Who said marketing has to be expensive? Whether you have money to spend on marketing or not, there a lot of things you can do that don’t cost a dime. Here is a guide on how you can market your company for free:
Track before you act
Before you start any marketing initiatives, you need to make sure you have the correct tracking in place. This way you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. The last thing you want to do is spend time on things that aren’t working.
An easy way to do this is through the use of Google Analytics, which is free. If you are already using it, that’s great. If you aren’t, here is a short video that explains how to use it.
Search engine traffic converts
One way to get more traffic to your website is to optimize it for search engines. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing have millions, if not billions of visitors. So why not have some of those visitors come on over to your website?
Before you start optimizing your site for search engines, there are a few things you should know:
- There are 2 main aspects that will affect how much traffic you receive from search engines.
- Links – the more websites linking to your website, the higher it will rank. Think of links as votes, if you have more votes than your competition, you will usually rank higher than them.
- Code – if a search engine can’t read your website, then there is no way that it will know what it is about and what keywords to rank it for. It is very important to make sure your website code is clean so that a search engine can understand what your website is about.
- Keep it simple – there is nothing wrong with having a cool looking site, such as those flash based movie sites, but they usually don’t rank well on search engines. In most cases, the simpler looking sites rank better.
- Content is king – you have to have content (text) on your website. If your website is about gardening tools, then naturally the word “gardening tools” should be inside your websites content. This helps search engines determine what to rank your website for.
- Page 1 is all that matters – if you want traffic from search engines, you have to rank on page 1 of the search results. Ranking on page 2, 3, or even 4, doesn’t drive much traffic.
- The long tail – your goal shouldn’t be to rank for generic keywords. Instead you want to rank for niche and highly relevant keywords because those visitors will more likely convert into sales.
Now that you know a bit about search engines, there are 2 articles you need to read if you want search engine traffic.
- If you want to learn more about SEO, read this post that I wrote a few months ago.
- Read the beginner’s guide to search engine optimization. It will teach you everything you need to know about getting more search engine traffic.
Email marketing isn’t spam
No matter what type of website you have, you should be collecting your visitor’s email address. Now you shouldn’t force this upon them, but if they sign up for something or purchase a product, make sure you collect their email address.
For example, some websites offer readers a free ebook. To receive the ebook, you have to enter in your email address, which they’ll send promotions to in the future.
Once you have collected a few emails, you can use services like Mail Chimp to blast out special promotions to your email list. But before you get started, there are a few things you need to know about email marketing:
- Only send emails to opted in email addresses. If you send promotional emails to addresses that aren’t opted in, your emails will likely get marked as spam. And if too many of them get marked as spam, no one will be able to receive them.
- Don’t send out too many emails. If you send emails every day, you’ll notice that people will tend to ignore them. So try and only send them when you have something good to say or offer.
- Avoid spam filters. Before you send out any emails, read up on spam filters.
Create some buzz
The blogosphere is a great place to go to if you want to create some buzz about your company and boost your traffic. If you want to get covered in the blogosphere there are a few steps that you have to follow:
- Create something that is news worthy – bloggers want something hot to talk about. Whether it is something cool and exciting about your company or even a simple contest, bloggers need something to talk about. If you don’t have that, you won’t get coverage from the blogosphere.
- Target a select group of bloggers – after you have something that is news worthy, you want to create a relevant list of bloggers to target. You can determine if a blog is relevant by checking if they have written on things similar to what you want them to blog about.
- Contact bloggers – once you are ready to get covered in the blogosphere, you want to start contacting your list of bloggers. The easiest way to do this is by writing a custom tailored email to each blogger on your list.
- Build relationships – even after you are done contacting the bloggers on your list, you should try and build relationships with other bloggers. You never know when you’ll want more coverage in the blogosphere, and knowing bloggers on a personal level never hurts.
Getting bloggers to write about your company isn’t an easy thing to do. Just like most things, it is a numbers game because most of the bloggers you email won’t write about your company. So don’t give up too easily!
Don’t be afraid of social media
Although social media maybe new to you, it doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it.
Here are some useful links that will teach you how to use social media as a marketing channel:
- Create a facebook profile – although Facebook profiles are personal, they can still be used to drive traffic to your business. For example, Facebook is one of the top referring traffic sources to The Business Directory. Every time I write a blog post, I also push it out on my Facebook profile so my friends can see it.
- Don’t use Twitter for fun – why not use it to promote your business? There are thousands of companies that are leveraging it every day.
- Videos can go viral too – if you have a camera handy, you can always create a video and get it popular on video sites like YouTube. Not only do they get tons of traffic, but those videos will also rank well on search engines like Google. Just make sure you mention your business or URL within the video.
- Look beyond the surface – social networks aren’t the only type of social sites that you should be leveraging. Sites like Docstoc and Scribd let you upload documents on whatever you want. Through those sites you can upload documents about your company. Those sites are so powerful that your content will rank high on the search engines and more people will end up knowing about your company.
- Old is sexy – although forums aren’t sexy, they are still popular. Find forums related to your business and start contributing to them. Don’t talk about your business, but just contribute by answering people’s questions. As long as you add your company URL in your forum signature, you will get more people to come over to your website.
The possibility with leveraging the social web as a marketing channel is endless. You just have to be creative and think out of the box.
Don’t fall into the mindset that marketing costs money. You don’t have to spend money to market your company!
There are tons of examples of successful companies like Zimbra (acquired by Yahoo) who didn’t spend money on marketing and are very successful. Hell, even Google didn’t spend money on marketing for the first few years they were in business and they did very well.
So don’t let anyone tell you that you need to spend money on marketing. There are always other options.