To get conversions you’re going to have to invest in marketing.
After all, you have to make it easier for your audience to find you online.
But marketing costs money and if you’re just starting out, it’s likely that you’re not going to have a lot of budget to toss around.
Thankfully, not all marketing ideas are expensive to execute.
By focusing on low-cost initiatives, you can increase your conversion rate, build your brand, and generate more profits that can then be used to re-invest in additional marketing activations in the future.
Here are five marketing ideas that you can use that are either affordable or totally free.
1. Embrace User-Generated Content
Engaging your audience is free and drives more organic growth.
User-generated content is a great low-cost organic growth option. If you reach out to your audience to hold a contest or offer some kind of incentive, the idea is that they will create content for you.
That’s especially true if your target audience includes millennials. They contribute over 70% of all user-generated content.
A great example of a company leveraging user-generated content is Starbucks’ Red Cup campaign from 2016. The company invited customers to create their own artwork to be featured on the company’s famous holiday red coffee cups. In 2016, customers were invited to create their own artwork on cups and share their designs on social media. The end result was a ton of publicity and brand imaging for Starbucks flooding social media for the holiday season.
There’s also the option of creating content that people will want to share. This should be something that your audience finds appealing, or answers some problem in a way that is so valuable, they want to share it with their friends and family members.
In the image above, Gallery 2166 created a visually stunning image and included a call to action asking people to share it. As you can see, it generated over 11,000 shares. Sometimes, it’s ok to post pure entertainment content without brand messaging, because that’s the kind of content that people share.
Those posts aren’t going to bring you conversions outright, but it gets your brand out there, garners new followers, and makes potential customers aware of you.
Feelgood stories and PR-friendly initiatives are also easily shareable.
If you’re creating a positive environment for your employees, generate some content around that to show what life at your organization is like. In the photo above, this company highlights its new team members, making them feel like part of the family and showing their audience that they are a company that cares.
By conducting employee surveys, making improvements based on their feedback, and celebrating their successes, you could have some excellent content fodder. If the employees appear in these videos or stories, it’s likely that they will share the content with their social media followers.
2. Run Budget-Friendly PPC Ads
Pay-per-click advertising is incredibly popular for good reason. It gives you an unprecedented level of control over your ads. That’s why more than 80% of marketers allocate a percentage of their ad budget to PPC efforts.
Running a Facebook ad or a campaign on Google Ads can help you reach the right people at the right times. You can set your ad to run only to certain people who fit in with your buyer personas. For instance, take a look at how Joy Organics runs ads catered directly at fitness enthusiasts:
With these ad types, you can zero in on search history, interests, gender, age, geographic location, occupation, income level, and so much more.
You can also set your ad budget and only pay when certain criteria are met. You could choose to pay-per-click that your ads receive. You could also pay per 1,000 or 1 million impressions. It all depends on your overall goal. If you’re looking for conversions to generate traffic, it makes more sense to pay per click.
If you’re just trying to increase brand awareness then a pay per 1,000 impressions display ad might be more in line with what you’re looking for.
What’s more, pay-per-click and Facebook ads give you an unprecedented level of data that will help you optimize your efforts for future campaigns:
As you can see in the image above, this page shows off the conversion rate and funnel, giving you an inside view of why your ad campaigns either succeeded or failed. If you notice that your conversion rate is stagnant or actually falls, then you’ll quickly realize that something about the campaign you’re running is not working.
3. Market to Existing Customers
Marketing to new customers is great, but you also have to put some effort into customer retention.
It costs a whopping five times more to bring on a new customer than it does to hold onto existing ones. It’s necessary to put some work into your return customers and not forget about them.
Remarketing is the process of targeting ads to people who have visited your website before. Google Ads and Facebook ads have some great options for remarketing. On average, 98% of website visitors leave without making a purchase. Remarketing gives you an opportunity to get them back.
Another great way to retain customers is by introducing a customer loyalty program. By providing incentives in form of rewards, discounts, freebies, to your existing customers, you can increase your chances for recurring revenue.
But you can also improve your retention rate by focusing on the customer experience.
After all, if your customers had a horrible experience dealing with your company and the customer service department, all the marketing ideas you try aren’t going to be enough to bring them back. Remember, customer service is a major factor for 90% of Americans when deciding which companies they want to do business with.
4. Offer Something Valuable for Free
If you make certain tools available on your website for free and let people know that they are there, you’ll get a lot more inbound traffic.
Obviously, not all of these prospects are going to convert. But by optimizing the page, and including clear calls to action and value statements, you’re going to be able to capture the attention of a good percentage of the people coming to your site.
For example, simply adding a call to action on your Facebook page has been shown to increase click-through rates by 285%.
Here’s a perfect example from Brian Greenberg of True Blue Life Insurance:
This life insurance calculator can help someone that is looking for more information on an insurance policy. They’re able to understand, for free, exactly where they stand and how much insurance they need.
However, True Blue Insurance has surrounded this tool with calls to action, such as the big orange “Get a Quote” button right above the tool. They’re also showcasing the value of their service by getting the prospect to interact with the tool and really think about their need for life insurance.
5. Create Content for Your Target Audience
When designing your content marketing campaign, you want to make sure that every piece of content you create directly appeals to your ideal customer. That means optimizing your landing pages accordingly.
Take this example from Elemental Labs.
They have a clear idea of their audience makeup. They’re showing some striking images that would appeal to millennial buyers, with impressive colors that truly show off the product.
They’re also talking about the sugar content, immediately citing the value of this product as a zero sugar hydrating beverage.
Then, you have a huge call to action button front and center. While having a clearly defined and obvious call to action seems obvious, only 47% of websites feature a CTA that users can find in under three seconds.
Want to get more specific? State your target markets directly on your landing page to focus their attention, like Transcription Outsourcing:
At the end of the day, understanding your audience is one of the most important elements of any marketing campaign. Before you start planning out any marketing initiatives, you have to conduct demographic research until you know your target buyer inside and out.
You need marketing, but you don’t need to allocate a large budget to accomplish your goals.
By focusing on these five low-cost marketing ideas, you’ll be able to not only attract new customers but hold on to your existing customer base and keep them coming back for more.
Jeremy Moser is co-founder of uSERP, a digital brand-building agency. His work has been featured on HubSpot, Foundr, G2 Crowd, Drift, SEJ, Codeless, Shopify Enterprise, BigCommerce, Nimble, Keap, and many more.