Question: I just added a online marketing budget for my business. Give me your best idea for starting to spend my marketing dollars wisely.
Question by: Tara
"I've heard several report good things about Facebook ads, and I've personally had a good experience with them. They offer excellent levels of control and customization. Plus, you don't have to make a long term investment. You can evaluate your results each week and make necessary adjustments."
Invest in Caring
"Instead of shouting out your message from the rooftops -- through regular online advertising -- spend your dollars on creating something that's truly valuable to your target audience, then give it to them for free (a guidebook, video series, audio lessons, etc.). Make it easy to share, easy to track and improve, and make it scream out loud that you truly care."
Make Room for Content Marketing
"The cornerstone of all solid online marketing is content. Create valuable content for your prospects, customers and community at large. Think online videos, webinars, white papers. Online marketing is all about out-educating your competitors. Show your prospects your expertise, and invest in creating solid content which you can then giveaway to build their trust."
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
"Do a bit of research to see what marketing tactics your competitors are using, and which they've used longer and more consistently, and test those strategies first. If your competitor has started new marketing campaigns that seem like they might not work, don't follow their lead just yet. Let them do their own testing and see if that marketing strategy was actually worth doing at all."
Measure and Be Ready to Adapt
"Wondering where to spend your online marketing dollars? Focus on things you can measure the success of, and be ready to adapt/evolve your spending as you notice trends and shifts in what your audience is (and isn't) doing. Don't be stubborn and continue to buy an ad spot if no one is clicking on it. Be smart and stay aware to capitalize on the investments with the highest ROI."
Start Small and Be Specific
"It's easy, for example, to allocate $2,000 a month for marketing expenses and then try everything you can to max out the budget. Instead, try one or two things first, and don't put more than half of your budget into it in the beginning. If it works out, then you have more to spend in month #2 and beyond, knowing what works. But if it doesn't, you didn't put all your eggs in one basket that month."
"Instead of spending money on ads, I recommend spending your online marketing budget on paying someone to engage with the online community. This could include actively being part of LinkedIn groups, connecting with people on Twitter, writing guest blog posts or sending out email newsletters."
Start with Google AdWords
"The best place to start most online marketing campaigns is with Google AdWords, because you can target people who are ready to buy exactly what you're selling. If you can't make a positive return-on-investment in AdWords, then other channels (blog and podcast sponsorships, Facebook Ads, etc.) are unlikely to be profitable. Be sure to use a tool like Optimizely to test your landing pages as well!"
"The good thing about advertising online is that you can see what works and what doesn't quickly and easily. Make sure you optimize your analytics and reporting software accordingly so that you can retrieve as much information as possible from every single site visit. Then, simply allocate the most dollars to the method(s) that work best."
Build Your Online Network
"Start by investing time in your online network. You can't get people to share links to your blog, Like your Facebook Page or do much else in terms of social marketing without a solid network to begin with. But if you've put some time into building connections ahead of time, you can make your online marketing budget go a lot further."
Educate Yourself First
"That's great -- you now have a budget for online marketing, but if you aren't educated in the different channels, you will be throwing your money down the drain. My advice is to first hit the books, and learn everything you can about online marketing, then jump in head first. Have fun!"
Test Sales Funnels
"When starting with an online marketing budget, test your funnel. Get started with Adwords or Facebook, and send traffic to individual products, email opt-in pages or video sales letters. Don't send traffic to the home page of your website! Make sure that your sales funnel directs your prospect through purchasing, and track conversion rates fanatically."
Who's the Big Winner?
"Some people think that contests and giveaways are done all too often and are not an effective way to engage your audience. But when done correctly, contests can be a fabulous way to build your list, create buzz around your brand and get people talking. Find a way to incorporate some major social media influencers and use the marketing dollars for prizes that your target market would love to win!"
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.