Online advertising for small businesses is generally considered to be a waste of time, money, and energy. However, that’s because owners of small businesses don’t know that there are several types of online advertising for marketing their products and elevating their brand. The most popular form of free advertising remains word-of-mouth, but that isn’t something that every small business will have success with unless you’re head and shoulders above your competition.
When it comes to lead generation, having multiple channels ensures stability and consistency for your business, as you won’t need to rely on one lead generation channel. For small businesses evaluating different advertising avenues, it has never been easier to reach their audience. Through online advertising, you can reach your target audience easily and find the right type of person to target free of cost. It has taken down the barriers to entry for small businesses who want to market themselves locally while competing with established brands.
There are several free business advertising options online that help businesses get more out of their limited marketing and advertising budgets. The best part is that these free channels will supplement paid advertising to increase conversions, boost lead generation, and improve visibility. Implementing these tactics in your digital marketing strategy will help you lower costs and use your limited budget in a manner that will optimize your returns on investment.
In this guide for free business advertising online, we’re going to be looking at several digital marketing tactics that are free. We will also cover how you can take advantage of them.
1- Where Can You Advertise for Free?
Everyone’s heard the old saying ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch,’ and it is applicable to small business advertising completely. Is there such a thing as free advertising? When you think about social media and other business websites where you can list your business and gain free visibility, you do realize that you can promote your products and services for free online. But is it free? Well, not completely.
There are some places on the internet where small businesses can advertise for free by getting free visibility and free listings, and we’re going to highlight some of them by the end of this guide. However, before we get to that part, we will be focusing on the five limitations that will stand in your way when it comes to free business advertising online.
2- Things to Consider if You Want to Advertise Online for Free
You can employ or implement several free methods to supplement your paid advertising efforts. However, nothing in this world is completely free. There is always a ‘give and take’ for everything because that is fair and keeps things in balance. However, you gain a significant advantage by incorporating free advertising tactics online into your marketing strategy to make long-term gains.
Online advertising isn’t easy, even if it is free, so you’ll need to keep that in mind, and we will share some of the things you should consider when advertising online for free.
2.1- Free Business Advertising Platforms Aren’t the Best
You may find some free platforms to be great for building brand presence and improve overall presence, but if you’re looking to attract customers immediately, you may want to go for a more direct route to acquire sales or leads. Free listing sites and platforms may not deliver the results you want instantly.
2.2- Harder to Standout on Free Advertising Platforms
The more popular the free business advertising platform, the harder it is going to be for your brand to stand out. Advertising your offerings for free is a benefit of social media. However, social media platforms have so much going on, and so many different brands are marketing their products and services that it becomes difficult for your brand to stand out.
Some social media platforms will also limit your visibility to your followers unless you pay to ‘boost’ your post and ensure it is visible to everyone. You may even need to purchase a ‘featured listing’ package so that your ads are posted at the top and don’t get lost in the crowd.
2.3- You Must Invest Time to See Results
You may not be paying money to advertise for free online but will be spending another commodity, time, which some say is even more valuable than money. When advertising for free online, don’t expect to see immediate results because it’s not going to be perfect. You may even need to hire paid staff or a contractor to find content, find and customize images, post updates, participate in conversations, and monitor replies.
So, even though you are advertising for free, you’ll still be paying money. Even if you don’t hire labour and use software tools, they will still cost you money.
2.4- Free Platforms Evolve into Paid Platforms
You may start out using a free service to advertise your local small business online, but eventually, the platform may start charging you to continue getting the same features. The platform can’t be blamed here for trying to get compensation for its usage and technology. So, even if you’re not paying for advertising, you will end up paying for using the technology tool.
3- Why You Should Consider Advertising Online
Working with a limited marketing budget isn’t ideal, and it is tough for small businesses to get noticed or stand out among the crowd. Most marketers get disheartened when they don’t have enough budget to realize their goals. If your small business is in dire need of more traffic, the best thing to do is to find the best online advertising channels and look for ways you can advertise for free on them.
