A small business guide to digital marketing on a shoestring

Published April 15, 2015
By Simon Burckhardt


If you’re a startup with a tight budget, digital marketing offers you more than traditional marketing routes. Simon Burckhardt, UK managing director at Vonage, shares practical tips to make a big online impact with limited budget.

Vonage is the headline supporter of The Pitch 2015. You can enter the small business competition and win big prizes here.

We’ve learned a few things from our small and home business customers about online marketing on a shoestring. The biggest challenge for startups is how to attract new customers with limited time and resources, but the good news is that you don’t need to be a marketing guru or have a big budget to get your new business off to a flying start.

Know your customers

Ask yourself what you know about your target customers, where they live, what their lifestyles are and their interests. Tools like Alexa help you discover where they visit on the web and social networks, while free data from Google Trends will help you discover what they’re searching for. 

Get blogging

Blogging is a free and powerful way to get your business noticed and scores highly in SEO (search engine optimisation) terms by pushing your site up search rankings. Plus, you don’t need to be a star writer to get started:

  • Do research on social media, search engines or question and answer websites like Yahoo Answers to see what your customers are looking for
  • Tools like BuzzSumo can help you generate blog ideas that are popular and current
  • Check other industry blogs to find hot topics; can you give a fresh insight?
  • Give your opinion on industry news or data from surveys and polls

Build an audience by contributing to other popular blogs and websites. Guest blogging will generate inbound links to your website, build brand awareness, help associate your business with the prestige of popular blogs and drive leads, website traffic and social media buzz.

Be social: start and join conversations

A study by the Internet Advertising Bureau UK found that almost 80% of consumers would buy more often because of a brand's presence on social media. On networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can interact directly with target customers, but remember that social is about people. Your prospects want engaging conversations, not product promotions. It’s about listening too, so you can join a conversation about your industry or brand at the right moment.

Build your email marketing list

Email is a direct way to stay in touch with prospective customers and convert qualified leads into sales. To build your email marketing list, you must first win people’s trust and consent to be contacted. Offering a free download of an eBook, podcast or information sheet, – in exchange for an email address, – is the best way to start an opt-in email list and make sure your emails aren’t rejected as spam. Email is also a perfect way to share news about your latest products, services and promotions.

Images speak louder than words

According to internet marketers HubSpot, Facebook posts with photos get 53% more likes than text-only posts. You can create lots of great content without reaching for the dictionary.

Create infographics that go viral

An eye-catching infographic has a much better chance of going viral than text content, which means a potential marketing bonanza for you. You don’t have to be a design wizard either. If you’ve got a good idea, services like Piktochart offer easy design templates for free or little cost.

Make YouTube videos to boost search rankings

Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google? YouTube videos get automatic priority in Google search listings and these days it’s easy to create low-cost but high-quality video. Do you know if your customers search for ‘how-to’ guides’ on YouTube? If so, making a tutorial video will give you quick wins in traffic and visibility and it’ll be popular on your social media channels.

Use SEO to get ahead of competitors

Getting your business as high as possible up the search listings will boost your search engine traffic, which means free marketing and potential sales. If you convince search engines that your website is the most relevant site for your targeted keywords, you’ll get a consistent flood of traffic. Investing in paid search will help drive increase traffic to your site which can result in an increase of organic visitors via SEO. You can do basic SEO yourself for free, but search engines are growing increasingly sophisticated, so consider the benefits of paying an SEO specialist.

For more tips and advice for your business, check out the Vonage Blog.


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