14 Online Marketing Ideas For Businesses On A Small Budget
Times are hard and many companies don’t have a lot of money to invest on advertising and marketing. The irony: not marketing your business will have a detrimental effect on your business.
Bill, a local business owner who owns an appliance store has just put a closing down sign in his store window because nobody is visiting his store and he says he can’t afford to advertise any more.
This year alone he has spent over $6000 on advertising in his local newspaper with expensive one time ads – it was a total waste of time and money.
Although it is too late for Bill, the good news for other companies who are still in business is that online marketing is not only a much better value, but it is more effective than traditional methods of marketing by far. Plus the success of each marketing campaign that you launch can be easily tracked.
Here are just some of the big marketing ideas for businesses on a small marketing budget:
1. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
This is one of the first things that should be on your ‘to-do’ list.
Why? Because Google is not only the most popular search engine on the Internet but it is also your business’ best friend.
Google and the search engines want you to rank high in the search results. If their users are searching for a product or service that you provide, it is Google’s job is to tell them about your business.
However, you have to make it easy for them by optimizing your site. This will one be of the best investments that you could ever make and is not as expensive you may think. The return will be phenomenal as customers far and wide discover your company online.
2. Google Plus Local
While we are on the subject of Google, we can’t miss out Google+ Local. As mentioned, Google really is on your side and it wants to help your business get found. They make sure that if potential customers are looking for a product or service that you provide, Google wants to make sure that its results are totally relevant and your company appears in the listings.
As a result, search results are becoming much more local and personalized and companies who claim their Google Plus Local Page and optimise it properly get the best rewards.
3. Start a Blog
No matter what type of business you are in, you can still have a blog. In case you don’t know what a blog is, it basically stands for ’web log’ and they’re effectively online diaries.
If you are going to create a blog for your company you need to do the following:
Host the blog on your own domain (website) e.g. YourBusinessWebsite.com/blog
Anyone can set one up, that’s the easy part. Thinking of something interesting to say each time you blog is the tricky part. You will need to write good content that will be interesting for your visitors and customers. People won’t appreciate your blog if it’s just going to be one long sales pitch.
Create a community and make your visitors feel part of it by responding to each blog comment. If you do, the more people will be inclined to read and comment on your blog more often.
4. Social Networking
Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are all popular sites that you can’t ignore. By creating a profile for your business on each of these sites, you will not only create new opportunities for potential clients to find you but they will also be excellent sources of traffic.
A local business that uses social media sites like these, will almost always see a significant increase in monthly traffic. The best part is that it is completely free. All it costs is a little of your time but the results are well worth it.
By investing a bit of time and effort providing good content that is relevant to your audience and interacting with your followers you will soon build a loyal following. This will raise your online company profile and make your site easier to find in the search engines.
“You can no longer afford to ignore social media marketing.
5. Case Studies and Testimonials
If you already have happy customers who love your service or product why not get a testimonial or case study from them?
Case studies and testimonials are a perfect way to get new customers. They build credibility and give the potential customers the confidence to try your product or service knowing that other people like it. They will be less inclined to buy if they don’t see any testimonials or reviews.
The secret is to get your customer to talk about your product or service, how they used it, and they results that they got.
Most customers will be happy to do this if you ask them.
You could also provide feedback forms on your website. Online customers are used to and conditioned to leaving reviews. They are a great way to get more people interested in what you have to offer.
6. Write a Free ‘Beginners Guide’ for Visitors to Download
No matter what kind of business you are in, you can get a lot more business by writing a free Beginners Guide. It is an excellent marketing technique.
They are an excellent way to get a lot of traffic to your site and increase the interest in your product or service.
Beginners Guide to Choosing a Mattress You’ll Love
Beginners Guide to Setting Up an iPhone 5
How to Choose the Right Kitchen Lighting
Choosing the Right Eyeglasses for You
Beginners Guide to Tiling
These kinds of free reports rank highly in the search engines and do a superb job of up-selling your products and services, as well as making you an ‘authority’ in your field. Customers will see that you know exactly what you are talking about and will decide to buy from you instead of your competitors.
7. Start an Affiliate Program
This is possibly the best marketing tip for any business on a tight budget.
