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3 Ways SMEs Can Maximise Online Marketing With no Additional Spend

There are around 58.6million internet users in the United Kingdom. Accounting for around 90 per cent of the population, it makes online marketing one of the most compelling activities to reach new customers.

With this in mind, here are three tried, tested and proven ways that any SME in any industry can reach more potential customers online without any additional spend, other than time, of course.

  1. Embrace Twitter

Do you use Twitter? If so, how quickly is your following growing, and do you see any meaningful engagement? Popular automotive publication, Car Waffle, were able to double up on their Twitter following, hitting 31,000 followers and almost one million Tweet impressions a month in just three months, and crucially, without any spend.


In addition, their Twitter account is currently growing at rate of 5,000 followers per month, and as their audience grows, their rate of growth increases too. They also drive a whopping 10,500 link clicks every month.


What’s most interesting is the fact that if you too were able to drive this number of link clicks and the traffic only converted at a rate of 0.5 per cent – which is rather modest – it would account for 52 sales, web enquiries or email subscribers, depending on what your goal was.

That’s a fairly big deal considering Twitter is just one of many social networking platforms out there. Harness the power of others and social media alone could drive hundreds of additional conversions month in month out.

How did they do it?

Timing – Naturally it’s best to tweet when your audience is online and you can use a free tool such as Manage Flitter in order to determine this.

In addition, Twitter engagement for brands is 17 per cent higher on weekends, so if you don’t tweet on a Saturday and Sunday – which most brands don’t – you’re missing out on tons of extra engagement.

Images – Research shows that Tweets containing images will generally receive twice as much engagement. This is because the human brain can process images 60,000 times quicker than text. With Twitter’s new multi-image upload tool you can now add up to four per tweet, though one will usually suffice.

Links – Using the Bitly link shortener can make a tweet look far more visually pleasing than simply pasting in a full URL string, thus increasing the likelihood of it being retweeted. Using a link shortener also frees up more characters for you to be able to deliver your message.

Hash Tags – Use them, but use them sparingly; talking at an Expo just the other day, Georgina Parnell from Twitter said she recommends using a combination of no more than two blue elements per tweet (i.e. links, Twitter handles and hash tags).

Engage – Failing to engage with your audience by way of replying to their comments, tweets or mentions is one of the worst things you can do. Even if you don’t have time to reply to them all, you should reply to some.

  1. Run Competitions

Let’s face it, everybody likes a good competition, right? Of course they do; however, most of us will only ever enter a competition if the prize is extremely relevant to our interests, or a lump of cash, naturally.

Although there are exceptions to the norm such as the online community of serial competition entrants, or ‘compers’ as they’ve become known. These individuals are often willing to take surveys, subscribe to mailing lists and engage via social media indiscriminately in exchange for the opportunity to win a prize.

Harnessing this community can produce an enormous boost in traffic, almost instantly. Just look at the graph below which Stoneacre Motor Group agreed to share, it shows an almost doubling of traffic to their website. Visits rose from 3,000 visits to 6,000 shortly after they announced a competition to win VIP tickets to an open air concert featuring One Direction.


However, it’s not all about traffic; a competition can be run with the aim of driving email subscribers too. Parenting blogs have proved to be particularly good at this with some adding over 10,000 email subscribers from a single competition.

Another good example is CCF, who set out to conduct a car tax disk survey and used a competition in order to drive participation, offering £100 worth of high street vouchers to one lucky winner. This resulted in 850 entries, email subscribers and completed surveys.

How do you get the most out of an online competition?

Make it simple

The more barriers you place between a visitor and your competition, the fewer entries you will receive. Competitions that perform best are those that simply require a retweet or a comment. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep the number of required actions to a maximum of two and if you ask people to enter by joining your mailing list don’t ask for too much information, a name and email address should suffice.

Harness your existing audience

If you already have a large number of email subscribers use them to drive additional engagement. The chances are they will be on social media and the average Facebook user has around 130 friends and the average Twitter user, 127 followers. By encouraging them to like, share or tweet your competition, you can very quickly spread the word to a much larger audience.

Competition Forums

There are literally dozens of online competition platforms. Most allow you to submit a competition for free. In addition, you can add a massive boost via paid competition platforms such as, who will guarantee 1,000+ genuine entries. They do this by promoting your competition to their list of 10,000 email subscribers, but a minimum prize value of £500 is required.

Here’s some of the best free to submit competition platforms:

Money Saving Expert –

Loquax –

Twitaculous –

  1. Use Emojis

Emoji is Britain’s fastest growing language, according to Professor Evans and the research he conducted in conjunction with Talk Talk Mobile.

The research found that 8-in-10 of us use emojis when we communicate; that amounts to huge potential for businesses willing to communicate in this way, and though some may see it as unprofessional, many have already introduced its use across their digital marketing campaigns.

As far back as 2012, Experian analysed some of these businesses, 56 per cent of which reported an increase in open-rates when symbols such as emojis were included in the subject line of emails. In other research, a simple snowman symbol was shown to lift open-rates to a staggering 65.72 per cent. Considering the average email open-rate for business is 21.59 per cent and eCommerce just 16.89 per cent, that’s a pretty impressive result.


However, the use of emojis to enhance engagement stretches much further than just email campaigns. Examples of emojis being used across other marketing channels include the case of tennis player Andy Murray, who tweeted about his entire wedding day in a single tweet made up of 51 emojis; this earned him a staggering 13,848 retweets and 29,500 favourites.



In addition, some marketing executives have begun using emojis in their page titles which then show up in Google Search.


How to use emojis

Finding emojis – There are a number of online resources that list all available emojis one of the best by far is, as it allows you to quickly and easily copy & paste the emojis that you wish to use.

Where to use – Emojis can be used in status updates on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well as in email subject lines and web page titles that show up in Google Search, and even in printed material.

How many – According to software engineer Thomas Dimson, almost half of all comments and captions on Instagram are made up of emojis and it seems the more you use, the more engagement you get. However, for use in email subject lines a maximum of five seems to work best. For Google Search no more than three is advised.

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