Cost-Effective Digital Marketing Strategies


I don’t own a business, I just market one. And that’s fantastic, because I don’t have the money to keep this thing afloat for more than half an hour.

It’s expensive, running a business.

Ad budgets, designers, content writers and editors. Optimizers and front-end guys. Platform costs, hardware. The list goes on and on.

So we spend our days looking for the big wins – the things which turn 10 dollars into 100. Some people call these “growth hacks,” others just call it smart marketing.

This article will give you six of the most cost-efficient modern marketing strategies we’ve seen work for businesses of all industries, shapes and sizes.

1. Influencer Outreach

Making a friend is never a bad idea.

And in the same way that you never know which of your new friends is going to end up having a boat (the most valuable kind of friend) you can’t anticipate the influence a relationship will have on your business’ success.

Luckily, in the digital marketing world, we can be a bit more discerning in who we choose to be friends with than in the real world.

Essentially, you need to identify those people most likely to have a boat – most likely to be a positive influence on your bottom line.

A few strategies for finding the right kind of friend:

  • Talk to your existing friends: Ask your network “Do you know someone at Forbes?” or “Do you have any connections with someone who might be interested in…?”
  • Do some research: Tools like Klout, PeerIndex and Kred will help you identify those people in your industry with the largest social networks. Tools like Buzzsumo will help you identify the authors and thinkers writing and presenting on the topics which interest you and your target market the most.
  • Stalk your competitors: Do you keep seeing guest contributors on your competitor’s blogs? Are they working with a big name to run a promotion or giveaway? Reach out!

What to ask for:

  • Share, Like or Upvote: “I’ve just put together a comprehensive guide to [topic]. I know you’ve written and presented on this topic before (loved your TED talk, by the way) and I’d really appreciate your thoughts and a share if you find it worth it!”
  • Quote: “I’m putting together a comprehensive guide on [topic[ and I know you’ve written and presented extensively. Would you mind giving me a quote or paragraph in response to the question below?
  • Guest Post: “I loved your recent article on the [competitor’s blog] on [subject.] Especially [specific detail]! I was wondering if you were open to writing something along the same lines for [your business blog]?cost-effective marketing

What you get:

A few years ago when the Wishpond blog was just getting started, we @mentioned Mari Smith (a major influencer in the social media world.) When Mari shared our article on Facebook, we got so much traffic to the site that our servers went down.

More than that though, is that influencers can spread the word about your business to people who trust them. Have you ever heard of the value of customer testimonials? Influencer marketing is like that, multiplied a thousand-fold.

2. Partnerships & Co-Promotions

The difficulty with influencers is that there’s only a few of them, and there’s a lot of businesses vying for their attention. That’s not to say that you can’t get an awesome return from working with an influencer, but there’s no point in putting all your eggs in that one basket.

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What to ask for:

  • Newsletter Mailout:
    • “Love what you’re doing on [business blog], particularly your recent article about [topic]! We actually thought that our audience (who are similar to yours) would get value from your post, so we included it in our most recent newsletter. It was really well received! I was wondering if you’d be open to taking a look at [your recent article] and doing the same with your newsletter list?”
  • Co-promotion:
    • “[Your business] and [partnership business] are excited to announce our 2017 Complete Design Package Contest.”
  • Blog article exchange
  • Co-webinar:
    • There are a couple options here, co-host two webinars and promote one each, or co-host one webinar and promote it to both audiences. Either strategy enables you to promote your business to a new audience.

What you get:

Newsletter mailouts are tough to get, but extremely valuable when you do – businesses tend to hold their contact lists very close to their chests. Co-promotions, co-webinars and blog exchanges are far more possible, and can be incredibly fruitful. Essentially, partnership marketing is about putting your business in front of a new, large, and targeted audience.

3. Blog Content Upgrades

Switching tack a bit here, we can talk about the most influential marketing tool we’ve added to our arsenal in the past year: content upgrades. You may have heard of them before, but I don’t see them on every blog out there, so my work’s not done yet.

You create content for your business’ blog in order to drive brand awareness, leads and contacts, and sales. Yes?

