Get the Most Bang for Your Internet Marketing Buck

5 Free and Low Cost Ways to Market Your Business Online

Marketing Online
Get the word out about your home business. Credit: pagadesign | Getty Images

The Internet, and in particular email and social media, has changed the rules of marketing. In the past, to get your business in front of would-be buyers, you ran ads, posted flyers, and handed out your business card to anyone who’d take it. Today, consumers don’t want to be bothered with ads or to be sold to. Instead, they want information, entertainment, and a relationship with the companies they do business with.

While this change in marketing has created more work in some ways, one of the advantages to this new information and engagement form of marketing is that it’s very inexpensive compared to old-school advertising.

Here are several ways to effectively get the word out about your business, plus build trust and rapport with your market, without breaking the bank. By the way, this article assumes you already have a web presence, such as a website or blog. If you don’t, you should!

1) Build an Email List

Of all the free and low cost marketing techniques, email marketing will probably cost more (except for a domain and webhosting), but it will likely produce the best results. Many new home business owners will get a website, but put off starting an email list. because of the hassle and expense. This is a BIG mistake. Many people who visit your website won't buy or do things that earn you money (i.e. click on your ads) and once they leave, they're gone forever, unless you entice them to sign up for your email list.

Sure, they can follow you on social media, but people who sign up for your email list have raised their hands saying they’re interested in what you have to offer, making them more likely to buy. It allows you to show off your expertise, keep your name in front of them, and direct them to your website, so they can come back and buy again.

2) Engage with Your Market and Influencers on Social Media

Social media can easily become a time suck, but if you use it correctly, it’s one of the best ways to engage with customers, build your brand, and expand your reach. The trick to social media is to tell a story, be entertaining or provide something helpful. Posting "buy" links is a quick way to get unfollowed. Remember, people don't want to be sold. Further, don't be self-centered on social media. Always posting about yourself is the same as only talking about yourself in a room full of people. Instead, you need to talk to others by commenting on and sharing their posts, asking questions, and otherwise engaging in conversation.

3) Guest Blog for Others

Guest blogging requires time to write a quality article, but it’s one of the best ways to share your expertise and information to an audience you might not reach otherwise. Consumers are more likely to read and respond to an article than an ad. Further, if you provide useful information, readers will check your bio at the end of the article and click on the link to visit your website. You can increase clicks by offering a freebie, such as a report in your bio. 

Make sure your article is a good fit for the blog you want to right for.

Further, provide quality work. Most blogs have a ton mediocre generic content. Increase the chances your piece is posts by offering great writing in a niched topic. 

4) Be a Guest on Podcasts

Podcasters need experts to interview regularly, but it can be difficult to keep the schedule full (I know this from experience). This means they're eager to hear from potential guests. A good place to start is BlogTalkRadio, where you can search your areas of expertise to find shows in your topic. Or do a search engine search for your topic+podcast. When you find a possible podcast, visit its website and find out what you need to do to pitch the show. Don't just send a generic "I want to be on your show email." Instead, create a quality pitch that outlines who you are and possible topics you can cover.

5) Join online groups and forums

One of the big differences between the old marketing tactics and the new is that you have to work to find your market. However, the Internet has made that easier through groups and forums. Several social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn have groups you can join. Many other businesses and website owners have discussion forums. The key to success in groups and forums is to be helpful. Don’t just post your business information, as you’ll come off spammy. You might even be kicked out of the group. Instead, answer questions members are asking and participate in the discussions. By offering advice and support, you’ll show off your expertise, as well as develop a rapport and trust with the other members.

Effective marketing involves knowing your target market, finding where they are, delivering a message that appeals to them, and engaging with them. The engagement part takes time, but it develops a loyal following that will continue to buy from you and refer new customers or clients. The online marketing methods listed above, are affordable especially when you consider how well they work to get in front of your market to share your expertise.