The Small Business Guide To Digital Marketing On A Shoestring Budget

Brand promotion doesn’t come easy, and the odds don’t favor small businesses. With neither the time nor the resources to compete with the heavyweights, they have to rely on their wits to get the word out. On the bright side, a number of free (or almost-free) digital marketing tools have made it easier for the underdogs to compete. The following strategies may not level the playing field, but they can definitely help small businesses stay in the game.

List Your Business

List your info (name, description, address, business hours, etc.) on Google My Business to increase your visibility and make life easier for your customers. The details will appear at the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) and let people know where to find you, how to get in touch with you and when they can drop by.

The latest version of Google My Business also lets you post business updates, respond to reviews and look at analytics. If you want to increase your odds of success, post on every local business platform, including Bing Places for Business, Yahoo! Small Business and Yelp.

Take Advantage Of Google’s Free Tools

Google offers a number of free solutions that can help small businesses market on a shoestring budget. For starters, there’s Google Analytics, the most powerful platform around for analyzing web traffic. Then there’s Voice, the free phone service that lets you text, call and set up a voicemail inbox without having to pay a monthly fee.

As for cloud services, Google’s free suite includes Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar. Of course, everything gets better as you rise up the premium scale, but you should try the company’s free offerings before handing over any cash. Once you understand the digital marketing landscape, you’ll have a better sense of which premium services you need and which ones you can live without.

Create A Killer Website

Every business wants to save money, but the wise ones know you can’t skimp on everything. Take your website, for example. It’s a billboard, storefront and business card all wrapped into one. It’s also the only “store” your online customers will ever see.

In order to attract visitors and retain customers, your site should not only be attractive but friendly – user friendly, mobile friendly and search engine friendly. At the very least, you’ll need a clean, secure, responsive and easy-to-navigate design. WordPress, Squarespace and Wix are some quality options that are easy to use. You don’t have to go bankrupt trying to create the perfect site, but don’t be afraid to invest enough to get the job done right.

Leverage Your Existing Contacts

Starting a business doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch, at least when it comes to your contacts. Before branching out and building new lists, tap into your existing resources. Revisit your previous business email lists, and then dig into your personal contact list, your LinkedIn connections and your Facebook friends. Remember, don’t be afraid to promote your brand content on your personal profile, whether that be Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter or whatever platform you call home.

Reach Out To Influencers

Some small businesses take a “if you build it, they will come” approach to digital marketing. They throw up a website, publish their business info and post on social media as if it were a billboard dotting the highway. While each one of those strategies is necessary, none of them is sufficient.

If you want real results, you’ll need to connect with real people. You can start by analyzing BuzzSumo stats to find micro-influencers who dominate your niche, using HARO to get in touch with journalists who cover topics relevant to your business and spending the time to have conversations with your social media followers.

Master The Basics Of SEO

The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is complex and always evolving. The learning process never ends. Before you dive into the deep end, start with the basics. Use SEMrush or Google’s Keyword Planner to find and then refine your main keywords.

Once you’ve done that, you can install the Yoast SEO plug-in for WordPress. A nifty little plug-in, Yoast analyzes each page for key SEO characteristics. Does your keyword appear in the text? Is your content too thin? Did you include images? Is your site structured properly? The Yoast plug-in will tell you all that and so much more.

Stream Live Video

Once upon a time, a video ad was a luxury, something that could set a business apart from competitors that relied on static images and text. Nowadays, a brand can’t survive without at least one video ad. So what do you do if you want to stand out?

You go live. According to Facebook, live videos garner 10 times more comments than regular videos. Why? Because people want to feel as if they’re part of the action, instead of spectators making observations after the fact. Leverage that desire to find new customers and turn existing ones into loyal, lifelong supporters.

Smart And Frugal Wins The Day

Starting a business isn’t easy. Keeping a small business alive can be just as hard. How do you know what to save on and what to splurge on? How do you craft a strategy that fits your goals? How do you wrap your head around the complex world of digital marketing?

Start by mastering the basics. While you’re at it, grab as many free tools as you can. Learn them. Play with them. See how far they’ll take you. Once you’re on a secure (or more secure) footing, you can dig deeper into advanced SEO tactics and premium apps.


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