It’s now well established that inbound marketing costs less than those “ancient” outbound approaches that the industry used to rely on. With consumers being bombarded with an increased volume of content on an increasing number of channels, they’ve come to appreciate and respond to smart content over direct advertising.
So, with so many brands scrambling to stand out above the crowd, what are some of the most effective digital marketing practices to get noticed with a low budget?
At ClicData, we have experimented with many marketing strategies, paid and “free” and want to share many of the lessons and insights we’ve gathered over the years.
1. The power of experimentation
The value of experimentation is probably one of the most profound lessons we’ve learned. It sounds simplistic, but the truth is that finding the right marketing action plan actually takes a trial-and-error approach. Experimentation is the key—there is no way to get around it because what works for one audience might be irrelevant to the next.
After all, people shop for products in all different ways. Consumers reach out via different channels depending on their age, demographics, location, habits, and more.
That means there’s no one plan that will work to cover all markets—so you need to constantly adjust your marketing tactics based upon your audience reactions over time along with market trends. For example, the current crisis and concerns about sanitization has had a major impact on the B2C industry driving them to quickly implement e-commerce strategies and omnichannel approaches.
Experimentation has dramatically worked to our advantage. As an example, it helped us penetrate a very packed BI market. We kept testing different long tails of keywords on different segments of online prospects—and it paid off big time. Between May 2018 and May 2020, our organic traffic increased by 38% on Google only due to this method. Conclusion? If you can’t afford to bid on the most obvious and most expensive keywords, you need to try experimenting with long tails.
Constantly trying new marketing approaches is especially relevant when your product continues to grow very dynamically. We decided to release a new version of ClicData every month, which shakes up the market with new features and new ways to look at the data. A new connector will open a new marketplace as well as new potential queries with which future users will look for a platform like ours. It’s working for us.
What gets measured gets done
But it’s all worthless if you aren’t measuring what’s happening every step of the way. Each experimentation needs to be carefully monitored so that you can reinforce what works and quickly stop whatever is failing. It’s a good thing that we are dashboard specialists! We integrated our Google Analytics stats with our social media data and crossed all of it with our CRM and our invoicing. That way, we can easily track each channel’s performance, not only in terms of traffic but, more importantly, in terms of customer conversions. Here are some examples of the dashboards that we use.
2. Smart Content is Above All
Content marketing is one of the first marketing tactics we recommend for small businesses and low budgets. It’s cheaper than typical large-budget advertising, but it does require a lot of brainpower if you want to keep up with both the relevance and the frequency requirements of good content marketing. Google favors websites that provide a lot of good quality, well-indexed content on a given topic. But brands have to be smart about it; it’s not just about producing large volumes of content; it has to be good content. Here are a few key success factors that we’ve identified over time:
- Stay in touch with your key customers
If you are sitting in the marketing department, then make an effort to talk with the sales team! Sit in a customer meeting every once in a while and conduct customer interviews. By collecting stories from your real customer base, it will be a lot easier to come up with ideas for content that can make a real difference in their daily work.
- Best on-page SEO
Let’s assume that after experimenting for a while, you have come up with the perfect combination of keywords. Great! But it’s not enough. The next essential step is to make sure that you actually use them when you produce your content and that you place them properly. There is something quite mechanical about the way Google operates, so, to get your content noticed, don’t forget your metadata, watch the size of your pictures and other visual assets on your landing pages, and pick a CMS that guarantees mobile-friendliness even though you may not have a mobile audience. Google announced mobile-first indexing for the whole web in 2020, so it is important you make sure that the experience and the navigation on your website are optimized for small devices.
- Relevance > Frequency
There are only three reasons why your audience pays attention to the content that you share: 1) it’s useful, 2) it’s entertaining or, 3) it’s both! As audiences are bombarded with content, only relevant information will get noticed and consumed.
3. Content that Drives Traffic
Like many other B2B companies, we at ClicData try to provide our audience and users with a stream of quality, relevant content. The format varies depending on the audience and the message we want to convey. After exploring many content marketing activities, we recommend blogs, webinars, and videos to successfully drive traffic to your site:
- Blog articles: We try to push six articles a month that focus on the issues that our audience frequently face, such as aggregating data from different sources, being on top of salesforce performance, and getting alerted in real-time on budget deviances. Our articles typically share tips, best practices, and opinions on how to resolve these challenges.
- Webinars: Most of our webinars are for our current customers and usually either highlight a particular data challenge—specifically, challenges that ClicData features could help them solve—or train distributors to showcase our platform and therefore grow their revenue. Sometimes we even have special guests to introduce a particular data expertise. For example, we recently co-hosted a webinar with metadata architect and Scotiabank’s BI Expert, Elena Dorneanu, on the basic principles of data analytics. We usually have a webinar every month.
- Videos: This powerful digital format can help make even the most complex data issue a bit more digestible. We have several sets of videos that we continue to develop and grow. The first is our product knowledge base. Every time a major feature is released, an explanatory video supports it. Now, our BI platform is pretty intuitive, but data issues can be quite complex, and that’s where a video tutorial goes a long way.
Our second set of videos is focused on customer testimonials. Sure, they’re a nice way to brag about our great customers, but more importantly, they offer a great opportunity to inspire other companies who are meeting similar data challenges. We are also quite keen on the idea of mutual promotion: “You showcase us in a video, and we’ll spread the word about your company, too.”
- Newsletters: Our content is only good if we put it in front of our prospects and customers. Emails and newsletters are still the best way to reach your audience – therefore the best channel to promote your content. There are tons of tools out there you can use to design your emails, segment your contact list, and track your emails’ performance: Constant Contact, HubSpot, MailChimp, Sendinblue, and more.
4. Smart Content On Smart Channels
Consumers in both B2C and B2B markets are deluged with multiple communication channels so, if you want to get noticed and find the audience that matches your product offerings, not only should your content be smart, it should also be shared the right way and on the right channel.
Whether you feel more comfortable posting your content on Facebook over LinkedIn doesn’t matter. What matters is where your audience is going the most and where you have more chances to get them to notice you.
To reach our buying persona most effectively, we favor three main channels. As mentioned, we target organic traffic, and we leverage content marketing infused with the right keywords. We also invest a lot of time on referrals.
Building referral traffic is kind of a natural move for us. Since our software product pulls data from more than 250 types of software, it makes sense for our website to also connect efficiently with the marketplaces of these software platforms. Every time we release a new connector, for example, we make sure to publish our profile on the software’s website. That ensures high visibility and recurring new backlinks, and it only takes us an hour to gather all the information and write the content. See, VERY low budget for an awesome result!
It’s also quite natural as it fits the user experience. Business users first store data, such as their invoicing data, then process it in their business software for their financial controllers, in Google Analytics for their marketing professionals, and in their CRM for the sales crew. Then they wonder how to leverage all of that information beyond their original business purposes. That’s when they turn to the best-integrated reporting module showcased right there within the app or on the marketplace.
Just like content marketing discussed above, what matters most when it comes to referral traffic building is the time spent and not so much the marketing budget size. It’s also important to be close to your product team so that you can identify the right software partners and the right data experts as the product grows and evolves.
Does Advertising Still Have a Place?
Now let’s talk about advertising. Or… maybe let’s not. Since we have done even more experimenting around our advertising, we have more insights to share about the topic than content marketing! But let’s save those for the next post, where we’ll answer many hot questions, including:
- Can some of the content marketing precautions be applied?
- What does Google really want when it pushes certain ads over others?
- Is there a connection between your bid budget and your SEO efficiency?
Stay tuned for more marketing inspiration very soon! 😊