Skip to content

10 Marketing Methods in 2023 That Don’t Dump Your Budget Into Ads

10 Marketing Methods in 2023 That Don’t Dump Your Budget Into Ads

From savvy social marketing strategies to effective content approaches, here are 10 marketing methods that don’t involve dumping all of your budget into paid ads from our Calgary branding and digital marketing agency

Paid ads have been a staple of digital marketing strategies for as long as digital marketing strategies have been around. However, the world of marketing is constantly evolving. This year, it’s all about creating relationships with customers through engaging, authentic content. 

Customers can recognize authenticity from a mile away, and traditional advertising is no longer the only option for businesses looking to reach their audience. 

While paid ad campaigns were the cool kids of marketing throughout the 2010s, there’s a new kid on the block. Our current age of social media and digital marketing opens up a world of possible advertising opportunities – often using methods that break away from old-school techniques and embrace cyberculture. 

Engage with Followers of Related Brands

In today’s digital world, it pays to be socially savvy. Established brands that offer a similar product or service to yours and have a solid following may have done you a favour – they’ve created a curated list of social media users. 

Engage with these users by liking posts, viewing stories, and leaving thoughtful comments that add value to the conversation.

By engaging with these users, you can establish yourself as an expert in your industry and build trust and credibility with potential customers. Additionally, you may attract new followers and customers to your own brand as you build relationships with this audience – increasing your reach and potential for sales. Overall, engaging with followers of related brands can be a cost-effective and valuable strategy to reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.


Launch a Giveaway for Email Signups

Giveaways on social media have become increasingly popular in recent years and, in turn, have grown in reputation. 

Launching a giveaway for email signups can be an effective marketing strategy to grow your email list and generate leads by offering an incentive for people to sign up. Giveaways often see standout engagement numbers as users have to interact with the post to enter. 

For example, one such giveaway we coordinated for @explorekananaskis saw roughly 10x of the engagement normally seen. We included an option for participants to receive 2 additional entries if they visited our website and entered their email to subscribe to our newsletter. This allowed us to collect a significant number of email addresses to distribute future email newsletters, even after the contest had long passed. 


Valuable Subscriber Emails

Why should someone add your email to their (already overflowing) inbox? Most email newsletters offer some incentive to subscribers for signing up, typically in the form of some type of savings or insider information. It’s important to communicate this ‘why’ to your audience to motivate them to sign up. Use bold, clear language immediately communicating your “why” to the subscriber.

Additionally, provide any additional information or links to remove any possible barriers to signing up. One example of successful niche email marketing is The Daily Drop. Started by travel influencers, the Daily Drop offers subscribers access to premium travel information, alerting them to current promotions, deals, travel tips, and more – all while promoting products, flights and accommodations. 

As people sign up for your email list, make sure to keep them engaged by sending them regular newsletters, promotions and other valuable content. By nurturing your email list, you can build relationships with potential customers and increase your chances of making a sale.


Keyword Specific Blogs

SEO, or search engine optimization, is your friend. In short, SEO entails using keywords that boost your chances of showing up on Google. 

To do this effectively, you must identify the keywords that relate most to your brand. When we come up with a list of keywords to highlight on a website for one of our clients, we utilize tools like Google Search Console and Jetpack. You want to make sure the phrases your customers use to find yours or similar services show up in the copy of your blog – especially in titles, headings and links. 

Think about how you use Google – we tend to ask it questions, like “What is the capital of Australia,” or “What is SEO?” Then, create content that uses these keywords strategically. For example, if you run a car repair company, you may want to include words and phrases like: “Why won’t my car start?” 

As your blog gains more visibility in search engine results, it can drive more qualified leads to your website, increasing the likelihood of conversions and sales. 

Generate Traffic with Online Directories

Online directories list businesses by category, making it easier both for consumers to find what they’re looking for and for you to ensure your brand is visible to potential customers. Make sure to choose directories that have high traffic and are well-respected in your industry. 

Optimize your listing with relevant keywords, images and videos to improve your visibility and make it easier for potential customers to find you. You may also want to consider investing in premium listings or advertisements to increase your exposure and attract more traffic.

By listing your business in online directories, you can improve your search engine rankings and increase your chances of being found by potential customers. Some directories allow you to add “backlinks” to your listing, which help Google notice your website and display it on search results, similar to SEO keywords. 

