If you own a small business, chances are you know that online marketing is pretty important. There’s Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, email, and countless other platforms that are just waiting to help you convert customers and generate revenue.
As a small business, you’re also probably working around a strict budget. Hiring a big and well-known digital marketing firm is out. The sticker shock alone might just cause you to run and hide.
If this sounds like you, relax. Online marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, there are plenty of ways to market your small business online without bottomless pockets.
Okay, the first one’s a no-brainer. If your online marketing strategy doesn’t include social media, what does it include? As a small business, the question often isn’t whether or not to be using social media, it’s which channels to focus on.
As a small business, it’s important to not try and extend yourself too much. Using social media is a proactive campaign of engagement with your audience and consistently putting out content. If you’re unsure where to focus, Facebook is always a good place to start.
Best of all, using social media is 100% free unless you’re running ads. How’s that fit into your budget?
Email marketing is also generally low-cost or even free depending upon the service you use and the size of your list. Take every opportunity you can to create contact lists from new customers, past customers, and more. Don’t buy an email list. A. It’s lazy. B. It’s dishonest and will ruin your reputation. C. It can get you blacklisted if you’re reported for spam too often.
Email has one of the highest ROI of any online marketing tool so use it effectively. Promote new products, send special offers, etc. Video works great in email marketing as well so be sure to get the most out of your email campaigns by embedding or linking to your video ads.
Have you ever visited a website only to have a pop-up appear a few seconds later offering you a FREE ebook or coupon in exchange for your email address? That’s an opt-in offer and they actually work. Not only can you provide a potential customer with valuable information, you’ve just got a prospect’s contact info to add to those email lists you’re creating.
You can host a webinar for free or at a low cost by using a service like Zoom. Webinars are a great way to provide value to current and potential customers while at the same time promoting yourself and your business as an authoritative source of information within your industry.
Joining forces with another company or the purposes of cross-promotion is a time-honored strategy that works. Find a business with an audience and customer base similar to your own and figure out a way to help each other. Do you sell shoes? Find a company that sells socks. It’s important to select a partner that fits with your brand and products without being a direct competitor. You’ll both reach twice as many people with your promotions.
You’ve heard of Google, Yahoo, Bing, and maybe a few others. But did you know there are literally thousands of online directories? Listing your website in these directories will help enhance your SEO and improve your search rankings. Best of all, you can pretty much list them all for free by visiting a website like freewebsubmission.com
A critical part of SEO is your domain authority which is partially established by how many other websites are linking to yours. If you’re hosting webinars and putting out content, some of this will happen organically. Of course, you can also help it along.
Remember those partnerships you’re forming with other businesses? Link to their website from yours and have them do the same. Do this a few times with a few different sites and you’re starting to build up a healthy amount of backlinks.
Video is an important part of any online marketing strategy and there’s no place like YouTube to host your videos. First, it’s a trusted site used by millions of people each day. YouTube videos are also easily linked to or embedded into your website or landing page. Lastly, YouTube videos are easily shared across most social media platforms.
The best part? As you build your YouTube channel you’ll have an opportunity to link to your website from your YouTube channel. Instant backlink!
Did you know that your content can be used in multiple ways? Blogs, photos, and video can all be shared multiple times across different channels: email, social media, landing page, website, etc.
Best of all, you can source multiple pieces of content from a single idea. Let’s say you write a blog about your business. That info can be used to create a script for a video ad. That video can be shared across your social media accounts as well as in your email marketing. What’s more, you can take screenshots from that video and share them as well.
Multiple pieces of content all from the same original source.
Discounted offers are a great way to boost sales or to introduce your brand. Sites like Groupon can help with that. You may think Groupon is just for local businesses but there are hundreds of offers for online businesses, e-commerce products, and more.
Groupon doesn’t “cost” anything to use, but they will take a percentage of the sale so it’s best used for a short-term bump in sales, to clear out inventory, or for a new business looking to get their name out there.
This one will take some work but it usually doesn’t cost any money. Content marketing is huge and most businesses and industry influencers will have opportunities for guest posts on their website. Identify those influencers and reach out to them. It may be a single person who is a “guru” in your industry, or an industry-specific website that shares news, trends, and tips.
Generally, this entails writing an article or blog for somebody else’s website which will link back to yours. You get the benefit of the backlink, the ability to position yourself as an authority figure in your business, and enhanced exposure to a new audience.
This is a long-term commitment and it does require some time, money, and energy to pull off. Podcasts are huge right now and there are podcasts for everything from sports to fashion to pop culture, and more.
There are also plenty of podcasts run by small businesses just like yours as part of their online marketing strategy. If your website sells shoes, start a podcast devoted to shoes. You’d be amazed at how many people show up to listen.
You don’t need to do them every day, once or twice a month is fine, and they don’t need to be lengthy either. Use this as a way to offer knowledge, insight, and tips to your potential customers. You can host the podcast on your website which may enhance your SEO and it will go a long way towards promoting your brand as an authoritative source.
There’s nothing wrong with asking your biggest fans to help you out. Social proof is a powerful force when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Your customers undoubtedly have friends, families, or coworkers who could benefit from your product just as they have.
One of the best ways to do this is with a two-fold discount. Give your customers a special offer code and tell them to share it with their friends. Whoever uses that code gets 10% off their first purchase. Your customer likewise gets a discount, reward, points, etc. It’s a win-win-win.
Could your website use a facelift? This one may cost a little bit but if your website is already made, or made using WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, or similar platform it can be relatively low cost.
The design of your website is an important part of both the user experience as well as your SEO. Even if it “looks okay,” take some time to add some new content. Websites that look like they haven’t been touched in a while can give customers the impression that no one’s minding the store.
Facebook has powerful ad targeting features which allow you to specifically choose who will see your ad. What’s more, you don’t have to lay out a ton of money to reach a ton of people. Choose a budget that works for you and start connecting with your customers.
Video ads also work great with Facebook ads so start putting your videos to work on social media and breathe some life into your conversion rates.
Online marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, flashy, or complicated. It does, however, have to be done. Any of the tips above are a great place to start if you’re a small business looking to make big gains online without breaking the bank.