Most small businesses usually can’t afford expensive marketing budgets which most bigger companies take for granted. Therefore, small business owners must be creative, determined, consistent and compelling when it comes promoting their business online. Here we list 7 effective ways you can use to market your small business online for free. Using these useful marketing methods will generate great results for your business without costing you a penny.
1. Use directory listings to improve your business visibility
Many small business owners are aware of online directory listings, however, most of them are not aware of the benefits these listings can bring to their business. An online business directory refers to an online database that connects its users with relevant businesses. Nowadays, online directories contain a diverse range of information on each business. Here are some of the benefits these directories can offer your business:
- Improve your local visibility
- Strengthen your business reputation
- Boasts your SEO (Search engine optimization)
- Provide detailed information on your products & service
- Ability to make new or amend existing products and services
- Ability to add any business promotions that you may have on offer
- Link to your website
- Your business email address and telephone number for customers to contact you
- Directions to your shop or business premises
- Provide accurate customer reviews
Online business directories can take the form of a website, app, and/or another platform. They exist on the web, social media platforms, smartphones, and even on specific devices. Online directories can hold a lot more information about your products and services than a standard hard copy of yellow pages.
Directory listings can also help your business to appear in search results. There are possibly 100’s of business listing websites, however, 5 most useful business directories you can use to list your business include:
- Google my business (now includes Google Posts to update your special offers on your Google my business listing)
- Bing Places for Business
- Central Index
Here’s a trick, you must follow…
You can use this awesome tool by Moz called Moz Local to identify on which main directories your business listing is missing and if your business data is accurate across different directories.
2. Use social media to engage with your potential customers
Social media is becoming more and more powerful marketing tool to reach your customers where they spend most of their online time. In today’s social world, whatever you can do to make your small business more shareable is good for marketing. Social media marketing has rapidly changed the business landscape by enabling businesses to interact with their potential customers on these powerful platforms.
It’s no longer just a great place to connect with friends and family; it has become a great place to promote your website and/or business as so many people are using it.
Whether its Facebook, Twitter or Google+, you can create a free account for your business and list your products and services on your social media pages. Having your business page on different social platforms can work as a great tool to publish content from your website and engage with the audience more interested in your business offerings. Ultimately, this will also increase traffic back to your site.
Another interesting way to market your business for free on social media is by joining groups and communities that are more likely to be interested in your business offerings. Having said that, I would not recommend to simply share posts about your products and services blindly.
And here’s why…
You may end up getting banned from those groups by violating their membership policies. The best way to market your business in these groups is by helping people with their questions or problems that your business may be able to solve.
By using a problem-solving approach, you will be able to build more trust and hence when it comes to buying people will more likely be interested in your products and services.
Social media is also a great listening tool to understand what problems your potential customers are currently facing and how you can modify, upgrade or change your products and services to best serve their needs.
Let’s say, for instance, you own an Indian food takeaway in your local area and you want to reach out to potential customers on Facebook. You can find various groups belonging to food lovers around your local area. Join these groups and generate awareness about your business by sharing useful content relating to Indian food or even sharing easy to make Indian food recipes and possibly helping group members with their questions. This will make your business visible to your local customers.
3. Own your website or a blog
Your business website is your online real estate that represents your business online. Therefore, it must be professional, mobile responsive and engaging for your visitors.
While there are various benefits to own your domain, you can use platforms such as WordPress and Wix to create a website for your business absolutely free.
However, having a website for your business is not enough. Your website needs to speak loudly about your business values and what your business can do to fulfil customer needs rather than simply boasting about the great products and services that you offer.
Think of your business offerings as a solution to your customers’ problems and how your offerings can help your customers resolve those problems better than anyone else.
4. Benefit from the power of Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the most powerful and reliable ways to online marketing. However, in order to start using email marketing, you need to have developed your marketing list. You should never buy marketing lists to use for your business. Firstly, this is unethical and in my opinion, works out against your business.
Secondly, having a marketing list of customers who have already indicated interest in your products or services and subscribed to your mailing list are more likely to respond positively to your email marketing campaigns rather than someone who has never shown any interest and more likely not even heard of your business before.
If you’re losing customers, you need to establish a way to cultivate repeat business. An effective way to retain customers to stay loyal to your business and at the same time to develop your marketing list is by having a loyalty program in place.
Consumers are willing to sign up for loyalty cards in exchange for deals or discounts. Your loyalty program can be as basic as a stamp card or as elaborate as a membership that rewards customers based on how often they visit or even how much they spend.
Email marketing can work out wonders for small businesses. Imagine, going to every single customer and telling them about your special offers or the new products you have in store. Email marketing can do just that with very little effort and almost free if your marketing list consists of less than 2000 subscribers.
Email marketing not only helps you to stay in touch with your customers and keep them updated about your products, services, new arrivals and special offers etc. Email marketing reminds your customers of your business and that maybe it’s time for another visit. Ultimately, letting you build both repeat business and good word of mouth.
One of the easiest email-marketing platforms is MailChimp that offers you to manage your marketing list of up to 2000 subscribers absolutely free.
Similar to social media groups, forums can also be a great place to get your business known by your potential customers.
Forum marketing is a great way to make your online business stand out from the crowd. If used correctly, this can bring high ROI for your efforts. However, the trick here is to find the right forums that are relevant to your business and are reasonably sized to make your efforts.
6. Content Marketing
It won’t be incorrect to say that in order to effectively achieve success with all of the information listed above, you will need to have strong content on your website or blog. If done correctly, it can increase brand trust, sales, and the number of return customers.
However, creating and implementing a content marketing strategy is no small task but with careful planning, research, and a focus on high-quality content can make a huge difference for your small business.
Are you unsure about what topics to choose for your business? You can use a website called Buzzsumo to search for popular topics relevant to your business. For example, someone related to the gardening business can find topics related to gardening that have been most shared on the web. Assume if the title says “7 effective gardening trick you must know”. However, being related to the gardening business you could write a post about 10 possible 20 effective gardening tricks.
Having said that, you should write content with the help of helping your readers and provide a solution rather than marketing your products and services by repeating your keywords.
7. Customer Reviews
The key to the success of your business is consistency. Be consistent in finding ways to help your customers and improve your product and services. Often, very small acts of kindness can take your business a long way. We all know the positive word of mouth from consumers is the most effective marketing tool for your business. In the online world, positive customer reviews are one the most influencing factor for consumers when making a buying decision.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback to get an insight into what your customers think about you. Being a business that offers great service and values its customers, you will be able to have an honest social proof of customers who are happy with your products and services for new potential customers looking for similar products or services.
If you have found this post useful or you can provide any feedback then please feel free to leave your comments below!