“I run an online jewelry boutique. I want to reach more customers, but I have a small marketing budget of only $100 per month. What can I do to spread the word about my business to a new clientele?”
First, it’s great that you’re thinking about marketing and have at least something put aside. While $100/ month isn’t enough to hire a professional to help you execute a strategy, you can try to make an impact on your own. Here are some ideas to get you started on Instagram and Facebook:
Reach out to Influencers
Connect with micro-influencers (those with 10K followers or less) and offer a few items in exchange for a post that mentions your boutique. Look for people who post lifestyle content - not just fashion - that fits in with your own brand. It is important that you are clear that you are seeking a post and tag in exchange for product. Before you make any request, engage with the account and the influencer. The first time they see your name or handle shouldn’t be the moment you are asking for a favor.
Run Facebook and Instagram Ads
These are fairly easy to set up and you can reach your ideal clients by specifying age, interests, and other demographic information. Include a high quality photo or short video along with an enticing promotion. Try spreading your $100 over several posts with a mix of photos, promotions and captions to see which ad performs best. Then create new ads that follow the same formula.
Keep an eye on your social media analytics to help you understand what your customers like and want. Do you get more “likes” late at night vs. in the afternoon? More comments on weekends vs. weekdays? Are your followers more engaged with videos than photos? Let the answers to these questions guide your content creation and posting strategies.
Post Great Photos
The quality and content of your photos and videos can make or break your brand. Use sharp photos with good lighting, and keep it interesting. Try styling your accessories on a person as part of a complete look instead of simple flatlays, and use relevant props to punch up your shots.
Look at the social media feeds of similar boutiques to see what kind of content they post, the type of language they use, and how they interact with their followers. Engage with the people whose comments align with your brand.
Use the Right Hashtags
Hashtags can help new people find you. Check out what similar brands are using as hashtags and follow suit. Use a mix of general hashtags, like #jewelry or #accessories, in combination with something specific to your brand. Also include trending hashtags that may be relevant to your business. Limit your hashtags to about 10 per post.
Do a Giveaway
Contests and giveaways are pretty common on Instagram. Though the criteria for entering varies, the basics of running a contest are usually pretty similar: post a pic of the items you plan to give away with a caption that explains how to enter the contest. The important part is to include a request for your followers to tag some friends in the instructions -- this is how you’ll get new eyes on your page. Then, pick a winner, announce it, and send them their prize!
Start a Referral Program
Put a system in place to keep track, then offer a discount, a gift card, or some other incentive to loyal customers who send friends your way. As you start, it might be a discount code for each person in your referral program — for example, Influencer1. At the end of each month you can see how many sales you made that included Influencer1. Then you can calculate how much to pay Influencer1. As you grow you can start using affiliate programs that are automated.
While the internet is amazing — it still pays to take your efforts offline. Offer to provide accessories for a charity fashion show, donate some items to a silent auction or look for local events where you can set up a vendor booth at a low cost. Make sure to have signage or marketing materials that clearly show your website and social media channels and encourage those who make purchases to tag you in their posts. You can even offer a discount on the spot for anyone at these offline events that takes a picture and posts it on the spot.
Use Strategic Partnerships
Look for ways you might be able to work with other online businesses or services in mutually beneficial ways. Do you know of a nail salon that shows off their work on Instagram? Wouldn’t those freshly manicured hands look even better sporting your signature rings? Reach out to see how you might collaborate on a photo shoot that builds content and awareness for both of your pages.
There are plenty of things you can do with a small budget to get started, but manage your expectations. A very small budget will produce limited results, but with focused efforts and consistency, your hard work will pay off. Last, it’s less expensive to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one. If you focus on going above and beyond to provide an excellent shopping experience for your clients, they’re likely to keep coming back -- and tell their friends, online and off.