Social media marketing on a shoestring


High-priced ads remind us that good advertising doesn’t have to be expensive: It can cost next to nothing.

After all, even the funniest or most compelling ad isn’t a good marketing tool if it doesn’t result in increased sales or qualified leads. This is where effective use of social media can be a boon for those trying to save on advertising while trying to boost sales.

Using social media to bolster your marketing efforts doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or time-consuming. It’s all in how you focus, target and engage.

Here are a few ways to run a cheap social media campaign for your business.

Ads add up—in a good way

You don’t have to go crazy here. Just $ 25 a month can go a long way when used appropriately. Start small by narrowing your target to a smaller radius (think of one ZIP code or neighborhood), and aim to make an impact.

Aim to make ripples, not waves—at this point you are just trying to test your demographic to make sure you are hitting your targets. Once you establish the best places to fund your efforts, your funds will go further and your impact will be greater.

“Peek” interest

Your day may seem pretty normal to you, but to an outsider who loves your products or services, a little insight into how you make it happen is actually pretty exciting.

Take candid photos and let your followers take a peek into your day, whether you show them your favorite coffee mug, your current source of inspiration, your playlists or glimpses of the next goal in the pipeline. The best part of these posts is that they are completely free; you just have to be yourself.

Stretch your dollar, not your focus

Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest—the list of social media platforms just keeps growing. How can you possibly handle all the varied content, keep it relevant and keep it coming? The answer is easy: You don’t.

You might opt to hire a social media firm that can. Because this post is about saving money, though, here’s what you must remember: The most successful social media campaigns you run are the ones you are most comfortable posting to regularly.

Commit to one or two platforms, update consistently, and have fun. Your passion will come through in your posting, and the rest will come naturally.

Short is sweet

Always remember that people are a lot like you. They don’t have time for paragraphs, they love snippets, and they embrace glimpses. Think in sound bites, vibrant images, short stories and witty quips.

[RELATED: Create compelling social media pitches that build brand, buzz and the bottom line at our upcoming PR and Media Relations Summit.]

You never know what you can get unless you ask

Want a free focus group? You got it. Engage your fans and followers with quick polls, trivia, random questions, even calls for advice on things as personal as what to have for lunch or as important as what your next product should be.

You never know what you can get until you ask, so ask. The more engaged a customer is in your service or product, the more committed they will be to buying it.

Keep your eyes on the prize

Unlike personal social media accounts, social media for business has a purpose outside the ego (well, usually). Your goal isn’t just to boost morale by filling your basket with “likes.” Your goal is to get your fans and followers to do something—visit your website, order your project, stop by your store, email for the latest coupons, sign up for a seminar, etc.

Watch your toots

You can puff up your chest and toot your own horn on occasion, but do so sparingly. There’s a reason why DVRs are infiltrating American households: No one likes commercials.

The success of your cheap business social media campaign hinges on how many people allow you into their feeds, so be sensitive, informative and engaging. You can be proud of your business and share your success with your fans, just make sure you recognize them as the reason you are successful.

Running an inexpensive social media campaign is not only possible, it can be the easiest thing you ever did for your business. Whatever you do, just get started.

Beth Trejo is founder and CEO at Chatterkick. A version of this article first appeared on iMediaConnection.


Conversion Optimization on a Shoestring Budget


There’s no shortage of conversion optimization tools out there, some of which can vacuum out your wallet faster than you can say “split test.”

For small businesses, it can feel overwhelming to start split testing, analyzing results and developing landing pages on a tight budget.

Fortunately, there are a variety of free and low-cost tools available to help. They may lack some of the bells and whistles of their costlier counterparts, but at their core, they simplify and speed up the optimization process, so you can get back to creating enticing offers that sell.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the best:

Check Site Errors with SEO Site Checkup


Before you jump right into testing and measuring, it pays to double-check your site’s search engine optimization. SEO Site Checkup is a free service that runs your site through a variety of common optimization checks, ranging from meta tags to caching and content relative to other data on the page. Unlike most other tools, it also comes with handy explanations so you can understand exactly what GZIP compression is and how it affects your page.

