Business development · 1 August 2017

Three cost-effective marketing methods giving small brands an edge

Conceptual image of teamwork - hands only
Beefing up a website’s SEO status can act asa free alternative to paid campaigns
To help Business Advice readers lay the groundwork for a strong and cost-effective marketing offensive, a handful of experts outline three ways to advertise a brand on a limited budget.

We discover the secrets to success on Google search pages, before looking at influencer and content marketing strategies owners of small companies can utilise without breaking the bank.

Winning the Google war

An online presence is a given for any business in 2017. However, Google’s pay-per-click budgets can easily outweigh those of a small business owner, and competition is high. Fortunately, incorporating best SEO practices into web pages costs nothing, and, done correctly, can elevate a small online company above rivals.

To help founders challenge in a tough Google environment, Jamie Evans, ecommerce manager at fashion wholesaler Influence Fashion, revealed his top tips for SEO success.

there’s a number of things you could be doing on page for free to aid you in the battle against Google’s algorithm and have you ranking for certain keywords, Evans said.

first off, it’s worth learning the basics the Moz blog is a brilliant (and free) place to find best-in-class SEO tricks, and you can also learn a lot of basic on-page SEO tips from YouTube videos.

To mount a strong challenge on Google, Evans explained that priorities should be optimising meta titles and descriptions, and writing well-written content that utilises the relevant keywords you want to rank for in your industry.

‘since we started writing in-depth category descriptions on our key landing pages, we began to appear at the top of search for keywords like wholesale fashion, which is exactly what we want to rank for.

Indicating how an SEO strategy can tie-in with wider marketing efforts, Evans said Influence Fashion produced keyword-focused weekly blog posts that also reflected latest trends and releases.

He added: Before you dive in, make sure you do plenty of keyword research, and remember not to cannibalise any of your content by duplicating it across your site.

once all your product and category pages are optimised, you can start producing content that will win you back-links from high ranking sites, and then turn your attention at the more robust technical aspects of SEO like canonical tags, rich snippets and indexing.

Influencer marketing

According to a study by Twitter, we now trust social media influencers more than our own friends. Around 40 per cent of respondents admitted to buying a product having seen it advertised online by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.

To help founders grasp the capabilities of influencer marketing as a viable channel, we spoke to Matt Donegan, managing director of Social Circle, an agency specialising in influencers.

when smaller brands are looking for cost-effective marketing, working with influencers is an obvious choice, because the campaign can be as big or as contained as their budget allows, Dongean explained.

With a whole spectrum of influencers available, how can a small business owner make the most of their budget and find the right kind of exposure?

the most effective campaigns for small brands involve working with a number of influencers that have atargeted and definedfollowing, as opposed to spending much of the budget on one big player with plenty of followersbut far lessaudiencefocus, and a bigger price tag, Donegan advised.

micro-influencers tend to have smallerbut highly engaged audiences, he added. With smaller levels of investment, you can get better value and reach your target audience where they are most attentiveand responsive.

After you’ve researched, contacted and contracted the influencer, Donegan outlined three principles central to the success of a campaign.

  1. Transparency
you and the influencer should work together to ensure their followers know the content is sponsored . Viewers will know if it’s sponsored, and both you and the influencer will lose credibility if you try to hide it.

  1. Authenticity
this is the key to working with influencers allowing them to work with your product in a way that is natural to them. If youlet them be creative in their own style, it works better for both sides.

  1. Measurement
you need to be sure you can track the success of the campaign to ensure you are getting the results from the activity that you want. Set out realistic campaign KPIs from the outset.

For a thorough explanation of the legalities of influencer marketing, Business Advice expert David Walker’s guidance for staying within the law is essential reading.

Meanwhile, there remains something to be said for targeting celebrity figures with product samples. Miranda Harper, founder of knitted headwear brand ZainI Hats, told Business Advice how public endorsements from the likes of One Direction and Linford Christie gave her brand a great sales push? in the early days of trading.

Content marketing

Despite the colossal rise of social media as an advertising tool, more traditional forms of content marketing offer valuable ways to reach customers and provoke a response.

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Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.