Small businesses face unique challenges when building a marketing campaign, as the smaller pool of customers can mean less analytical data they can use to establish their target audience. Visibility can also be more challenging to achieve with the sheer number of competing brands, and perhaps the most problematic is having fewer resources and less budget to work with. So, are there any marketing services that can help?
Here are the five of the top free website marketing services for small businesses:
- Google My Business listing.
- Industry directory listings.
- Get links from related websites.
- Add a testimonial for your favourite products.
- Social media links.
In this article, we’ll cover each of these services and what they provide small businesses. Of course, not all of them will be right for every business, so read on to learn which you should consider for your own small business.
Google My Business listing
Google is going to be a focal point for most of your online presence, by necessity.
Taking up the lion share of the industry, most SEO, in general, aims to improve brand visibility across all Google suites. But while upping your overall ranking is essential, it is far from the only critical consideration in today’s digital landscape.
That’s where Google My Business comes in.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) listing connects all services on the platform in one easy to manage dashboard. It is especially beneficial for anyone with a local storefront. It incorporates Google Maps and general business information (hours, phone number, website link, etc.) with online brand management.
The name of the game here isn’t just visibility – though that is a part of it – it’s conversion. GMB was created to help you generate leads and convert them into customers.
How to use Google My Business
To use Google My Business, start by:
The Service and Retail offers are beneficial for most small businesses. They don’t require you to have a physical storefront and provide customised tools that match your needs.
From there, you will be able to:
Google My Business key features
Perhaps the most valuable tool in Google My Business is the targeted analytics.
Because we do much of our optimisation based on the search engine itself, seeing the data from customer engagement related to Google itself is very useful.
Let’s take a look at some statistics that give a better idea of what Google My Business does for brands:
These are some impressive facts.
You can see serious search ranking and lead generation-to-conversion using this one free tool. If there is a single tip on this list that you should be using, it is Google My Business.
Industry directory listings
There was a time where we would look up business listings in a physical directory, such as a phone book or an A – Z street atlas.
They also had smaller guides for local shopping centres, which could be helpful but unwieldy. Those have become extinct, as the internet has taken over that function and made it much more straightforward.
A search engine itself is a type of directory, technically. But beyond that, you have industry directory listings (or business directories) that have taken their place.
What are industry directory listings?
Industry directory listings are lists of businesses organised by niche. The list will compile business information, such as category, location, size, and business type, in order to increase a company’s visibility in the eyes of the consumer.
Some don’t see the benefit of these listings, as they seem too close to the relics of the past. Yet, you can increase your brand awareness, boost your search rankings and engage in reputation management with these websites.
A lot of this comes as a result of consumer behaviour online.
For example, in an annual shopper study, GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of customers will search out the company’s reviews before they buy a product. That matches with Inc.’s findings that 84% of those consumers will put as much trust into an online review as they would a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend.
Industry directory listings are usually ignored by companies because they assume, probably rightly, that customers aren’t going to be looking at those sites.
You want to keep in mind that while they are similar to the directories of old, they are not an exact comparison. Thanks to search engines, we don’t have to rely on buyers to find us by name.
Why you should list your small business
Listing your small business in a directory gives you another avenue for search results. It strengthens the visibility of your company on the net. Many of those sites also allow for reviews. Even if they don’t come up on Google themselves, having them improves your chances with the algorithm.
As for reputation, there are a lot of directories where you can publish a listing.
A surprising source for building goodwill, especially if you have a new online presence or rely heavily on social media for advertising, are scam watchers. When customers feel uneasy about giving their money to a site they don’t know, they might search “Is XX a scam?”
If you have already gone to a scam watching site and set up a listing, you have a place for customers who had the same worry to gather and talk about the positive experience.
Immediate trust can be built on the authority of other shoppers, taking advantage of that statistic about how consumers believe one another like they would a friend.
Since those sites also have listings for companies created by customers who have been scammed, being preemptive and turning it on its head is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
Get links from related website
Backlinks have been a somewhat controversial topic over the years, stemming back to Google’s crackdown on guest blogging back in 2014.
It penalised a site that connected guest posters that would swap content to build inbound links for mutual search engine optimisation.
