1. Create a simple website with a free website builder.
As web designers, we understand the cost factor involved in creating a quality website. We also understand the importance of having a website. Having something is better than nothing, even if it’s free.
WordPress.com takes you through an easy-to-use step-by-step process for creating a free, simple website you can use to promote your business and connect with your audience.
2. Submit your website to search engines.
Put simply, if you want your website to be seen online, search engines should know you have one. Take an active approach and submit your website manually to ensure search engines will serve your site in search results when people are looking for your products and services online.
While search engines like Yahoo! and Bing (and Google, too) prefer you directly submit your website through their platform, services like Entireweb.com let you submit your URL(s) to all of these and more using one registration.
DISCLAIMER: Doing this has no influence on where you show up on the list of search results. That’s called search engine optimization, and that’s a whole other beast.
3. Make sure you have a Google My Business listing with accurate information.
According to a survey from SearchEngineWatch.com:
- 71% of customers research and confirm a business’s location before leaving to visit that business for the first time
- 22% use their smartphone to lookup the location while they’re on the way (tisk tisk)
That’s 93% of customers verifying your location. More importantly, 73% of those customers lose trust in the brand when their online listing shows an inaccurate location.
Given Google pretty much reigns supreme in the search engine world, it’s ideal to head there first to establish your business listing and make sure all other Google listings are consistent and correct.
Google My Business is basically Google’s dashboard for managing your Google properties. Think of it as an interface between you and your local search presence on Google. When managed properly, a well-utilized Google My Business listing allows Google searchers to find you more easily and provides them quick access to information they want. With just a touch of a finger or click of a mouse, they can get to your website, see your hours of operation or contact you directly.
BONUS: If you go the extra mile and upload captivating images and proudly display rave reviews from happy customers on your Google My Business listing you can also show prospects how amazing you are.
4. Register with local online directories.
Submitting your information to online directories dedicated to certain regions or industries is another great way to get in front of as many people as possible. For example, MayeCreate Design is listed as a Service business on the Discover the District website, so when anyone goes looking for service companies in the downtown Columbia, MO area, they’ll see us.
Services like Manta exist specifically for this purpose and proudly states this on their website: “Manta helps millions of small businesses get found by more customers.” HubSpot shares this along with 49 others on their blog, highlighting that submitting only to a few means you’re missing out big time. So basically what we’re saying is go crazy!
5. Submit your listing to all the other search engines out there.
Submitting your listing to platforms like Bing Places puts your name in the running when people go to search for your products and services on that browser. Sure, Google is typically pegged as the omnipotent search engine of the 21st century. But there are still plenty of people out who may prefer one of the others.
6. Create social media accounts for your business.
Creating business accounts on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is absolutely free. And incorporating the use of social media into your marketing plan has its advantages if your that’s where your target market is. The simple practice of offering engaging content and interacting with your customers and influencers on social media can fuel your branding efforts and put your name in the forefront of your audience’s minds, again, if that’s where your audience lives.
Now, the caveat to that is this: the act of creating the account is free, yes. However, the rewards you could reap from using it directly correlate to the time and energy you put into managing it, so keep that in mind if you pursue this option.
7. Start a blog.
So, get this. Having a featured blog as a key part of your website gives you a 434% better chance of being ranked highly on search engines.
434%!!! Um, WHAT?! I know! That’s insane! I’ll take ya one further: Business to Business marketers using blogs as part of their content marketing mix pull in 67% more leads than B2B marketers that don’t, as cited in this blog-inspiring post from ExpressWriters.com.
And when platforms like WordPress.com are offering a free blogging service, why not?? Even Facebook and LinkedIn also have story-promoting features built in, though these are into integrated with your site they won’t impact your search engine ranking the same way.
When used for the purpose of blogging, writing about your business and your industry can be used to grow your business credibility and increase your website traffic exponentially. Your blog articles can offer answers to questions commonly asked in your industry. And when people find quality information they can trust, they’ll remember who gave it to them and start building trust with you as a result.
8. Show off your expertise on other industry blogs.
If starting your own blog sounds overwhelming, you can get your feet wet sharing your industry knowledge online by doing either one of these two things:
- Write for other blogs.
- Post comments on other blog posts.
This way, you’re influencing readers to trust you by providing valuable information when they need it, and if readers like what you have to say, you’re building credibility in your industry.
9. Take advantage of free email marketing services.
When you sign up for a free email marketing account with MailChimp, you’re allowed up to 12,000 emails per month and 2,000 subscribers. That’s a lot of subscribers and A LOT OF EMAILS at zero out-of-pocket cost.
Not to sound like a broken record, but this activity, like social media and blogging, does take time to set up the account, create your lists, and email content, so keep that in mind when getting started.
10. Post videos to YouTube.
YouTube is still a free online video service (for now at least) and provides incredible opportunity for sharing videos related to your products, services, and/or industry expertise.
Each time you upload a video, you can use your social media accounts and email marketing to alert your followers. You could also throw it up on your website as a Resource or as a blog post and then share on social media. I could go on, but you see my point.
11. Submit your events to online community calendars.
Every little bit helps, right? Think of this suggestion as taking a digital “word of mouth” approach to your online marketing efforts.
If your business hosts, is involved with, or sponsors a lot of events, be sure to submit your event information to as many free online community calendars as possible. This is guaranteed to gain you some attention from folks you may not have had an opportunity to capture in any other way, so why not?
Oh, the places you can go…
These 10 free ways to market your business listed above offer a great starting point without putting a dent in your budget. Because let’s be real: cost aside, marketing your business can be a complex challenge in too many ways to list.
Seems foolish not to take advantage of free online advertising, doesn’t it? If you want to get your pride on, you’ve gotta start somewhere, and starting with these above methods will not only help you market your business for free, it will also gain you experience in the online world and create opportunities for you to expand your marketing efforts in the future.