Since the rise of the internet, marketing has changed and it’s cost has decreased. In fact, the internet has made it possible to create an international brand completely for free. A particularly interesting area to look at for me are acts such as Justin Bieber and Skrillex and how they used Social Networks like Soundcloud and YouTube on their rise to fame. Fortunately, the internet isn’t reserved just for Justin Bieber and his pals. Here are 5 ways to promote your business online for free:
1. Embrace Social Media
Sure, everyone’s on Facebook and it’d be pretty easy to focus all of your attention on just marketing your business through that. It’d also be a big mistake though. There are a tonne of other social networks – they may have smaller user bases, but they could be a more targeted audience for your industry or product.
Using social networks to promote your business gives your brand a voice, a great way to get feedback from your customers and a platform to distribute your content (more on content later).
You should also check out how social influencers can help promote your brand or product through social networks for free.
Let’s check out some of the social networks and how you can use them:
YouTube’s great for long form video content. Many a vlogger and pop star have started and sustained their careers using an entry level video camera and a little bit of imagination. See how Go Pro used YouTube to gain attention in the early days.
Whilst Facebook has become more effective as a paid advertising social network, it can also be a great place to start up your business because you can utilise the help of your friends and family when it comes to promoting your products or services.
I have a soft spot for twitter. It’s great for jumping on hashtag trends and getting heard quickly within your industry. With a 140 character limit on tweets and a maximum length on videos, you have to be a little more creative with this one.
Pinterest is all about images, so if what you do is quite visual or you have a product that’s appealing to look at (furniture, food, clothes) then pinterest is definitely worth a look. Find out what kind of content is popular on Pinterest today.
Similarly to the above, Instagram is a photo sharing app / website. Some companies smashing it in the top 25 include Victorias Secret, Nike, National Geographic and… Taylor Swift. It’s all about photo filters and strategic use of hashtagging on instagram. Don’t forget to photograph your lunch every now and then, too!
LinkedIn is great for networking with other business professionals. It’s somewhat more corporate than some of the previous social networks mentioned, so it fits certain industries better than others. Even if it doesn’t necessarily fit your industry, it’s still worth having a personal profile but skip setting up a company profile.
Google’s very own social network. You have to sign up to Google+ to list your company on Google Places, so this one’s a must. More on this later…
When you’re starting out, try signing up to all of them and test the water a little bit. Find out which one’s are proving most successful at pulling in leads or driving sales and delete accounts on any you’re no longer using. Never leave an unused social account open to the public – it can give the impression that you’re no longer trading.
2. Create awesome content
Producing content is a great way to reach out to your customers on an educational or entertaining level. Content comes in a myriad of formats, including blog posts, videos, microvideos, podcasts, infographics, photos and ebooks.
The idea behind content marketing is to engage people with your content whilst only occasionally mentioning your product or service, in order to slowly gain trust, educate and move people slowly down your funnel until they’re ready to make a purchase.
Regularly creating content and publishing it on your website is also a very good way to move up the search rankings. Producing blog posts with relevant keywords means you’ve got more indexable copy and a frequently updated website. You get a big thumbs up from Google for that!
Whilst it’s free to distribute your content on your website and through the social networks, it does require a reasonable amount of time day-to-day to keep content flowing regularly. I’d recommend creating a content strategy and content calendar to help organise an efficient workflow for content creation.
Check out our Beginners Guide To Content Marketing for help setting up your content strategy.
If you’re a keen writer (or even if you’re not) you should definitely start a blog for your business. Not only for the SEO purposes mentioned above, but also for additional exposure through other blogs and social media. Here are three ways you can get some free exposure from blogging:
Start your own blog
Become an authority in your industry by setting up a blog on your website. Like the article you’re currently reading, blogs are most popular when they’re educational or evoke an emotional response. Successful blog subjects include:
Lists – “5 ways to promote your business online for free” – Sound familiar?
How to’s – “How to promote your business online for free”
Resource articles – “100 free social media tools for streamlining your work process”
A successful blog post will have targeted keywords (head over to Keyword Planner to research keywords) for SEO and a catchy enough headline to stand out on social media and earn your website some shares and retweets. Regularly blogging is hard work, but can really pay off long-term.
Find existing popular blogs in your industry and see if they accept guest writers. Writing a guest blog post for a high-traffic blog gives you an opportunity to slip in a link or two to some of your own blog posts. Some links will be removed by the blog if they’re not relevant, so make sure the link or two that you do add are required additional reading or add a lot of value to the article.
Comment on other blogs
Become part of the community by contributing to conversation in the comments on other peoples blogs. Don’t immediately start shouting about your business or products though. Instead, use it as a trust and reputation building platform. Be helpful and contribute in a meaningful way. When you’re better known, throw in a link or two to your own content, but again, only when it’s of actual use or relevant to the conversation.
4. Local listings & review sites
I don’t have much experience in this area, so I’ll add to this point over the next few months. However, there are a couple of really important things that you definitely you don’t want to miss out on:
Google Business Listing
You know when you Google a company and all of their details pop up at the top right of the results page? Y’know, with the map and their opening hours? That’s because they have a Google Business Listing. It’s basically an extension to your Google+ profile and it allows you to set your business adress, opening hours, contact details and website. When you sign up, Google will mail you a postcard with a code to confirm that it is indeed your address.
The above is a huge SEO benefit for very little work and shouldn’t be missed when starting out!
If you run a hotel or a restaurant then make sure you add your listing to TripAdvisor. It’s a trusted source for reviews and if you can nail this early on, then you’ll have a lot more customers walking through your doors!
5. SEO Your Website
SEO is ever-changing and there’s a bit of an art to it, but there are a couple of things you can do yourself to help it move up the search rankings:
Get back links
A back link is when another website links to yours. If a website has a high page rank (as in Google likes it) and they link to your website, you’ll pick up some of their page rank too. Instead of focusing on getting lots of these, instead, try to build them slowly but ensuring they’re links from very high quality websites with a high page rank. Watch out for people selling back links – Google’s getting smarter every day and they can sniff out purchased back links.
Use Google Keyword Planner to find some phrases that you’d like to appear for on Google. The longer the phrase, the better. When someone searches “3 seater yellow & silver sofa bed” and someone else searches “sofa beds”, who do you think is more likely to purchase when they land on your product page for your 3 Seater Yellow & Silver Sofa Bed? Sure, “sofa beds” will get more searches per month, but it’ll also be much higher competition. “3 seater yellow & silver sofa bed” will get far less monthly searches but will be much lower competition and much more likely to convert. These long search phrases are called long-tail key phrases
Add new content regularly
If your website is updated frequently, Google knows the business is still active and you’re up to date online. It’s Google’s job to send searchers to quality content – as in content that’s not old or outdated. When Google sees you regularly updating your website, your ranking will increase compared to those that aren’t. Try to add new pages regularly – as I mentioned earlier, keeping a blog is a great way to add new content regularly.
That’s all folks – anything we’ve missed on this list? I’m sure there are loads! Leave them in the comments below!