Experts are mixed on what type of recession the pandemic will cause and how long it will last. The true impact remains to be seen, but If history can teach us anything, it’s that consumers will be ready to get back to ‘normal’ as soon as it’s deemed safe to do so. And that will lead to an economic upturn. For service-based businesses, in particular, the big question will be:
Are we ready?
One thing we do know is that if you’re not in ‘set’ position on the starting line, your audience will turn to your competitors who are poised to hit the ground running.
You’ve likely taken a machete to your marketing budget since stay-at-home orders went into effect. But that doesn’t mean you should halt all marketing efforts. In fact, there are several things you can do now to ensure your brand is ready when consumers are, and they don’t have to cost a penny.
Here are 5 free marketing tactics that will help you prepare for the recovery and give your brand a head-start.
Free Marketing Tactic No. 1: Optimize Your Company Blog
Maybe you didn’t think blogging had an impact on revenue and decided to use your resources for more lead-generating pursuits. The truth is that blogging can absolutely drive traffic to your site and revenue to your bottom line. In fact, marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to realize a positive ROI. What’s more, 57% of marketers say they’ve gained customers specifically through blogging. And B2B marketers who have blogs get 67% more leads than those who don’t. It’s no wonder that more than half of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority.
If you do have a blog, there are several things you can do now to optimize it. Start by reviewing all of your previously published blog posts. As you review each post ask yourself the following questions:
Is this topic still relevant? If not, what would make it more relevant right now?
Are there recent stats that would make this blog post more current?
Do all the internal and external links still work?
Have we published newer blog posts that this one could be linked to?
Is this post SEO friendly – does it use the right keyword, H1 and H2 headlines, meta description, and call to action?
Is the visual(s) impactful and relevant? Does each image have an alt-tag?
Free Marketing Tactic No. 2: Curate Content
In addition to creating unique content, you can – and should – curate timely, relevant articles from credible, third-party sources. Why? A click and convert study found that companies that share a balanced mix of created and curated content generate 10x higher conversion rates. As curation has become more popular and recognized as a smart marketing tactic, more platforms have simplified the process. LinkedIn offers two ways:
From your personal profile, click on ‘work’ in the top right of the menu bar, then click on ‘Elevate’
From your company page, click on ‘content’ in the menu bar at top, left.
Sprout Social users are able to ‘Find Content’ for curation under the Publishing tab in the menu bar. In addition to using these resources, here at alpha | BRAVO, we create a Google Sheet for each client and populate the first tab with a list of credible industry sites from which to curate content. Each week, we review and select articles to share via social. Learn more about the why and how of content curation here.
Free Marketing Tactic No. 3: Create an E-mail Signature Library
The typical email signature includes a name, title, company name and social media icons/links. But what some clever professionals have figured out is that adding a link to their blog with a call to action can drive click-thrus and traffic to their website. You can take this to another level by customizing your email signature with the blog post that’s most relevant to each recipient. Here’s how to do this in Outlook: Under Preferences, select ‘Signatures’. This will pull up a screen like this one:
If you already have a standard signature set up, click on it, then copy the entire signature.
Next, click the + sign on the left. This will pull up an email window:
Give your signature a name that coincides with the content you’re adding (i.e. if the blog post is titled ‘5 ways to drive traffic to your website’, your signature name might be ‘Website Traffic’
Paste your signature in the white space.
Click below your logo and type your title or call to action.
Highlight and click the ‘link’ button in the menu bar to add the correct URL.
You can create an entire library of email signatures for just this purpose so that you’ll always have a relevant signature to add to your outgoing emails.
Free Marketing Tactic No. 4: Set Up Goals in Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a robust, free tool that can help you determine who your audience is, what content on your site is most relevant, and how well you’re attracting and converting visitors. Adding Goals allows you to determine which pages of your site need work, and which are working well. Setting up Goals in Google Analytics doesn’t require a degree in coding, but it does take a bit of strategizing.
Log into your Google Analytics and click on ‘Admin’ at bottom left. In the far, right column under ‘View Settings’ click on ‘Goals’.
Google offers several options. If your goal is to get website visitors to click on a certain page or spend a specific amount of time on your site, select ‘Template’ and give your Goal a name (i.e. ‘e-book downloads’). Then select your Type and hit ‘Continue’.
Under ‘Goal Details’ you’ll want to think about the path you want your website visitors to take. Once you’ve created your goal(s) you can check back for a visual representation of how you’re doing. To do this, click on ‘Goals’ in the far, right column, then select “Funnel Visualization’.
Here, you’ll be able to see how many visitors entered your site on the designated page, how many left, and how many completed the goal you’ve set up.
Free Marketing Tactic No. 5: Set up Ad Manager and/or Campaign Manager Accounts
If you’ve not yet dipped your toe into paid social, now is a great time to test the waters so that you’re ready to kick-off paid media campaigns when the time is right. For B2C brands, Facebook is likely a good fit. For B2B brands, or consumer brands interested in attracting top talent or positioning themselves as a market leader, LinkedIn is a must. If you’ve not yet set up your LinkedIn Campaign Manager account, you can do so here on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions platform. Simply click ‘Create Ad’ and the prompts will lead you through creating an account via your LinkedIN Company Page. You’ll need to enter your billing information once you reach your ‘member dashboard’ but you will not be charged unless/until your campaign is live. Here’s a great article from Hubspot that walks you through the steps. On Facebook, you’ll need to set up an Ads Manager account. If you already have a Facebook business page, this has already been done for you. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Facebook.
In addition to these 5 free tactics, here are 2 more. These two aren’t ‘free’ but if you can afford a small budget, they are well worth the cost and can give you an extra ‘boost’ over the competition.
Bonus Marketing Tactic No. 1: Invest in a Social Media Management Tool
Managing even one social media profile without the assistance of a management tool is tough enough. These platforms that can save you time and simplify scheduling, managing, and analyzing your social media marketing efforts. Full disclosure: Not only are we a Sprout Social Partner Agency, but we’ve been using Sprout to help us wrangle social profiles nearly as long as they’ve been around (10 years!). That’s because their highly agile and collaborative, their interface is simple and friendly, the analytics are robust, and the tools included save us a great deal of time and effort. It’s also highly scalable, so as your brand grows, you won’t outgrow Sprout’s tech and tools. We currently have just a few open spaces left on our own dashboard, so if you’re interested in leveraging our partnership with Sprout, now is the time to do it! You’ll also gain real-time access to our team of strategists, writers, and designers at a deep discount. Fill out this form for all the details.
Bonus Marketing Tactic No. 2: Give Your Organic Social Posts a “Boost!”
Sponsor a LinkedIn post, Promote an Instagram post, or Boost a Facebook post to reach a larger audience. We highly recommend this if you want to grow brand awareness and build credibility and trust. A great place to start is by boosting a post that drives to a popular blog post. This top-of-funnel content typically earns a much higher click thru rate and a lower cost per click, because you’re asking little of your audience. Once you begin to establish your brand as a credible resource for thought leadership or industry information, you can add mid- and bottom-of-funnel ads to your mix. Get 5 tips for earning stronger results from your paid social efforts here.
Service-based businesses face some unique challenges. In the weeks and months ahead, focus on doing the work that will let you hit the ground running so that you can be ready for your customers as soon as they’re ready to get back into the game. Want to work with an agency that understands the unique challenges and opportunities of service-based businesses? Learn more about alpha | BRAVO here.