Want to make your online marketing budget stretch as far as possible? There’s no reason that a smaller budget should limit your business and stop you from competing with those that have more to spend. You just need to be a little bit cleverer in your approach.
Defining your goals and objectives should be your first step. By doing this you will have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your online marketing and it will help you to focus your efforts.
It’s essential that you get the biggest return on your marketing investments as it’s possible. This is especially true when it comes to online marketing, which is why we’ve ranked 10 of the most effective, free online marketing tactics for businesses.
The 10 Most Effective, Free Online Marketing Tactics:
1. Build an email list
Email marketing continues to be one of the most worthwhile online marketing practices, but first, you will need to build an email list. You can do this in a number of 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 that you can personalise your emails in the future – at the very least, their name should be included.
Try these ideas 40 brilliant-but-easy ways to build your email list from Vertical Response.
For a cost-effective option, MailChimp is one of the most popular email providers for businesses and your first 2,000 subscribers are completely free!
2. List your business on Google
Google My Business is a great way to get some extra exposure for your business online and drive traffic to your website. Make sure your business and location show up on the map when people enter relevant search queries on Google.
It’s incredibly simple to set up and 100% free to do. All you need to do is create an account with Google My Business 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. To complete your listing, they will send you a card in the post with a unique code to confirm your address and then you’re finished.
Once you have a listing on Google My Business, you can help it to rise through the rankings by keeping it regularly updated and adding new images of your work. Adding your business to other directories online, such as Yelp, Yell, ThomsonLocal, Scoot and FreeIndex, will help further, but make sure you always enter identical information to really get the benefit from it. This is also a great way to let potential customers know information such as your hours of business.
Forbes has some additional information on earning a top 3 local business listing that’s worth reading.
3. Social engagement
Social media is one of the most effective ways to build some 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 as much as possible, 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.
On Facebook, for example, you can also boost your best posts for relatively small costs to really maximise the engagement and ensure as many people as possible see them. Simply click the ‘boost’ button on your post, set your criteria, targeting and budget and then watch the engagement roll in.
HootSuite provides some great advice on lowering the cost of social media advertising.
4. Start blogging
Blogging and content marketing can do great things for your business online. Regular, engaging content is a major SEO signal for Google that your website is high-quality and it can help you to rise through the search rankings. Try to 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.
It’s important to offer your audience valuable content that engages, entertains and informs in order to keep them returning to your blog for more. People are more likely to trust a business that has already demonstrated their knowledge online through a blog. Consistency and quality are the keys to success with blogging. Remember, the job isn’t finished when you press ‘post’: you should monitor the analytics of each post and continue to refine it for maximum success and exposure.
For more detailed information on blogging, see our earlier post on blogging and content creation for business.
5. Create a video channel
Video content is undoubtedly one of the most engaging types of media available online and a fantastic online marketing tactic. It doesn’t need to cost a lot either, you can start your own video channel with nothing more than a YouTube account and a video camera (or even a smartphone with a good enough camera!).
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!
Check out these 4 tips for video marketing on a budget.
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, for example. Jeff Bullas goes into more detail in his post 9 Awesome Reasons to Use Infographics in your Content Marketing.
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 when used properly. They can also help to 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.
Think about the topics you post about in your blog. You might find that some of it can be repurposed into a Slideshare presentation to really maximise the potential on a single topic. This way you don’t have to think of fresh topics for multiple platforms all the time.
Social Media Examiner has a detailed post on 7 ways your business can utilise Slideshare.
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
Trust is an incredibly powerful thing, especially for small businesses who want to compete with larger ones. There are a number of places online that you can generate reviews, such as Google, Facebook or Trustpilot. The concept is simple and shouldn’t cost you a thing. 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.
We must stress that although it might be tempting to create your own reviews, we would always advise against this. If it seems inauthentic then it’s likely that potential customers will realise this. Reviews can also be great for your website as they will drive more traffic and Google takes their own into account as ranking factors.he definitive guide to online reviews: where to feature them and how to get them
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
10. Guest posts on related sites
Guest posting is a great way to maximise your exposure and put your business in front of new audiences that are likely to be interested in your business. For example, if you own a car mechanic service, there are hundreds of automotive blogs that might be interested in sharing your content on car maintenance. You will have to create unique content specifically for the website you are writing for, but 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.
Moz, who is an authority on all things SEO, detailed The REAL Benefits of Guest Blogging.
11. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Did I say 10 online marketing tactics? 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 ranking 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.
Want to know what Google wants? I recently wrote an article which details The Top 10 Google Ranking Factors
Want more information? We have a huge amount of SEO help on our blog including this SEO Guide which covers the basics of on-page SEO
If your potential customers want to talk to you we can help you there too with these perfect open sales questions that will encourage them to buy from you.
Are you looking to maximise your business presence online?
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Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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