Let’s face it — online marketing is hard. It involves weaving together a complex set of intricate and highly-technical knowledge across a wide array of skill sets. We’re not just talking about search engine optimization here. And every entrepreneur also knows just how important it is to market their business online to gain visibility and reach their target audience.
However, those same individuals also know the difficult and tremendous undertaking involved. Not only is there a massive learning curve for newcomers, but also potential landmines with the countless so-called experts that are constantly parading themselves in an effort to extract hard-earned capital from you rather than helping you to make it.
So where does the average entrepreneur turn to gain visibility online and reach new customers without having to spend a small fortune? Clearly, marketing any business and making traction is going to either take a lot of time or a lot of money. And considering that far more people have the former rather than the latter, it’s important to pursue the right strategies for marketing online without breaking the bank.
How to Market Your Business Online
For the technically-savvy entrepreneur, building a business online and doing it on a shoestring budget isn’t just some fairytale fantasy, it’s a proven reality. However, for those that aren’t in-the-know, finding the right strategies that work can prove to be a painful and costly experience. Not everyone has the budget to make those mistakes.
Yet, it’s important to note that attempting any of these low-budget marketing methods online doesn’t guarantee your success. In fact, most of them require some serious deep-rooted knowledge in their respective areas. However, these are some of the best skills that you can learn if you want to forgo paying tens of thousands of dollars to market your business through an agency.
#1 — Blogging
While building a blog is something that takes years to develop into any real semblance of an audience, it also offers one of the best and most cost-effective means for reaching a vast swath of people. It does require passion, persistence, along with an inherent understanding of the subject matter and the ability to connect with your audience.
To become an effective blogger, you need to deliver an enormous amount of value and convey key information in your industry or niche in order to succeed in the long term. As long as your audience is engaged and finds real value in the information you share, it will slowly build up over time. But don’t expect this to happen quickly or easily.
Yet, once you do have a noteworthy blog, and you learn how to build a proper sales funnel to automate your sales and marketing efforts, you can quite literally create a six-figure-monthly income from this single source. Sure, it takes time to reach that point. But it’s most certainly worth your while.
#2 — Video Tutorials
Want to reach a large and engaged audience? Start building video tutorials on sites like YouTube and give away the farm. Teach your audience how to do something that they otherwise wouldn’t know how to do. Create a high-quality and compelling video that really goes into depth on the subject matter.
While you might find it counterproductive to create a video tutorial teaching something that you would normally have people pay you for, it’s by far one of the best ways to not only set yourself up as an authority, but also to gain loyal fans and followers that would be willing to pay you for your expertise.
Like any other low-cost strategy for marketing your business online, it takes time to build up your audience and following. But video tutorials offers one of the best methods for drawing in the right demographic that would be interested in whatever it is you’re peddling, whether it’s a product, service or information.
#3 — Email Marketing
Not only is email marketing a low-cost method for getting the proverbial word out on any business, it also offers one of the best returns on the investment of your time. However, to succeed with email marketing, you need to attract the right customers to your website, something that’s not as simple as it sounds.
By building compelling content like infographics and other online tutorials, you can attract the right customers who will hopefully sign up up to your email list. Once they sign up, you’ve still got work ahead of you by having to share useful information with them on a periodic basis while trying to make the sale.
Effective email marketing is a skill that involves writing compelling sales copy and it can only be developed over time. However, as long as you think more about the consumer and adding value to their lives, and you allow that principle to govern your behavior, you’ll succeed over time. It simply won’t happen quickly or overnight.
#4 — Social Media Marketing
Anyone who’s serious about marketing on a shoestring budget, knows that they need to master the art of social media marketing. While this strategy is certainly low in cost, it’s difficult to make any real traction without reaching out to influencers and power users that can champion your cause for you.
Yet, the social media playing field is filled with billions of consumers readily able to purchase your products and services. It’s merely a matter of reaching them by employing the right social media marketing strategies to turn those potential buyers into actual customers.
Social media marketing takes some serious understanding and know-how of the mechanics of both human behavior and online marketing to see any traction. In the beginning, you might need to spend a little bit of money to get the right visibility for your product or service, but it’s money well spent as long as the right fundamentals are in place with your offer and your message.
#5 — Search Engine Optimization
Anyone who is anyone who is serious about online marketing understands the importance of search engine optimization. By mastering the convoluted world of SEO, you can make serious traction in any industry. Just imagine being able to send near-limitless amounts of traffic to any website or business you create?
Clearly, it isn’t quite that simple. SEO is one of the most arduous undertakings that you can embark upon. Believe me. I know. I’ve written and created some of the most popular SEO courses and some of the best SEO books on the market today, and my site, Wanderlust Worker, ranks number one for hundreds of the most competitive keyword searches on the internet.
However, by mastering this field, the world truly can be your oyster. Through SEO, you can market virtually any product or service for next to no money out of your pocket, making it by far, one of the most low-cost ways to market your business online.
#6 — Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the most popular methods for reaching the right audience with little to no money out of your pocket. Content marketing is often done through popular authority sites that allow everyone to post on them. Sites like Medium.com, Quora.com, SlideShare.net and LinkedIn’s new publishing platform offer some ideal opportunities for marketing your content.
By engaging in content marketing, your enthralled in what’s called attraction marketing. You’re attracting consumers to your online presence by delivering valuable information that leverages popular authority sites to help you build near-instantaneous visibility.
Content marketing is a great way to get the word out, especially if you have a brand new website with little to no age or built-up authority in the form of links over the years.
#7 — Referral Marketing
80% of all businesses fail before their first 18 months of operations. If you don’t want to be part of that 80%, you have to focus on delivering real value to the consumer. If you do deliver real value, then there’s no reason why your customers shouldn’t be referring you to their family and friends.
Referral marketing, also known as word-of-mouth advertising, is by far one of the most effective and low-cost ways to market your business online or offline. Place a link in your email signatures and on your website that connects people to popular review sites such as Yelp, TrustPilot or TripAdvisor where consumers can post their opinions on their experiences with you.
By providing this avenue for consumers, not only are putting a very cost-effective method for marketing on autopilot, but you’re also sending a strong and powerful message that you put delivering real value and the consumer’s satisfaction first and foremost above all else.
R.L. Adams is a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and author. He runs a wildly-popular blog called Wanderlust Worker and contributes to Entrepreneur, Engadget and the Huffington Post.