You drive brand awareness by creating content your target market wants to read.
You drive sales by creating content by creating content which educates people about the value of your product or service.

You drive leads with content upgrades.

It’s that simple.

A content upgrade is an article-specific piece of gated content, offered to your readers as a “bonus.” Content upgrades add value to your articles and turn readers into leads far more effectively than a newsletter prompt or ebook.

A few examples of content upgrades:

  • A PDF copy of the article, enabling readers to download your article, read it at their leisure and keep it around as a reference
  • A checklist of the actionable strategies you recommend in your article, enabling readers to download a step-by-step guide they can use to complete whatever strategy you’ve written about.
  • More strategies not included in the article, giving readers an even more comprehensive look at the topic they were interested in.

A step by step for you content upgrade newcomers out there…

  • Write an awesome article. Before adding it to your CMS platform, export it as a PDF.
  • Upload the PDF into WordPress as a media file.
  • Using whatever lead-generation tool you use (I can recommend Wishpond), create an “email-gate.”
    • My recommendation for this is an in-line call-to-action like “Click here to download this article as a PDF” which triggers a click popup. Click popups have been shown to convert anywhere from 20-50% better than separate landing pages.
  • Embed the PDF url in the thank you page of your popup or landing page. Alternatively, send it in an auto-response email.

There are a few reasons content upgrades work as well as they do:

  • They’re hyper-specific: Often when people read an article entitled “10 New Hairdos for Summer” they’re not actually interested in your “Complete Guide to Fashion” ebook. They’re interested in hairdos, for summer. Content upgrades deliver more value which is specific to the subject your reader is 100% interested in. Not, 50%, not 75%. 100%.
  • They’re easier: They’re more palatable than ebooks, converting on them is usually done in the same tab as the article, and the “ask” is simple (never ask for more than three pieces of lead information in your content upgrades). There’s less work for your readers to do to get value.

What you get:

You get more leads than you thought you could get from one blog article. And they keep coming. Write a blog article, promote it, optimize it for search, add a content upgrade and leave it. From a high-traffic article, you can expect a few dozen email addresses in the first few days and then a few more each week until the article finds its way into the black hole of “outdated content.”

cost effective marketing
For more on content upgrades, check out our articles How we Used Content Upgrades to Increase Email Opt-ins 16X and 7 Content Upgrade Ideas and Examples that Helped Build 100k Subscriber Lists.

4. Retargeting and Remarketing

This is just fun. It’s advertising to the max.

Don’t get me wrong, Google Ads can be extremely profitable for some businesses. Facebook Ads can drive serious ROI if you know what you’re doing.

But they’re only good at driving people to your site.

And, depending on who you ask, a around 95% of your website visitors bounce after their first visit.

And if you paid $8 or $50 to drive them from there, that’s (let’s say) 90% of your ad budget wasted. Every day. All day.

Of course some of those people will return. Some will come back of their own accord. But are you willing to bet on that?

Remarketing and retargeting ensure you don’t have to. These strategies (pay-per-click, by in large) create an ad audience exclusively of people who have visited your site but not completed whatever action you wanted them to.

A few examples:

  • Retarget people who visited your ecommerce site with an ad featuring the product those people put in their cart before they left.
  • Retarget people who visited your software company website with an ad expounding on the benefits of your platform over that of a competitor.
  • Retarget people who visit your website’s product page with a limited-time promotion on whatever product they were interested in.

A better example…

This morning I went over to East Dane to look at buying some boxer briefs. I added a pair to my cart and left (bounced):

cost-effective marketing

Then I went to, to get my daily dose of depressing news, and right at the top are the boxer briefs I’d considered buying:

cost-effective marketing

There are a couple primary platforms for remarketing: Facebook and Google. Both can be done without help from a third-party provider (Adroll, Perfect Audience and Klientboost being the largest), but read up on it and judge it for yourself.

Facebook retargeting you can do by utilizing Facebook Ad’s “website custom audience” targeting. Read more on that in The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads: Chapter 5 – Advanced Targeting

Google remarketing you can also do on your own. Here’s Google’s walkthrough.

