You’ve taken all the right steps to get your business online. You’ve hit publish on the site and then… crickets. It turns out that it’s not the “if you build it, they will come” situation that Kevin Costner described in the Field of Dreams movie. Perhaps you looked into paid media but don’t have the funds right now — or you’re not getting the traction you hoped. So what’s next?
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make your virtual mark without spending the big bucks. Read on for how to learn how to market yourself for free online.
Digital Marketing Channels that Deliver Results
There are about a billion and one ways to use online channels to promote your business, products, and services — but not all may provide meaningful results to your business. How you’ll want to invest your time will likely depend on the products you’re selling and your capabilities for media creation. Here are some top options:
A fantastic way to expand your business’s online visibility is by creating and verifying your Google Business Profile. This free feature helps make customers out of the people who find you in Google Search and Maps. You can personalize your profile to include photos, offers, posts and more. It also shows a star rating and reviews for your business. So, if you have satisfied customers, see if any of them will write you a positive review.
Blogging is an excellent way to build your brand reputation and establish your areas of expertise. What’s more, it’s probably simpler than you think.
There are plenty of ways to set up a blog. If you have a website or e-commerce store, start there. But if you don’t have a site, a WordPress blog is an excellent — and free — option. Plus, there are loads of free templates and themes to help you design a website that’s perfect for your business.
If you’re targeting consumers, Facebook can be great for microblogging and even longer blogs. If business professionals are your ideal audience, consider posting articles directly on LinkedIn to your company or personal profile.
Coming up with topics and writing the posts takes time. And, if you’re writing about popular subjects, there can be a lot of competition, making it hard to rank. So you’ll need a plan to get eyes on your amazing blog content!
No matter how you blog, make sure you promote your posts in your social feeds for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. After all, posting to social channels will likely be the primary way people will find your content, at least in the beginning. So, try to spend 20% of your time creating content, with the remaining 80% dedicated to promotion.
If you want high-performing social posts, it’s time to set things in motion. Social posts that include video garner 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. Top platforms for video include Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
If you’re not a pro at social video creation, don’t worry. There are loads of apps, including Biteable, Adobe Spark, Animoto, and Canva, that offer free options to create high-quality video content with stock footage and licensed music.
Vlogs, short for video blogs, are another popular option for social video. A vlog is a prerecorded video used to connect with the audience on a personal level. The vlog usually focuses on a person who talks to the camera as if they are a friend. There’s no limit to what you can talk about in a vlog — it could be real estate, a product release, or offset printing versus digital printing.
Of course, it takes time to make a social video or vlog that’s worthy of your brand. And, we all know that time can be in short supply if you’re an entrepreneur or heading up a small business. So, it’s a good idea to have clear goals and measurables key performance indicators before sinking a lot into a social video campaign.
If you’re not sure you have the time or the skills for social video, all is not lost. Good images go a long way towards improving engagement on posts across channels. And if you really want to mix things up, consider contests and giveaways to engage customers on social media.
Estimates show that email marketing delivers an astounding $42 of revenue for every dollar spent. Of course, that ROI may be even higher if you’re using a totally free email platform. There are many choices for email marketing software, and some, like MailChimp, offer an absolutely free plan.
You should definitely include email campaigns as part of your digital marketing mix if you have an email list. If you don’t have a list — or yours is smaller than you’d like — there are plenty of ways to build an email list, including website forms, social media, and offering free content or promo items.
But while email campaigns deliver results, that doesn’t mean the more messages, the better. Nor does it mean that an untargeted, sloppy email will win you love from customers or prospects. You’ll want the messaging, spelling, formatting, and links to be perfect before sending — so using an email campaign preflight checklist is an excellent idea.
If you have a lot to say about a topic, and a sizable following, consider hosting a virtual event such as a live stream or a webinar. Live streams are a great way to use live video to share the inside scoop on what’s happening within your business. And tools like Facebook Live or Instagram Live aim to make the process easy for you.
A webinar is an online video presentation, seminar, or workshop. Getting started should be a breeze since there’s a good chance that you already have the appropriate software on your computer. Did you attend a virtual meeting on Zoom during the pandemic? Well, you can use Zoom to host a webinar for free.
Virtual events take some planning, and you’ll need a reason for the virtual event — such as a product launch — and a good connection. If you’re hosting a webinar, you’ll also need something to present, like a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation. Either way, you’ll also want to make sure you’re very comfortable with the process before going live.
Still, there’s the matter of getting people to come. Things like email, social and blogging are great ways to promote events — but first, you need an audience for those messages.
A Final Note: Remember, It’s All About Your Audience
When using free marketing channels, it takes time to increase brand visibility and even longer to gain a following. But you may accelerate the process by being a trusted resource and positioning yourself as an expert.
Your goal, of course, is to promote your brand, your services and products, but you’ll be more successful if you balance self-serving activities with ones that provide value.
For example, on your social media channels, try to share four things of value to your customers for every post about your products and services. Also, take time to interact with your audience. Like their posts. Share their posts. Be part of the conversation.