The good news is that we’re here to help your business find the best free advertising opportunities online to improve their marketing strategies. Before we get into that, let’s check out some of the reasons why you should consider online advertising:
3.1- Consumer Behavior is Changing
Consumers today rely heavily on the internet for information and purchasing products and services. A look at the recent retail apocalypse taking place right now will tell you all about it. Even the biggest retailers in the country are struggling to stay in business due to the surge in online shopping.
Therefore, it makes sense to shift towards online advertising to take advantage of the sheer number of prospects you can reach out to. If customers are opting for online shopping, that’s where your small business should be heading as well.
3.2- Reach a Massive Audience Worldwide
Online advertising has empowered businesses of all sizes by allowing them access to a global audience to sell their products and services. It has improved building brand awareness and allowed small businesses to reach thousands of new customers by running a simple ad campaign on social media. Online advertising has brought scale and reach to businesses at unprecedented levels, which wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago!
3.3- The Convenience Factor
One of the main reasons why consumers today have shifted towards online shopping is because the internet has made it so convenient. Now, you can easily jump on Amazon and reorder detergent before you run out instead of rushing to your nearest store to purchase it.
Advertising can be a tedious process, and we’re not going to sugarcoat it for you. However, online advertising has made it easy. With the right strategy and plan, online advertising is as easy as baking a pie in the oven.
3.4- Save Big on Advertising Costs
One of the biggest reasons to shift towards online advertising is because it offers you unparalleled cost savings. Gone are the days when you were dependent on your advertising budget as traditional advertising on radios and television was out of the reach for small businesses.
Online advertising has levelled the playing field for businesses of all sizes, and with the right system in place, you can not only track your performance but compete with the biggest brands on the same platform. You can also easily measure how well your ads are performing and what kind of returns you’re getting on your investment.
3.5- Your Competitors are Online
Irrespective of what industry you’re operating in, the odds are good that your competition is online. If you don’t have an online presence, you’ll end up becoming irrelevant. That’s because your competitors will be targeting all your leads, and that’s a place where you don’t want to be since you’d rather be the outright choice for anyone looking for products and services in your industry.
Online advertising has become an essential need for small businesses and is a vital part of the online marketing puzzle that ensures success.
4- Best Ways to Get Free Business Advertising Online
Now that you’re on board with online advertising and know why it has become necessary for small businesses to adopt it, we’ll get into the thick of things and talk about some digital marketing tactics you can take advantage of that are free (or close to free). We’ll also cover the best ways you can take advantage of free business advertising online to give your local and small business a shot in the arm:
4.1- Social Media Marketing
One of the best avenues for free business advertising online is social media, as you don’t get charged anything to set up a social media account for your business, post content, engage with users, and share other content and events, etc. It is a total gamechanger for small businesses as posting content to their company’s social media page allows them to reach out to their audience and engage with them.
Posting relevant content allows you to drive more traffic to your website and attracts more followers if you’re sharing valuable information that makes a difference in their lives. Engaging with your fans and followers on social media as a small business gives you the opportunity to build long-term relationships that translate into sustained long-term success.
Starting a conversation with your followers is easy, as all you need to do is pose a question and give your followers something to think about. You can then respond to them on comments and answer questions to show the audience that your brand wants to help and cares about them.
You can set up an advertising budget for social media marketing, with the best part being that you’re 100% in charge of it with no contracts or fees to worry about for advertising on social media. The best part is that social media advertising is 100% trackable, so you can see exactly how your ad dollars are working. The analytics will give you insight into how you can improve your performance.
Though social media marketing is free for the most part, you will be investing a significant amount of time on it to get it working for you. You can make this process more efficient by scheduling posts and spending time on curating high-quality content with relevant articles and information that your audience wants to read and engage with.
Another great free business advertising tactic online is posting content on a business blog that you can share with your fans and followers. All you need to ensure that the blog domain includes the URL of your website, and for a small fee, you can set up a blog with your own domain.
