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As the global economy continues to experience rising costs and reduced spending, businesses have begun fighting for survival. The same can be said about the 590,908 small businesses small businesses in Washington, DC.

The cost of doing business has increased considerably in the capital, and coupled with the presence of expensive highly skilled labor, small businesses face unequal odds of growing in such a highly competitive market.

Unable to target highly expensive conventional channels, digital media provides a lone ray of hope when it comes to marketing, branding, and eventually, growth. However, even here, reduced budgets force small businesses to look for unique marketing strategies that drive organic traffic to their virtual storefronts and business websites.

So, how does a promising startup or small business survive the competition without exceeding its budget?

Here are 5 affordable digital marketing strategies that businesses in Washington DC can use to ensure survival as well as growth in the right direction:

Get On The Video Bandwagon

As content of the future, small businesses should leverage the video trend to their advantage.

While they might lack the resources and budget that established businesses enjoy, they can still utilize creative new video marketing trends that don’t cause a dent in their pocket.

Successful video marketing doesn’t always require elaborate video production – and the rise of short-lived and live-action video content, particularly with social media tools such as Instagram stories and Facebook Live proves this.

Audiences are willing to spend 8x more time viewing live video, compared to on-demand videos. As businesses compete for not just search engine rankings, but eyes on the newsfeed, going live could very well prove to be the key differentiator.

There’s more to video marketing than just appealing to clients; it’s about gaining visibility that attracts clients in the first place.

The increasing importance of video marketing is also acknowledged by Google while ranking websites. In fact, a website that includes video is 53 times more likely to make it to the front page.

Still unconvinced about video marketing? Think again.

Target The ‘Micro-Moments’

Google defines micro-moments as the “moments when we turn to a device—often a smartphone—to take action on whatever we need or want right now.”

Simply put, these are the moments your customer is expecting a quick and relevant answer to their problem.

Unsurprisingly, targeting micro-moments is not only easy on the pocket, but also highly successful. Google research shows that being there when the consumer needs you, transcends brand loyalty.

Consider this: 33% customers make a purchase from a brand that wasn’t their first choice, simply because they provided an answer when the customer wanted it.

Prioritizing your niche simply won’t cut it in a market as competitive as Washington. A budding business needs to prioritize its local listings to get a chance to appear in front of local consumers who are more likely to convert.

There is an entire strategy to be able to place your business where micro-moments are: this includes taking control of business listings, to optimizing Google My Business, and eventually submitting information for data aggregators and the creation of localized content.

With a 900% increase in ‘near me’ searches in 2015-2017, it can be safely deduced that modern customers experience a need for urgency. By catering to local SEO, small businesses can directly benefit from increased traffic.

Establish Authority On Quora

With 300 million unique visitors each month, Quora is the go-to platform for people looking to educate themselves on commonplace questions.

Thanks to the over 400,000 topics dealing from videogames to B2B and B2C sales advice from experts, nobody’s questions are left unanswered on Quora.

As a small business with a tight budget, you can utilize your niche knowledge to provide valuable answers to your target audience – building trust and authority in the process.

By demonstrating how a product or service solves their problem, businesses can actually drive qualified leads to their website, without spending a dime.

With the addition of Quora ‘Spaces,’ businesses can curate entire group-like spaces based on their niche. By inviting thought leaders to contribute, you not only gain prominence, but also redirect their multi-million following to your Space – and eventually your website.

Personalize Your Email Marketing

Emails are one of the oldest online marketing techniques that are available to us – but 15 years ago, they were vastly different from what actually works today. The main difference? Personalization.

This isn’t hearsay, but facts established by repetitive studies in the domain. Email personalization is effective and most importantly, affordable for small businesses.

Not only do personalized email messages lead to more people clicking through to the website, but they also have a profound impact on conversion rates. This is in line with research that says 48% of consumers spend more when marketing efforts are customized to their pain points.

Email automation tools have further streamlined the entire email outreach process. They provide affordable, yet effective solutions that lead to a customer acquisition ROI 40 times more than that of social media channels.

With tools such as BuzzStream and Hunter, allowing extensive prospect research and email list building, personalized emails provide small businesses the opportunity to significantly boost ROI.

Optimize For Voice Search

With the widespread adoption of Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and a host of other smartphone and smart-speaker based personal assistants, we are now living in a voice-activated world.

Surprisingly, this development has already had a profound impact on small, localized businesses. For example, in 2017-2018, around 58% of consumers used voice search to find local business information.

Also, 46% of voice search users complete a local search every day. With inexpensive, simple tweaks, businesses can optimize their content to show up on voice search results.

Citations play an important role when it comes to appearing in the ‘featured snippet’ of Google search – the bit that is actually voiced out by a personal assistant. Voice assistants use citations from a trusted source when searching for key phrases such as: ‘the best burger joint in Washington DC,’ or ‘the closest cafes near me.’

Most famous citations are picked from Yelp, Bing, or Google My Business – depending on the voice assistant. When deciding on citations, the type of format used isn’t as important as being consistent.

When search engines find multiple pages mentioning the same business with the exact same citation, they deem it to be more authoritative and trustworthy. Alongside long tail keywords, citations are an important part of optimizing for a voice-led future.

Businesses in Washington, DC are faced with a saturated market that is symbolized by limited share and reduced marketing budgets. Hence, they are left to find inexpensive, yet effective ways to market their product.

By using these latest digital marketing trends, small businesses can leverage enhanced exposure to drive much-needed conversions that help them move forward in a competitive landscape.

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