Small to medium-sized businesses are working with limited marketing budgets that don’t have room for large ad spend. Many SMB marketers may become frustrated with their advertising options as the budget can often limit the number of people you can reach with paid ads. So are there free business advertising options?
There are many different free business advertising options online that allow businesses to get more out of their budgets. These free channels supplement paid advertising to improve visibility, boost lead generation, and increase conversions. By including some of these tactics in your digital marketing strategy, you can cut down on costs and use more of your budget for the paid ads that will optimize your return on investment.
Below, we’ll talk about a few different digital marketing tactics you have at your disposal that are free (or close to free). Then, we’ll get into a few more specific ways that you can take advantage of free business advertising online.
4 Areas To Pursue For Free Business Advertising
1. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is one of the best ways to take advantage of free business advertising online. It’s free to set up a social media account for your business, post content, engage with users and share other content, events, etc.
When you post content to your company’s social media page, you are taking advantage of the opportunity to reach and start a conversation with your leads. Posting relevant content that your brand has created allows you to drive more traffic back to your site. While posting relevant content from third-party sources enables you to provide valuable information to your fans and followers.
Engaging with users on social media gives you a powerful opportunity to build relationships with leads and customers. By asking a question or giving your followers something to think about, you can work on starting a conversation with your audience. Responding to comments and answering questions is another great way to show your audience that your brand cares about them and wants to help.
If you do have some funds to commit to social media marketing, you will get better results with an advertising budget. The best part is that you are 100% in control of this budget over time. There are no contracts or fees for advertising other than the amount you are paying per click on your ads.
Social media advertising is also 100% trackable, which means that you can see exactly how your ad dollars are working for you. Then, you can use the insight you gain from analytics to make improvements to your ads to boost results. In the end, social media ads provide a significant return on investment for small to medium-sized businesses.
Though social media marketing is free for the most part, it does require a significant time investment. There are ways to make the process more efficient like scheduling posts ahead of time. However, businesses who are serious about social media will still need to spend time crafting quality content, curating relevant articles and information, and engaging with their audience.
If you don’t have the time to properly manage your social content and engage you’re your audience, you may want to work with a digital marketing agency that can help you get more out of your social media presence. LYFE Marketing offers effective social media management that enables you to build a loyal following online.
Posting content on a business blog is another digital marketing tactic that can be 100% free to use. Sites like WordPress and Blogger.com allow you to get started with a blog for free. You can set up your blog and start posting content in just one hour. However, your blog domain will include the URL of the site that you have used to set up the blog.
For a small fee, you can set up a blog with your own domain. We recommend doing this as it helps you build your brand and gives you a place to drive traffic back to when sharing your blog online. If you already have a website, you can add a blog section to your current site where you will publish new blog posts for your leads and customers to read.
Once you have set up your blog site, it’s time to start creating content. For best results, you’ll want to publish content on a consistent basis. The frequency will depend on the resources you have in-house to create this blog content. The more often you can publish new content, the better results you will get from both an engagement and an SEO standpoint.
We recommend creating an editorial calendar where you can organize and manage your blog content. This calendar should include necessary information like blog title, author, SEO keywords, due date, publish date, and other valuable information. An editorial calendar is especially important if more than one team member is working on blogs.
The image above shows just one example of a blog editorial calendar you can create for free in Excel.
When it comes to choosing topics for your blogs, you’ll want to consider what will be most valuable to your target audience. Here are just a few strategies you can use to develop blog topics:
- SEO Keywords – Consider which search terms users are typing in to find your brand and create topics around these keywords.
- Common Questions – What questions do your leads and customers ask before purchasing? Use these as a starting point for blog topics.
- Industry News – Important news in your industry can also give you great opportunities for new blog topics.
Don’t have time to create quality blog content on a consistent basis? You can still affordably make use of this effective marketing tactic by outsourcing your blogging to a digital agency. At LYFE, we provide affordable blog writing services that help brands produce valuable, quality content on a regular basis to engage their leads and customers.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Optimizing your website for the search engines is entirely free if you know what you’re doing. Though it takes time and expertise to improve your SEO effectively, the process is free, and you are working to drive free traffic back to your site.
You can perform keyword research for free using Google Keyword Planner. If you want to save time and find even more relevant SEO keywords, there are some SEO tools that you can use for a small fee. These will help you find even more opportunities to improve your reach online. (Not to mention they often require less work than using Google Keyword Planner.)
After you have performed keyword research, you’ll need to produce relevant content that emphasizes the keywords and phrases that your leads are searching for online. Your team should review your site pages to ensure that they are highlighting the right keywords and are correctly formatted. To improve SEO over time, work on creating valuable, quality blog content that also emphasizes relevant keywords. As you can see, content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand.
