The competition for online advertising intensifies every single day as more people and companies market online. Ask any marketing professional or entrepreneur about their marketing plans, and Facebook Ads or Google Adwords will surely be one of the first things they say.
The advantages with online advertising include a low-barrier to entry and fast implementation. You can launch a pretty decent ad-campaign in a number of minutes. Yet that's also the problem. It allows for intense competition for the keywords and audiences you're trying to target. It might not be worth it.
Successful entrepreneurs know they can't have all their eggs in one basket. You should be looking at additional ways to grow revenues outside of advertising on social media. Here are a few great ways to increase your revenues outside of the usual online marketing advertising platforms.
1. Content marketing
If more people know about how effective content marketing is, more people and companies would do it. Consistently writing great content is an effective way to grow your revenue over time by building your authority over a given topic or search term.
The key is to write value-driven content on your blog, medium or LinkedIn that will build your credibility, educate and empower readers, and will also help with your on-site SEO. You should also try and syndicate content to media outlets or write guest posts on other blogs that appeal to your audience and subject.
Warning: this should not be self-promotional or self-congratulatory. Write content that is worth people's time and attention. Only then will you garner the benefits of content marketing.
2. B2B sales (Business-to-Business)
Most startups I encounter immediately think of the consumer side of the customer spectrum. That's completely understandable, yet it could be limiting your sales.
When you launch your business, be sure to reach out to businesses and see if there's any interest on their side of the fence. As Chief Revenue Officer of my startup, I focused on how we could add value to the largest companies in our space while creating a strategy to position our product and service in a way that was suitable for collaboration. That strategy was executed well, and we now work with Fortune 500 companies including Honeywell, Alarm.com and a few others.
These deals take considerably longer than simply putting product on a shelf, yet they are usually worth it for the revenue, stability and strategic positioning.
3. Co-marketing partnerships
If you get creative, you can likely find some other startups and businesses that will co-market to their customer base if your product or service adds value to their customers in a non-competitive way.
A great example of this is Uber and Spotify. By allowing Uber riders to enroll their Spotify account and listen to their tunes in the car, Spotify can advertise to a new customer base. Uber also benefits from providing a better customer experience.
4. Email marketing
While technically this is online marketing, it doesn't fit into the Facebook and Google advertising bucket. If you're not taking advantage of email marketing, take the time to learn how tools like Mailchimp, Justuno and others can help you build lists, attract new subscribers into those lists, and then send emails automatically.
If you're driving traffic to your website, email marketing is a must. It helps you capture as much value as possible from visitors to your site and helps you with re-targeting and sending follow-up emails that lead to conversions.
5. Customer reviews
This is by far the most underrated way to grow sales. The more effort you put into customer service and satisfaction, the more ROI you will produce on all your marketing.
Why? Unhappy customers leave bad reviews, which impact your future sales. Also, happy customers are unlikely to leave good reviews, so it's that much more important to avoid bad reviews in the first place.
Finally, it's far cheaper to sell to a current customer (as a repeat customer) than it is to acquire a new customer. Start looking at customer service as a sales tool, not a cost leader.
6. Beta Programs
A free beta program is a great way to boost sales when you eventually launch the product. There are two main reasons.
First, your product or service will be better because real people use it, find bugs and provide feedback before it launches.
Second, beta users are proud first adopters. They'll take pride in being the first to use it, and in our experience, become your biggest fans online and offline - helping you sell through word-of-mouth marketing.
7. Influencer marketing
Leveraging the influence of another person is a great way to drive revenue. It takes time and money to build out an audience and gain their trust. Influencers have already done this. Of course they want you to pay, yet it's likely more cost effective that running top-of-funnel ads on Facebook and Google all day long.
Here's a secret: don't just target the accounts with the highest following. Look for the accounts with the highest engagement.
When you go beyond online ads, you build up your revenue numbers while also diversifying the sources of your revenue. This is not only good for the health of your business, it also makes you more attractive for investors or acquirers. It also gives you more flexibility when changes take place in the market.