You're likely cash strapped and not sure which route to go when it comes to generating more leads or more inquiries to your business. It's important that you're able to test which marketing channels are most effective BEFORE spending your entire marketing budget. I've compiled and tested a growing list of way to cheaply market your business with little to no money. That being said, this will require some effort and time and definitely some learning.
Let's dig in.
1. SEO Is Where It All Starts
Whether you want to admit it or not. You have an SEO status. Whether that's good or bad is up to you. But, because you have it, you might as well capitalize on it. One thing to always remember is who and what a Search Engine is. Other than being as the name describes, i.e a Search Engine definition being an application or program that identifies items in a database that corresponds to letters, characters, keywords or intentions specified by the searcher and finding corresponding pages on the web which best matches the search criteria. So think, as a Search Engine, you would want to provide a better service to the “searchers” than your competitors. Yes, Google does indeed have competition. And if we continue using Google as an example, we would see that Google wants to and absolutely needs to provide the best possible results to a search in order to remain relevant and in business. What does this mean for you and your business. Simply this: Google needs you to very clearly and accurately define who you are and what you do for them to do their job correctly. Simply put, if you are able to categorize and define your service offering according to Google's guidelines better than your competitors, guess who Google is going to promote? You! Why? Because you are helping them look better to “Searchers”. So how do we do this?
Some Basics: Clean Up your SEO
There are some amazing tools for this. Some quite pricey, ala SEMRush and Ahrefs but others who do the same job for pennies. I use SERanking, it's well priced, cheaply priced to be honest, and has all the features of a SEMRush with a generous free trial, you can find that here: SERanking free trial.
Once you've signed up, enter in your URL, then enter in your competitors URL's to compare. You'll see where you currently are in comparison to your direct competitors. You'll also be able to generate a “Marketing Plan” which runs you through many of the things you'd ordinarily pay a marketing consultant to tell you to do. This will usually be a list of errors you need to fix in order for Google to totally and completely understand who and what you are.
If you've got a smaller site, a great option would be to use Screaming Frog. A downloadable desktop app that will reveal all the errors you need to fix. It may be a bit of a learning curve, but well worth it when you start getting those extra site visits that convert into sales.
2. Reload Keyword Research At Least Once A Month
What does this mean? Remember, “search” is dynamic. What people search for and are interested in changes all the time. There are some things that tend to stay relevant but most do not. Performing Keyword research often will show you what the volume of keywords for your selected industry/sector is and what keywords are on the rise as well as. Can you see how and why this is important? You may need to adapt your keywords to accomodate what your target audience is searching for. The easiest way to do keyword research is simply to use Google's Free Keyword Planner. This tool is primarily for paid campaigns but is free to use when you've signed up for a Google Adwords account. Another great (free) tool is Ubersuggest, owned by master marketer and SEO fundi, Neil Patel. Make sure you're connected to Google Search Console as well. It will give you the most accurate indication of where you're ranking, for which keywords you're ranking for and also in which countries. You'll be surprised by the keywords you can rank for in countries other than your own.
3. Content Is Still King
Remember what we said about Google? They need to provide a good service to their searchers. They need you to accurately define who and what you are and also expand on how you do things. Have you ever searched Google for : ” How to skin a cat”, “How to understand women”(Not sure even Google can help you there buddy), “How to fix an Audi 1995 SE 500 alternator”. You get the point I'm sure. The point is not to reveal all your trade secrets. The point and the purpose is to establish you and your business as the expert and the authority in your field. There are definitely some car nuts that will practically take you advice and apply it and not need to physically pay you for it. But most visitors will see you as the go-to site for advice on “Audi alternators” And if your content is structured cleverly enough, it would be easy to sprinkle CTA's (Call To Action) throughout the blog-post and retarget them on other platforms based on what they're reading to monetize their site visit.
Sign up for the newsletter to find out how I do this. See what I did there?
Ok. I'll just come out and say it. Facebook Groups. You're part of some, or you already run a group or a number of them. These are extremely powerful tools. Remember, we are living in an age where so much information is freely available. The next logical step is to link this information with human experiences or reviews. Chances are you're far more likely to pay for a service that 5 of your closest friends recommend than an obscure website you found. Facebook groups do just that for you. They encourage reviews and they establish that “Expert Status” we mentioned earlier. Nobody likes spam. You don't. Group members don't and group admins hate it. Personally, I drop rules in the pinned post and if they're disobeyed, it's “Bye Felicia”, after a warning or two.
