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How to market online on a shoestring

How to market online on a shoestring

By We Are Web.

If you have ever wished you could market your company the way you wanted but never felt that you had the budget to do so then read on. This article provides ten tactical tools to help you market your own services or those of your organisation without incurring high costs.

In the not too distant past the only method of gaining exposure for you or your business was via a tightly controlled network of media contacts and marketing channels. With the advent of the Internet the past decade has seen a total transformation in both marketing and public relations as communication channels evolved along with technology to enable you to get closer than ever to your target audience.

The growth in popularity of the Internet also means that there are now more opportunities than ever to market yourself or your business online for little or no investment. But don’t be fooled, no budget does not mean no effort – serious dedication and a solid plan of action are required for success in online marketing.

There are a number of key tactical tools to look at as you formulate your online marketing plan, many of these tools are free and all offer the opportunity to gain significant exposure for your or your business if used in the right way.

1. Firstly, a business blog is a great way to reach your target audience, there are a number of popular platforms available such as Wordpress, Blogger and Typepad. All of these platforms are free and all allow you to set up and host your blog with relative ease, they also offer options to enhance and customise your blogs using plugins and templates for design. 

Search engines love websites where they see content changing on a regular basis, with a regularly updated blog you quickly build equity with Google and co. and this can help you achieve better rankings. One note here, ensure that you enable the search engines to crawl your blog, there will be an option to select in each of the afore mentioned platforms.

Blogs also allow the facility for your audience to comment on the posts you generate which helps to engage and provide an important point of interaction.

2. Secondly, optimise your site for search engine success! How many times have you read a headline like that on the Internet and wondered what it all really meant?
In a nutshell, there are two options with search engines, organic (or natural) search and pay per click (PPC) search. As the name suggests, the latter option involves having some budget in order to bid for search engine rankings so lets focus on the former.

Organic search engine optimisation involves making sure that everything on your website pages (on page) is optimised and also that you optimise everything external to your website (off page).
For on page optimisation ensure that you focus on using the language your target audience use to search for you or your businesses’ products and services (e.g. golf clubs London or freelance designer New York) in your site text, titles, descriptions and page names.

For off page optimisation ensure you build up links to your website (backlinks) from other websites talking about what you do as an individual or business. For more information visit the excellent SEObook website where you can find out more information on SEO.

3. eMail marketing is another excellent method of reaching your target audiences. You may already have a wealth of information on clients or prospects that you are not currently using, if you are not currently recording email addresses then start to do so. A target email message can be very effective in driving your message home. Some useful email services which are very low cost (and free for small email campaigns) are MailChimp and Constant Contact.

4. Social media is another area which there is great interest in at the moment, there is also a lot of hype around social media marketing too. Used in the right way, however, social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace can be very effective methods of building online communities that you can communicate your message to on a regular basis. As with your site, focus on the provision of quality information and have a long-term strategy to build your community.

5. Article writing is another great free marketing tool at your disposal. An important factor in your success online will be building relationships and credibility online with your target audience. Article sites help you to become the thought leader or expert in your field through the provision of free information. There are a number of excellent article sites on the web, make sure you look for good quality sites where you can add your website address and author biography.

6. Viral marketing can be used to good effect, especially if you have something to give away. Whether you are a software house who gives away a free software tool or a comedian who distributes some funny new material, the principles remain the same. Give something away for free, make sure it is easily accessible and that people can easily forward on to others (the viral agent e.g. email).

7. If you want to actually make money rather than spend it, why not monetise your website or blog using display advertising through networks such as Google Adwords. The more work you put into driving a targeted audience to your site, the more advertising revenue you can make as viewers click on adverts that are of interest to them. For every click you receive money!

8. Create news on your site and distribute it using free sites such as the ProTalk portfolio of sites (there are various sites for different industries). There are also a number of industry specific news sites which will allow you to post a news story online. If you are stuck for an idea, why not write about the launch of your latest marketing campaign which has a budget of £1 and won you 50 new customers.

9. Allow content and news on your website or blog to be distributed via Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and social bookmarks such as Delicious and Digg. Both of these types of tools allow your audience to feed your site content into news reader software, their own website or blog and bookmarking websites where the popularity of your content can win you a prominent position.

10. Finally, with popular services such as YouTube, high speed Internet access and low cost recording and editing technology comes the opportunity for even the smallest organisation to utilise television as a new marketing channel.
If you are an expert in your field why not record a series of short monologues talking about your chosen subject in an honest and engaging way. YouTube accounts are free and you can integrate your videos into your website and blog for a professional effect.

I hope that these ten pointers provide some food for thought and enable you to start on the road to online marketing success whilst freeing up budget to invest in other ways.

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