website free of glitz and glam and emphasizing a customer friendly experience that will help your sales conversion. This will cost a little money, but most hosting services are very inexpensive.

Build Your Brand

In order to sell products on the web, you’ll need to emphasize your brand first to build up the trust necessary for people to purchase from you. This means separating your company from the competition through name recognition and offering good products, timely service and money back guarantees so that customers will be satisfied with what you have to offer.

Once you have determined how customers should see your business, stick to that strategy. This means engaging them on social media and centering your marketing efforts on the image you want to create for your online business. Effective promotion and particular interaction are not expensive and much of it is free which can save you money while building up your profits.

The Magic of Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the best form of passive marketing on the internet. SEO is essentially using keywords or key phrases incorporated into the content you create in order to be seen by more people looking for what you do on search engines.

Using keywords, backlinks, and most importantly creating good, interesting content will help more people find your online business. However, it is time consuming and somewhat complicated and will absorb a significant portion of your budget. Still, the results are well worth it if you keep focus on your target audience and publish new content regularly.

Blogging & Social Media

The two basic means of communicating with your audience is through blogging and social media channels. Each has its advantages and both are exceptionally cheap. In fact, utilizing social media is free while blogging can be a part of your inexpensive website.

Blogging is how you place more content on your site so that it can be picked up by search engines, generate new leads and even links back to your main site. With the emphasis shifting towards creating high quality content, you will need to produce good, information articles that attract those interested in what your business offers. While this takes a little effort, it doesn’t cost you anything in terms of expenditures.

Social media is arguably the best way to be interactive with your target audience. This means promoting your website and blog posts while communicating with your customers. You’ll want to add something special to your social media efforts such as discounts, coupons or extra information to help build up this area of your marketing.

All of these methods are very inexpensive and are limited only by the amount of effort that you put into promoting your business. With only a little money, you can greatly expand your marketing efforts and create a successful online business.

Top Five Alternate Internet Marketing Strategies

Running an online business and competing against dozens or more businesses can be quite tiring, especially when everyone is using the established techniques. In essence, everyone is on the same playing field each fighting for a share of the market, yet they are all using the same methods to get there.

This means that you can create an advantage for your online business by separating it from the competition. You can achieve this by using alternate techniques that can help push your business to new frontiers and reach more customers. Setting yourself apart from the competition is paramount to establishing your success. By embracing alternate internet marketing techniques to compliment the standard practices that you have been using, a new crowd of visitors may come to your website to see what you have to offer.

What follows are the top five alternate internet marketing strategies that have been used with some success in helping to separate businesses from their competition. It is arguably best that you limit your initial strategies to one or two at the most to fully test out what will work for you.

Expand Your Social Profile to Include Opinions

The old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is true in internet marketing as well. By using your social profiles to their fullest advantage by expressing your opinions on the subjects that fall within your online business, you can help generate more interest in your efforts.

Many of your competitors say the same thing day in and day out, so to reach new customers you need to cut through all of that noise by making some of your own. By expressing your opinions about the industry in which you thrive, you can generate some attention for your business. Plus, the better and more creative you can offer your opinions, especially if you inject them with some good humor, then the more attention you will receive.

It is true that you will receive some criticism and harsh judgment, usually from your competition but also from people who simply disagree with you. It is more than worth the effort at getting new potential customers for your business. So grow a thick skin and be sure your opinions are valid and strong.

Be Personal

One of the most difficult aspects is revealing a bit of yourself when marketing the efforts of your company. However, people who show a little vulnerability by revealing what they have gone through to start their own business or perhaps a true story about something that happened in your industry can go a long way towards bringing in new visitors.

This is because people are very prone to like, refer or “re-tweet” your story to others. You’ve probably seen it all the time on your own social media site where a friend has re-posted a story about someone struggling, making it big or something heartwarming that you see has many likes or re-tweets associated.

You can do the same thing, as long as the story is true, by posting about your own struggles or finding a true story about something in your industry that is heartwarming. This type of story can reach people you would never hope to see with traditional marketing efforts.

Write Off-Page Content

Basically, this is writing content that can be found away from your webpage. Such content can be crucial in finding you new customers as they can help generate more traffic for your website. Off-page content can be written for other blogs, article directories and the like. It should naturally be informative, to the point and apply to something in your industry.

Many of the best off-page content pieces are lists, tips, techniques and other very useful information that is relevant to your potential customers and demonstrates that you are willing to share this knowledge on sites away from your own. This is an excellent way to drive customers to your website, but you must be persistent and set up a schedule of writing that helps build momentum to get people’s attention.

Also, writing off-page content on a regular basis helps set you up as an authority in the field, something that many customers respect which means that they are more likely to trust your business when purchasing products.

If You are Stuck, Re-Branding Can Work

If you still cannot find an audience after putting in the work, perhaps your branding is simply not enough of an attention-getter. However, you can simply re-brand and start all over again if you want. By changing your logo, images, graphic designs and all things that are related to your branding, you can start anew and go from there.

Re-branding is not quite as radical as it may seem since after all, both college and professional football teams seem to change their uniforms and colors on a regular basis. However, your re-branding should not be as cavalier as that. Instead, this should be something that is researched and decided upon rather seriously so that you can establish your footing once again.

A re-branding effort can work especially well if there have been changes in the industry in which you are selling. By taking advantage of these changes, you can re-brand your company to help establish a new footing for your sales efforts.

The Viral Video

Last, but certainly not least, having a video going viral is obviously one of the dreams of many thousands of online business owners. However, for every attempt that succeeds there are many that fail. Fortunately, many videos that have gone viral are incredibly cheap to produce and some of them have been made on typical smartphones or tablets.

What you need is a subject that is funny, interesting and gets to the point. Whether you are sarcastic or seriously cute, the point is that investing in a viral video marketing strategy can pay great dividends with a minimal investment. Here, you will probably need some help in identifying some funny or humorous areas of your industry and exploiting them with a video that taps into some truths as well.

Whether you succeed on your first or fiftieth attempt, the good news is once a video succeeds it generally boost the popularity of the other videos that didn’t quite make it. Furthermore, it brings an entirely new audience to your online business.

These tips to alternate internet strategies can really pay off for businesses that need to separate themselves from the competition. Just remember to be proactive and aggressive in pursuing the one that you choose.