As a small business, it can be tough to attract attention when there are other big players in your industry. Of course, you may lack the resources and funds to go all-in to promote your business as aggressively as they do, but still there are plenty of options out there on the internet for you to boost your marketing game without paying a cent. As a company that formed 25 years ago from humble beginnings, Zoho believes that any business can thrive if a clear goal and good marketing strategy is put to action—and it doesn't have to break your bank.
To help your small business build brand awareness and a strong, dedicated following, here are five free marketing strategies that you can get started with today.
1. Strengthen your SEO
You may not want to pay for ads on Google. Don't worry, neither do we. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to rank higher in search results, and SEO is the best way to do that. The higher you rank, the easier it will be for people to discover you. While there are numerous ways you can perform SEO online, today we'll focus on two important SEO tactics to help you market your business more effectively.
An easy way to be more visible in local search results is to improve your local SEO strategy. You can do this by claiming and listing your business on platforms like Google My Business, Bing Places for business, and Apple Maps Connect. These are free tools that are intended to help organisations manage their online presence across their respective search engines and maps.
Now, if you wonder what's the big deal in appearing in local search results, we'd like to highlight two key findings from a 2014 Google report here:
4 out of 5 customers use search engines to find local information.
People are more likely to purchase after a local search than compared to those who conduct non-local searches.
You can't take this information lightly when it comes from the organisation that controls 92% of the search engine market. If you have a physical storefront and want to increase your local sales, this is a great opportunity. When you register on these platforms and add your organisation's details, potential customers can easily find your working hours, contact information, website, location, and more. By searching your service with the phrase 'near me,' your business will be more likely to show up in the results.
While local SEO targets a specific geographical area, traditional SEO is for any business looking to expand its digital reach and rank higher in organic search results. This is becoming more important as ecommerce picks up steam in multiple industries across the world. This type of SEO is all about optimising your website, product listings, and general content to improve their discoverability. Using effective title tags and meta descriptions, conducting keyword research, writing ALT text for images, and including a clickable phone number on your contact page are some examples of SEO best practices that can help boost your content marketing efforts.
2. Take advantage of social media
Almost 80% of Aussies are active social media users, and one-third of Australian consumers say that they will inspect a brand’s social media presence before doing any kind of business with them. That said, many small businesses disregard social media marketing, which has tremendous potential to grow their business. Social media is an instant connection to the world—a powerhouse of visually rich content that people are constantly engaging with and sharing. You can establish a social media presence without splurging on paid ads or hiring an influencer to market your business. We encourage you to create a free business profile on any platform your target audience uses and start posting relevant, useful content in your niche. When people find that your posts are actually helpful and engaging rather than just blatant advertising, you will receive organic followers who may eventually become customers.
Here's a useful guide to help your business get started with social media marketing.
3. Start email marketing
In terms of ROI, email marketing outperforms almost all other marketing techniques. From sending newsletters, seasonal offers, and promotions to providing customer support, email is a versatile tool that every small business should use. The best part is that it's highly customisable and exceptionally affordable. You can target and deliver relevant emails that bring value to specific customers for a fraction of what other marketing channels cost.
If you want to begin your email marketing journey or enhance the methods you're already using, you can test out our free version of Zoho Campaigns. Our easy-to-use email marketing software has automation, templates, and metrics, so you have everything you need to optimise your email campaign performance.
4. Build a business blog
Business blogs are an effective tool to build brand authority and credibility. Though they may take longer to produce results than other marketing methods, they are undeniably an excellent investment for your business. When you share your expertise by writing optimised blogs specific to your industry, you give more reasons for search engines to display you on results pages. This also helps you build domain authority and generate traffic to your website by reaching a larger audience. Simply put, the higher your search engine rankings, the more people will find you, and the better the chances are that they will convert into customers. For example, let's say you run a photography business. If people searching for a wedding photographer in Brisbane come across your blog post on 'Top 10 photography spots in Brisbane,' they might want to hire you if they were impressed with the photos you took and your deep understanding of the the field.
5. Join online forums and communities
Online forums are where people exchange ideas and interact with one another about a particular subject. Choose a suitable forum where you can meet prospective customers, participate in discussions, and actively contribute your tips and opinions on topics related to your business. However, be certain that you are adhering to the rules by promoting your company only in appropriate contexts. This is an excellent way to network with potential customers, build relationships, and introduce them to your services at the right time when they are needed. Quora, Reddit, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Flying Solo are some platforms where you can find dedicated groups or channels related to small businesses.
One of the most credible ways to attract loyal customers is through word of mouth. When people start talking about your organisation in positive ways to their friends, awareness about your brand grows exponentially. These marketing strategies follow that humble principle but apply it to today's digital world where people check their email, social media apps, and Google multiple times per day. Through the internet, there is so much you can do to market your business for free. Some of these methods will take time to yield results, but when they do, you can rest assured knowing that the leads they generate will be genuine prospects interested in making a purchase.
Have any suggestions or ideas on low-cost marketing strategies that can help small businesses grow? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!