With all the free marketing tools available online, you would think marketing your small business would be a snap. However, sometimes having more choices makes it harder to know which ones will perform best for you.
If you’re not frozen in overwhelm about what to choose, it can be tempting to jump from trend to trend as you see different platforms or strategies working for other business owners. Neither of these approaches will get you the lasting results you want.
The most effective way to use online marketing is to pick one, two, or three avenues and build your audience consistently. Here are some of the best free marketing tools available, how they work, and how you can know if they are right for you.
Google My Business
Google My Business is a free tool that puts you on the map. Most businesses should have a Google My Business listing. If you are a local business, this tool is 100% for you if you are a local business. However, a Google My Business listing is a great free marketing tool even if you make all your sales online.
If you have a local business, your Google My Business listing helps nearby shoppers find you. For example, when you search “hardware store near me” and a map listing appears, the businesses that show up with their location, address, and website links all have Google My Business listings. There may actually be other hardware stores in the area, but without a listing, they won’t appear on the map.
If your business is one of the top three selected by Google when shoppers do a local search, your listing takes an extremely valuable position on the search results page. You cannot buy that top map position. You have to be a reputable local business and earn it.
However, even if you aren’t a local business with a physical location, a Google My Business listing is an outstanding way to increase your visibility on the web. This is especially true if you get positive reviews of your products or services on your Google listing.
Email marketing is a great way to communicate with your customers. It’s also a great way to build and maintain relationships with them. If you have products or services you’d like them to buy, sending regular emails can effectively drive sales.
It can be hard to believe that email marketing works. If you’re like me, you get dozens of emails a day and either ignore or delete most of them. However, the numbers don’t lie. The ROI (return on investment) on email marketing remains strong even in 2022, with about $42 for every $1 spent.
Depending on the size of your list, email marketing may not be entirely free. You can use MailChimp for free with up to 2000 contacts. Over that number, you will be paying a monthly fee to use an email service.
Email marketing may be the right fit for your business if you already have an existing customer list. It is an incredibly easy way to stay in touch with those who know and like you. The trick with email marketing is to offer something of value first and then make your offer. When you consistently offer something of value to your audience, you keep your customers opening your mail!
Social Media Marketing
The opportunities in social media marketing are broad and deep, which makes it an easy place to get overwhelmed or waste a lot of your time. The first and most important step in social media marketing is picking the right platform(s) for your business.
If you are just starting, keep it simple. Pick one platform that is a good match for your business and master that before adding more.
Each social media platform targets different age groups and requires different posting formats. The types of products you offer, your target audience, and your personality will all help you choose the right social media platform for you.
Do you have photos to share? Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest might be the right choice.
Are you comfortable on camera in sh ort videos? TikTok or Instagram may be the right formats for you to reach a larger audience.
Do you want to reach more of a B2B audience or have technical, financial, or legal information to share? In that case, LinkedIn or Twitter might be your best bet.
In addition to increasing your visibility and building an audience, social media is a powerful way to get direct feedback from customers. You can ask your audience questions and hear back in real time!
YouTube is an incredibly powerful platform for several reasons. One of the least discussed is that, behind Google, it is the second largest search engine. This means that if you consistently post on YouTube and title your videos accurately, your audience will find you.
It is also a highly effective way to engage your audience. Unlike blog posts or still images, videos let prospects and customers get to know you. After watching a few videos, they will feel like they’ve spent time with you.
The best way to use YouTube is by sharing helpful content and demonstrating your products, services, or expertise. Videos are a great format to show people how they can use what you sell. For example, if you sell baking dishes for cookies, one of your videos could demonstrate the advantages of your baking dishes and the best ways to use them.
You can also create educational content such as tutorials or short guides on specific topics related to the products and services your business sells.
Search Engine Optimization and Content Marketing
If you have a website, then you want to make it easy for people to find. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing enter the picture.
At the very least, you want to make sure to include keyword phrases on each of your web pages that accurately signal to the search engine who you are and what you do. Keyword strategy gets complex, and it’s worth doing a deep dive if you plan to employ it yourself, but fundamentally you want descriptive and targeted keyword phrases.
Content marketing can position you as an authority in your field. Not only does it amass information for prospects and customers to browse, but it also adds rich layers to your keyword strategy. If you get a piece of content to rank on page one for any keyword phrase, that single blog article can bring you a steady stream of leads for weeks or months.
The downside of content marketing is that it is time-consuming and may not pay off for a long time. If you enjoy writing, can write quickly and have information to share, a content marketing strategy is right for you.
Ask for Reviews
People trust customer reviews almost as much as they trust referrals from friends and family. If you can systemize the review process and start to amass testimonials for your products and services, you make it easier for visitors to your website to engage with your company.
Google My Business is an excellent place to collect reviews. However, you can also ask for testimonials directly from your customers or on any social media platform you regularly use.
Quora is a question-and-answer site. It’s like Reddit, except it’s for questions, and the community tends to be more civilized.
You can use Quora to connect with your target audience in two ways: by answering questions about your product or service and by finding people who have problems that your product or services solve.
The way to use Quora is to offer value first, then direct people toward your site. If you just promote yourself without offering value first, your posts will be deleted by moderators.
Canva is a free design tool that makes it easy to create stunning graphics for social media, presentations, and websites. In a matter of minutes, you can make a simple business card or even a complete marketing kit for your small business.
Canva has a completely free version, or you can upgrade for expanded capabilities. Even if you have never designed anything, you can use Canva.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that allows you to track all sorts of information about the people who visit your website and the actions they take on it. It’s good for getting an overview of how many people are visiting, where they’re located, and what devices they use.
It’s not the most obvious and intuitive tool, but if you’re willing to spend some time configuring it, Google Analytics will deliver important insights you can use to improve your website, marketing, and business.
Digital Marketing Tools Are Free and Easy To Use
There are many free digital marketing tools that can help you improve your business. You don’t have to use all of them – it’s better if you don’t! Select one or two to start and master those. These online tools can help you find new customers and improve customer service by providing insights into your customers and their behavior.
Digital marketing is a great way to promote your business and tell the world about your products and services. While it’s terrific to have a team of people managing your marketing for you, if you are just starting, there are plenty of tools you can use yourself. You may be surprised at how much traffic consistent digital marketing efforts will bring your way.