This is the best way to build your brand online as it gives you a place to drive traffic to, and you can also set up a blog on your business website for your customers and leads. The important thing here is to create top-notch content that is SEO-worthy and improves engagement with your followers. When it comes to choosing blog topics, you should consider what is most valuable to your target audience.
4.3- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Optimizing your website for search engines is completely free. Even though it takes time and expertise to perfect the SEO, the process is free and will ultimately drive free traffic to your website. The Google Keyword Planner allows you to perform free keyword research for the most trending and relevant keywords being searched by consumers in your industry.
Once you’ve performed the keyword research, you should focus on producing relevant content that is optimized with the keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for online. Review all the pages on your website to ensure they have been formatted correctly and highlight the right keywords. To take advantage of SEO, you must work on creating high-quality blog content that is valuable and emphasizes the right keywords.
Another crucial aspect of SEO is building quality backlinks to improve your domain authority and boost your visibility on search engines. You’ll also need to build more relevant backlinks to your website if you’re looking to improve your SEO score significantly.
4.4- Email Marketing
One of the best and cheapest ways to reach your target audience online is email marketing. Most consumers have an email address and prefer to get business communications through this channel, but the good news is that with the help of a few tools, email marketing can be 100% free as well.
You carry out email marketing campaigns even when you only have a few email contacts. Some email marketing companies even offer free packages to companies with a limited number of contacts. These free packages allow you to use your template and other tools to create and send branded and professional emails free of cost.
However, for those businesses with a long list of contacts, it’s best to use an established email marketing service that gives you free trial options to try out their services for a limited time. After the trial, pricing will change depending on the number of contacts on your lists. The more contacts you have, the higher the price is going to be. However, the cost is minimal when you factor in how many emails are going to be sent on average to customers.
5- Tips for Getting the Most Out of Free Business Advertising Online
Apart from the digital marketing tactics shared above, we also have some other online tricks up our sleeves that will help your business gain free exposure online. We’ve compiled a quick list of our top picks for making the most of free business advertising online:
5.1- Claim Your Google My Business Listing for Local SEO
The best thing about Google My Business listings is that it makes searching for local businesses and stores convenient, which is why so many people depend on them to find information. The GMB listing offers consumers everything they want to know to make an informed purchase decision, which includes your address, business hours, and telephone number.
You can also add photos to your GMB listing to attract the attention of your target audience and stand out from your competitors. Consumers can also read reviews of the business from other customers below the images. You can ask your customers to leave reviews on Google to improve your GMB listing rankings and get buyers to notice your brand online.
5.2- Ensure Your Business Listings on Yelp are Accurate
Google My Business isn’t the only business listing online that allows you to take advantage of free business advertising. You should take advantage of other listings on the internet, since your goal is to be in as many places as possible, increase your reach, and improve your visibility online.
Yelp is the most popular spot for businesses who want to improve their online reach for free. It is an online review website that millions of consumers use to get recommendations on everything from beauty shops to bars. Customers leave reviews on Yelp along with a star rating for other customers to see whenever they search for a business on Yelp.
Plenty of other business listing websites let you create a profile or a listing for your business free of cost. There are national listing websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and FourSquare as well. You can also find industry-specific websites like TripAdvisor, Thumbtack, Kudzu, or Angie’s List. Apart from these local websites, you can also consider local websites like the Chamber of Commerce and other local business listings.
You should know that your business listing or review profile isn’t only going to be accessible from the business listing website. Traffic will also be driven to this listing from search engines or through a referral from another consumer. That’s why you must ensure that all listings are updated and always encourage your customers to leave positive reviews to improve your visibility on business listing pages.
Also, keep your address the same on every platform, and your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) should be the same on all pages on the internet. This will ensure that search engines give your business more credibility for having a larger online presence and strengthen your reputation.
5.3- Answer Questions on Quora
You want to be viewed by everyone as an industry leader or an authority figure in your own industry, even though you may be a small startup that has only been around a couple of months. One of the best ways to ensure that and improve your online exposure for free is by answering questions on Quora. It is a question and answer platform that allows users to ask questions and get answers from others.
