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7 Low-Cost Marketing Tactics That Deliver Surprising Results

7 Low-Cost Marketing Tactics That Deliver Surprising Results

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, start-ups and small scale businesses should set aside at least 7%-8% of gross revenue for digital marketing.

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For a company that is just establishing itself in the market and which barely makes enough money to stay afloat, even this sub-10% investment may be very high.

But foregoing digital marketing to save finances isn’t an option. After all, digital marketing is the only way you’ll get yourself noticed by prospects and set the stage for successful sales.

It then becomes imperative to find low-cost marketing tactics, which can be implemented on a shoestring budget, and are still impactful and yield results. Here, we look at some of these tactics:

1. Get the word out through free PR

A study by Nielsen shows that PR is almost 90% more effective than advertising. So, what’s a better way to get your digital marketing strategy a boost than PR?

Write your message the right way

Journalists spend about 1-2 minutes reading a pitch. If you fail to hook them then, the rest of your campaign fails. This is where solid press release writing helps.

  • Your message should not exceed 300 words, including 1-2 quotes.
  • If you’re in a partnership with other brands, include this in the message. A lot of times customers explore new brands only due to their association with established ones.
  • Give the readers a cause they can rally behind – your message should be written as a solution to a major problem.

Create not one, but multiple story angles

Each publication follows different publishing standards and they respond to a different kind of messaging. That’s why it’s important to create multiple variants of your story.

When emailing your pitch, it doesn’t hurt to add a preliminary message, explaining why you think your story is a good fit for that publication and which section it may be published in.

Perfect the art of the one-sentence pitch

Journalists go through numerous pitches/proposals each day. The best way to stand out from the crowd is to pitch your story using a “cannot-be-ignored” one-sentence pitch. The best way to write a one-sentence pitch is to:

  • Keep it short.
  • Address a specific problem/conflict.
  • Talk about how your product/service intends to fix the problem.
  • Explain why this solution is important.

You can use this formula as a guide to writing your one-sentence pitch:

My company (company name) is creating (product/service) to help (customer group) solve (problem/conflict) by (solution).

Now that you know what to do, here are some budget-friendly PR tools you can use:

Low cost marketing tactics Cision's website HARO opportunities journalist and source


Pricing: Basic subscription free

HARO or Help A Reporter Out is a free PR platform where companies can post their announcements and seek media coverage, and journalists can source verified news items to publish within minutes.

2. PitchRate

Pricing: Free-to-use

PitchRate helps companies send in pitches, leads, and updates to experienced PR agents and journalists whose writing style and industry experience matches your requirements.

3. Anewstip

Pricing: Basic subscription free

Anewstip hosts a database of millions of PR experts. Pitches can be sent directly to the journalist and you can build a well-researched, industry-specific media list.

2. Generate leads with high-quality content

Content marketing generates 3X more leads than paid advertising, provided you use it right. When implementing your content marketing campaign, here are a few things you can do:

Tell stories that people actually want to know

Your audience will read something only if they are interested in it. So make sure you write content that they want, not what you want. Usually, people love to read lists, how-to tutorials and guides, case studies, and expert interviews.

Video content like GIFs, memes and live-streamed videos have a lot of takers too.

Leverage the power of pillar posts

Long-form content generates organic backlinks because of the value it adds to readers. Plus, search engines like Google favor in-depth articles, giving them a pride-of-place in the ranking. This is because long-form content shows subject matter authority – something that crawlers love.

So, if you’re posting articles, make sure they’re 3000+ words in length.

Here are a few ideas for pillar posts – How-To guides, reference/data curation posts, resource round-ups and lists of curated articles.

Consider gating your content

Gated content has conversion rates as high as 45%. They are excellent for generating leads and creating targeted subscriber lists.

You can get the most out of your gated content by linking your landing pages to the gated content or linking them to your top-of-the-page CTAs. Adding attractive graphics or videos with the gated content is a great way to encourage a website visitor to explore your gated content too.

Tactics aside, here are some platforms and tools you can use to create premium-quality content:

Low cost marketing tactics Narrato website team meeting image

1. Narrato.io

Pricing: No subscription required, a trial piece for $1 and affordable pricing

Narrato.io is a freelance marketplace where companies can order content for blogs, websites and other marketing content. The USPs of the platform include intelligent writer matching, unlimited revisions, free images, plagiarism checks, and a $1 trial.

2. Answer The Public

Pricing: Basic subscription free

Not sure what topics your audience will enjoy reading/watching? Type in a keyword on Answer The Public and you’ll receive a massive list of related topics/questions which you can create content about.

3. FreeeUp

Pricing: Services start at $5

If your content is graphics-based,  check out FreeeUp. From commissioning videos to ordering podcasts, you can post all types of work here.

3. Re-target old customers with email marketing

Did you know that investing just $1 in email, can get you an ROI of $42? So, if you’re thinking of retargeting existing customers, you should definitely use email. Here’s how you can go about it:

Start with a compelling subject line

Subject lines that are between 41 and 49 characters initiate the highest email open rates. Since they’re this concise, they should also be straightforward. Don’t make false promises, but mention the offers that your email body talks about.

