If you are just starting out with your online business, one challenge that you may face is how to market your business online on a shoestring budget. Luckily, there are several ways that you can do this for cheap and free, you only need to know where to look. Marketing can be complex but it doesn’t have to be. The best weapon for marketing any business is knowledge and today you will learn how to market your business on a small budget.
Online marketing refers to any form of advertising that uses the Internet to market a business. This also includes any activity that is intended for driving desired traffic to a website. Before the Internet, there were only a few ways available that businesses could use to market themselves. The options were limited to print media solutions such as flyer delivery or local newspaper publications. Word of mouth was also one of the main ways that businesses marketed themselves back then and it still is.
Things have changed since the dot-com boom (1995-2000). Now, even more, people are using the Internet, connecting with one another and creating relationships. Social media platforms continue to acquire more users daily and search engines like Google or Bing are increasingly becoming an important part of our daily lives. All of these facts will continue to fuel growth for businesses online.
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How to Market Your Business Online on a Shoestring Budget
Note: There are two proven ways that you can advertise your business online for $1 a day and these are advertising through Facebook and self-serve portals. The other marketing strategies mentioned here, are free.
Recently Facebook reported 1.86 billion monthly active users, which is a 17 percent increase year over year. 1.74 billion of those users access Facebook through their mobile devices.
If you are willing to limit your targeting specifics a little, you can advertise on Facebook for $1 a day. This can be effective for brand awareness (including local) and reach campaigns. You still need to have some targeting but don’t target too narrowly if you want the most eyes on your ads for the lowest price.
Use location (e.g. Canada, USA, Ottawa), age and job titles for cheapest targeting. Depending on how many people in your location use Facebook, you can reach 100 to 500 people daily. As your business grows, you can increase your budget to reach even more people and narrow down your targetting.
2) Self-serve Advertising Companies
Self-serve advertising companies provide portals that allow advertisers to connect with media companies directly. A media company is a type of business that primarily sells or produces information for its audience.
Websites like BuySellAds and OIO publisher can help you find advertising space on websites for as low as $30 a month, which is about $1 a day. Depending on your ad creative, ad location on the page and chosen website to advertise on, cost per click can range anywhere from 10 to 40 cents.
First, you need to find a publisher that has your audience or at least some of it. You will need to tap into Alexa for some traffic statistics, mainly where visitors are accessing the site from (audience geography). For better results, make sure that your ad is placed above the fold or somewhere topside on the website. This will ensure that most people will see your ad. Tweak your ad creative to improve your CTR (click-through-rate).
3) Free Marketing With Social Media
Social media is a hot spot for marketing your business online for free. If you are a good communicator, able to provide or curate good content, social media can be a very cost-effective way to tell people about your business. The idea is to be social; you don’t want to come across like a sleazy salesman.
The most important things here are to build relationships and raise brand awareness. Over time users will come to trust your brand, which also makes it easier for them to buy from you. Insert your logo or website links on visual content whenever possible and focus on being useful, as well as relevant.
4) Use Free Local Listing Services From Bing and Google
Local listings on Google and Bing will help people find your business when they are searching near you. It may seem complicated at first but it really isn’t. First, you have to register for a free business listing with Bing and Google. You need to have a valid address for the listing but you don’t have to display your address to consumers. If your business requires you to go to clients, then you don’t need to show your address but if customers come to you, then your address is necessary.
5) Use Content Marketing (Free or Pay Writers)
A low budget and effective way to market your business is by using content marketing. You can start a business blog and publish information consistently. A blog can position your company as an expert in your industry and help potential clients make informed purchase decisions. A blog is only valuable when it is consistently updated because no one really wants to keep reading an abandoned or dormant blog.
6) Share Multimedia on Free Video Sites Like YouTube
YouTube will allow you to upload videos and share them for free. To be effective, make sure that people want to view the content. You will need to do some keyword research by using YouTube’s keyword suggest tool or a free tool like Serps Keyword Tool. To activate YouTube suggest, go to the site and start typing a keyword (see the screenshot below).
Breaking The Myths About Online Marketing
Like most effective marketing practices, myths are formed and it is up to marketers to bring us back to earth. Here are some deadly myths that you may need to stop believing first.
#1 Online Marketing is a One-size Fit All
Your marketing plan or strategies cannot be the same as your competitors. Apart from accounting for the resources at your disposal, just because a strategy worked for company “X” doesn’t mean it will work for you. There are many things to consider such as your products, services, target audience and unique selling proposition (USP).
Why should someone use your company instead of the competitor? Why should people come back to your website? Who is your target audience? What services are you offering and who is looking for them? These questions and more make up the reasons why online marketing isn’t a one-size fit all.
#2 I Can Just Set It and Forget It
The set it and forget it approach doesn’t work for marketing. You need to consistently revisit your plan in order gauge how well your marketing strategies are performing. Let’s look at a quick example.
Assuming that you placed an ad on a website for your business and your initial CPC (cost per click) was 19 cents, should you just leave it and forget it? No, and here’s why. CPC can change based on several factors such as how many times your ad has been shown to the same people. If these people have already clicked your ad once, they most likely won’t click again and if the site continues to receive most of the same visitors, you may want to consider switching websites.
#3 SEO is a One-time Thing That Will Fix Everything
SEO (search engine optimization) refers to a series of marketing strategies used to improve the overall search visibility of a website in SERP (search engine results pages). Quite often than not, new online business owners believe that SEO is a one-time thing that will fix all of their revenue problems by bringing in web traffic.
This is not true. SEO is a long-term strategy that requires work to be successful. For a business with zero capital, you may want to learn SEO and do it yourself. However, if you are like many business owners, you will quickly find that SEO is time-consuming and you may want to hire an expert instead.
Success with this strategy can take anywhere from 4 to 12 months or more and even then, it must be a continuous process. This is why at Tech Help Canada we recommend that you give yourself enough time for SEO by also implementing short-term strategies like Google or Bing PPC (pay-per-click).
Setting Good Expectations
You should set the right expectations for measuring success. For example, you may want more email subscribers for your newsletter or get immediate sales from paid search. These strategies can take days while strategies like SEO or social media can take months to years but with far much greater ROI.
So why is this so? In the matter of social, building relationships and earning trust on social media takes time. For SEO, search engines use various signals to determine how they rank your site and it takes time to build those signals. Furthermore, most ranking signals cannot be faked or cost way too much money to do so.
With paid search, you can start selling right away with a great landing page. However, over time your CPC (cost per click) may increase as new competitors bid for the same keywords. Email marketing can yield results instantly as long as you have a compelling offer.
Experienced entrepreneurs know that success in business almost always never happens overnight. Even with a large advertising budget, it takes time to build a strong brand reputation. Consumers have to trust you before they will buy from you. Focus on building a strong reputation for your business and earning the trust of your ideal customers. This is why content marketing is so effective.How to Market Your #Business for FreeClick To Tweet
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