Price: Free

Uncover the Customer’s Journey to Online Purchasing


Google has a fantastic free infographic-style planner called The Customer Journey to Online Purchase. If you think a customer simply lands on your site and clicks the Add to Cart button, you’re in for a surprise. This diagram goes through all the channels and steps that a customer typically goes through—including Awareness, Consideration, Intent and Decision, as well as the many online paths that take them there—ranging from email to referrals.

What’s more, the chart breaks down AOV (Average Order Value) across specific timeframes for a wide range of industries, factoring in the role that each channel plays in leading up to the order. For example, customers coming through social channels typically require more awareness and assistance than those coming from organic search.

Price: Free

Build and Launch A/B Split Testing Landing Pages in Minutes


True to its name, Instapage is an online service that lets you create and launch landing pages without the need for any programming or design experience. It includes over 70 different templates, each optimized from the ground up to enhance your conversion optimization efforts. With drag and drop simplicity, even non-designers can change colors, adjust positioning of different elements and even create inline forms with no technical know-how.

Depending on the package you choose, there’s a limit to the number of visitors you can have. But on the plus side, you can run an unlimited number of tests across unlimited pages. A WordPress plugin is available as well to tie your landing pages into your existing content management system.  Social and video options can also be integrated with just a few clicks.

Price: A free account is available, but serves only as a demo. A starter account is just $ 17/month.

Real-Time Split Testing with Growth Giant


Growth Giant, currently in beta, follows the “Multi-Armed Bandit” algorithm wherein the goal is to maximize conversions. That means it continuously analyzes poor or under-performing pages while delivering traffic to better-performing pages to improve conversion rates. A simple premise, but one that could truly change the world of conversion optimization tools for the better.

Because the suite is in beta, there’s no definitive launch window, but you can request beta access from the homepage simply by typing in your email address.

Price: Free, currently in Beta

Paditrack: Google Analytics for the Rest of Us


Let’s face it, for some people, Google Analytics is a mountain of insurmountable data too large to be tamed. If you’re not a web analyst by any stretch of the imagination, it can seem like too much information is being thrown at you for you to wade through and make an informed decision.

Enter Paditrack. Paditrack works together with Google Analytics to simplify the data you’ve collected and breaks it down into meaningful insights that you can use to grow your business. Measure the performance of your landing pages, visualize your conversion funnel, even track e-commerce ROI and revenues from one intelligent dashboard.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Paditrack is its retroactive funnels, which allow you to go back and view your conversion funnel details for as long as you’ve had Google Analytics installed. Now there’s no excuse not to learn how well your site performed during last year’s holiday season!

Price: Conversion funnels are free, other reports are unavailable on the free plan. Pro pricing is $ 29/month.

Granify: Seamless Visitor Interaction


Contrary to its name, Granify doesn’t turn you into a sweet old lady who loves to knit and bake mouth-watering pies. What it does do, is analyze and attempt to quell buyer objections before they become a problem.

It does this through the use of prompts, which you create. Granify’s system engineers will even suggest prompt ideas based on your traffic. Each prompt is fully customizable with everything from discounts to reminders. But how does this figure into real-world buying? Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you offer free shipping (a terrific conversion strategy!) but your customers are concerned about the estimated shipping time. And while you may have this information elsewhere in your site, the point is that they didn’t see it or couldn’t find it. So they leave without buying. That’s where Granify comes in.

It puts up your chosen prompt, making sure these specific customers know that you guarantee all shipping times within the U.S.

Boom! Instant purchase. And this is just one of the many prompts you can create. Everything can be personalized to fit your brand and style. Granify even shows you how much extra revenue you made as a result of using them.

Pricing: Varies, A free 30-day trial is available. Cancel anytime.

A Reminder about Using Conversion Tools

As with any tool or service, it can be tempting to feel like this one thing is going to solve all your conversion problems forever. No tool can do that. What each of these tools does is complement your existing skill set, whether you’re in charge of building landing pages, conducting tests, analyzing the data or all of the above.

When you use these tools to help you leverage and wrangle data, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions, gain more influence with buyers and start forging customer relationships that are built on better marketing.

What are some of your favorite conversion optimization tools? Share them with us in the comments below and tell us what you like best about them!

Read more Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.

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