Most experts use Quora to offer insights and provide informative answers that will give value to those who’re searching for specific information on various topics. Quora is a great platform for businesses to demonstrate their expertise and offer real value to consumers. Answering relevant questions on Quora lets you connect and engage with your target audience as well.
When you answer a question on Quora, you’re not only educating a prospective customer but are also getting the name of your brand and business highlighted as an authority figure or expert in that field. Here is what a business answer looks like on Quora:
You will notice that the person answering the question has their title and name displayed before their answer, which helps lend credibility to the answer. It also helps your business familiarize itself with Quora users and potential customers. There are also share buttons beneath the answer that allow users to share their favourite answers instantly on social media.
These social share buttons offer you another great free way to advertise your business online. By writing quality, informative, and detailed answers that help readers, you’re more likely to get free publicity and word-of-mouth with them leading to free exposure for your brand online.
5.4- Writing Guest Blog Posts for Leading Industry Blogs
We have already talked about how you can optimize your own blog on your website for free business advertising. However, most small businesses have little success with that tactic since their blog isn’t well-established, making it harder for them to get new audiences to read them. One way around that hurdle is by writing guest blog posts for more popular and influential blogs to reach new audiences online for free.
Irrespective of what industry your business is in or what type of products or services you offer, posting guest blog content on well-established and relevant blogs in your industry will help elevate your brand reputation and online visibility. The biggest benefit of guest blogging is that you can reach out to new audiences and tap into a new group of consumers who will benefit from your products and services.
Apart from accessing a new audience, guest posting can also help establish your business as the leading voice in the industry. Writing on topics that are trending or important to your audience and industry gives you the opportunity to share your expertise and insight. You can demonstrate your industry knowledge and become a leading authority on essential topics, setting you apart from your competitors.
Guest posting on well-established blogs helps improve your search engine optimization tactics as well. When you post content on a high authority domain, you will improve online visibility for your brand as well. You can also link back to your own website in the blog and get another inbound link that increases your own domain authority and rankings on search engines.
You can also publish posts on LinkedIn, which is a great social network to reach out to professionals and a great platform for posting business-related content. You can become an expert in your field in a world of professionals and get free publicity and promotion for your brand whenever users engage and share your posts on LinkedIn. It also increases your chances of networking with other business professionals.
5.5- Promote Your Brand in Your Email Signature
We touched a little bit on how email marketing offers your business a fantastic way to promote your business for free online. But what if you’re sending emails every day? Even non-marketing emails that you send to colleagues, vendors, and prospects give you a great opportunity to advertise your social profiles, website, and content for free.
Just include a link to your social profiles, your website, or your blog within the email signature, and you’re all set. Creating a branded and clean email signature helps your brand stand out in the inbox of prospects and serves as a great way to drive traffic back to your website at no cost. Here is an example of what it should look like:
Notice that the email signature has the standard information like email, phone number, and address, but there are small social media icons next to a direct link to the company’s website. Including this information in your email signature helps you advertise your business for free and encourages users to check out your brand on social media as well.
6- Get Started with Free Business Advertising Online
Now that you’ve got a great idea about all the different ways you can take advantage of free business advertising online, it’s time you get started. When looking to include these tactics in your digital marketing strategy, you must remember the following:
- Take advantage of channels like GMB listings and guest blogging
- Email marketing helps you reach and nurture leads
- SEO improves organic reach on search engines
- Blogging helps you connect with audiences at no cost
- Social media is a free way to reach and engage with audiences
Even though most of these tactics are free, you’ll still need time to implement them and take advantage of the results. If your business is just starting out and you don’t have the time to implement these tactics, you can acquire the services of a digital marketing agency such as SEO Resellers Canada.
At SEO Resellers Canada, we would love to help you start taking advantage of free business advertising tactics online. Our team offers affordable and effective digital marketing services, such as email marketing, SEO, blogging, social media marketing, and more. To find out more, contact us today!