How to make your shrunken marketing budget stretch?
Tips for effective marketing in a pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause uncertainty, forcing redundancies and disrupting normal business operations, thousands of companies across the UK, (especially those in the travel and hospitality industries) are seeing revenues disappear.
The first thing that suffers in these situations is usually the marketing budget.
However, firms should never stop promoting themselves if they want to avoid losing customers to competitors who have continued with their marketing activity.
Instead, they should focus on what they can do to make their reduced marketing budget stretch further and work harder for them, and there are several ways that this can be achieved.
Make the most of social media
Over the years, social media networks have evolved from platforms for meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones, to global business hubs that are highly effective at promoting brand awareness, sharing company news, encouraging customer engagement and increasing income.
Due to the amount of personal data that users freely give away to the social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, and how every interaction on social media is used to create detailed advertising profiles, it is relatively easy to find your target audience.
So, social media can be one of the best methods for acquiring new leads and driving sales. A recent study by social media automation company, Buffer, found that 73% of marketers believe social media marketing has been either ‘somewhat effective’ or ‘very effective’ for their business.
Given the importance of social media as a digital marketing tactic, it is important that businesses invest time and money into social media – even when working on a tighter budget.
There are a wide range of affordable or even free design tools available online that can help you to create eye-catching social media content. Another tip to save money and reduce budgets is to use stock photography for your social posts. There are many thousands of images in the public domain so you will be able to find free images that are relevant to your products or services.
Finally, encouraging user-generated content not only helps keep costs down but also allows you to engage with your audience, create trust and ultimately win sales. Use polls and ask questions of your audience to encourage engagement.
Focus on SEO
In a world where companies rely heavily on technology and the web to drive sales, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is another marketing activity that simply cannot be ignored. If you have a website then SEO should be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy.
SEO is the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of traffic a website receives as well as the exposure the brand receives via non-paid – also known as ‘organic’ – search results.
Though investing in SEO is vital in ‘normal’ times, it is especially important in times of financial downturn due to how effective it is in helping your business to remain competitive and attract your target market.
Getting your websites’ most important pages onto the first page of Google’s search engine results pages (SERP) is crucial. Recent studies show that only 25% of users will visit a website from page two of the SERP. So if you were considering cutting your SEO budget, then you should perhaps, think again.
Despite some companies believing that they have to spend lots to get good results from their SEO, this is simply not true and there are a number of basic things that can be done to improve your SEO without breaking the bank.
Look at the highest-level category pages on your website and tweak the title tags where necessary to make them more specific or relevant. Regularly updating content on the pages to include relevant search terms and creating blog posts with text, graphics, audio and video that boost user engagement will all help your SEO efforts.
Improve the load speed of your website. Using free online tools to minimise the file size of website images can go a long way to improve the performance of your website.
Taking the time and effort to focus on optimising your SEO can help your business climb search engine rankings and increase the chance of a potential customer coming to your site before a competitor’s.
Monitor your efforts and test, test, test
Regardless of the size or age of your business, tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns is vital to understand what is working. With more of an emphasis on budget management it is important to prove to those who control purse strings that your marketing efforts are actually bringing in revenue.
Google provides a full suite of free digital analytical and testing tools to help you get the most from your campaigns.
Using Google Analytics will allow you to monitor how users interact with your website and will give you insight into what is working and what should be shelved.
Google Optimize allows marketers to A/B test campaign landing pages and run experiments to increase conversion rates.
Knowing which aspects of your campaigns are working and which are not will allow you to remove or improve any parts of your strategy that aren’t generating results or dedicate more of your budget to marketing techniques that are more likely to deliver a better ROI.
The end of the existing COVID-19 restrictions may be in sight, however, it is likely that some form of restrictions will be in place for the foreseeable future. The restrictions have forced people to change the way they interact with businesses and have accelerated digital transformation. Companies that don’t embrace the new normal or those that rely heavily on other, more traditional methods of advertising, are less likely to survive.
If businesses want to stay afloat – and ultimately flourish – in a constantly moving and increasingly competitive marketplace that has been forever changed by the events of the past 18 months, they simply cannot afford to neglect their digital marketing.