Welcome to another Blog. This week, I am going to discuss ten ways you can market your business online for free… or little cost. I will mention some programs that for a small investment can make your job easier and help you produce better marketing content.
A website is essential to a business in 2020. It used to be an advantage, and now you are left behind without one. A lot of people will either find your website via a Google search for a product or service you provide, or they will use your website to research further about you if they find you elsewhere.
If you do not already have a website it is easy to set one up yourself, and you can do it for free. I would recommend paying for your domain, however. This is because a .com or .co.nz web address is far more professional and credible than yourwebsite.wordpress.com for example. I have had a few business websites in my time, and I have set them all up myself through websites you can use for free, and then pay for a domain and extra features. There are numerous options available, such as WordPress and Wix. These are user-friendly for beginners and should offer all you need for your website. WordPress is probably a better option if you’re going to write a lot of blog content, and Shopify if you want to sell things from an online store.
“Rapid growth of Web-based platforms that facilitate online social behaviour has significantly modified the nature of human activities, habitats, and interactions. Real-world social relationships have been migrated to the virtual world, resulting in online communities that bring people together from across the globe.” (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014)
Help people to find you — SEO
Most businesses rely on a digital marketing specialist for their search engine optimisation (SEO). It is a pretty complicated topic to explain, and Google is always changing the way its algorithm works. But once you wrap your head around SEO, there are many activities you can do yourself to improve your search result. In essence, SEO helps Google’s brain understand what your website is about and what value it provides. Google wants to match relevant search results to those searching.
Use strategic keywords to help make your content and website easier to find. Long-tail keywords help Google’s crawlers understand your website content. These are three and four keyword phrases contextual and specific to what you are selling. Do not overdo it though, Google’s algorithm works out you are trying to cheat the system. Use variations on your keywords. Use keywords for names of files and folders, have keywords and phrases in your page titles and use keywords in your copy. But do so naturally, your content also needs to read well. The headings and subheadings within your pages also a prominent place to use keywords.
You should know keywords that people are likely to be searching for, but there are also tools you can use such as Google Keyword Planner. Research google trends to see popular search terms that could be relevant to use to use on your website as keywords. Some studies have indicated that over 90 per cent of searchers stop on the first page of search results. You want your business to be on that first page! If you are in a competitive area, chances are you will never be been on the first page, but you will improve your ranking.
Create content for your websites such as “how-to” guides and blog posts. Long-form content is full of keywords, so it is easy for Google to understand what the content is about, helping you rank better. Provide value to your target market through this content. Create incoming links to your website. The easiest way to do this is through having a blog or other forms of content on your website, that you share through your social media. Social bookmarking is a similar tactic to create links sending people to your website and add your website to relevant directories such as the Yellow Pages for more incoming traffic.
Make sure you include a sitemap on your website. This is a list of the individual pages, and it helps search engines understand your site architecture better and can also help users navigate your website. Use this resource to create a site map for your website.
Follow Neil Patel for anything to do with Search Engine Optimisation, he gives away plenty of advice for free and has a program you can use to check keywords other things your competitors are doing. Use that here.
Copywriting is an important aspect of the business to get right. Spend a bit of time writing a description and explaining what you do. Try and make it as simple as possible understand. You do not want people who click on your social media account and then exit confused as to what you do. Make sure you set up links to your website from your social media.
Use Grammarly to improve your writing, this is also free and will improve your writing massively. The copy you write is particularly important to build credibility, so you want to have well-worded content on your social media and website without spelling mistakes and bad grammar. This app is fantastic and integrates with a Word document for example or with websites. Download it here.
Good copy should connect with its audience. Copywriting should also tell your brand’s story. Paint a picture of why customers should want to do business with you. A brand story can connect with its intended audience in an instant. It is the “WHY” behind what you are doing. “HOW” you provide expertise. Your brand story should make the reader feel like you understand their problem, and that you could potentially solve it. It helps your audience feel like they know you, even if just a little. This establishes trust, builds rapport and establishes your credibility.
Video content is a valuable tool to build a connection with a target audience. Users share videos more on social media than other forms of content. A third of the time spent online is by people watching video content and four times more people would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Create content to explain a certain topic associated with what you do, providing value and expertise to your target customers. It could be a “how-to” video or explaining a complicated topic.
