Marketing a business is not for the faint of heart. It requires time, patience and tons of money, right? Wrong! The internet has made it easy to get your business noticed online with little to no money. If you do it right, you can potentially use just the power of the internet to advertise your business – and all you have to pay for is a website.
Small and large businesses alike turn to the internet for marketing through their websites, social media accounts, e-mail newsletters and more. The best part is, they spend very little money to do it. Aside from the expense of running a website – which, if you find a reasonable host, is not expensive – you can get your business noticed online for free.
Here are the best 4 affordable ways to market your business online with little time, effort and money.
- Build a Business Website and Social Media Empire
One of the first things you will want to do to market your business online is set up a website. The website should have your company’s mission statement and some background information, contact information, products or services offered and a blog.
Why a blog? A blog is the source of content creation surrounding your business and area of expertise. If you have a drywall business, for example, you can create consistent content that centers on drywall practices and products. You can use the content to link back to your website and draw in visitors. Make your content useful and share it with those it interests, like those building a home or construction companies.
Depending on the website host and package you choose, your website can cost anywhere from $50 to a few thousand dollars per year, but the higher end is usually for larger businesses with a lot of traffic coming to their website. Most hosting packages offer discounts for the first year or more if you choose to purchase a year or more at a time rather than month-to-month. So, if your business can afford to buy a year of web hosting right off the bat, you should use this option.
Once you have your website built, create social media accounts for your business. Include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Try to make your username or handle the same for each social media network so it is easier for potential customers to find you online.
Share your blog content on your social media networks consistently and share the content of others in your niche daily. Sharing relatable, useful content to your followers will help you gain exposure from others in your niche and will also help grow your own brand and bring in new followers.
- Collect E-Mail Addresses and Send Out Newsletters
Once your website and social media networks are set up, find a free tool to capture e-mail addresses from your website visitors. There are several free tools that will do this for you up to a certain amount of e-mail addresses. Once you reach that limit, you may have to pay for a business account, which are usually very affordable, especially for what you receive in return: E-mail addresses from visitors to help you market your business through e-mail.
Why do you need your visitors’ e-mail addresses? A list of e-mail addresses from those who visit your website and are interested in your business can be turned into a growing list of people to send out business newsletters to. These newsletters can advertise your services, products, promotions and your website content to bring more traffic to your website and possibly create more sales for your business.
To make people want to join your newsletter list, make sure they know you will never spam them. Who wants to open five e-mails per day from just your business? Also, offer them something in return, like a discount to your online store or a free eBook of useful resources related to your niche. Simply begging, “Please join my e-mail list!” will not compel most customers to join.
Once you have a good number of subscribers, start working on your newsletter with a newsletter building tool. These online tools offer templates and guide you through the process of creating an engaging newsletter step-by-step. You can even save your template to use again for easier creation of subsequent newsletters. See how easy (and affordable!) it can be to streamline your online marketing?
- Turn to Bloggers for Reviews
Blogging might seem like a leisurely activity people do as a hobby to pass the time and have their small, online presence. But did you know that blogging is bigger than ever and has the potential to reach people all over the world? Do not think of bloggers as hobbyists, but instead, as online marketers who can do wonders for your business.
If you are in a business that sells a product, offer a blogger with an extensive online presence through her blog and social media a free product in exchange for an honest review on her website. You will only be out the cost of the product and you are, in exchange, getting free exposure about your product and your company.
Similarly, if you offer services, such as graphic design, ask a popular blogger to review your service. Have them cover every aspect of the design process, such as the ease-of-use of your website, to planning the design with you to their thoughts about the final product. If they love your service and your work, most bloggers will be happy to spread their love throughout their social media channels and in a review.
You can also search other blogs that might have mentioned your product, service or business. If they have positive things to say, ask them if they would mind mentioning their thoughts on a quick social media post. If a blogger has a negative view of your business, do not be afraid to contact him and see if there is anything you can do to correct the situation and make him a happy customer. If you are successful, he may be inclined to mention your excellent customer satisfaction skills on his blog or social media.
- Offer Referral Discounts
After you have a loyal online fan base started, you should begin rewarding those who actively share your content, products and services with their networks, as well as those who found your business through that shared content.
If you offered a blogger a free product or service in exchange for a review, you can also offer a special discount code for that blogger and one for the blogger to share on her website. This gives the blogger something extra and enticing to share with his/her followers, ultimately leading to more exposure and purchases for your business.
Another strategy to get your business noticed online and grow your fan base is to set up a referral program where those who refer you can receive money or points per referral. They can then trade in what they have earned for cash or credit toward a purchase from your company. This encourages people to get their friends and family to sign up, giving you more potential customers, while rewarding your current customers for sharing your company. It is a win-win for both of you.
To get your business noticed online actually takes little effort and money, yet can grow your potential customer base exponentially in a short amount of time. Begin with your website and social media accounts. Make sure these are strong and have plenty of shareable content. Then, begin working on growing your e-mail list. Finally, spread the word of your business through blogger reviews and a referral program. What other ways have you grown your business online? I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions!