How to Market Your Business Online for Free
No matter how many “next generation” Internet marketing tactics come down the line, that doesn’t mean you should discard all the effective ways to reach prospects and customers online that have been around for years… or even decades. They can be as good, if not better, at generating leads and boosting sales.
There are a number of proven ways to market your business on the internet. The following are proven methods you can use to market and promote your business online with little to no cost.
Give Away a Free Report
You can write a free report – you have it in you! And here’s why you should do it.
Free reports, available for free digital download on your website or landing pages, are a great way to establish your authority and expert status in your niche. They show customers that you are serious, real, and authentic. And they allow you to provide great free information, while at the same promoting your business in a subtle way.
Have you heard of the principle of reciprocity? It’s where people react to being given something of value for free by feeling the urge to do something for the other party. In this case, you give them valuable free information in a free report, and that, along with the expert status you gain, makes them more likely to buy your paid products.
Of course, to you the cost of a free report is basically free. It’s your time in writing or assembling the content for your free report. You could write it fresh. Or if you have a blog or have written articles in your niche, you could assemble that content into a special report, with editing as needed.
It’s important to make sure your free report feels “meaty,” like it has a lot of good information. But be sure to leave your prospect wanting more… which you give them in your paid products.
It’s kind of like bait.
Even if only a small percentage take it… that’s the basis for a profitable business if you cast your net wide enough. Here’s the key part. Every time somebody wants to download your free report, they have to provide their email address and permission for you to contact them in the future. This allows you to build a database of names to market to in the future. Check out the email marketing section of this article for more details on that.
If you’re stuck for a topic, just ask your audience. What questions or concerns does your typical prospect have? What are they interested in… or worried about? Say you are in the weight loss niche. There is so much write about. And when you’re passionate about a niche, as you no doubt are about yours, there is no shortage of subjects for a free report. Here are some possible titles: 6 No-Pain Diets to Get Your Bikini Body Back… or… Weight-Loss Secrets Mainstream Doctors Will Never Tell You.
Maximize the value of your free report by including a call to action. Throughout your free report you’ve been priming your prospect by providing valuable free information but also teasing the further knowledge they’ll gain with your paid products.
It's better to keep your free report short and to the point. A single subject that is a few pages long is better than a 100 page e-book in most circumstances because people will more likely read and digest that information. Then if the information is good they are more likely to trust you in the future.
So at the end, you just give them a way to take action on this building desire.
Ways to Use Free Reports:
- Create authority in your niche.
- Use the free report as the “bait” in your lead generation efforts.
- Put your free reports in online bookstores to increase awareness of you and your business.
Free Report Best Practices:
- Create an eye-catching title.
- Ensure the content is relevant and useful – make it valuable, even if you are giving it away.
- Build a database of the people who download your book so you can market to them later.
Let's take a look at another way to market your business online...
Marketing Your Website
Nothing can ever replace the website. It’s a valuable piece of online “real estate” for your business. It shows your prospects and customers that you’re serious… and a professional-looking website makes you more credible. You know those businesses that only have a free Facebook page to promote their business – I’m sure they lose many potential customers.
Your website is the place where you can market and sell your products, build relationships, generate leads, pass on valuable free content, test ideas, and more. Your website actively puts your message out into the world so that potential customers can find you too. It’s the focal point of your business.
Make your website work for you. Put a signup box in the top right corner so that you can capture your prospect’s email and name. That way you can use email to market to them further. Make a big splash on your home page by showcasing benefits to your prospect. If you have a free offer, like an ebook, show that prominently.
There are new software packages that let you showcase a free offer extremely effectively. Software like Convertbox allows you to show your signup box as a site stripe, a pop up, or a slide in.
Be sure to update your website frequently, probably with a blog, so that search engines seek it out and post them higher in the search results. Videos are also good for SEO.
One key thing to remember is that while design of a website is important, it should easy to use and navigate. Don’t use flashy graphics or animations or autoplaying annoying music. It should be clean, with a focus on providing useful information in an easy to understand format.