The point here is to provide value. Show the group members
1. That you're a human being,
2. That you're the expert.
See how the Content becomes relevant now? its a great place to point them to your resources so you can capture their attention as well as their details outside of FB.
With Facebook Groups specifically, you always want to be collecting email addresses. Make sure it's one of the group application questions. Now I know it's alot of work to manually copy and paste details into a spreadsheet, but fret not, this tool automates that process for you.
Reddit, as the slogan suggests, “The front page to the Internet”, curates content based on user interest. As you can imagine, it would be relatively easy to find a defined audience to your product or service. This is another area where you can establish your Expert Status and use Reddit's ability to rank highly in Google to your advantage. The Reddit community can be really brutal and will call you out if you appear to be spammy and seem to do nothing but self-promote. Always add value.
Tumblr was launched in 2007 and purchased by Yahoo in 2013. Since its inception, Tumblr has grown to host more than 400 million blogs. Why is this important or even useful? Because of it's massive popularity, you can find similar niches to yours and follow, like, share and finally reblog. This will generate the same for your efforts on Tumblr, you could end up generating massive traffic from all of the reblogs you could receive. Staying active here is very important if you want to make this a success.
7. Read and comment on other similar blog posts
You're more than likely doing research on things related to your business. When someone takes the time to build a blog post that is useful to you, be sure to comment with your full profile. Your comment will help them understand what part of their content really speaks to their audience and they'll most likely check you out. Visit your FB page, personal profile, Linkedin, Twittter etc. This is a clever way of reversing the traffic back to you. Again, don't be spammy.
8. Build an Email List
If you haven't heard this before. Build an email list. There is a very powerful saying in marketing circles ” The money is in the list” it mostly refers to your email list or your database of clients, but can refer to keyword lists, resource lists etc. Lets take it back a step. You've gone through all the effort of producing content to establish your expert knowledge in an area. You get noticed by Google and visitors start flooding your website. Now what? The next logical step would be to capture details of your visitors to lead them down your marketing/sales funnel, right? Most marketers agree that email marketing is a top channel for lead generation. The numbers look something like this:
Its been found to be more effective than FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram and most other social channels.
There are a deluge of posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and other social channels. These platforms have to decide which content is worth showing their users so their users can stay on the platform long enough to click an ad. This is how they make money. What this means for you is this: If your content is not engaging enough, it simply doesn't get shown to your audience. Facebook posts from Business Pages are notorious for only having an organic reach of between 2-8%.
But, with email marketing you have a direct channel to the recipients attention, unhindered by other competing posts or algorithms deciding whether your post is worth showing or not.
Setting up is really easy, and totally free to start with options like MailChimp, Constant Contact and MailerLite, With easy-to-build email templates and forms you can drop on your website, collecting email address and building you email list has never been easier.
9. Utilize Free Classifieds
- Almost 600 million people visit Craigslist every month
- Nearly 100 million people visit Gumtree every month.
That's a gigantic audience you don't want to ignore. More importantly, its a marketplace, which means they are there to purchase something. It wont be from you if you're not promoting anything on it.
10. Facebook MarketPlace
With 1.4 billion active users each month. Facebook is literally trying to take over the digital world. With a global roll out still happening, not all countries may have it but the audience is massive. The one difference though, is that Facebook intimately understands you and your interests. Much like they understand your customers and future customers and their interests. If you're selling something, with a few tweaks, it wouldn't be to hard to make Facebook do the hard work for you and alert your interested parties to your product sale.
11. Using Facebook Live
You might have the basics down. Facebook Page, Profile and even a group. but Facebook, more than anything else, wants engagement.If they've got engagement, they've got you hooked and clicking on ads or at the very least, analyzing your user patterns to better understand their audience. What makes Facebook live different is simply that more than 20% of Facebook videos are live. You may have noticed, Facebook automatically notifies you if someone in your network is doing a Facebook live or if a page you follow is doing a Facebook live. Clearly, capturing an audience through Facebook live is very important to Facebook and is rewarded with additional exposure when compared to other post formats.