However, in that case, it was more about spammers who had sadly taken advantage of the platform to build low-quality content and exploit the algorithm as it was that year.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks are links to your website on another website or blog. It is an opportunity to boost ranking by connecting to high-authority sources, giving your brand legitimacy. It is also a chance to engage with an audience who trusts that source and will trust your company by extension.
Once again, establishing backlinks has become a standard part of SEO, and getting those links from other websites is a critical hit.
How to gain backlinks
There is no single way to do this. So we will look at some easy ways to begin earning your internal links to market your small business.
Despite the hubbub about this method in the past, it has never lost its shine. Many websites offer the chance to write for their audience as long as you provide a high-quality post related to their interests.
Since you are writing it under your name, and your authority working for your brand is relevant, your author bio would include it. Most will allow a link to your website in that bio.
Notice this says ‘organic’ and not ‘paid’ reviews.
Many companies will make the mistake of trying to get backlinks by offering money for it. Others are savvier and instead provide a gift of their product to try.
Either can be good for visibility, but they are not the internal links you are looking for (and neither are free).
Instead, use a call to action on your site or social media, requesting people who have already tried your product to post about it on their blogs or social media profiles.
Don’t encourage them to leave a positive review; just give a genuine reflection of their experience. This doubles as a chance to engage with anyone who may have been unhappy and works to improve online reputation, as well!
Reach out to influencers
This one can be tricky but might still be worth a shot.
In today’s world, influencers hold an enormous amount of power. They have a captive audience of people who feel they have a genuine relationship with these people. In many ways, they do.
You shouldn’t agree to pay, gift, or partner with influencers for links. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye on what they have to say. For example, if they mention a problem that your product can be a solution for, a well placed @ tag on Twitter or Instagram can go a long way.
Create high-value content
Finally, this is going to be a big one.
Writing high-value, well researched, and informative content targeted at your audience is an excellent source of links. You may have noticed that this article is full of links to other websites. That is because they provided great intel I could pass on to you, the person reading this article.
If you build it, they will come. Or, for us, if you write it, they will link.
Add a testimonial for your favourite product
No, you aren’t going to get customers by writing about your favourite shampoo. But focusing on promoting the favourite product you sell is a great way to bring in more focus and increase conversions.
What are testimonials?
A testimonial for your favourite product is essentially a promotion or advertisement telling potential customers why this product is so great. Focus on the quality and provide pictures or videos of you and your customers using/wearing the product. Include customer reviews for better reach.
We tend to broaden our focus a little too wide when marketing our brand. So, focusing on the product you enjoy the most, and getting testimonials from customers who like it as much as you do, works wonders.
They are a sales pitch that doesn’t sound like one.
But don’t overdo it. Provide a few well-chosen testimonials from customers that you feel explain and elevate your product. It is a great marketing tool that costs you nothing but time.
Social Media links
Social media is here to stay, and it is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.
For small businesses, it is a direct link to your target audience. It is also a line of communication to your customers; rarely have we had access to a more precious platform.
Imagine what companies of old would have given for a Twitter account!
Why you should use social media links
Putting the value of social media links into perspective for marketing a small business, HubSpot found that 92% of all Twitter interactions were customers clicking on links on a business’ account.
That is more than direct engagement, customer service, reputation management, and even standard social content campaigns.
That figure is stunning. It shows a ready-made account that every small business is expected to have where customers want links. Those clicks take them to your site. Once they are there, you can turn them from a lead to a sale.
The work is practically done for you.
Of course, this means that having a consistent marketing strategy is critical, as is having a solid brand image across all social platforms. Gone are the days when having one profile and building it was enough. Instead, you have to be everywhere, exploiting the dickens out of each one.
This won’t be entirely free. You will want to expand your efforts into social advertising to strike gold.
Luckily, the above marketing methods will save enough of your coffers that it won’t be a problem.
There are plenty of free website marketing services for small businesses available right at your fingertips. Best of all, you can see that those using these services are getting better leads, better conversion rates, and solidifying their brand’s identity—all without spending a single pence.
Ultimately, you have to do more with less. So having access to free website marketing services for small businesses is critical. Every penny-pinched is a pound saved, letting you stretch that budget further. And we all know how important it is to wring out each penny for what it is worth.