5 Ways to Find Affordable Marketing Help Online

Kelly Goldstuck
May 30 · 8 min read

1. GenM

GenM is an online platform providing students with free, hands-on marketing experience to help businesses grow.

Students can take online courses created by industry experts and then gain real-world work experience through a fully remote, online apprenticeship with one of thousands of vetted businesses.

Small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs looking for marketing help can take on an apprentice and save up to 40 hours a month on their marketing efforts. For a small fee of $49/month, businesses can take on an apprentice and start getting help with things like social media management, content marketing, email marketing and more.

Pros

  • Relatively affordable
  • Excellent customer support is provided to all business owners.
  • Easy to choose from thousands of student marketers and find a good fit for your business

Cons

  • $49/month fee
  • Businesses are expected to coach students and help with their professional development.

2. Marketing Automation

If you’re looking to handle your own marketing efforts, it’s worthwhile considering marketing automation tools. This enables you to automate things like sharing of content on social media platforms, speeding up your workflow and freeing up time to work on your other marketing efforts. Certain tools even come with built-in analytics, which helps determine the ideal posting time for your audience, allowing for further reach. Here are a few ways you can save time with marketing automation.

2.a Post Scheduling

Stay on top of social media by scheduling posts ahead of time. Creating a content calendar for the month ahead can be very beneficial. Once you have all your content ready, set aside some time to schedule the posts in. There’s plenty of tools out there, depending on your specific needs: Buffer, Hootsuite, Social Pilot, and Planoly to name a few.

If you write content on other platforms like Medium, tools like IFTTT (if this then that) or Zapier are perfect for enabling various apps or websites to interact with each other.

That being said, you should still be interacting with your followers regularly over and above the scheduled posts as a way to truly grow your community. It’s equally important to monitor user-generated content often to ensure content is staying ‘on brand’.

2.b Chatbots

Though social media messaging can be a great way to engage with your audience, replying to each individual message can be particularly time-consuming. Chatbots are a great way to speed up this process. These are AI programs that are capable of having a conversation with a person, through asking and answering questions, providing links and making statements where appropriate based on user input. Ideally, though, you should still respond to messages that require a personal touch as chatbots aren’t proper replacements for human contact with customers.

Chatbots do require setting up though. It’s also important to assess whether you truly need one and what you’ll use it for, as that will inform which tools to go with. If you do have the capacity to respond to messages individually, that’s arguably always best, especially seeing as it reduces room for error and there will still be that personal touch. If your intention is for the chatbot to address frequently asked questions, you’ll need to determine what the best answer for those are. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to generate leads, be sure to assess what information you’ll need beforehand. In terms of tools available, ManyChat is perfect for sharing content, though if you would like to focus on leads and answering questions, Chatfuel is the better option.

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2.c Email Sequencing

Another effective marketing technique you can harness is automated email sequencing. You’re probably familiar with adding an item to your online shopping cart, not following through with the purchase and then receiving a series of emails enticing you to check back and complete your order. You can look to implement a similar sort of strategy.

Identifying your goal is important as this helps determine various aspects of your email sequencing strategy, such as frequency or timing, calls-to-action, and copy. Keep in mind whether your goal is welcoming the people signing up for your newsletter, reminding people about their abandoned carts, or closing leads from your lead generation efforts.

The next step is mapping out your sequence. Each email needs to communicate value to the customers and should be spaced out for maximum impact. You might want to thank people for subscribing or creating an account on your platform. Following that, a suggestion would be to highlight your product or service offerings in the initial week following signup, by first highlighting a need for it and then demonstrating how your business is able to solve that need or problem. Offering a limited time voucher or discount is a great way to entice people to buy your products or enlist your services. A week later, you might want to remind them about the discount if they have yet to act on it.

Tools like MailChimp and Hubspot, are excellent options for setting up your email sequencing. Once you’ve mapped out your sequencing and chosen which tool you’re using, you’ll be in a great position to build and launch your campaign. Be sure to keep the tone of voice as well as look and feel of the emails consistent and on brand. It’s also important to monitor analytics along the way to see how you can improve your click-through rates and reduce the number of unsubscribes, maximizing your conversions.

Pros:

  • Scheduling posts ahead of time saves you time, allowing you to concentrate on other areas of the business.
  • Allows for better reach to your audience
  • Scheduled posts allow for flexibility as you would no longer need to manually post or tweet at a certain time each day.
  • Chatbots can speed up the flow of answering questions or maximizing lead generation quite significantly.
  • Email sequencing can provide great value to customers and keep your brand top of mind.