Contact the Media

Share the news of your successes! Contacting journalists and editors of online publications can be an effective way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and communicate your expertise on a niche topic. Almost all news publications accept “pitches,” not just from journalists, but from anyone with something newsworthy to share. 

Consider how you can present your pitch as newsworthy, and how your perspective as an industry expert could provide a unique perspective. Tailor your pitch to a specific publication, and highlight the insight you can provide to their audience. 

Opportunities to contribute to online publications establish yourself as a thought leader and increase your brand’s visibility to a wider audience. Additionally, as your content is shared and promoted through these publications, you may see increased traffic.

Affiliate Partnerships

Affiliate partnerships are a win-win. By aligning yourself with another relevant business, you both benefit from mutual brand exposure and get the chance to connect with people that fit within your target audience. Creating this partnership establishes both brands as a sort of “team” and allows you to communicate the fact that you both fit within a certain scope. 

Brands who participate in affiliate partnerships also see increased credibility, as another brand, influencer or publication essentially went on the record saying that they support you. Consumers know that brands don’t stick their necks out for just anyone and will assume that your brand is trustworthy and credible. For example, a post asking users to “click the link in a bio” is a common way to promote an affiliate link, as users are prompted by something – or someone – they’re already a fan of to receive a special bonus or give them a bonus

Affiliate partnerships can also lead to increased brand awareness as you both receive brand exposure to each respective customer base – a customer base that likely at least partially aligns with your target demographic due to both of your brand’s relevancy to each other. 


Tap into User-Generated Content

What could be more credible than a customer stating that they like your brand unprompted? Using methods like influencer marketing has been proven to be incredibly effective as they associate brands with a certain lifestyle. On the flip side, integrating UGC not only uses the same lifestyle communications but is often more relatable, allowing potential customers to see how your brand fits into a lifestyle reflective of their own. 

UGC allows your followers to make more personal connections with your content and brand as they see someone they can relate to fitting within your brand. Additionally, these seemingly unprompted appreciations for your product communicate a level of reliability to your customers. All in all, UGC is an extremely effective form of social proof, as people are more likely to trust their peers than traditional marketing tactics. Many accounts, even the @Canada account use UGC to tap into their community. 


Highlight Brand Loyalists

Brand loyalists are customers who are loyal to your brand, and continuously purchase it over other products. Similar to using UGC, highlighting brand loyalists is an effective way to utilize organic shoutouts, and showcase that people communicate their love for your brand without prompting. Highlighting brand loyalists can entail using their content as UGC and even by using ‘customer appreciation’ techniques – which can then be displayed on social media for marketing purposes. 

Additionally, brand loyalists are often part of a nice interest group and, in turn, will be members of these group’s platforms. For example, Facebook groups centred around essential oils encourage brand loyalists to post detailed reviews on interest niche platforms like subforums and FB groups through genuine interactions and incentives and see the benefit of them touting your product to an already established fanbase. 

Build a Community

One of the most influential ways to do this is by positioning yourself as a community facilitator within your niche. Platforms like Geneva, Facebook groups and Discord offer a different type of functionality than other socials that is more suited for long-term relationship building and conversation-starting. 

These platforms function closer along the lines of certain messaging apps and offer you the opportunity to facilitate a digital community space around your niche. For example, discord allows you to create a server, which is then divided into channels. This lets you create a server centred around your brand’s niche, as well as several channels like ‘announcements,’ ‘chat,’ or ‘inspiration.’ Large brands like Chipotle have used Discord for promotional purposes, hiring fairs, and facilitating temporary communities.

Providing a platform that benefits your customers more than yourself lets you can gain credibility and position yourself as a thought leader. This can help position you apart from your brand’s competition as a member of said community.


Building a connection between your brand and your customers is an ongoing process. As Calgary branding experts and digital marketers, we know that this connection is not just about selling products or services, but about creating a relationship that goes beyond the transaction. 

By establishing authentic and meaningful connections with your audience, you build trust and loyalty that can lead to long-term success for your brand. So, take the time to understand your audience, be genuine in your communication and consistently deliver value to establish a connection that lasts.

As Calgary web designers and digital marketers, we know a thing or two about marketing your business online.