By having a team of affiliates (companies and individuals who promote your products on their websites for a commission on each sale that they get) you get people marketing your product for free. There is absolutely no limit to the number of people that you can have promoting your services. In fact the more you have, the more likely you will make many more sales.
There are a lot of third party applications and plug-ins out there which make setting up an affiliate program easier. They will handle all of your sales and commissions. Feel free to contact us for more information and we will get you up and running in no time.
8. Answer Question About Your Product or Service
The internet is the first place people look to for answers if they have a question about a particular product or service.
They post their questions on discussion forums and question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers. If you can provide the answers to their questions relating to your products or services, you can attract a ton of brand new customers. It is a perfect free way to gain credibility and get more visitors to your website.
9. Go To Networking Events
Networking events are a great place to find new clients and all businesses should make it a practice to attend networking events if possible.
A lot of these events are arranged by The Chamber of Commerce or global organisations such as BNI (Business Networking International). A quick search online will reveal a number of networking events in your area.
They work because you will always meet somebody who you can form a business relationship with. This will either be as a customer or as a useful contact to give your referrals or joint venture with.
10. Ask For Referrals
It is surprising how many companies don’t ask their customers for referrals. Why not? If you have satisfied and happy customers, you really should be asking for referrals as it a very effective way of getting even more happy customers.
Some people feel shy about asking and fear that the customer will turn them down. However, you will be surprised at how few customers actually will say no. If a large proportion of customers do refuse to introduce you to others, it might be a sign that you are doing something wrong and could be doing a much better job of making them happy, giving you something to work on.
For a pain-free way of asking for referrals, why not try this method; Look up your current customers on LinkedIn and see who they are connected with. If you think someone that they know can personally benefit from your product or service, ask them for an introduction.
Most, if not all will say yes, especially if you return the favour.
11. Harness the Power of YouTube
Companies are latching on to the importance of YouTube in their marketing campaigns. Not only do videos now appear in the search results, but you can also use videos to show the benefits of your product or services.
If, for example, you create stunning floral arrangements, why not show a video of you making and arrangement. Or if you are a painter and decorator, create a video showing the transformation of the room with a before, during and after video. Do you provide a lawn care service? If so, again, video the results.
There is no end to the things that you could video relating to your company. Even a tour of your company premises might be interesting to your customers.
12. Provide Exceptional Service
The best way to keep a customer for life and to get them to tell others about your company is by providing exceptionally good customer service. By doing so, not only will customers be happy with their purchase but they will spend more of their hard earned money on your product or services in the future.
Never before has it been more important for your company to provide excellent customer service, especially as customers are more willing to tell others about their shopping experiences on their social networking sites and by leaving reviews, good or bad.
You want them to tell all of their friends about the great experience they had using your company.
13. Do Some Online PR
As you know, getting some good PR is a great free way to get people talking about your company. The more they talk about you, the more people will come to your website and check out what you are offering.
Most people think this needs to come from major media outlets such as radio and television. While this would be fantastic, it is not easy to get that sort of attention.
There are easier ways to get PR online which can be just as effective, especially if you have a targeted customer group.
Getting the attention of blog owners is one way of doing this, especially if it is a popular and attracts the sort of readers that you want to target.
You can email the blog owner, asking if they would like to interview you. Most are constantly looking for new topics to write about, many will be happy to interview you, especially if it is something that they think that their readers will benefit from.
14. A Smart Twitter Technique
If you want more customers, here is a great suggestion to encourage people to promote your business for free and build a huge mailing list at the same time.
Offer a free downloadable report, or set up an exclusive password protected VIP Loyalty Group on your website or Facebook page where you will have special offers and discounts not available to anybody else.
People can get access to the report or VIP area by Tweeting about your product or service.
Once they have sent the Tweet, they notify you and you give them access to their prize.
This is an incredibly powerful way to not only spread the word about your company and website but also to build your online mailing list (if you are giving them the report) or group of followers on Twitter and Facebook. This means that you can keep in touch with these people and build a relationship with them. It will be good for your branding and internet presence.
As a variation, you can do this by asking for ‘Likes’ on Facebook or any other social site.
If you can get just 10 people do this per day, and they each have a following of 100 friends and family, you can see how quickly the word will spread about your business.
Inspired by any of the powerful marketing tips in this article? Want to know more about setting them in place? Call us and get started today!