What you get:

You get to maximize the possibility of a sale. You change the numbers up within your sales funnel. Where before you were driving 100 people a day and losing 95 of them to the bounce, now you drive 100 people a day and only lose 90 of them.

5. Cold Email Outreach

Don’t skip over this section because cold-calling makes you feel like a car salesman with greased-back hair. I feel your pain, but bear with me for a second.

Let’s get the logistics out of the way…

There are companies out there which enable businesses to get the email addresses and contact details of decision-makers in any given industry. Salesforce’s, Nimble, InsideView and many others do this (and here’s G2Crowd’s list comparing them all).

For SaaS and B2B businesses, you know those industries which get the most out of your business and with whom you do good business. Thees leads are just sitting there, waiting to be purchased.

Once you have them, though, how can you reach out without being one of those sales guys you can’t stand?

  • Step 1: Create case study content related to their industry Make it good.
  • Step 2: Reach out to your newfound leads via gmail. Don’t send a mass-email as you’re likely to get relegated to spam and mess up the merge tagging.
  • Step 3: Write the following email (or one similar):

Hey [Their name],

My name is [Name] from [Company].

I was just checking out [website] and saw you’re [what they do/campaign they’re running.]

Many people in [industry] have difficulty with [industry pain point your service/tool/product addresses.] Is this an issue at [Company]?

Just recently we worked with [Case study company] and managed to [positive outcome of working with you] through [specific strategy/tool they implemented].

I have a few ideas about how [Company] could implement a similar strategy. Would you have a couple minutes this week when we could go over these ideas? Perhaps [specific day and time]?

Look forward to speaking with you!


  • Step 4: Follow up after two days if they haven’t responded. Send an email with “Hey [Their name]. [Name] here from [Company]. Just wanted to follow up and check you received my previous email? Cheers!”
  • Step 5: Follow up after 4 days, if they haven’t responded, with “Just checking one last time if you received my previous emails? Look forward to hearing from you. – [Name]

And that’s it. Send a couple hundred of those and get a phone conversation with a 20 or so. If you want to automate this strategy (which you can do, even with the follow-up and via Gmail) check out PersistIQ or Reply.IO.

What you get:

You get a few phone calls with a decision-maker at a business within your target market. And if you automate this strategy, it’s one of those “sit back and wait for their response” strategies you can be completing while working on something else.

6. Site Optimization

We talked before about remarketing, and how it gives you a last shot at turning visitors into leads and sales – how 90% of your traffic is going to bounce no matter what you do.

But what if we optimized our pages? What if we took the time, resources, and energy that we put towards creating and brainstorming marketing campaigns and put it towards optimizing the hell out of the ones we already have?

For example, let’s say you’re running a co-promotion with a related business (strategy #2, nice!)…

  • Both your business and theirs sends a newsletter to 15,000 contacts. 25% of recipients open and 5% click through to the page. That’s 1500 page visitors.
  • If 20% of them convert on the page (not a terrible conversion rate) that’s 300 webinar registrants.
  • If you add a countdown timer (a conversion optimization tactic) you might increase page conversion rates by 10%.
  • That gives you 330 registrants.

It took you 15 seconds to add that countdown timer, and boom. 30 more registrants.

Here’s an example from CRM company Highrise:

cost-effective marketing

A redesign, image and de-cluttering doubled Highrise’s homepage conversion rate. Doubled.

What you get:

Let’s do this again. Because I’m not sure I’ve adequately communicated the insane value of optimization…

Let’s say your website is focused on driving free trials. And let’s say that you’re converting 50% of those free trials to paid customers. Monthly customer value is $100.

If you’re currently getting 10 free trials per day, your website is worth $15,000/month ($500 x 30 days). Optimize your website to convert 15 visitors instead (a 50% conversion rate increase) and your website, without extra driving of traffic or ad budget or hiring a new content marketer or anything, becomes worth $22,500.

Sold? Click here to see a complete guide to website optimization.

Wrapping it Up

Hopefully one (or all) of these marketing strategies appeals to you and your business’ pockets.You picked up some digital marketing gems.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comment section!

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