If you are a small charity, a startup, a VSE or a music group, the launch of your digital platform can be impressive. You must be having some questions like, Where to start? How much will it cost? What more can be said? etc.
So, the chances are, your budget is tight and money is vital to other areas of your business. The good news is that digital marketing for your company can be free, actually, it won’t cost you a dime. But as always, what is free is not of the highest quality, it takes a long time.
Here is a step-by-step guide for you on how to launch a digital platform for your company for free. These are tips to get started and very simple to start your digital platform. This article could be much longer and more detailed, but worth reading. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Write a short digital marketing strategy
This is the most important part of starting the digital platform. This part can be short, but it is fundamental. It will help you not lose your focus and point you in the right direction. It should guide you for example on the platform on which you wish to be present.
a)What is (are) your goal (s)?
Here are some examples:
- Sell more products
- Get more donations
- Attract your fans to your concert
- Educate the audience regarding your product
b) What is your target audience?
You should always have clarity when it comes to the target audience. Are these a group of entrepreneurs, age 25-35 or perhaps young couples who need a new house? Try to be specific and focused. Hint: not everyone / general public is the right answer, ever.
c) Where is your audience?
Almost all age groups are on Facebook, but not everyone reads the newspapers or posts images on Tumblr or Snapchat. Like, Instagram is mostly used by youngsters, LinkedIn is for professionals. Try to determine where your target audience is active online. Which web service do they use?
d) What is your message?
How do you want to be perceived? What should you remember? Your message can be conveyed by words (name, slogan, texts) but also by visuals. An old Polaroid or a very clean studio photo does not convey the same emotion.
e) How will you measure your success?
Define key performance indicators (KPIs) but try to avoid pretentious indicators. Most of the time, the number of visitors or fans on Facebook are not good indicators. They will only make you feel “liked/quoted”. What you need to measure are important indicators for your organization. The parameters that indicate that you are in the right direction to achieve your previously defined goals.
Some examples :
- Number of new contacts you received via your contact form (leads, conference requests, mentions on newspaper websites)
- The monthly website traffic compare to the last session.
- The total number of people who attended your shows and listened to them via your site (could be measured by an offline survey at the entrance)
2. Build a small website
In almost all cases, you will need a website. But not always. In the case of a group, you could limit yourself to a social media account and a newsletter without even having an appropriate website at the beginning.
- Set a primary goal for your site. This could be: get donations, ask your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or have them follow you on Facebook.
- Quickly define an architecture. What pages do you need and how will they relate to each other. The need to support the objective defined above. The simpler it is, the better.
- Write the content of each page and gather the associated media (photos, videos)
- Choose a platform (see below).
- Choose the model that will help you convey your message.
a) Best website platform
Many websites now work on WordPress. It has a great advantage that if you need professional help, there is a lot available which will help you to create your website on WordPress. Though there are many limits, but you can do the basic things to run your website.
Other paid options (cheap) include shopify.com or wix.com.
b) Domain name
There is one very important thing, and it is to get your own domain name. It will not cost you much and it will be much better for your brand. In addition, in the long run, the age of your domain name counts. It will cost you around $10 to $20 per year for the domain name itself. But if you want a WordPress.com site with its own domain, then it’s a hundred dollars a year.
3. Produce engaging content
It’s all about content. You cannot send a newsletter or post anything on Facebook if you have nothing interesting to say or share. You should make the content marketing strategy for your company. Here are the details for your content marketing plan.
a) Switch to multimedia
Photos and videos are generally the content that works best on social media. If you really aren’t good with one of them, get some photos from a professional photographer. This will really give another dimension to your platform.
b) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Many of your online customer searches start with a question to Google. Then almost everyone clicks on one of the first 10 links. But many other website owners want to be listed there. You are unlikely to appear there for short and generic keywords (ex: group, charity). You will need to focus on more specific keywords such as “best indian food in NYC” or “How to launch your digital platform for free”.
This subject is complex, but you can start by reading a guide from Google. Also, if you find out this very difficult, then you can hire a digital marketing agency.
3. Engage on social networks
Go where your audience is. If they’re on Facebook, be on Facebook. If they’re on Snapchat, go to Snapchat.
- Post often, but don’t spam.
- Post interesting and useful content.
- Optimize your messages. For example, if you publish a photo, add a description and link to your site. Make sure the content is suitable for smartphone users too.
- Use tools to simplify your life to consolidate your access to your accounts in one place or to schedule messages at different times.
4. Send newsletters
Newsletters are a very powerful tool for online platforms. For a while, they got the second role while social media was on the limelight. But you should not ignore it.
- Ask permission to send news (See RGPD Rules). Nothing is more boring than receiving emails from someone to whom you have never given permission to send them to you. This is called SPAM. You may already have address lists. If they did not give you permission to send them messages. Ask first.
- Allow people to subscribe through your website or Facebook page.
- Give regular news. Make sure you regularly send them the news above
- Provide interesting and relevant content. Try to keep your emails short and focused. And above all, make sure of their readability on the smartphone.
5. Spread the word
Some loose, unstructured ideas.
- Add links to your website and social media accounts in your email signature.
- Contact bloggers and websites in your industry and make sure they know about you.
- Add your URL on your flyers, posters and business cards
- Sponsorship messages, ads on Google or Youtube are very effective for getting visibility, but I advise you to contact a professional before using them. If your campaigns and landing pages aren’t optimized, you’re going to throw money out the window.
Mailchimp is the best-known tool. They have a free version in exchange for which they will add their little logo at the bottom of your newsletter. Strongly recommended.
This guide is limited but if you need to be guided in your digital marketing strategy, many professionals exist to help you in this process.