Technology is important to utilise if you are a content creator. But it does not have to be expensive. You can buy a cheap microphone and tripod to record from your phone for 5–10 dollars each online from AliExpress for example. Any modern mobile phone should have the capability to take a decent quality video. If you buy a new phone, anything more than $300 should be enough.
You do not need a $2000 iPhone!
You do not need to be a computer whiz to edit video footage, although there will be a learning curve initially. Editing can be from a basic mobile phone application or your computer. I prefer to use a program from my PC. If you want to use your phone, this article will give you some options.
To edit video footage on PC for FREE, you can download Microsoft Movie Maker, which I have used for about ten years. Using the software, you can add basic titles and text, you can cut it all up and add transitions that look good and add music and narration. Microsoft discontinued this program, but you can download Windows Essentials 2012 and is it included. Visit this site to download it. I still use it for quick editing. It is a very user-friendly software that has all your needs covered for basic editing. Once I have done the initial editing of footage, I give the final changes in with flashy animations and titles in Adobe After effects and premiere.
Host longer videos on YouTube to set up on your website or in blog posts or post shorter videos straight to your social media account. Social media videos should be 1 to 5 minutes long. The videos you post to YouTube should be a bit longer. Algorithms on social media sites usually do not like people sending them away from the website, so post short videos on Facebook for example, and provide a link to send them to the full video which could be on a blog post on your website
4. Social media
Most businesses need to have social media accounts in 2020. Social media is a powerful tool to reach your target audience. The problem is, there are so many platforms now, it is hard to know where to focus. Start with a Facebook account. Such a high percentage of the population uses Facebook, it has such a large potential audience for your business. Use Facebook to have conversations with people — have a content marketing strategy, designed to stimulate conversation. Share content such as blog posts, videos and memes.
You can also use platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter to reach your target audience through social media. Choose what is right for your business, based on where your customers are most likely to be and what you are trying to achieve. Some businesses are more suited to Instagram than LinkedIn and vice versa.
In general, think from the perspective of your target customer. The people most likely to buy from you repeatedly, and the people you want as your customers. What information or content would be interesting or funny to them? How can you provide them with value with your expertise? How can you encourage them to click on a link and visit your website to find out more about you?
It is important to get your copyright on your social media accounts, so put some time into creating your profile. Do not rush writing your description. Equally, your profile picture/logo and wallpaper images are important. Each platform uses a different sized image, so take some time to edit logos and photos to get them the appropriate size. If you don’t have software to resize pictures, click here to use an online resource.
Click here for a resource that shows the different image sizes to use on the different social media platforms. You can use this website called Photofeeler where users rank each other’s profile photos. It is a useful tool to see what impression your photo is giving people. It is an important part of your personal brand to get right!
Blogging is a key component of a successful content marketing strategy. If you are good at writing, you will be a good blogger. If you are not, get someone else to write it. You can write a blog post in ten minutes, or it could take a week or two. The length and depth all depend on you. But consistency is key.
Blogs are great for SEO as if you are writing about topics related to your services, they are keyword dense. As you consistently create valuable content, you build a stronger relationship with current customers and builds credibility with prospective customers.
A great blog post can position you as an expert in your industry, so often they are a crucial step in a sales funnel. Make sure you link to other relevant content such as free tools or other blog posts. Include a call to action at the beginning and end of a blog. You want people to keep going further with you. The end goal is to leads or a sale.
As well as a blog on your website, you might want to have an external blog such as Medium, Blogger, or Tumblr. You have a wider potential audience, and the same blog posts from your website can be repurposed. Each blogging site has its feel and target market, so check them all out to see which one you prefer the look and feel of.
Try and get your blog syndicated. Syndication is where your blog is republished on websites dedicated to informational articles and posts. These websites can often have quite a larger audience. My blog posts are syndicated on Business 2 Community.
6. Google My Business page
Create a Google My Business page to capture more customers who search for a service like you offer on Google search or maps. Just like with your website and social media accounts, you want to maximise the change of somebody taking your business seriously by using it to its best potential. List all the attributes of your business to highlight what you do. You can provide useful information such as whether you have Wi-Fi or disability access.