12. Facebook Lists
Utilizing Facebook Lists for Social Proof
Here's a little known secret about getting engagement on your Facebook posts. Facebook Lists. Facebook knows their is a deluge of information out there. Posts everywhere. So they give you the option of creating lists so you can target the right people with posts from your personal profile. Facebook can do with a little help on distributing posts to the right audience here. So they take their queues from you and prioritize the post reach to your Facebook list of friends. Maximum 100 friends per list. here's how to create a Facebook List:
Here's a short video from my good friend Johnathan Du Toit on how to create your Facebook lists. It's also super handy to separate business and personal content on a single profile.
So if i wanted engagement on sharing a blog post, i would add my most loyal friends, as well as new friends I've added who I'd like to introduce to my business.
What would happen is this:
– Create Post
– Post into Facebook List(s)
– Post receives maximum exposure
– Loyal friends engage with the post(Social Proof is created)
– Facebook sees engagement on the post
– Facebook algo now further promotes the post because its seeing engagement.
– Post receives even more engagement
– Rinse and repeat.
13. Guest Posting On Blogs In Your Industry
When you've got writing content in your industry down to a science, you should seriously consider guest posting on industry related blogs. A very important ranking factor with Google is called backlinks. This is simply ” how many sites(with authority) point back to your site as a resource or authority) You'll get exposure from an entirely different audience and an extra star next to your name as you enhance your “Expert Status”.
14. Mix Up The Audience
The world is your oyster. Or more like a swirling bag vicious piranhas. Just because you're a small business doesn't mean you're limited to a local market. Think about how you would attract an international audience. Localize your content for foreign markets. For Russia, it would be Vkontakte instead of Facebook and china it would be RenRen.
Linking up with the point 13. Content translations are pretty easy to do. NO. Don't do a google translate. it would do a semi-decent job, but you'll probably sound somewhat broken in places and highly likely misunderstood when explaining complex industry related issues. Either hire a local translator. Depending on the volume of work needing to be translated, you could pay anywhere from $5 on Fiverr to $100. A small price to pay to tap into a global market. There are literally no more geographic barriers. Use this to your advantage. Me, being in South Africa, naturally there are 11 languages to choose from, Afrikaans being the 2nd most spoken language in South Africa, content translation would definitely be warranted.
Video was predicted to become a major trend. And now… is a massive trend. Facebooks' video repository is larger than ever and have incorporated YouTube style ads. (Thanks Facebook, we really like have an entertaining video interrupted with a random video ad). But, Facebook still pales in comparison to YouTube. being the worlds second largest search engine, You'll now have another search engine fighting to show your content to another audience. Having a video on the homepage of your site, drastically improves conversion and decreases Bounce rate(depending on content/video quality as well of course) and hosting it on YouTube wont slow down your site at all. While it may be challenging to include CTA's in the video, especially when viewing on the specific platform, acquiring subscribers is done at the click of a button and links can be inserted anywhere. In addition, this is another step in the direction of Expert Status. Remember, Google owns YouTube. So if you've got a good explainer video on an industry related topic hosted on YouTube vs hosting it on a private platform, who do you think Google is going to favour in the search results?
17. Be Alive On Social Media
While there is no formula for exactly how many times you should be posting content on social media. It goes without saying, if you're not active on social media, constantly engaging and providing value to your audience, there is no way it can grow. Social media users are active at least daily on at least 2 platforms. And its not just the usual platforms. Remember if you're engaged, and providing value, your followers are more likely to click. Use a tool like Buffer of Hootsuite to post to multiple platforms simultaneously\
18. Local SEO
What is Local SEO? Simply put, it's Google's attempt at more deeply analyzing user intent. Think about this, when you're looking for a plumber and type into Google ” Plumber Cape Town”, you probably don't want to see an article about various plumbing techniques Plumbers in Cape Town use, right? You're quite simply looking for a Plumbing service in Cape Town and not plumbing education or any other area. Local SEO uses this intelligence to enhance your search intent by providing local options to solve your plumbing issue. The Search Results look like this:
How is this different from SEO? In short, if you're a local business it's a much better way to rank highly in the search results for the specific services you offer if your Local SEO is optimized. First thing to do, make sure you register your business on GMB, Google My Business. This only applies to brick and mortar stores though.But, if you have an online business, but see customers at your office anyway, you can still register. Once you do that, you're basically set.