Plus, using action-words like “Play” or “Dine” in the subject line makes the email more engaging. Finally, personalize your subject line, as this increases clicks.

An example of a good subject line that follows these tips is – “Mike, Shop with us by [date] and get 40% off!

Time your email delivery right

According to multiple surveys, Tuesdays and Thursdays have the highest email open rates at 18.6%. Engagement rates – in the form of email revisits and website traffic – are very high on Fridays. Saturdays are the highest email conversion days.

In terms of time, most surveys tell us that emailing between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM gets the best engagement, with the exception of Sundays when open rates are highest at 9:00 PM.

For abandoned cart emails, send the first email immediately after the customer exits your site. The next email should be sent 24 hours after the first and should be a reminder. The third email, sent after 48 hours, should be persuasive and contain incentives and offers.

Use user-generated content in email

Some brands like Black Milk Clothing offer discounts to customers whose photos (of them using the brand’s product) get posted on their promotional emails. This has encouraged product usage, brand advocacy and return purchases.

So, consider creating a branded hashtag and ask your customers to post a picture of themselves using the company’s products. This can be great fodder for your promotional mailers.

Once you create your emails, what next? Here are some tools you can enlist to start your email retargeting campaigns:

Low cost marketing tactics Amazon SES for user generated content in email

1. Amazon SES

Pricing: Pay as you go

Amazon SES is a cloud-based email marketing service, which is easily scalable and highly-configurable, perfect for the needs of a growing business.

2. MailerLite

Pricing: Free up to 1000 subscribers

MailerLite is a full-service email marketing tool that comes with an email editor, numerous integrations, responsive templates,  email automation, and campaign reporting.

3. Moosend

Pricing: Free up to 1000 subscribers

With plenty of tools for subscriber segmentation, email optimization and website and user tracking, Moosend allows companies to draft, send and manage the most impactful emails.

4. Kickstart a solid referral program

According to Nielsen, 83% of customers trust referrals from friends and they’re four times more likely to purchase products from brands that their friends or family have referred.

So, what should you do to implement the most-impactful referral campaign?

Tie your referral program with your email marketing campaign

While most referral campaigns are initiated at the time of purchase or via chatbots on social media, you can also just write to the customer and request them to refer you to friends. This is where a good emailer can come in. 

But what offers can you provide customers in a referral campaign, in order to entice them to participate? This is where the next step comes in.

Include financial incentives in your plan

Let’s face it. Customers love price-offs and discounts.

You can encourage referrals by tying them with discounts and offers. For every person, your customer refers and on-boards, they get X% off. You can even offer a company stock/share for every referral made. This is what T-Mobile did. 

To complement your referral program and ensure referral conversions, consider giving the referred customer a discount on their first purchase.

Go beyond the discounts and coupons

Tesla did this a while ago. While they retained discounts and limited-time offers on their vehicles for referrers, they also offered a free tour of their factory and free passes to a grand opening party, to customers who referred numerous new customers. Depending on how many people they referred, and converted, the customer was eligible to get one of many prizes/offers.

You can mimic this by tying your referral campaigns with corporate events.

Now that you have a few referral campaign tactics, here are some tools that you can use to get started:

Low cost marketing tactics Hello referral website for referral tracking tool for professionals

1. Hello Referrals

Pricing: Packages start at $25/month

Hello Referrals is a web-based lead management and referral tool which allows you to create, manage and track your referral network. It comes with a centralized communication platform where partners and company salespeople can interact.

2. Mention Me

Pricing: Packages start at $29/month

Mention Me is an interactive refer-a-friend tool, where your customers can refer friends and if the friend makes a purchase, they can unlock discounts and rewards. The intelligent segmentation and targeting features, help you create referral campaigns for each customer group.

3. InviteBox

Pricing: 14-day free trial + Packages start at $29/month

InviteBox is an analytics-friendly and mobile-friendly referral marketing tool that can be integrated with numerous eCommerce platforms.

5. Engage your audience’s visual senses with graphics and video content

79% of customers say they’ve been convinced to purchase a product/service by a marketing video. Here’s how you can use videos to amp up your sales:

Create vlogs which champion your product

Brands like Nike and GoPro do this really well, where they create videos of their products being used by a vlogger as he/she goes through their regular life. Such vlogs make for great sales tools since they actually show how the products can be used.

While most videos work best when they’re between 60 and 90 seconds long, vlogs that go up to 120 seconds work great too. Just make sure you put transcripts (with product links), so your audience can go back and read about the product and explore your store/website.

Go behind-the-scenes to make your brand more personable

Studies show that 63% of global customers prefer to buy from brands who actually live the values and beliefs they espouse. A good way to leverage this is to show your customers your value-driven and purpose-driven operations.

Behind-the-scenes videos of your staff at-work or of your production in-progress can show how ethical you are as an employer and can make you much-respected amongst customers.

Turn your video into a call-to-action (CTA)

Your videos shouldn’t just be tools of entertainment. They should push viewers to actually do something. This is where the merge of video and CTA happens.

You can either use written CTAs or clickable buttons/links in the video. You can even use design and graphic elements like bobbing arrows or animated doors that lead onto your website when clicked open.

