By Jordan Berger

For many businesses, successful marketing translates into better sales. But with limited resources, small businesses don’t always have the budget to hire a full-time marketing manager. Luckily, marketing efforts don’t have to be extravagant to be effective. These simple methods can help drive awareness, increase sales and bolster your reputation as an industry expert.

1. Identify Your Audience

This initial step is perhaps the most important in any marketing plan. Instead of quantity, think quality. Put in the time and effort to make sure you’re reaching people who are interested in what your business has to offer.

As a starting point, try identifying your target audience’s age, lifestyle, goals or location. Focus your efforts on the social channels your audience engages with most often. Additionally, it is important to find influencers within your audience  — people who frequently engage with your social content and talk about you online. By identifying, engaging with and rewarding these fans, you create brand evangelists, who will spread the word about your business.

2. Master Social Media

Effective use of social channels builds both brand presence and trust, but it’s not enough to just launch a Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest account and post a rebate every once in a while.

Grow an online presence by creating and responding to conversations with others in your industry. Consider posting educational articles and helpful tips that will appeal to your audience, and if it makes sense for your business, share before and after photos to showcase your work. By regularly using your social platforms as opportunities to build relationships, your audience will look to you as a trustworthy expert — and increased sales may follow.

3. Get Customers to Your Website

You don’t need an expensive agency to get a quality website up and running. There are numerous websites, such as WordPress, Wix or Squarespace, that enable you to create visually appealing, functional business sites. Many are free or require a small fee.

Once your website is live, make sure it is easy to navigate and that customers can quickly locate your contact information. A successful website shows customers why they should choose your business above any other.

It is also vital to optimize your website for search. Think about potential search terms that pertain to your business and build your website content around them. Instead of naming a section of your site “About Us,” try “About Our Sandwich Shop.”

4. Connect Through Email

To reach a larger online audience, offer an incentive to sign up for your email newsletters. People are more likely to give their information when they receive something in return. A downloadable PDF with educational content, coupons, discounts and contests will help build your email subscriber list. This is an opportunity to engage customers on a regular basis and keep your brand top of mind. In addition, unlike advertising, these are customers who have chosen to receive information about your brand — they are already interested.

Before you distribute emails and e-newsletters, ensure that at least two to three people have checked for factual, spelling and grammatical errors.

These marketing tactics can take some time, but when your business prioritizes building relationships with the right target audience, your return will be well worth the effort.