Cons:

  • You’ll need to have contingencies in place in case a scheduled post or tweet is no longer relevant or would appear insensitive in light of the current news cycle.
  • Relying on scheduled posts alone to interact with your audience may make you seem more distant.
  • Chatbots can sometimes feel impersonal.
  • Email sequencing needs careful monitoring and adjustments in order to maximize their impact.

For more information, check out Smart Marketing’s The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Automation.

3. Communities

There are various online platforms you can join to get feedback or guidance on your marketing efforts — communities on Facebook, Slack, and Reddit, to name a few. Often people are only too happy to share their own expertise and experience. According to Stacy Caprio, founder of the agency, Growth Marketing, with Facebook groups in particular, people tend to be incentivized to give more solid feedback as their reputations are on the line. That being said, online communities tend to have a genuine desire to help you succeed regardless of whether they use their real identities or not. It is suggested though that you contribute to other people’s queries as well, as a way of growing your credibility and the community at large. Certain platforms like Reddit track your activity by way of assigning you points (or karma) for each reply and post you make, as well as each upvote you get. Often people will check this first to determine whether you have a genuine interest in the topic or overall community.

Pros:

  • You’ll be able to draw on other people’s experience on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Interacting with people of various backgrounds (marketers, business owners, etc.) helps make the learning experience richer, as each will have their own insight.
  • You’ll potentially be able to network with others by helping them grow.

Cons:

  • Depending on how big the individual online communities are, there is the potential for information overload, which may require time sifting through replies in order to find the advice that is relevant to your needs.
  • You’ll need to factor in the different time zones members may have, as you might receive advice on an urgent issue only hours later.
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4. Freelancers

Another option is to enlist the services of a freelancer from a variety of platforms. There are two ways of approaching this: you can post your requirements, inviting people to submit proposals, or you can reach out to freelancers who have skill sets matching your needs. This is more costly compared to other options, though it can be beneficial to outsource tasks to others. One thing to bear in mind is that freelancers tend to feel the need to compete on price alone, so it’s recommended to ask for samples of their work in order to better gauge their competence, otherwise, this may cost you even more in the long run.

Pros:

  • You can hire freelancers as needed to complete specific jobs, lowering the costs that would be involved in hiring someone in-house.
  • You’ll be able to leverage off their expertise and experience.
  • Freelancers tend to have a wide portfolio of projects and businesses they have done work for, enabling them to better understand your specific set of requirements.

Cons:

  • Can be very expensive
  • Quality varies widely
  • Each new freelancer will require onboarding to familiarize themselves with your brand.

5. Self Guided Learning

If you’re looking to further your own knowledge on assorted marketing related topics, there are plenty of resources out there. HubSpot, in particular, offers ebooks, webinars, and courses. On Medium, you’ll find a wide variety of topics discussed from different angles. New books come out year after year. If podcasts are more your speed, there is a wealth of options to choose from.

Pros:

  • Having more insight into a particular topic is always beneficial in terms of knowing how to maximize your marketing efforts.
  • Even if you don’t put together the content for every aspect of your business’s marketing, you’ll be able to give better direction to those who do, as you’ll be better able to assess which area of marketing will have more impact.

Cons:

  • Staying current can in itself be time-consuming, especially with so many different areas of marketing.
  • Learning about different topics can require a lot of discipline, especially if there is already a lot on your plate with other aspects of the business.

Key Takeaways

Your marketing efforts are crucial in building brand awareness, bringing new customers into the fold as well as retaining existing customers. However, they need not be labor intensive or challenging to navigate your way through. Knowing where to look for help can speed up your own workflow and save you from experimenting with method after method: whether it’s enlisting the help of a GenM apprentice, making use of marketing automation, sourcing community input, hiring a freelancer or furthering your own learning.


Feel free to 👏 and help others to find this article + learn about how we’re helping entrepreneurs get their marketing done over at genm.co

Smart Marketing for the Lean Startup

All skill levels welcomed — levelling up is encouraged!

Kelly Goldstuck

Written by

Designer, writer, reader, traveller, boardgamer, lifelong learner.

Smart Marketing for the Lean Startup

All skill levels welcomed — levelling up is encouraged!