Or, you could make your video content itself into a resounding call to action. Have your cast demand action from the viewer or develop a story which leaves enough breadcrumbs for your audience to pick-up and investigate.

As a best practice, keep the CTA within the first 10 seconds of your video – this way you can target viewers who may exit before the end of the video.

A few good graphics and video creation/editing tools:

Low cost marketing tactics Canva free online image editing tool

1. Canva

Pricing: Basic subscription free

Canva is a design tool that allows you to create a variety of graphics. It comes with a repository of images, icons, and designs for all industries.

2. RenderForest

Pricing: Basic subscription free

RenderForest is a cloud-based tool that has options to create professional videos, slideshows, and animations, with voice-overs and music.

3. PowToon

Pricing: Basic subscription free

Create brilliant animated videos for your marketing campaign with PowToon. It has a large library of templates suitable for various industries.

6. Succeed through content repurposing

Repurposing allows you to engage different audience groups, who prefer to consume other forms of content than what you normally create. This can be great for sales. Here’s what you can do:

Convert your articles to instructographics, data visualizations, and infographics

Humans are visual and they retain more information through graphics-based content. This is where infographics, instructographics and data visualizations come in. Users of Pinterest and Instagram consume a lot of this visual content and they have a high conversion rate.

Use your internal data and reports to write case studies

Case studies add huge value to readers, especially in the B2B sector, where 77% of companies evaluate case studies before placing an order. Your personal experiences can make for great case studies and they can position you as an industry expert.

Your Quora Q&A section can become blog posts

One of the best places for content inspiration is Quora. Your customers’ Q&As can help you repurpose your answers into well-researched blog posts complete with real-world examples.

The great thing is, there are many pocket-friendly tools which you can use to repurpose content:

Low cost marketing tactics Repurpose. io website with different social media platform get it here

1. Repurpose.io

Pricing: Packages start at $12.42

Repurpose.io helps you repurpose your video content into podcasts and vice versa. Live streams are supported too.

2. Aristory

Pricing: Basic subscription free

A writing software, Aristory comes built with templates for all types of content – from emailers to brochures to press releases to catchy headlines to blogs.

3. Visme

Pricing: Basic subscription free for individuals, business packages start at $25/month

The perfect option for creating infographics, PPTs, graphs, and reports, Visme comes with interactive templates where you can embed links, videos, audio files, and forms.

7. Leverage the power of social media

Social media allows community interactions on a global scale and supports brand advocacy by customers. But of course, like anything else, your social media strategy will be successful only if you post the type of content your audience actually wants to read. Once you do this, you need to do the following:

Post at the right time

Just as with emails, the success of social media posts is time-dependent. According to Sprout Social, the best and worst  times to post are:

Platform Best Time To Post Worst Time To Post
Facebook Wednesday at 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM Before 7:00 AM and after 5:00 PM, Every day
Twitter Wednesday and Friday at 9:00 AM Sunday
Instagram Wednesday at 11:00 AM and Friday 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Sunday
LinkedIn Wednesday at 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM and again at 12:00 noon Every day between 9:00 PM and 3:00 AM

While on the topic – keep the number of posts to:

  • Facebook and LinkedIn: 1 post/day
  • Google+ and Instagram: 2 posts/day
  • Pinterest: 11 pins/day
  • Twitter: 15 tweets/day

Any more than this, you’ll feel spammy and any less, you won’t be taken seriously by customers.

Give the new features on trusted platforms a try

Lots of platforms have come out with new tools and features. For example, Snapchat’s AR, Instagram’s IGTV, Pinterest’s Catalog, and YouTube’s non-skippable 15-second ads. Each of these is great to engage your patrons. You can use these to cross-promote your content on other platforms.

Be on the right platforms

The start of the new decade brings with it new social media platforms. These are the top 5 new platforms you need to be on in 2020: 

  • Telegram – Social messaging
  • Meet Up – Social community building
  • Tapebook – Social vlog/audio-log
  • TikTok – Social video sharing
  • Whisper – Social networking

In order to set your social media campaign into motion, you’ll need some help. Here are the tools you can use:

Low cost marketing tactics Post Planner a multi purpose scheduling tool

1. Post Planner

Pricing: Packages start at $3

Post Planner is a social media scheduling tool that helps you find content, build your calendar, publish, track engagement and more.

2. Hunter.io

Pricing: Basic subscription free

Hunter.io is an influencer marketing platform that helps companies find and partner with relevant influencers, manage campaigns, track engagement and collect leads.

3. Crowdfire

Pricing: Basic subscription free

Crowdfire assists with end-to-end social media management, right from content discovery to scheduling to engagement tracking to reporting. The tool has a neat image recommendation tool that can elevate your posts.

Wrapping up

Digital marketing need not be an expensive affair. With a bit of planning and the right mix of tools and platforms, you can set into motion an impactful digital marketing strategy that barely costs anything, or if you’re smart about it, is completely free of charge.

Guest author: Nisha Prakash is a blogger specializing in social media marketing and content management. She is an avid runner, a trekking enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. Gravatar ID: [email protected]

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