Make sure you add all your products and services to your Google My Business page, with detailed descriptions. You can link from these products to your website’s online store if you have one. You can now add a short name to your Google My Business account, which makes your business easier to find through a map search, and URL’s are not as messy if you share the link. Add photos to your account. If you are a restaurant, add high-quality photos of menu items. If you are a consultant, add some photos of you in your work element. You can also add video, so include a video of you introducing yourself and how you help people.
Marketing Kits are now available with a recent update, which you can use to share on other forms of social media to bring traffic to your page. One of these is to encourage reviews. On the topic of reviews, make sure you have some! Try to encourage satisfied customers to write you a glowing review. This will increase your credibility with anyone who finds you.
Google reserve is another useful function, allowing people to make reservations or book a meeting time with you via integration of a calendar application. This syncs with your calendar with notifications. This is a very convenient feature to show people what time slots are available to book without having to go backwards and forwards.
7. Lead Magnets
A lead magnet is an incentive that marketers offer to potential buyers in exchange for their email address or other contact information. Lead magnets usually offer a piece of digital, downloadable content, such as a free PDF checklist, report or eBook. Lead magnets attract the people you want as customers.
Also called gated content, lead magnets usually have a landing page set up on your website. They require a “lead” to supply information about themselves to access the piece of free content. This is usually a name and an email address, to add these people to your database. If they are interested in a piece of content about the expertise you provide, chances are they are a strong lead as a potential customer.
Once you start compiling a database of people, start emailing them. Most website builders have a built-in customer relationship tool and eNewsletter / email marketing system. If not, check out Mailchimp. Around 50 per cent of people check their email more than once daily, and over 50% of people have made purchases from an email.
8. Start a community
If you have a strong brand community, you will have a strong brand. People express who they are through their consumption, so often seek to be a part of brand communities. Members of brand communities are more loyal, as the community helps them reach their goals and meet their needs.
People seek to fit into a community and project a desired social identity. Why not set up a community for your customers or a general community based on the industry your business is in. A genuine community where people connect and interact and people help other people to find solutions to their problems. Engage with people in your community and create relationships. Do not try to sell to people. Use the community to enhance your credibility and build trust, and when the time is right, the business will come.
Facebook is the best social network to create a community around your brand. Check out this guide on how to create a Facebook community.
9. Small investments for content creation
It is worth making some small investments to help you create professional marketing content for your business. I would recommend having at least either Google G Suite or Microsoft Office 365, each will cost $10-$20 a month. Many people have access to one of these two options through a corporate or government job. If so, utilise the available programs!
Both offer similar programs and give you more cloud storage space which is great for storing big files like videos, but they both also have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of applications. Google G Suite includes applications such as Google Drive for storage, Gmail for mail and Google Forms is a great tool to create surveys to distribute to customers to understand more about their needs. Microsoft Office includes Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets and PowerPoint for presentations. It is also great for creating frames for social media videos. Use this resource for an in-depth comparison between the two suites. Both offer similar products, but there’s som
If you have a little bit of a budget I would recommend purchasing Adobe Suite, for numerous professional video editing and photo editing products. You can also sign up for websites such as Envato Elements for around $20–30 US a month, for access to thousands of video templates, stock images, PowerPoint templates and the like, to make your job as a content creator much easier.
Wherever you are online, the algorithm (brain) favours those who engage. If someone engages in your content, respond! This ensures more people see your content and therefore, more potential customers. Aim to get people to engage in your posts, and then have a conversation with them.
But do not just engage in your content, engage in other peoples’ or businesses’ content. Join groups dedicated to the industry you are in or a service you provide and have conversations with people. Provide value for people through sharing your expertise. Without trying to sell! All these trivial things add up and increase the awareness of your brand and what you do.
The aim is to build relationships with as many people as possible. People do business with people that they trust. Having genuine conversations will increase trust in you and enhance your credibility.
That is it for the week. I hope you find this useful and use this knowledge to start creating some marketing content for your business!
Author: Daniel Hopper
Daniel Hopper is a marketing consultant based in New Zealand. Connect with him on Linkedin.
He runs a marketing business in New Zealand called BYB Marketing, specialising in brand management and marketing strategy. Check it out: https://brandyourselfbetter.com/
Daniel has had numerous marketing-related roles over the years…