Building quality backlinks is another crucial part of SEO. Quality backlinks improve your domain authority and thus boost your visibility on search engines. You need to build more relevant backlinks to your site if you want to improve SEO.
If you do not have the time or in-house expertise to manage search engine optimization effectively, then you may want to work with an experienced agency. Though this does require some upfront investment, it may end up saving you more money in the long-run as you will be able to maximize your organic site traffic. Learn more about our SEO services to find out if this option is right for you.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing remains one of the best (and cheapest) ways to reach your customers online. Most consumers have an email address and prefer to get business communications through this channel. Email marketing can be 100% free, although there are some useful tools that can help you improve the process.
If you only have a few email contacts to start with, then you can send emails for free with whatever email provider your business uses. Some email marketing companies even offer free packages for companies with a limited number of contacts. With these free packages, you can use their templates and other tools to create professional, branded emails for free.
However, the more contacts you collect and the more frequently you send emails, the more likely you will need to use an email marketing service like Constant Contact or MailChimp. These companies have free trial options that allow you to try their services for free for a limited time. After that, pricing changes with the number of contacts you have on your list. The more contacts you have, the more expensive the pricing will be. But the cost is minimal when you consider how many emails you will be sending on average.
Again, you may not have the time to create relevant and consistent email marketing content. But that’s why many SMBs partner with a digital marketing agency for helping launching their email marketing campaigns. Services like our email newsletter service is a great way to affordably supplement your email marketing efforts and improve lead generation and conversion. As you grow, you can consider more intricate email services like automation.
5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Free Business Advertising Online
In addition to the digital marketing tactics mentioned above, there are also some other online outlets that can help your business gain free exposure. Below, we’ve put together a quick list of our top tips for making the most of free business advertising online.
1. Claim your Google My Business listing for local SEO.
One of the best ways to get free business advertising online is by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) Page. Your GMB listing is a free business listing that helps you improve visibility on Google Search and Google Maps within your community. Claiming your Google My Business Listing is a must for any brick-and-mortar business that operates locally.
Though there are many pieces involved with local SEO, Google My Business is an essential first step to improving your reach online within the local target market. By claiming your GMB listing and ensuring that all of your information is complete and accurate, you can help improve your rankings for local search results. Ranking high in local search enables you to improve visibility in your community and beat the competition.
Here’s an example of what a Google My Business listing looks like on the search engine:
Claiming your Google My Business page is a great way to expand your reach on the search engine.
Google My Business makes searching for local stores and businesses convenient, which is why so many consumers depend on these results to find information. Your Google My Business listing will provide everything a consumer needs to decide on their purchase, including address, hours, and phone number.
Your GMB listing also allows you to add photos, which can help you catch the attention of your on-the-go audience and stand out from your competitors. Below these images, consumers can read reviews of your business from your patrons. Asking your best customers to leave reviews on Google is a great way to improve your GMB listing and get buyers to notice you online.
2. Make sure your business listings on Yelp and other review sites are correct.
Google My Business isn’t the only online business listing that you can use to get free business advertising. You want to be in as many places as possible to improve your online visibility and increase your reach. For this reason, you should look for other opportunities to include your business information in online listings.
Yelp is a popular spot for businesses that want to increase their online reach for free. Yelp is an online review site that consumers use to get recommendations on everything from bars to beauty shops. Your customers can go on Yelp to leave your business a star-rating and written review that other customers can see when they look up your business on Yelp.
This example of a Yelp review for a local bar includes a 5-star rating and a detailed overview of the customer’s experience.
There are a variety of other business listing sites that allow you to create a profile or listing for your company for free. Some national listing sites include Better Business Bureau, YP.com, and FourSquare. You should also consider industry-specific sites like Angie’s List, Kudzu, Thumbtack, or TripAdvisor. In addition to these national sites, you should also consider local sites such as your chamber of commerce or other local business listings.
It’s important to note that your business listing or review profile won’t just be accessible from the business listing site. Consumers may come to this listing from the search engine or another person who has referred them. For this reason, it’s vital that you keep these listings updated and encourage your customers to leave positive reviews to increase your chances of standing out on the business listing page.
Also be sure to keep all your information the same across all platforms. Your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) should be identical on all pages on the web so search engines can give you more credibility for having a larger presence online. These little differences can hurt your reputation with the search engines.
3. Write guest blog content for popular industry blogs.
Previously, we talked a little bit about how your own blog can be a great resource for free business advertising. But what if your blog is not well-established yet? And what about reaching new audiences who may not read your blog yet?