19. Boost Local SEO With Reviews
Following Local SEO, you can imagine that there is naturally going to be competition. So how does Google know which search results to show first? it does this by looking at the reviews received. its really simple to leave a review and you can even leave one without a comment. So utilize to current customer base to generate reviews for your business on GMB and you'll rank higher than your competitors in the search results and have a dominant position on Google Maps as well.
Also, respond to the online reviews, it shows engagement to Google and Google loves engagement. Actually, every platform loves engagement, engagement means that your attention is invested and there's an opportunity to show you some ads and that means there's an opportunity for them to monetize your attention.
20. Forum Discussions
OK, this is going to sound a bit like a broken record, but its true. You need to firmly establish your “Expert Status”. Do a search on Google for “[Your Niche] Forums”. Register on as many of the forums as you can starting from the highest ranked. Look for the most popular articles in you area of expertise and provide value. It would be useful to provide a link back to your site where they can learn more about you and see that you are indeed the authority in your area.
21. List On All Search Engines
You might want to sit down for this one. Its true, there really is more than one search engine. In fact, there are hundreds. Each of these search engines has the potential to drive customers to your website, it's highly recommended that you make sure you're listed on all of them. Here's a list of 10 of the most popular search engine
- Internet Archive
22. Set Up A Referral Or Affiliate Marketing Program
There is no better affirmation to your business than a testimonial from a happy customer. Set up a referral program for your current customers that incentivises them each time they refer another customer to you. This gives them the necessary motivation to both maintain the relationship with you and your business as well as providing a monetary aspect to it.
Affiliate marketing is just a little bit harder to set up, but once set up, can account for the shift in momentum your business needs. Have a look at Affiliate Manager Free WordPress plugin or Easy Affiliates Links Free WordPress plugin. This will enable almost anyone to become a marketer for you and be incentivized for their efforts on successful sales.
Dubbed as “Facebook for Professionals”, LinkedIn's algorithm is ripe for the picking. Again, the principles stand. Expert Status is the name of the game. You are guaranteed to have other experts on LinkedIn who can either validate you or break you if you're not an expert.
Some quick LinkedIn posting tips:
- Utilize LinkedIn Video often. LinkedIn has recently launched their video functionality and naturally they're pushing its popularity. Why? Its another ad method they could monetize. The idea here is for you to post value-adding videos often. LinkedIn's algo will distribute the video much better than just a normal text based post.
- Post longer, spaced out posts. LinkedIn will measure the time users spend reading a post. When your short post is spread out, the algo thinks users are engaging here, let's distribute this post some more.
- Don't post external links in the post. All platforms pick this up and will suppress the reach of your post. Why? Because you are encouraging its users to leave their platform, and once they leave by clicking on your link, LinkedIn can't make money off them anymore. Make sense?
- Post links in comments. Links in comments will be seen as engagement and are 6 times more valuable where organic reach is concerned, than a post like.
- Post an excerpt to LinkedIn articles. You'll most likely have a blog post expanding on your area of expertise. If you really want LinkedIn to promote your blog post, you need to write an excerpt on LinkedIn articles and use a CTA to the actual post. LinkedIn, once again, will give your post preference as you are promoting LinkedIn's native blog platform.
Other than connecting with the right audience. You also have the ability to extract the email addresses of all you connections on LinkedIn. You'll be able to email them directly with your inquiry. Remember, add value before asking anything.
Here's a quick walk-through on how to get your LinkedIn connections' email addresses:
There are most likely people asking questions about your area of expertise. Hundreds if not thousands or more. Most of them have found that Quora is the go-to place for asking these questions. Again, these questions can help establish your expert status and lead massive traffic to your website. Remember what we said about Google? They look for a few important things, Education, Authority and Trust. Quora is all of this and more. So Google will usually show these results first. As Quora members upvote your answers, this establishes your authority and trust as a seasoned educator and professional in the area you are providing answers to.
TikTok is a video sharing app that has gone viral. It is currently aimed mostly at teenagers and college students but is rapidly expanding into older demographics as content creators discover the innate virality within TikTok. It's a great time to get into TikTok and start producing content. It's important to note that it's primary purpose is entertainment. Make sure your content is interesting, engaging and funny. TikTok ads are ridiculously cheap at the time of writing, you can sign up for an account here: https://ads.tiktok.com/.
I hope the application of the above gives your business the boost it needs if you're short of a decent marketing budget.
Please feel free to comment below if I missed anything, I'll be sure to include it and give the appropriate credit and a link back to your site.