10 Highly Effective and Free Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Looking to make the most of your online marketing efforts without breaking the bank?

Don’t let a tight budget hold your business back from competing effectively. With a strategic approach, you can maximize your resources and achieve your goals.

Start by defining clear objectives for your online marketing strategy because this will provide direction and ensure your efforts are focused on what matters most to your business.

Getting the best possible return on your marketing investments is crucial, and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 highly effective and free marketing ideas for businesses like yours.

10 Highly Effective and Free Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Let’s look at them in more detail:

1. Build an email list

Email marketing continues to be one of the most worthwhile online marketing practices.

First, you will need to build an email list. You can do this in several ways, such as asking people to subscribe for a discount or as the entry mechanism for a competition.

Try to collect additional information too so you can personalise your emails in the future – at the very least, their name should be included as this will aid engagement.

My Top Tip for Building Your Email List: Provide your audience with an irresistible offer – a lead magnet that’s exclusive and valuable. Think giveaways, podcasts, webinars, case studies, free ebooks, checklists and cheat sheets tailored for your ideal client, exclusive discounts, or access to premium content. These enticing incentives will drive signups and grow your email list effectively.

For a cost-effective option, MailerLite is one of the most popular email providers for businesses and your first 1,000 subscribers are completely free!

2. List your business on Google

Listing your business on Google with a free Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a great way to get extra exposure for your business online and drive more visitors to your website.

It’s incredibly simple to set up and 100% free to do. All you need to do is create an account with Google Business Profile and fill in the relevant business details including a link to your site, accurate business hours, a current phone number and a description of your company and its services.

Need some help? Use our guide to a great Google Business Profile listing to help you optimise the features to grow your business.

3. Social engagement

Social media is an effective way to build brand recognition and it can be a very powerful and quick way to get targeted and free traffic for your website – it doesn’t have to cost a single penny.

However, if you do have a budget, social media advertising can be a great way to speed up the process. Ensure that you have branded up your social media pages to reflect your website and link back to it on your profile.

Most importantly, to get the most out of social media you need to be active. Share engaging content with your audience and get involved in online conversations, but always ensure it’s relevant to your business. It’s best to take a quality-over-quantity approach: two great posts are much better than ten bad ones.

HootSuite provides some great advice on lowering the cost of social media advertising.

4. Start blogging

Blogging is a potent tool for improving your online presence and SEO rankings and is one of my favourite free marketing ideas because it works so well.

Create regular, engaging content that addresses your audience’s needs and interests. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and use your blog to provide them with answers to the questions they may have. You can also share entertaining content that you think they might enjoy.

Consistency and quality are key to building trust and credibility with your audience.

To help you get started, I’ve created a step-by-step roadmap to craft compelling content that magnetically draws in your ideal customers, time and time again. Discover how to find new topics, how to structure your articles, the blogging SEO essentials, and how to launch your brilliant blog with my Blogging for Success Workbook

Blogging for Success Workbook

5. Create a video channel

Tap into the engaging power of video content by starting your own YouTube channel. You don’t need fancy equipment – just a smartphone and a YouTube account.

Setting up a channel on YouTube is incredibly easy. First, you will need to log into YouTube using a Google account. From there you simply need to select ‘create a new channel’ in the account settings. Name your channel and enter your business’ details and you can start uploading videos right away!

Share informative and entertaining videos to captivate your audience.

YouTube provides some advice on How to Start & Manage Your YouTube Channel

6. DIY infographics

People love infographics because they can convey large amounts of data in an easily digestible format. Infographics are fantastic for visualising data and information that would look bland and uninteresting in a blog post.

You might not have considered them previously because you think it will require an expensive designer, but with modern technology, you can easily do-it-yourself. There are a number of apps and websites you can use to create visually appealing and informative infographics.

Canva is one of our favourites and it’s incredibly simple to use. Sign up for an account and with a bit of practice using the software, you will soon be creating things you thought you never could. With websites like Canva, anybody can be a designer.

7. Create Slideshares

Slideshare is a platform for presentation-style content that can drive real results and website traffic. They can also help position your business as a knowledge leader in your industry by sharing informative presentations that solve your target audience’s problems. The platform is owned by LinkedIn, so you can combine it with your social media strategy to ensure they are spread far and wide.

Repurpose blog content into slideshows to maximize your content’s reach across different platforms.

Social Media Examiner has a detailed post on 7 ways your business can utilise Slideshare.

8. Quora

Quora is a question-and-answer based platform that can rank incredibly well within Google. It’s easy to use and best of all, it’s totally free. Simply set up a page and follow people within your industry or niche topic and post questions and answer threads.

Again, this is a great way to position yourself as a knowledgeable and useful business and you can back up your posts with some social blogging. It’s also a great way to gain information on topics that you want to know a little bit more about, which can be great for creating content for your blog later!

