When times get tough and budgets are tight, growing businesses are often quick to dub marketing as nonessential, making it one of the first things to go. Based on our experience, this is due to a common misperception that marketing is an expense, not an investment. However, many of these same companies are under pressure to improve customer acquisition, which is an uphill battle without a strategic marketing lead generation plan in place.
In an age of instant gratification, folks often immediately make cuts to the efforts that have slowburn success because they don’t see enough quick wins and immediate return on investments. Hitting all the right touch points and building relationships takes time, but when time equals money, business often make knee-jerk decisions to slash marketing budgets first.
Because marketing is an investment, not an expense, you can’t realize its full value based on short-term tactics and quick wins. But as we approach the end of the year, many companies are looking more at inbound marketing and trying to decide how to best invest their dollars for longterm success (spoiler alert: content is still king as 70% of marketers are actively investing in it). If you are working with minimal resources but know some of those resources need to be invested in marketing efforts, we have some low-budget ways you can improve your current marketing lead generation strategy. These three ways include: honing your strategy, leveraging content, and optimization through data.
1. Hone Your Strategy
Companies under a tight budget and timeline often make the mistake of skipping strategy and rushing right into tactics in their marketing lead generation efforts. Although perfection is the enemy of progress, preparation and thoughtfulness are not. Whether you’re trying to move quickly, do the bare minimum to preserve your budget, or a combination of the two, diving in blindly can lead to haphazard decision-making and will likely cost you more time and money down the road when you see minimal results and return. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be winning!
When you’re re-examining your strategy, take a closer look at who you’re trying to reach and how you can get in front of your ideal, target customer or client. A few things to consider when doing this are:
Conducting audience research
The more you know about your audience, the more you can grow it and convert it. Market and competitor research can help you understand what pains your target decision makers are experiencing and what solutions they’re currently looking for to help ease those pains. Use free tools like SEMRush and UberSuggest to help you identify actual terms your audience is looking for on Google, and poll your existing audience or survey your current customers to find out what’s on their mind. A short and scrappy Google Form can work wonders and doesn’t cost a thing.
Identifying where your audience spends the most time online
Knowing what to say to your audience is only half the battle. The other half is figuring out where to reach them. With a tight budget you may need to prioritize just one or two marketing channels to test, so it’s important to do a bit of research to make an informed decision on which channels will yield the best results. Does your existing content get more engagement via email or social media? Does your target audience use one social media platform more than another? You can use your own native analytics and data to help answer these questions (more on that later). For example, when doing this for one of our clients, we uncovered that they had a high email conversation rate despite only sending out occasional emails. By increasing their email cadence, we quickly increased conversions.
If you want to take this a step further, consider a tool we love called SparkToro, which dives deeper into demographic data and shows you:
- the companies your target audience follows on social media
- the articles they’re reading and where they get their news
- the podcasts they listen to
- their interests and skill-sets
- their education
- and much more!
If you want to go to the very next level, check out &Marketing’s Business Intelligence and Analytics (B.I.) projects. Our B.I. projects are designed to identify where your audience is most likely to discover information about and related to your business and then create a marketing roadmap
2. Leverage messaging and content marketing
Now that you’ve zeroed in on your most engaged audience, their pain points and interests, and where they get their information, it’s time to start applying that knowledge. Here’s how:
Refresh your value proposition and key messaging
Hone in on your value proposition and key messaging specific to the audience you identified as most engaged. By referring to the patterns you identified above, rework your value prop and your brand messaging based on the pain points most relevant to them. This will ensure your message to them is relevant and consistent across all of your marketing materials and the channels you use. Make sure your brand persona and identity aligns with the kind of voice your audience is most likely to seek and trust—you can learn more about that here.
Repurpose old content
Before creating new content, consider what you already have. Do you have old blogs, eBooks, or landing pages that speak to trending topics in your industry and the priority pain points you uncovered? Start repromoting this content via the channels you identified earlier. For blog posts in particular, ensure you optimize them for marketing lead generation by adding a clear call-to-action. Readers need to be directed to make a move once they finish consuming your content. Make sure your calls to action make sense, and provide both a primary and transitional option for each content piece.
Create a new content cadence
Use your research to identify topics that would resonate most with your audience. Be strategic about the content you create and give your audience a pathway that leads them on a journey straight to your services or products as their solution. You can do this using the traditional marketing funnel, which categorizes content as:
- Top Funnel: This is the awareness building stage and where you engage your audience using empathy and acknowledge their problem.
- Mid Funnel: This is where you focus on helping your audience figure out how to actually solve their problem. Most “how to” content falls here, and the middle of the funnel is the perfect place to offer value-packed content that’s gated. Essentially, that means there’s a gate, aka an entry fee to get the content, like an email address. You’re giving them tremendous value, so they’re willing to give you their content information and access to their inbox to grow the relationship.
- Bottom Funnel: This is the closest your audience gets to buying from you and where you can start to make the direct ask. They just want proof you can provide results at this point, so case studies, statistics, and detailed sell sheets fall under this category. 64% of marketers who launch case studies find them to be effective in generating leads because the increase credibility.
We’ve put together a robust eBook on exactly how to be intentional about creating continue that actually helps you grow your business. See how we’re practicing what we preach here?
3. Optimize through data
The more data you have, the more you learn about your audience, and the better you can cater your content and overall marketing to their needs. By reviewing native analytics and data from your email marketing, website, or social media platforms, you can determine which of your existing customers or prospects are most engaged with your brand.
From there, you can identify valuable patterns. Does your most engaged audience share similar demographic information? Are certain pages of your website receiving the most traffic? Is your audience clicking primarily on top-funnel content (content focused more broadly on a pain point versus your company)? Or are they actively engaged with bottom-funnel content (case studies, free demos, company video tutorials, etc)?
Sometimes you have to throw marketing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, but at a certain point you need to study what stuck and what didn’t to figure out where to continue to spend your limited resources. Rely on your data to tell you a story, let it speak to you, and listen. Then shuffle your dollars around to learn into what’s working and step back from what isn’t.
Ready to implement some of these low-cost strategies for marketing lead generation in the new year? Grab our marketing planning workbook below to help you get started.
We also recently held a webinar with an expert panel where we discuss how you can develop a marketing strategy that directly aligns with your business goals. You can watch the replay here
Want to talk to someone on our team about how you can put all of these ideas into practice? Just fill out the form below.
About the Author
Marketing Director Paul Ferguson helps clients develop fully integrated marketing solutions that make impressions and drive results. Whether it be design-oriented campaigns or digital market execution, Paul skillfully creates strategies to effectively reach client’s desired audiences. Follow Paul on LinkedIn.
&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.