Starting a business is expensive, even in the age of e-commerce and career blogging. No matter what you do, your startup is going to require at least some upfront investment, even if it’s just buying a domain name for your site or getting your blog off the ground. Then there’s the promotional side of a business, which can end up costing a lot of money without delivering results if you don’t know what you’re doing. You might be wondering how you can market your business on a shoestring budget and still see results.
You won’t be surprised to know that the best way to market your business is online. Online promotion is far cheaper and more effective than traditional forms of marketing, and you can do most of the work yourself. However, if acronyms like SEO and PPC leave you feeling confused, there are a few things you need to know before getting started. Here’s the scope on how to market your business online without blowing your budget.
Writing regular blog posts is the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to promote your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a great writer – you can use online proofreading tools or even hire an emerging content writer to write your posts for you. By getting regular content out there and promoting it correctly, you will help people engage with your site, boost your placement in search engines (this is called search engine optimization or SEO) and raise awareness of your business.
Make sure your posts include keywords that relate to your niche (you can research these online using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner) and add social media buttons so your content can be shared easily. Aim to keep your posts short and sweet (400-600 words is best) and remember to include at least one high-quality image and link back to other pages on your site.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Pay Per Click advertising (known as PPC) is a model of Internet marketing where you pay a fee each time one of your adverts gets clicked. In essence, it is a way of buying visitors to your site from other sources, rather than “earning” them organically. Although you have to pay a small fee, if PPC works as it should, then that fee becomes trivial. In other words, the visit (i.e., the sale that your customer makes) is worth more than what you paid for it.
PPC is complicated, and a lot of research and know-how goes into building a successful campaign. Therefore, if you’re new to this type of marketing, it might be best to consult a PPC agency like We Are All Connected for the best results possible.
There’s a well-known saying: there’s no such thing as free publicity. While this is true in most cases, there are certain online resources (such as HARO – or Help a Reporter) that help you score free promotion for your business by connecting you with journalists, bloggers and media outlets. Registration is free, but you have to keep an eye out for email queries that are relevant to your field of business. This may take some time, but if you participate long enough, then you could bag yourself some exposure on a top website which will improve your traffic considerably.
One of the best ways to drive more sales into your business is to embrace email marketing. Start with an opt-in system on your website that allows you to collect people’s email addresses so you can send them promotional materials. No one is going to sign up to receive mail unless they get something out of it, so you need to make it worth their while. Offer a freebie or discount code for new subscribers, and make sure the content you send them is relevant and interesting. You should automate your emails using automation tool or software, then send out flyers, promotions and deals, new product information and newsletters to keep your readers in the loop.
Remember: your subscribers probably receive hoards of daily emails, most of which go straight in the junk mail folder, so if you want your email marketing strategy to work, then you need to make your content stand out. You’ll also want to personlise your emails, otherwise you’ll be marked as spam or ignored. Do some research on email marketing tactics to discover how to encourage people to visit your website.
Social Media Marketing
Even if you don’t have the budget to run paid ads on Facebook or Instagram, you should still have an active social media presence. Link your business blog and website to your social media pages and encourage other users to share. You can research the best times of the day to post according to when your target customers are most often online, and you can even specify your target audience.
To get the most out of social media advertising, you might have to pay a small fee (starting at £3.00 – £5.00 for small ads with limited reach) but doing so will help you build your social media following and attract new customers, so the results are well worth the initial investment.
If you run an e-commerce site (which, let’s face it, you should, even if you have a physical retail store), then consider rolling out an affiliate marketing programme. Affiliate marketing is where you give a social influencer or Internet marketer a commission of your sales in exchange for their endorsement.
Such practice is a highly effective, risk-free method of promotion, as you will only need to pay out if the person advertising your product gets you a sale. Plus, you will acquire new customers in your niche each time that content is absorbed and someone clicks through to your site. Not only will your sales increase, but you will also generate interest that you can convert down the road, even if they don’t buy from you initially.
Marketing a business is tough. It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to the scene or well established – promotion should be an ongoing part of your strategy, so it’s important to adjust your budget as your business grows. When you’re just getting started, however, there are plenty of things you can do to market your products or services without spending a fortune.