Writing guest posts for other popular blogs can be a great way to reach new audiences online for free. No matter what industry your business is in or what types of products or services you offer, there are plenty of opportunities for your business to post guest blog content on relevant, well-established blogs.
One of the most significant benefits of guest blogging is that you can reach new audiences. If you post content on a well-known blog that has an established, loyal following, you can tap into a new group of consumers who can benefit from your products or services.
In addition to accessing a new audience, guest posting also helps you establish your business as an industry thought leader. By writing about topics that are important to your industry and audience, you have the opportunity to share relevant expertise and insight. Guest blog content allows you to demonstrate industry knowledge and become an authority on essential topics, which can set you apart from competitors.
Another significant benefit of guest posting on well-established and relevant blogs is that it can help improve your search engine optimization efforts. Posting to blogs with a high domain authority can help improve your visibility online. Not to mention, you have the opportunity to link back to your own site in the guest blog post. This backlink gives you another inbound link that can help increase your own domain authority and improve your ranking in the search engines.
Or another way is to publish posts on LinkedIn. We all know that this social network is one of the best ways to reach professionals so it’s also a great platform to post business-related content. Be the expert in a world of professionals. If your LinkedIn connections like your content, they will engage and share them with others too, thus promoting your brand for free.
4. Answer questions on Quora.
Another way to increase exposure online for free is by answering questions on Quora. Quora is a question and answer platform, allowing users to ask questions and get answers from other users. Many experts will use Quora to offer their insights and provide valuable answers to others who are looking for more information on various topics.
This platform is an excellent place for businesses to demonstrate their expertise and expand their reach online. For example, let’s say you have an online accounting business. You might go on Quora to answer questions like “What is the best online accounting software?” or “How do I choose the right accountant for my business?”
Answering relevant questions on Quora gives you yet another opportunity to provide value for your target audience. When you provide a quality answer to a Quora user’s question, you are not only taking the opportunity to educate a prospective customer, but you’re also getting your name and your business name highlighted in areas that your target customers might look for answers to their questions.
Here’s an example of what a business answer might look like on Quora:
Digital marketing rock star, Neil Patel answers questions about marketing on Quora.
Notice that the person answering the question has their name and title displayed before their answer. This information helps lend some credibility to the answer but also allows you to familiarize Quora users (and potential customers) with your name and business.
Below the answer, there are social share buttons that allow users to share their favorite answers instantly to social media. These social share buttons are another great way to get free business advertising online. When you write quality answers that provide value for readers, they are more likely to share these answers with others. When they do, your business gains even more free exposure.
5. Promote your brand in your email signature.
Previously, we talked a little bit about how email marketing can be a great way to get free business advertising online. But what about the emails you send every day? Even the non-marketing emails that you send to vendors, colleagues, and prospects can be a great place to advertise your website, social profiles, and even content – for free.
All you need to do is include links to your site, social profiles, or other pages within your email signature. Creating a clean, branded email signature is a great way to stand out in a prospect’s inbox, but it also serves as a way to get free business advertising as you can drive traffic back to your site without any cost.
Here are some examples of what they could look like:
In addition to the standard contact information, this email signature includes a link to the company’s site and social media profiles.
This company is promoting their current giveaway in their email signature.
Notice that this email signature has the typical contact information that most email signatures include like email, phone number, and address. However, underneath this information is a direct link to the company website. There are also small social media icons, each with a link to the company’s social media profiles.
By including this information in your email signature, you can advertise your business for free and encourage those you communicate with through email to check out your brand. You never know who might need your products or services or know someone who does. Putting these hyperlinks in your email signature gives you every opportunity to get your brand’s information out there.
Get Started with Free Business Advertising
Now that you know all the ways that you can take advantage of free business advertising online, it’s time to get started. As you work to include these tactics in your digital marketing strategy, just remember:
- Social media is a free way to reach and engage with more buyers online.
- Blogging is a great way to make connections with leads, and all it costs you is your time!
- SEO helps you improve organic reach on the search engines, which is a great way to complement paid search efforts.
- Email marketing allows you to reach and nurture leads at a minimal cost.
- There are many other channels like Google My Business and guest blogging opportunities that you can take advantage of to expand your reach online for free.
Though all of these tactics are free (or close to free), you will still need to dedicate time to making these free business advertising efforts work for you. If your business just doesn’t have the time to dedicate to these tactics, you can still accomplish them affordably with help from a digital marketing agency.
LYFE Marketing would love to help you get started taking advantage of free business advertising tactics. Our team provides affordable and effective digital marketing services like social media, SEO, blogging, email marketing, and more. To find out more, contact us today.