I don’t need to remind you what COVID-19 has done to the economy – and if I do, read this to get up to speed.
With the contingencies of 2020 living in mind, there are many businesses who have been forced to promote themselves on a shoe-string budget.
If you fall into that bracket, this post will explain how you can promote your business online with a low budget…
Don’t get hung up on thinking guest posting is just writing free content for use on someone else’s website – although, as far as basic definitions go, that is correct.
If you’re looking to promote your business on a low budget, guest posting is something you should do.
Imagine this scenario: you’re a new business with little to no standing in the industry. You write a post for an industry big-hitter and get your company name and a link back to your site included in their content.
Thanks to that site’s reach and authority, your site gets an SEO boost and a load of referral traffic from their site’s readership.
Suddenly, that ‘free content’ you’re producing for another person’s website turns into a free advertorial for your website.
To make guest posting as effective as possible, think about which links you want to include in your content – then make the content those links point to especially evocative and on-brand. That way, you’ll drive click-throughs that stay there and look through your pages.
Plus, the fun doesn’t end there – whatever landing page you choose needs to be easy to digest with a concise call to action (CTA) that drive the user to the next step.
When it comes to low-cost marketing, nothing beats guest posting. But remember to optimise where your written content is hosted by choosing only relevant and authoritative sites and providing them with content they actually want to post. Which leads us to our next point…
Craft Converting Copy
There’s a knack to writing copy that draws in conversions – and whether you’re guest posting or writing for your own website, it’s an important skill to nail down.
As Josh Barney says, “most of your audience do not have much time or attention for blogs, articles and guides”.
Remember your audience: most of your users don’t want to wade through huge chunks of copy they can’t skim.
So break up your text with subheadings to hammer home key takeaways at a glance. Use images to further enhance the readability of your post and inset infographics where they add value – both of which act as great sharable asset that readers can easily post on social media.
Above all, lose the corporate tone of voice!
Humans want to hear from other humans, not robotic fact-givers.
Put your personality into your writing, and add humility and feeling.
How many times has your boss told you “We need to tap into ‘that’ TikTok”?
There are some realms of social media which, unless you’ve grown up with them, might not make sense to you.
It’s important to keep an ear on the ground when it comes to new trends… but if you don’t understand them, it can be hard to know what type of content you should create for them.
This is where student interns can help. Being generally young means they’ll be native users and consumers of emerging (not that we can call TikTok ‘emerging’ anymore without showing our age) social media platforms. Which means they’ll inherently understand what content works.
So, not only are student interns a great option for marketers with a mentoring mindset who could benefit from the inexpensive labour, they can also teach you a thing or two.
By utilising the help of student interns, the rewards are two-fold: as a business, you gain insight that can only be offered by a younger demographic, and the student gains real-life industry experience which will help them secure job roles in the future.
Student internships are typically unpaid roles that students take on during term breaks – though, bear in mind that you will miss out on some great talent if you don’t offer scholarships (e.g. paid positions) for students whose families are on a low income.
All-in-all, this is a great option when you’re looking to boost your company’s advertising efforts on little to no budget.
Plus, it’s also a good way to scout for new up and coming talent who could transition to full-time employees later on.
One of the driving forces behind cheap or free local search engine optimisation (SEO) juice is citation directories.
Citations are online reference points to businesses that are hosted on third-party sites. They contain a business’s vital stats, e.g. name, address and phone number – collectively known as ‘NAP’.
To get started, there are some popular citation listing spots, according to Search Engine Journal:
- Google My Business
- Bing Maps
Citations help users discover local businesses. As with all sites, some will have a higher domain authority (DA) than others, but it’s important to get listed in the correct category for your business as category relevancy is more important than DA.
With citations, you can improve local rankings, as well as cruise the tailwind of page one search engine results. So, it’s important to choose your directories wisely for this reason.
Use a citation category sorter to see which directories have the best rankings for SEO and can help to narrow down your choice by industry.
Finding the right citation directories and entering your details into each one can be labour intensive. But, they are a zero-cost/high-reward way to market your business without spending any money.
Finally, nothing sells a product or service more than people who’ve already bought it saying how good it is.
On the topic, Forbes goes so far as to say that “the single most important thing you can do to attract new customers is to take control of your online review score”. They suggest that a star rating of at least 3.3 is the minimum a business should aim for.
Realistically, what are you more likely to believe when making a purchase decision: a billboard with a flagrant claim straight from the brand’s ad office, or a humbly-written review on an independent site of someone’s genuine experience?
The two messages could broadly say the same thing, but you’d be more inclined to spend based on the customer review.
With online reviews now influencing 93% of consumer’s purchases, all businesses should be thinking big when it comes to encouraging their customers to write this type of social proof.
If you are just starting out, include a polite request in your sales confirmation or digital receipts to encourage customers to leave a review in return for a discount code on their next order (although it’s worth nothing that some review sites, e.g. Google, explicitly prohibit offering rewards in exchange for reviews).
Even if negative reviews come in, which they invariably will, the key is to respond to everything promptly and with genuine, heartfelt care. If a customer experienced a slow delivery, look into why and come back to them with a solution.
By offering a refund and making this solution public, you’ll show that customers and others thinking of buying from you that you’re proactive and fair in solving problems.
Most of these suggestions, although very cheap or free, require you to put in the work yourself. But, for new businesses, or those forced to cut their marketing spend as a result of the global pandemic, these low-to-no cost options are great alternatives to standard advertising.
So try a few out and see how you get on. Let us know what worked best for you in the comments below!
Want more digital marketing advice, strategies and tactics? Check out one of our most popular ever guides:
- What is Direct Marketing? A Complete Guide to The Most Cost Effective Form Of Marketing
- Marketing Psychology: 6 Marketing Principles That Influence Consumer Behaviour
- Facebook Ad Scaling Basics: Anybody Can Scale a Winning FB Campaign
- How to Write For the Internet
- How to Use Instagram Hashtags (and How Not to)