Marketing is a key to any business and can be a great long-term investment. That being said, you don’t have pay through the nose for some valuable marketing platforms. We aren’t here to advertise, but we will go through a number of different options that we use or have used ourselves that are free and really easy to use, helping you to look professional. Some might not work for you and some you might end up not living without, either way it’s useful to be aware of them!
Firstly, let’s touch on the options available that we have mentioned in previous weeks of our summer school. In week 3, we covered social media which is a great tool and we discussed the top platforms available and recommended some which might be suitable for your target audience. If you missed this, you can click here, but it will give you a really good insight into using social media.
To get those invaluable likes and shares on your social media posts, you need a post to stand out, and just using words doesn’t cut it sometimes. Including an image with your post not only makes it more eye-catching when existing and potential new customers are scrolling through their feed, but the algorithm prioritises them too. So the big question, where can you create these eye-catching, scroll-stopping images?
A platform we use, where you can not only create images for social media but you can also create banners, posters, videos, PDFs and much more to build your brand. If you feel marketing can be daunting or struggle with that creative flare, you can start by using the vast array of pre-existing templates and designs that Canva have available. They provide a scaled back, free to use option which is really handy for getting started and once you’ve got more comfortable using the platform, a paid-for version is available that gives you access to all fonts, photos and elements on the site.
If you want to communicate with your client base in a more personal manner, email marketing is a great way to do this. We mention email marketing in our week 2 guide on improving your online presence, which is a good introduction on the topic if you’re not sure.
Some things to consider with email marketing is the amount of emails people tend to receive (and the amount of spam they receive too!), you need a way to entice your client to open your emails! The first thing someone on your mailing list will see is the subject header of an email, so make sure you use something catchy. MailChimp allows you to send the same email to two different groups with the same messaging but slight differences to see which one gets more engagement, this is called split testing. For example, you can test the same email but use two different subject lines, maybe one with emojis and one without. This means you can work out which subject line leads to more email opens and then use that knowledge/experience for all future emails that you send. Another thing to consider is when someone opens your emails, will they think the content is useful? Make sure it’s informative but not too long. Will they be aware it’s come from you? Make sure you’ve included your logo and contact details in case they want to get in touch. Will they think it looks good? Spend time making sure your emails look professional and represent your brand.
Mailchimp allows you to build a creative, eye-catching emails and you can even include imagery and videos to make it more visually pleasing. Not only this, you can send it out to all of your database with the ability to have the email addressed to them personally, using a simple code if you upload your database in a certain way.
If you are looking to send out multiple emails these can be pre-created and scheduled in to send at a later date and time, rather than you having to hover over the send button at the preferred time.
Tools like these are a great asset to pull reports from, so you can see what works and what doesn’t when sending emails. With the creative assistant tool, you can also input all of your brand details including logo, colour codes and brief information and MailChimp will design templates for you based on this. The free plan on the site includes up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month, with a daily send limit of 2,000.
As a company, we tend to send a social post at the same time as we send out an email, so we can really make the most of all of our communication avenues. You can schedule in your emails, but can you also schedule in social media posts to really be organised? If you use social media platforms like Twitter, then TweetDeck is a really good option for scheduling in posts in advance and is also completely free. For other platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, a third party site is needed for scheduling. Buffer has a free option available for this, or Hootsuite (which is what we use!) offers a free 30 day trial and is then chargeable. These social media management sites allow you to add all of your social media accounts on different platforms to one area. By scheduling these posts in advance, it takes some pressure away and allows you to be consistent in your posting, which is something the algorithm loves! Again, using these sites provides you with quite in-depth analytics, and provides hints on how you can increase these.
Since the boom of TikTok, video marketing is becoming more and more popular, even Instagram has moved over to reels. We use Biteable to create our promotional videos, along with the beginning and ending videos you may have spotted on our Insights Videos. You can create a free account on Biteable, which enables you to create videos from scratch or personalise some great templates and designs they already have in place, which you can search for using certain keywords.
Once you have finished filming or creating your video, you can use either Vimeo or YouTube to upload these (both of which are completely free!). This will give you the ability to share links of the video onto your website or emails for people to view, or you can create an embed code to host the video onto a page on your website. These can also be used on your marketing platforms for consistency. Just be aware that different platforms sometimes use different sizes so you may need to optimize or change the video depending on the platform. You can even embed videos into your marketing emails on MailChimp through Vimeo and create GIFs which can be used in your virtual marketing material.
Let’s move away from promotional materials and go to your business’ digital home; your website. This is your shop window for new and existing clients, so this should be treated as a valuable piece of your business. It’s a great feeling when you’ve put time and effort to create this impressive website that you’re proud of, but how do you track it’s performance? Google Analytics will give you a great deal of reporting information about your website, from the number of page views, which are the most popular pages, how long your visitors are spending there, how they found your website (e.g. a Google search, directed from social media or an email) and much more. Taking time to understand this data can help you to shape your future activities. You can get more information on this from Week 2 of our School of Marketing, so go and take a look!
Google Business Listing:
Anything we ever need to know is available to us with a click of a finger now, so make sure you’re not missing out on the opportunity to showcase your company this way too. Use your Google Business listing to make sure that people searching for information can find out what they need about your business quickly and easily. Google hold over 70% of the search market share, so investing your time here will be well spent. Find out how you can register your business in Week 2 of our Summer of School of Marketing.
As your website builds and is added to, you can end up with a number of different webpages and as you will know, information can tend to go out of date quite quickly in our industry. We recommend that you schedule in time either monthly or quarterly to quickly review information you have hosted on your site. Doing this regularly should mean it won’t be too much of a headache, and something we would highly recommend is checking for broken links within your website. Broken links are links where the webpage is no longer live or available. We use Broken Link Check, but as I mentioned there are plenty of other free options available that you can find with a quick search.
Here are some additional links we think are really useful resources to help in your own Marketing: