Easy Ways To Promote Your Business Online For Free
Online promotion is a necessity for almost any business these days. If you are a new business, or one with a low advertising budget, navigating the many options available to you can be daunting, especially when you are also concentrating on other day-to-day business needs. However, major search engines, social media, and advertising services have made it easy to promote your business online. In many cases, services are free or low-cost. Give your customers what they want by having a sound presence online.
Part-1 - Creating a Website
Create a website
A visible online business presence requires having a website that users can visit for information. Luckily, you don’t have to be an experienced web developer to create a website for your business.
· Many services (such as Wordpress and Wix) make it easy for you to set up a business website using simple, guided steps.
· Google has partnered with local business services through the Get Your Business Online (GYBO) program to help businesses create websites and promote themselves online in other ways.
· You can also work with a company (such as Go Daddy) to purchase a website domain name. Many of these company also offer services to help you build the website, or will create one for you. These services usually have a low monthly fee.
· Try to make your website’s domain name one that matches your business name, or, if that is not possible, one that describes what products or services it offers.
Build content on your website
Once you’ve created a basic website, you should start filling it with useful information. Think about what potential customers would like to know about your business, and make sure that the information is easy to find. You can include:
· Hours of operation
· Contact information (telephone, email, etc.)
· Information about products and services that your business offers
· Descriptions of any special offers
· Your business logo, prominently featured
· The history of your business
· Testimonies or reviews from past clients/customers
Share your URL
You want every customer to be able to find your website easily. While search engines can make this possible, you should also seize every opportunity to share your website’s address (URL). Print it on business cards, invoices, brochures, promotional materials, etc.
Choose a blogging service
Many companies also like to share information with customers by writing and posting regular news, stories, and offers online. You can incorporate a blog into your website using help from a website set-up service or program. You can also create a blog on a separate website with help from a blogging service, such as:
Blogs can be used to show the world what your business offers or cares about. The important thing is to update frequently—if your blog hasn’t had new content in a while, people might think that your company not active. On the other hand, avoid updating your blog so frequently that subscribers are annoyed with the inundation of information.
· It is a good idea to create a backlog of content that is ready to go up on your blog at any time. That way, if you are too busy to create content from scratch, you can pull something from this pool of material.
· List posts (Like “Top 10 Customer Favorites”) or roundups (“Highlights of 2015”) can be created quickly, and will pull users deeper into your blog, if you link to older blog posts or other areas of your website.
· Make your blog content shareable. Most blogging services already have this feature built in. This allows users to repost your content on their own websites or blogs, easily promoting your business more widely.
Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you are serious about promoting your business online, you will want to learn how to maximize opportunities for users to interact with your online content and site(s) through major search engines (such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing). You can learn more about this technique, called SEO, by reading tips online, or taking an online or in-person course. Marketing companies can also work with your business on SEO matters.
· Use keywords to drive traffic to your blog. Use Google's Keyword Planner to find keywords that your target audience searches for. Then, use those phrases in your blog content to drive traffic to your website.
Make your website mobile-friendly
An increasing amount of online traffic comes from users of mobile devices. To make websites easier to read (and less taxing on users’ data plans), they should be optimized for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Some website services and programs incorporate mobile optimization automatically, but you should frequently view your website on a variety of devices to make sure that it is user-friendly.
Part-2 - Using Social Media
Many potential customers are on social media, and your business should have a presence there, too. That way, you will maximize the number of opportunities to share information about your business and to connect with the public. There are many social media services available that you can sign up with, and each one has distinct features. Major services include:
· Google Plus
Use the social media that make most sense for your business
You don’t have to spread yourself too thin by trying to be active on all social media. Make sure you have a presence on the largest services, and then tailor your online presence with more specific ones. For instance, a restaurant may definitely want to have a Facebook account, but it may then be more important for it to have a presence on services like Yelp and Open table rather than an Instagram account.
· Make sure that your social media profiles link back to your website, to make it easy for customers to find it
Network with customers and other businesses
LinkedIn is probably the most popular social networking service for professionals and businesses, but all social media offer ways to connect with customers. Make sure that you are connecting with customers, vendors, and even competitors on all of your social media accounts.
Respond to people on social media
Take the time to connect you’re your customers via social media. For instance, if a customer says something great about your company, repost, “like,” or “favorite” the comment. Likewise, if a customer asks a question, answer it online. Your customers will appreciate the attention and feeling like they can reach out to your business.
Post multimedia content
Online promotion provides lots of opportunities to share information about your company in audio-visual formats. You can post material both on your own website and via social media services like YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, and Flicker. Content might include commercials, promotional videos, and photos of your products, projects, services, etc.
Use social media for press releases
Customers spend lots of time on social media, and you will want to connect with them meaningfully. Anytime your business has notable news (a new product, a special offer, an award, an event, a contest, etc.), post something about it on every social media service it uses.
Part-3 - Increasing Your Online Presence
Decide how you want to advertise your business online
In addition to a website and social media content, you can promote your business by placing ads on other content. The process of creating and placing advertisements online has been streamlined by search engine and social media companies. Look into their services for business to find out more about options like:
· Banner ads that display across websites that users visit.
· Pay per click (PPC) advertising, which generates revenue when users click on sponsored links to or ads for your content while browsing online.
· Google AdWords, which offers PPC and other advertising options.
· Ads placed in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Register with location listing services
Major search engines have services to make it easier for your business to be found by browsing customers using maps and other location-oriented tools. Typically, all you have to is register and the service will verify your business. Common services of this type include:
· Google Places
· Yahoo! Local
Register with service listing sites
If you sign your business up with sites that list information about businesses, then customers can find out more about your company, read and post reviews, etc. You can also interact with customers in this way, by responding to reviews, for instance. Major service listing sites include:
· Yelp (general business)
· Trip Advisor (geared toward travelers)
· Angie’s List (reviews and ratings for services, like carpentry or dentistry, etc.)
· Urban Spoon and Open Table (for restaurants)
Sign up with an email service
You can reach out to your customers by creating regular content to email to them. This content, like blog posts, can describe products or services, special offers, company news, etc. Managing a list of customer emails and sending this information out at regular intervals can be tedious, but you can contract with a company such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to handle emailing services for you.