Free Ways To Market Your Online Business
July 28, 2021
Whether you’re bootstrapping a business or just need cost-free ways to boost your business’ growth, free advertising is everywhere. You just need to know where to look.
Most of the free ways that are mentioned on the list below fall in one of two categories: those that everyone is doing, and those that no one is doing. Both are difficult in their own ways, but if you want to market your online business on the cheap, you’ll need to be creative and put in the work.
Regardless, free advertising is a great foundational step in your online business’ growth. Once you put the below steps into practice, you’ll be able to cycle back through and really make them stand out. Regardless of the difficulty level, it’s only by continually trying to improve on the basics that your online business will eventually rise above the rest.
None of these are mind-blowing; in fact, I would bet you’ve probably heard of several of them before. But the reason they’re so repeated is simple: they work. Don’t believe me? Just ask some of the millionaires that have rode these “basic” methods to the moon.
14 Free Ways to Market Your Online Business
Marketing a business of any kind can be a costly endeavor, which is why it's so important to look for as many free options as possible, especially when you're just starting out. As mentioned above though, many online marketing endeavors fall into one of two categories: those that everyone is doing, and those that only a few are doing.
Don't let the fact that only a few people are doing certain marketing activities deter you, however. The reason for that is usually because they've laid the groundwork using other methods, and have built their business to the point where they need to start being more creative.
My suggestion is to do all of them — or at least as many as you can. Start out with a few of the ones you know you can do quickly at first, and then move from there. I've organized them on this list in the order of what I consider most foundational first, so start your efforts from there.
More Common Free Ways to Market Your Online Business
If you have an online business, you obviously have a website, so your first order of business should be learn search engine optimization, or SEO. Too many people these days rely on their Content Management Systems (like Wordpress or Squarespace) or some kind of a plug-in to do the heavy lifting for them. Unfortunately, that leaves a very wide group of people that are competing on an equal footing.
The good news for you is that even a little bit of SEO knowledge can net you huge gains against the competition. There are hundreds of free courses online that you can take advantage of to learn the basics, but when you put them into action, you'll be surprised at the results.
Once you've optimized your site for search engines, the next step is to have a social media strategy. The key word there is "strategy." Check out your insights tab on your social media page (if you already have one set up) and find your benchmarks, along with your key performance indicators. Focus on improving those first.
If you don't have a social media page of any kind, start with Facebook and work out from there. Don't add twitter or Instagram until you feel like you've made the most of one platform first. Post engaging comment, engage with questions and replies, and build up your fan base organically.
Part of SEO is having a strong content strategy. While this can obviously consist of having blog articles that are ranking for certain keywords, it can also mean optimizing the pages you have for certain geographic and industry-specific keywords. Take some time to examine the market and flesh out your website with various content that speaks to your direct audience.
This could also mean images or video creation. If you feel like your primary mode of interacting with customers is through a site like YouTube, for instance, then generate some content that you can post on that site. This may cost a little bit to buy the hardware and software necessary, but 90% of content can be produced using free tools, such as your smart phone.
Without a doubt, email will be one of your most valuable tools in your arsenal. While websites and social media profiles can be taken down at a glance, your email list — the one direct link that you have with your customers — is completely yours. Insert a call to action at the bottom of blog posts, inside your social media profiles, and watch that list grow over time.
Be sure to engage with that list via newsletters and other announcements, and then when it's time to announce a product or service, you'll have an audience that is ready to listen. Best of all, you won't have to pay to reach them.
Engage in Forums
Sites like Reddit can be gold mines for market research, but they can also be a great way to build up an audience as well. You should never enter into a forum or a community solely to spam them, but engaging with the people inside and answering questions here and there will help generate much-needed authority. The moderators will be much more inclined to allow you to pitch a product or service if they feel like you've contributed first.
Claim Free Ad Credits
Paid advertising is expensive, but most sites like Google and Facebook run specials on free ad credits. Google usually offers a local business up to a hundred dollars in free ads, and has also been known to offer thousand dollars in free ads when you spend $1000 first. Coupons for Facebook ads can also be found online, so scour the web and look for some free coupons that you can add to your account.
Ask for Testimonials
Assuming that you've treated your customers well, they'll be much more likely to recommend you to their friends. That's great, but what's even better is if you can ask for reviews to post to your website or your social media profiles. People tend to trust reviews that come from other humans, so having a quote that you can advertise can be a significant boost to your conversion rate.
Less Common Free Ways To Market Your Online Business
Network on Linkedin
If your business caters to other businesses, you should absolutely have a LinkedIn page for your business. There, you can post updates, blog articles, and other information pertinent to your brand, but you can also network with adjacent companies that provide a complementary service. Forming strategic partnerships like this is one of the best ways to exponentially boost your revenue, while also building trust with potential clients.
I know I mentioned using social media earlier, but Pinterest kind of stands apart from the rest of them. Pinterest allows you to build boards and pin certain ideas, which are perfect for more visually minded, DIY-type industries.
People go to Pinterest all the time in search of ideas for their next project, so to dedicate some time to creating boards and posting some your content on there. It can also be a great source of passive traffic as well.
Host a Webinar
No matter what industry you're in, you'll need to build yourself up as an authority if you want to achieve market share. Hosting a webinar that teaches people how to do certain things will provide both a valuable service to potential customers and keep you at the forefront of their mind whenever they have an issue they think you can solve. Best of all, you can pitch your services or products at the end of the webinar to gain immediate sales.
Create a Referral Program
While this idea isn't exactly free — you will have to incentivize customers, after all — the net gain makes up for it. A 10% referral discount, for instance, will gain you 100% of the purchase price, so that 10% will be taken out of the revenue that is already coming in. You won't pay a cent out of pocket unless you have sales coming in.
There's a whole industry built around affiliate programs, and certain influencers make their entire living just off of referring services and programs to other people. Reach out to some of them, and build yourself an army of brand evangelists that will speak to their audience on your behalf.
Speak at Conferences
Public speaking is continually ranked as one of the most nerve-racking activities you can engage in, which makes it so valuable for business owners were willing to put themselves out there. There's virtually no other type of platform on the planet where you can simultaneously build authority, pitch your products, deliver valuable information, and interface with your ideal clientele as you can speaking at a conference. If you get an invite, jump at the chance.
About THE AUTHOR
After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts, spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.Learn more about SparrowBoost