Speaking of which… there’s no need to hire an expensive web designer to create your website. There are plenty of low cost or no cost website building programs out there. With WordPress or Squarespace.com, for example, you can have a fully-operational website, even one for ecommerce, very quickly and cheaply.
If you can send an email or post to Facebook – you can create your own website. The software is easy and intuitive and several choices for templates are provided. No programming knowledge needed. And best of all, you don’t have to pay some every time you want to update your site. You can do it yourself in minutes.
Websites have had to adapt. These days you have to have a mobile version – more than half of Internet traffic is mobile these days. And you should update your site frequently with useful new content on topics related to your business niche as that will boost your chances of appearing higher in the results for search engines like Google.
Ways to Use Websites:
- Generate leads.
- Make direct sales.
- Build authority and expert status in your niche.
- Use SEO to rise in the search rankings.
Website Marketing Best Practices:
- Make your site clean and easy to navigate.
- Make your call to action, like signing up for your email list, clear.
- Add useful content regularly to keep prospects and customers coming back.
- Make sure you have a mobile version viewable on smartphones and tablets.
Let's take a look at one of the most popular ways to get free traffic to your website...
Have you ever written an email to a friend or family member or social media post? Then you can become a blogger. Of course, I’m not talking about using your blog as an online diary to write about your feelings. This is a blog that will support your business goals.
The great news is that it’s easy to write a blog. You don’t have to be a professional writer. Be real and authentic. Write the way you talk. Show your unique personality. Being a real person makes it more likely that prospects will read your blog posts… and pass them on to friends. Nobody knows your business better than you. You could write about studies or trends in your niche. Offer how-to guides. Lists are hugely popular. Post photos and videos.
With a blog you want to stir up conversations and engage your prospect. Make them fans… fans that will spread the word and bring in more leads and sales for you. That’s free advertising – can’t get a much better ROI than that.
Resist the urge to overly-promotional but don’t hesitate to talk about your products or what makes your company better than the competition. The key here is to be transparent.
Blogging is actually a form of social media in many ways. It can have a big impact in your business in several ways. It can boost your SEO… and as a result traffic to your website. Regularly posted content attract the eyes of search engines.
Speaking of social media, you can use social media to promote your blog posts and get more engagement. A software like Tailwind or MeetEdgar can help you organize and promote your content.
Posting consistent will also forge a connection between you and prospect. They come to know you as a real person. Regular posts show prospects that you are a real person and you can showcase your expert status in your niche. You’ve seen this theme quite a lot in this article – that should give you a clue how important it is.
Offering valuable free information keeps your prospect engaged with your business and wanting more… in the form of your paid products.
There is a lot of potential with blogs. A good blog post can go viral and be spread around the web. And that means more traffic to your online venture… and more potential customers. A blog makes it easy for prospects to come to understand the issues in your niche, how you can solve their problems.
Ways to Use Blogs:
- Build a relationship with your prospects and build your brand.
- Boost your search engine ranking through SEO.
- Establish your authority in your niche.
Blogging Best Practices:
- Be real. Be yourself. Show your unique personality.
- Post regularly – otherwise you will get fewer and fewer visitors.
- Offer valuable free information – but don’t be afraid to sell either.
Let's take a look at some final thoughts on testing and scaling your traffic...
Where to Go From Here
Okay, so you’ve got your marching orders… or, at the very least, a great starting point as you start figuring out how to market your products or services to a hungry online audience.
Using these three techniques, plus the three proven methods mentioned in this article – email, display ads, and search engine optimization – could result in significantly higher response rates to your promotions and a higher return on investment for your marketing efforts.
Remember though that not all marketing channels work for all businesses. So it’s important that you test each one to figure out which ones, or even which combination, work best for your online venture. I’m sure you’ll find that the so-called “old school” marketing tactics I’ve discussed here will be part of that marketing mix because they’re so effective.