Small and medium-sized businesses didn’t have an easy year in 2020. As the anxiety is still on the rise, customers are more careful with their money.
Furthermore, it is difficult to hire more people when you don’t know if and when you’ll be forced to close the shop again.
Still, online businesses seem to have survived and thrived (at least some niches). But this also means the competition is fiercer, especially now after a year in pandemic.
As such, you need a good marketing strategy, that does not cost a lot. Luckily, online retailers don’t lack options when it comes to marketing tools and ideas.
In this post, I will share a few low-budget ideas that may be of help when it comes to increasing the conversion rate and improving optimization.
Take Advantage of Recent Digital Marketing Trends
Trends are important because they highlight the direction a business must take in order to stay competitive.
For instance, in the world of digital marketing, all businesses (regardless of size), need to adapt to three major trends:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Data-Driven Marketing
- Voice Search Engine Optimization (VSEO)
These don’t sound very low-budget, do they?
Well, the overall cost is highly influenced by the size of your business and the type of customers, but there are some things you can do to stay in the game without ballooning your marketing budget.
Let’s have a look at each of these trends and see why they matter for 2021 and how even small businesses can benefit from implementing the technology and processes.
AI is already everywhere you look (in browsers, in our smartphones, in modern banking systems, and so on). Our world (at least the online one) is run by smart algorithms that constantly gather information and try to learn our behavior.
As a result, we get to use online tools such as human-friendly chatbots, smart virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa, Google Now), personalized web pages, social media platforms, and more.
So, to stay competitive, an online business needs to learn about AI (via online machine learning courses or other methods) and the tools it can implement.
A good example of a low-budget AI tool is a chatbot system. This tool is designed to use AI, ML, and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to take care of a standard business user’s basic needs.
For instance, Mastercard developed a Facebook Messenger bot that can chat with customers and perform basic operations for them (such as checking bank account balance, handling some payments, offering information, and more).
Such Messenger bots are available for WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media. They can be used as an entry-level customer service system that can handle a large number of users at once and never needs a break.
In addition, you won’t have to hire people for this task, and customer satisfaction will increase, which, in the end, leads to an increased conversion rate.
The time for guesswork is gone; the time for well-targeted marketing campaigns that deliver a personalized message for each customer has come. This is made possible by data-driven marketing campaigns that use Big Data’s capacity for large storage and data processing.
Research shows that 63% of consumers are not impressed by generic ads that put everyone in the same bracket. People want to see your business cares about their needs and wishes, and this goes well beyond using their first name when sending a newsletter.
Marketing personalization is about allowing users to customize their browsing experience based on past interactions with your website, sending discount offers only to customers who are interested, or running campaigns for highly-specific categories of people.
All these actions are possible due to the amount of data collected using cookies and other similar tools.
A great example of a well-designed data-driven marketing campaign was run by EasyJet a few years back. The company used customer data to create a personalized email campaign and send each receiver their story with the company (where they started, how their relationship went, and where they may like to go next).
As a result, the email open rate was 100% higher than the average and the click-through rate increased by 25%!
Voice Search Engine Optimization
Also known as VSEO, voice search is the next big thing in the world of site optimization. Statistics show an increase in people who use smart speakers and their phones to perform searches using voice commands instead of actually writing the keywords.
And why not? Asking Alexa or Siri to find you the nearest restaurant that serves sushi is way easier and more convenient than performing a traditional search.
Lately, voice search pops-up a lot more often in eCommerce too. Furthermore, trends show we will have access to smart assistants who can do basic online shopping for us, order refills for various objects we use daily, or even make reservations for us.
In conclusion, if your site is not optimized for voice search, it may easily lose customers to the competition in the near future.
Check your Social Media Platforms & Connections
With nowhere to go and services like Netflix and Spotify as their entertainment options, people turn to social media for diversity and communication.
As such, if your business is nowhere to be seen on these platforms, now it’s the time to reconsider. Your customers are out there, chatting about their favorite experiences and products, so why aren’t you?
A good social media marketing strategy needs to be adjusted to your means, budget, and overall intentions. Luckily, the platforms are diverse and the paths are many.
Start by clearly defining your audience. In today’s day and age, if you talk to everyone, you’re talking to no one. So, conduct a user research using the data you already have (and maybe take a peek at the competition) and try to understand your target audience’s preferences.
Next, make sure to share a wide range of content that’s interesting and can be shared by your followers. The best shareable posts are case studies, trends and exclusive data from your niche, genuine thoughts and ideas that could be useful to others, and so on.
As a rule of thumb, if the content is well-received on social media, it also has great chances of increasing engagement on your site or blog.
Make sure to check your tone – it should be friendly and honest (even when discussing sensitive topics). If you’re too formal on social media, you’ll be sending the wrong vices and the communication process will be stiff and difficult.
Lastly, use these platforms to forge connections with other brands (competitors or not), influencers, customers, and more. This step is important when you’re building your brand’s reputation and looking to increase awareness.
Quick tip: If your social media marketing budget is low and can’t afford a collaboration with famous influencers, look for popular profiles that aren’t monetizing (they have a big following but don’t make a living out of this). Next, work on befriending the account owner(s) and convince them to promote your products.
In today’s day and age, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the multitude of possibilities when it comes to digital marketing.
However, it’s important to keep a cool head and select a few tools at a time. It will take a bit of trial and error, but you will manage to find the strategy that works for your budget.