Still unclear? Buffer has a great guide to using Quora for businesses.

9. Ask for reviews

Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, or Trustpilot. Positive reviews build trust and credibility with potential customers while enhancing your online visibility.

The concept is simple and one of the best free marketing ideas. Simply ask your customers to review your business on your chosen platform. This will let potential customers know that you’re a reputable and quality organisation.

Reviews can also be great for your website as they will drive more visitors and Google takes their own into account as ranking factors.

SEO+ has information on the importance of reviews in their definitive guide to online reviews, which also provides information on where to feature them and how to get them.


Guest posting is a great way to maximise your exposure and put your business in front of new audiences who are likely to be interested in your business.

For example, if you own a car mechanic service, hundreds of automotive blogs might be interested in sharing your content on car maintenance. You will need to create unique content specifically for the website you are writing for, but if done properly, it can be a great use of your time.

In return, you can often negotiate a link back to your own website that will drive traffic from their audience. As an added bonus, a link from another quality website is a great sign to Google that your website is high-quality and will do wonders for your SEO efforts.

Looking for more help? We’ve written a guest blogging guide which you can find here

11. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Did I say 10 free marketing ideas?

This list wouldn’t be complete without including Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I am an SEO consultant and founder of a UK SEO company after all!

Learning how to optimise your web pages and your website in general, can result in this being your best way to drive highly targeted visitors to your website. It can take time to achieve good rankings in Google, however, the resulting increase in online visibility, targeted website traffic, enquiries and sales for the long term will more than make up for any time and effort invested.

SEO is possibly the most effective free marketing idea on this list.

Ready to attract perfect-fit, ready-to-buy prospects straight to your website?

Download my free SEO Checklist which includes 21 actions to increase your visibility and achieve consistent sales.

SEO Checklist

Which of these free marketing ideas are you going to try first?

If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful we’d love it if you shared it – thank you, it’s very much appreciated.

10 thoughts on “10 Highly Effective and Free Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses”

  1. I also thought about the email list in the first place; it seems like the most valuable tactic for any online business, and yet a lot of people don’t apply it!

    I think I could add another one that is growing in importance: recording videos. This is an amazing tool nowadays. Video converts up to 80% better according to some studies, and this is the favorite format for most mobile users.

    And the best thing is that anyone can record high-quality video with today’s smartphones. You don’t really need any investment if you already have a phone. You can upload your videos to Youtube and include a link to your website in the video description. It is a really good idea to take advantage of the potential traffic coming from Youtube.

    With some basic knowledge, you can record really good video without looking like an amateur. I’ve realized many businesses are becoming more interested in expanding to video, so I wrote an article to help out people without much video knowledge. I would love if you could give it a read, Hazel.

    Either way, thanks and keep up the good work 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment Will.
      Yes, you’re right, building an email list is a hugely valuable marketing tactic yet underused by smaller businesses.
      I totally agree with your comments on video – we added this marketing tactic at number 5. Thank you for adding some more information on this and I’d be happy to read your article.

  2. HI Hazel,

    Marketing is the necessary part of every online business. Building email list is one of the strongest marketing technique. It not just help to gain subscribers or traffic but also help to pitch the product to thousands of subscribers without spending a single penny on promotion.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Hazel,
    Am I maximizing my business presense online?
    I have an email list, business listed on Google My Business, social media specialist, I Blog, have a few video channels, interested in infographics and slideshares, should do guest posts, SEO involved. Pretty much I’d say.
    Great informative post. Liked and saved all the linking sites too.

  4. Hi Hazel,

    These are all great tactics to use for marketing online. I think nowadays we need to use nearly all of them to effectively market a business, product service or blog. Info-graphics is something I should be including in my posts more but with all the other aspects and how time consuming I find graphics to be I’ve simply put this one aside for now. I’ve mainly relied on video to help lift engagement on my site as well as comments.

    Thanks for a great read Hazel 🙂

  5. Hi Hazel,
    Awesome post. You have shared so much valuable information here. I’ve downloaded your checklist to help me with SEO but I haven’t used it yet. I do need to get more organized.

    I’ve thought about using FB paid ads to test things out but mostly my quotes and rose pictures are the ones that get the most interaction. Not much monetizing on those.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hazel,
    Thanks for an informative post. Very useful suggestions. There are so many ways to promote, I think testing many and then sticking with what works the best. Appreciate the suggestions!

  7. Your blog radiates with a captivating blend of insight, creativity, and authenticity. The way you articulate your ideas not only informs but also inspires, leaving readers enriched and eager for more. Your dedication to quality shines through each post, making it a true delight to engage with your content. Keep illuminating the digital landscape with your unique perspective and thoughtful commentary!


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