Online Business Marketing– With No Money?
BY: AUSTIN ANDRUKAITIS ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 2019
Before the advent of the Internet, nationwide advertising belonged only to established companies with million-dollar budgets dedicated to television, radio and/or print advertising. Though even today some 30-second television advertising spots still cost millions, small business can, with little to no money, compete with large businesses for a nationwide audience. The secret is to advertise online.
Below are a few strategies for advertising online with a zero-dollar budget. Remember, however, that free advertising requires far more time and effort than paid advertising managed by advertising agencies. Your results will be proportional to your effort.
Free Social Media Accounts
Social media is the key to free advertising on the Internet. Major social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest all have free business accounts that give extra analytics to show, for example, how many people visited your page. As of this writing, Twitter does not offer viewer analytics, but you can still set up a dedicated business Twitter account. After setting up your free account, populate the account with information about your business.
Online Shopping Hubs
If your shop is affiliated with one of the major shopping sites such as Amazon, Walmart, eBay and Etsy, be sure to investigate their advertising policy. For instance, if you have an Etsy shop, Etsy is currently paying for certain advertising costs on third-party search engines, which means a certain amount of Internet-wide advertising is provided to you for free.
Free Mailing Lists
If you have collected emails from current or prospective customers, you can import these email addresses to specialized email marketing software that can send out polished email marketing campaigns. Most of the software have a robust backend that allows you to track your campaigns, do A/B testing, and analyze the percent of opened emails and click-throughs for each campaign. Companies such as Zoho,SendinBlue,HubSpot,Mailchimp and many others have forever-free plans as long as you stay below a certain subscriber and/or daily outgoing email threshold.
Strategies for Engaging Customers
First and foremost, for all social media or mailing list advertising venues, you must acquire a list of followers. Invite your family and friends already in your personal contacts list, mine your existing customer lists and add a “subscribe to mailing list” or “follow me” option on your website to allow interested customers to sign up.
Once you have acquired a sufficient number of followers, you can employ some free marketing strategies to sell your products or services.
On your social media accounts, interact with your customers. Engage your followers in conversation so that they are reminded of your brand, and from time to time post actual advertising for your products or services. Your advertising can be text focused (Twitter), video focused (YouTube), image focused (Instagram and Pinterest), or a combination of all of the above (Facebook).
Use the email list to conduct surveys and send out newsletters about your new products. On your social media accounts, you can hold question and answer sessions to increase interest in a particular product. You can post product demonstration videos on YouTube and populate the video onto your other social media accounts. Give away new products and invite customers to post photos or videos of themselves using the products. Hold a contest (note there might be local laws regulating contests). Both Facebook and YouTube allow live streaming, so product demonstrations can be streamed live in the manner of television infomercials. Be creative and generate interest in your product while entertaining your customers.
With the free accounts and strategies listed above, even a small business can compete with large ones to reach a nationwide or even worldwide audience without paying any advertising costs. Once you have become familiar with free Internet advertising, you might even wish to explore paid advertising through large retailers like Amazon, Walmart or eBay, through social media websites like Facebook or Twitter, or through search engines like Google and Bing. Some of them can be had for a surprisingly reasonable fee. Soon, your very small business with just an Internet presence and little to no advertising budget will be able to compete with larger traditional businesses.