Marketing a small business can be expensive – press coverage and outdoor advertising are often out of the reach companies on a tight budget. However, the internet has made effective marketing easier than ever before so read on to learn the techniques which can help attract customers with minimal expenditure.
1 – Pay-per-click advertising
PPC advertising can be a highly cost-effective way to attract traffic to a website, but campaigns need to be well-managed in order for them to work properly.
The fundamentals of PPC are simple – essentially you pay a certain amount each time someone clicks an advertisement that directs them to your website. However, just because someone visits your site it doesn’t mean they will buy your product or service.
This means that you have to balance the cost of the traffic you receive with the profit you get from each sale, which can be trickier than it sounds.
Google AdWords is perhaps the best-known PPC service and there is plenty of advice out there for beginners looking to maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns.
Further reading is essential here.
2 – Search Engine Optimization
Although a large budget is beneficial for SEO projects, hard work and creativity can make up for a lack of cash. However, you shouldn’t expect success to be quick and it may be all but impossible to rank for certain phrases just because the competition is stiff.
Here are some tips for small firms to make get the most out of SEO.
Focus on local
If you’re a business that’s focused on a particular area, local SEO is a must. Completing a Google+ Business profile will help you appear in the location-based results that often dominate location-based queries (see the image below).
Create useful content
Links are still vital to SEO and the best way to get them is by creating content that people find useful or interesting. A blog is a great place to start and keeping it up to date can help establish you as an authority in your niche.
Work on outreach
Of course, great content doesn’t generate links on its own – you need to put some effort into promoting it. Put simply, this involves contacting people who are might be interested in what you have to say and asking them to promote your content in some way.
In practice, it’s more complicated than that and this post by Paul May of Buzzstream is a great place for beginners to start learning about effective outreach.
Avoid bad practices
It can be tempting to pay for SEO services that offer a huge number of links in a short period of time, but such services are at best worthless and can even do harm to your site. There are many legitimate SEO agencies out there, but there are also many who will take your money and offer you little in return.
Remember, if an SEO service seems too good to be true, it probably is.
3 – Guest blogging
Although guest blogging is an SEO tactic, it deserves to be mentioned as a online marketing technique in its own right because of its ability to generate direct traffic to your website.
The principles of guest blogging are dealt with in the Buzzstream article mentioned above and it’s a really useful link building technique.
But there’s also a lot to be said for guest blogging as a traffic generation method. If you can places articles on a site with a significant number of visitors, then some of these will inevitably click the link to see what you have to offer.
Visitor levels can be maximized by providing useful, actionable content and a bio which includes a call to action that isn’t a sales pitch.
Guest blogging is a great way to boost awareness of a company.
4 – Email marketing
If someone has brought your product or signed up for a newsletter, the chances are they’re very interested in what you have to say. Once you have someone’s email address, you can send offers and updates straight to their inbox.
Remember though, no one likes spam so make sure you are asking people to opt-in to your communications and once they have limit the number of messages you send.
Measurability is also vital for effective email marketing campaigns. Mail Chimp will allow you to track the open and click through rates of your messages so you can tell what’s working.
5 – Supporting/sponsoring events
Local companies should be involved in the local community, and there’s no better way of doing so than sponsoring events. Obviously, budgetary considerations apply here and no small firm is going to be able to stump up the cash to sponsor something like the Super Bowl.
However, sponsorship of local events should be within your grasp and will bring with it press coverage and regional exposure. Small firms that get involved with the local community benefit from a huge amount of goodwill and this can be enough to attract customers away from bigger brands operating in the same niche.
Good marketing is never easy, but the tips outlined above should help you head down the right track.
- License: Image author owned
- License: Image author owned
This article was written by Will Stevens, part of the 123-reg.co.uk blogging team. In the past he has written for ReadWrite and the Guardian on issues relating to domain names and content marketing.