Marketing a business, any business, to gain visibility online takes a lot of time and a considerable investment on behalf of the entrepreneur. This can be particularly challenging for small business owners now trying to spread their wings in the business world. Even those running their business for quite some time usually have the time but lack the cash to help reach new customers and make traction. However, the game is not lost yet. Pursuing the right strategies for marketing your startup online without breaking is achievable. Below, you will find some of the most effective, yet cheap, ways to accomplish that.
Pay-per-click (aka search engine marketing or paid search) is a paid media option where you place an ad which is shown to users in search engine results, based on their search queries. Each time your ad is clicked, you pay a fee. How much you pay depends on the competitiveness of the keyword in the search query. The more competitive the keyword(s), the more you will pay for every click.
You may wonder what’s in it for you, the business owner. Simply put, the ability to reach out to users interested in what your company has to offer. Right now, the most popular PPC advertising system is Google AdWords. The platform allows businesses to create ads which will then appear on Google’s properties, including, of course, its search engine.
Tip: To be more effective in your PPC marketing campaign, it is important to avoid non-specific, generic keywords that receive lots of traffic. They are the most expensive. Not to mention that broad keyword phrases do not address the true intent of users, which could be translated into a waste of your money. Instead, use related, long-tail keywords that will bring in the right traffic at much lower costs.
Email has been around for years and is one of the most basic forms of communication today. For those reasons, many small businesses tend to overlook it when it comes to marketing. Email marketing is one of the cheapest methods to help increase your business reach. Plus, it offers the best return on investment for your time and money and allows you to gain more of your most limited resource back. That being said, it is crucial you attract the right customers to your site if you want to succeed with email marketing. Of course, you need an email list to get started. There are many ways to build one. Being able to write compelling sales copy (i.e. online tutorials and infographics sell well these days) is key to attracting customers that will probably want to sign up to your email list. Once they do, you need to keep up the good work and share useful information with them regularly while trying to avoid hard selling techniques at all costs.
It will take some time before you can taste success in your mouth but it will happen if you are dedicated to add value to consumers’ lives through email marketing. They will appreciate it and return the favor with sales!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a big must-have chapter in every marketer’s success book. Mastering search engine optimization will help you market any service or product, making serious traction in your industry (or any industry). There are many low-cost ways to improve your visibility in the search engines. From combining SEO with social media and giving your website a facelift to making your site more mobile-friendly, and correcting site errors that spiders encounter. Spiders or bots are automated software programs used by search engines to “crawl” through a website that has content, following the links to each page, and adding the content they find to their database (if they don’t find a “broken” link that forces them to stop).
There are a ton of resources out there that will teach you the basics of SEO. Of course, if you don’t have the time or desire to sink that kind of investment into learning good SEO, you could always let a trustworthy SEO company do the heavy lifting for you while you focus on other things.
Tip: If you own a local business, having your business information listed across a wide array of local search portals and online directories is good SEO and will get your business found online. Getting your business listed on important online directories is a foundation of local SEO, which is necessary if your business targets local customers.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a great strategy to market your business on a shoestring budget. As there are literally billions of consumers out there readily able to purchase what you have to offer them, it is crucial to get a slice of that pie asap. All you have to do to turn prospects into buying clients is employ the right social media marketing strategies. To get things rolling, you will probably need to spend just a little bit of money to get the right visibility for your service or product.
Tip: Lately, there has been a lot of focus on the power of influencers. Influence marketing (aka influencer marketing) is a tactic where you find the most influential people in your industry (people that create high-impact conversations with potential buyers) and ask for their help to promote your product or services.
Content was and still is king indeed. This is why content marketing remains the most popular and low-budget method for reaching the right audience, especially if you have a new website with little (or no) built-up authority or age. You can start your content marketing campaigns by posting valuable content on popular authority websites, such as SlideShare, Quora, and LinkedIn, which offer the opportunity to share content for free. The goal is to make your online presence more noticeable and turn yourself into an authority/leader within your industry. Content marketing can help attract consumers, increase their interest to search for you, and also add value to the platforms that give you the (free) space to post your content. It is a win-win for all parties involved, you included.
Referral Marketing (aka Word-of-Mouth Advertising)
It is widely known by now that the overwhelming majority of businesses (80%) fail within their first 12-18 months of operations. To make the difference and be in that 20% of successful entrepreneurs, it is paramount to focus on delivering high-quality products and services to the consumer at all times. That way, you can make sure referral marketing will work for you. This is because people appreciate organizations that provide them with real value and are happy to refer those businesses to their friends and family. Today, referral marketing is by far one of the most effective, low-cost ways to market your business.
Tip: Put your word-of-mouth advertising on auto pilot by placing links on your website and email signatures; links that will connect your audience to the most-visited review websites (i.e. TripAdvisor or Yelp), where they can share their experience with you.
The personality and uniqueness of your business can take you far. Take this strength and use it to your advantage. With a good marketing strategy, you can turn your small business into an industry leader and have just as much visibility and reach as the bigger competitors out there, even when on a shoestring budget.