Investing in your business can be expensive. Advertising campaigns can cost you thousands of dollars and even then there's no guarantee they'll be successful. Fortunately, there are quite a few free marketing strategies. These are ideal for both newer businesses with limited funding or established businesses trying to save money on expenses. Here are some of the top free ways to grow your business.
Build A Website
There are many resources that let you build a website for free. Depending on your preferences, you may need to pay for web hosting. You can avoid this if you're willing to use a free web host. However, you may have third-party ads on your site and minimal features.
You can install WordPress for free. All major web hosting companies offer simple WordPress installation. There are even free themes and plugins to help you customize your website. The nice thing about WordPress is that it's fairly easy for beginners to use while having advanced features for professional designers as well.
Website Building Services
Companies such as Wix, Weebly, and others offer free plans to build your website. These services also offer upgrades. These can be a good alternative if you have no experience with web design and don't want to outsource the task. At the same time, it does take some effort to learn how these platforms work. You will want to at least learn how to customize your site so that it doesn't look exactly like thousands of others.
Use a Web Builder Provided By Your Web Host
Most web hosting companies provide website builder tools. Like the free services mentioned above, it's up to you to customize these sites with your own layout, fonts, colors, and images. While you generally have to pay for web hosting, for around $10 per month (or even less in some cases), you can get a shared hosting plan with no ads.
Start a Blog
Blogging is one of the best free marketing methods of all. It helps you generate traffic, builds your authority, and gives the search engines content to index. You can set up a blog right on your own website or you can set up a blog on a third-party site.
Free Blogging Sites
There are quite a few services where you can simply sign up and start blogging for free. Some have been around for a very long time while others are more recent.
- Blogger.com. Google's free blogging service.
- WordPress.com. Owned by the same company that makes the open source website content management system discussed above. WordPress.com, however, is a third-party site so you don't need to buy separate hosting.
- Tumblr. A popular blogging site, especially with younger users.
- Medium. This is a newer site but one that's growing quite quickly. It has many serious readers in just about all niches.
Blogging on these sites is very convenient as well as free. There is, however, a downside to not owning your own domain. A domain helps you build your brand and is also helpful for SEO. Many third-party blogging sites let you host your own domain but you'll have to pay a small fee for this (around $5 per month).
Build Traffic With SEO
The best way to get free traffic to your blog and/or website is to optimize it with the search engines. Here are some basic SEO tips that you can easily implement.
- Get listed with Google. Local businesses should claim their Google My Business page, which is essential for local SEO.
- Research keywords. Find out what terms your customers are searching for. Look beyond the obvious and search for long tail keywords, which are less competitive terms that appeal to niche audiences. For example, if you sell weight loss products "lose weight" would be a primary keyword and very competitive. "Can coconut oil help me lose weight" is just one example of a long tail phrase that's not quite as competitive.
- Use SEO plugins. If you use WordPress, take advantage of the SEO features on your dashboard. Choose categories and tags that are relevant to each post. You can also add free SEO plugins such as Yoast.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly. This will help you attract a larger audience and boost your SEO as Google uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor.
Social media is more than a popular trend. It's become the primary way that most people spend their time online. While you can spend money advertising on social media, all of the basic functions are free. Each site has unique features that help you build your following and influence.
With some 1.5 billion active users, Facebook remains by far the largest social media platform. Every business needs a presence here since your customers are going to be here. This means having a Facebook page and posting content regularly. You can also join (or create) Facebook groups that are relevant to your industry.
Twitter is another platform that includes all demographics. It also serves a unique purpose with its format of short posts of 280 characters or less (it was increased from 140 a couple of years ago). Use Twitter Advanced Search to find influencers and potential clients. Aside from tweeting, you can host Twitter chats, form groups, and create short videos with Periscope.
If you do business-to-business (B2B) marketing, you must use LinkedIn. It's a powerful site for posting content, connecting with business owners, and building your brand. You can also use LinkedIn as a blogging site with LinkedIn Pulse.
Owned by Facebook, Instagram is the leading site for visual content. It's very popular with younger users but older people are joining as well. If your products or services can be portrayed in a visually appealing manner, Instagram marketing is a must.
YouTube is not always thought of as a social media site but it actually is. It's also one of the most important social media platforms as it's the leading video sharing site. Furthermore, it's owned by Google so it's vital for SEO. Uploading videos to YouTube is a powerful free method for getting targeted traffic and building your authority.
Aside from Facebook and Twitter (which cover just about all demographics), select social media sites that your customers are likely to use. Aside from the ones listed, Pinterest is another image-oriented site, one that's especially popular with women. Snapchat, meanwhile, has a very young and hip audience. There are other social sites as well such as Pinterest and Snapchat. You can also search for niche-specific social sites that may appeal to your audience.
Social media marketing works best when it's part of an omnichannel strategy, which means reaching people on multiple platforms and devices. For example, make sure you have social media buttons on your website. When you publish a blog post, be sure to link to it on Twitter, Facebook, and other social pages. Always think of ways to link your pages and platforms.
The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Marketing
You can employ these and other marketing strategies yourself. The downside to this approach is that this can be quite time-consuming. Aside from setting up campaigns, there's a certain amount of ongoing maintenance involved. If you have a WordPress site, for example, you want to make sure that your themes and plugins are updated and that you take advantage of any new features.
Furthermore, unless you or your employees have expertise in these areas, you might not make the most of them. SEO, for example, is a complicated process with rules that often change. Every time Google announced a new algorithm, SEO experts regroup and figure out how to adjust. Similarly, social media sites such as Facebook are constantly introducing new features and changing policies.
Outsourcing to an experienced marketing agency can free up your time and let you concentrate on what you do best. HIVE Digital Strategy is a full-service inbound marketing agency that can help you with SEO, web design, review marketing, and other tasks. We offer free consultations and SEO audits to help you clarify your goals and identify the most appropriate strategies for your business.
HIVE Digital Strategy helps you create a buzz with inbound marketing! To find out more about our services, contact us.