My company is in a niche with over 11 million potential customers, yet we have a little less than 100k customers currently. Given that we currently spend $0.00 in marketing (we focused on recruiting affiliates to promote for us), I believe our problem is reach. We'd like to get away from relying on affiliates 100% for our promotions, but don't know where to start. What would you recommend?
We are a software company whose products are designed for the game World of Warcraft, and all of our products are able to be downloaded. We don't ship anything physically to our customers. Being a strictly Internet based company, which forms of advertising and promotion are most effective. There are so many options, we're confused on where to start first. Our main goal is to get the word out that we exist, in the most cost effective way.
In your experience, what are the most effective methods that you would start with? PPC, SEO, Social Networking, Public Relations, Print Advertising, Blogs, Article Marketing, Joint Ventures, etc.?
I think SEO does have its merits. You can achieve better search engine rankings pretty economically.
However you may want to invest a little in your advertising, it would probably help a lot if you direct the funds wisely. Try teaming up with other businesses around your target geographical area that can help you with local promotion.
Another approach is to get your 100k customers to start referring your business themselves for free. If done correctly, you can grow exponentially in a fairly short amount of time.
You've invested in recruiting affiliates, and you have 100k customers. So your first opportunity is to talk to those two groups and find out more about how they view your products and what you could be doing better for them. And ask them what you could do that would help them give you greater prominence (affiliates) / recommend you to others (customers). All this is in the zero (external) cost category. And you'll almost certainly come up with things you can do that will give you either incremental improvements or perhaps even a step-change.
All of that deserves top priority, and next down your list should be researching the general market, and looking at competitors and their marketing activity. It's not that you should blindly copy what other people are doing, but you can save yourself a whole lot of time, effort and probably cash as well learning what people are doing, and getting the best idea you can of what it costs and whether it delivers.
One thing you should pay particular attention to is Google Adwords and other online advertising. It's free research to find out keyword costs on pay-per-click platforms and CPMs on pay-per-impression networks, and you can work from that to see what has the potential to be profitable - and whether in order to pursue those routes you need different products, different prices or different ongoing relationships with your customers.
In a new business, the rule of thumb is experiment widely. But you're established, so I'd be cautious about how widely you go. If your affiliate program works now, it's possible (probable?) that some things you are contemplating will disrupt that system. So your first experiments may be partnering with your best-performing affiliates with a view to helping them, and in the process learning how to help other affiliates to do better or how to spot affiliates worth recruiting.
You really don't want to saw off the branch you're sitting on until you know you have a stronger branch to move on to.
I agree with Sam. If you don't want to spend that much money on advertising, SEO would be the way to go. However, it will take a while for you to see results. But what about your website? Do you have one? Working on your website and making it more customer friendly should be the best way to go, for me.
A content marketing strategy could be a low cost way to reach more of the right customers. This approach is also referred to inbound marketing. There are obviously a huge number of resources about content marketing online, but some things to consider in your strategy might include:
- Be a source of useful information, e.g. How To guides, tutorials, etc. This appeals to people more than marketing to them directly
- Make use of analytics/reporting so you know what content works best
- Make it easy for people to share your content on social media
- Talk with your community rather that at them, i.e. ask them for suggestions for new features, respond to their questions