Here’s a question every marketer, blogger or business owner ask themselves when they start working online.
Is there a way to conduct free advertising?
Well, I believe that yes, there is such thing as free advertising but it all depends on what your goals are and what do you want to achieve with your marketing campaign.
I am going to answer the title question in this article and hopefully, give you some straight answers and of course, some tips that are going to help you make the best out of your marketing and advertising campaigns.
How to advertise for free
If you need free advertising ideas, then you’ve come to the right place. I am going to pinpoint some of the best available free advertising methods but first, let’s clarify the concept.
What is free advertising?
When I am referring to free advertising, I am referring to all possible advertising campaigns and strategies that you can create and undertake without paying money. As the word “free” suggests, this is a guide that is dedicated mostly to people, marketers and business owners who don’t have a budget for advertising or, who have a small budget and as a consequence, they need something more.
There are several free strategies to conduct free advertising on the World Wide Web. Let’s list the most important of them:
Free advertising ideas for free online advertising
Are you looking for a simple way to promote your website or business for free? Well, rest assured that it is possible. As long as you know what you are doing and you are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, you will have no problems in creating an effective strategy for advertising your business. Let’s see the main steps:
List your business on specific free advertising sites
Gone are the times when directory listings were considered for SEO purposes only, as a great source of backlinks for a website. However, while your page rank may not profit from them anymore, there are also good reasons to consider listing your link on web directories.
Find local directories or directories specialized in listing businesses from your industry or complementary industries. There are some people who still use directories to find information and you may benefit from listing your services.
However, if you have a local business, you can freely advertise on Google. How is this possible? Well, I recommend you to register your business with Google Places. Thus, your customers will find your location on Google Maps and on Google searches.
All you have to do is sign up with the service and fill in with your information: name of the business, location etc. The service is free of costs and very helpful especially for a start-up business that needs to reach out to its customers.
Apart from Google Places, you can also list your business on Bing’s and Yahoo!’s local directories. They are free as well and may prove to be beneficial to your marketing strategy. When it comes to branding and advertising, the more listings you get, the better will the results be.
If you don’t have a blog, start one.
Nothing advertises better your company or your products than a content marketing campaign conducted on your own blog. This simple yet effective way of communication will help you build a strong and reputable brand and also, a community of fans and customers who will rely on you for advice related to your industry. If you want to advertise for free, you don’t need to buy another domain name, you can create the blog as a new category or a new subdomain on your own website.
Keep in mind however that an abandoned blog will not serve you at all. You need to keep it updated and post regularly so that your readers will have to come back from time to time. You can create blog posts meant to advertise your own products or services as well, write about your industry and your values, give free advice and tips to your readers.
Anything will do as long as you value quality and make efforts to deliver professionally written posts with valuable information.
Publish press releases.
You can advertise every new product, service, campaign through press releases published on PR websites such as Pr.com, I-Newswire or PR Log. These articles have low chances to be published on big media websites but there’s a good chance medium and small news websites and blogs to publish them should they catch their interest.
Find online relevant communities and contribute to them.
Every niche has online communities whether they are active on the traditional forums or as groups on social media. Find them, join them and start contributing. Don’t post anything about your business, however.
I know you will be tempted to do so but it will not do you any good. Instead, post about topics of interest, take an active part in the most current discussions and give your peers professional advice. You can promote your business passively by linking your website on your signature if you are on a forum or, in your social media profile, if the community is present on a social media platform. You can give your link directly from time to time but only when you are absolutely certain that the context is appropriate and it will not be regarded as spam.
Find review bloggers and start a giveaway campaign.
I know, it’s not completely free if you give away your products. However, every shop, every retail business has some products they cannot sell or products that need a little push to sell better. The costs are minimal since you already have the products and the advertising campaign is free. All you need to do is find bloggers who write reviews or bloggers that are popular in your niche and ask them to write a review and give away some of your products. The campaign can help you reach out to new customers and expand your audience.
Use classified ads to grow your business.
What are classified ads? Well, if you ever read a newspaper, I am sure you remember all those pages with announcements and small ads people and businesses used to publish in order to sell something, offer their services or offer jobs.
Classified ads are still a major source of customers for small businesses and freelancers even in 2017 but the major players are now online. While in the past if you needed an electrician, for example, you would search the classified ads from a newspaper for electricians in your area, now, you can do the same but on the Internet, on pages specialized in such services.
How does a classified ad work?
Things are quite simple when it comes to classified ads: First, the seller creates a listing on a specific site and tells people what he or she has to sell. Then, the buyer or the potential buyer comes to the site and searches for that specific item or service, considering that it is exactly what they need. Finally, after carefully analyzing several listing, the buyer approaches the seller via email, call, direct message.
Where can you publish free classified ads?
There are several websites available online for publishing classified ads. What you choose depends mainly on where you are located and the availability of that specific website to your desired audience.
OLX.com hosts classified ads for communities around the world. It is available in several countries and the listings are free. The great part about it is that you can customize your ad with images, videos, and written content. It allows you to control what you sell and how to do it without efforts.
Craigslist is probably the most popular free classified ads website in the world. Here, you can list anything starting with job offers and up to personals, services, and products for sale.
VivaStreet allows you to post free classified ads that users can browse when they are searching for something specific in their area. Here you can post about almost anything you can imagine, including cars, products, services or pets.
Classified Ads is yet another popular website where you can publish free classified ads and I guess the name is self-explanatory and therefore, easy to remember.
Free banner exchange.
Another free way of marketing and advertising for your business is to exchange banners with another business or website. Don’t try to convince your competitors to do it, however, because you will not succeed. Look for complementary businesses, websites or blogs and try to nurture a relationship with them that may prove to be mutually beneficial. Also, you can exchange banners with associated businesses or clients.
Free advertising for nonprofit.
If you are running a nonprofit organization, there is yet another effective way to conduct free advertising through Google’s advertising platform. What do you need to do?
You need to apply for Google Grants, part of the Google for Nonprofits program.
In short, Google Ad Grants allows you to create an AdWords account with a $10,000 cap. Through the AdWords program, you can post text-based ads based on specific keywords and display them on Google search or on other websites that are displaying Google Ads.
Kiwis for Kiwi makes one of the greatest success stories of nonprofit organizations boosted through Google Ad Grants. According to Google, they managed to double the traffic on their website in just a few months by using Google Adwords as their main advertising platform.
Check here if you want to know more about how to qualify for this Google Grants, before signing up.
Why is important to have an online presence
When it comes to branding and marketing, an online presence is essential for you. Let’s review some of the main factors such as the following:
Accessibility. Think about it: a website is like having a showroom opened for 24 hours every day. Anyone can visit your website anytime they like, they have access to your information, your core values or your products regardless of the hour, the day of the year or whether you are at the office or on vacation. All your potential customers are able to research your services or view your products after the regular business hours, from the comfort of their own homes. All you need is a domain name and a hosting service, some content and great visuals. You don’t have to pay rent for a location, you don’t have to pay for a 24/7 employment, etc.
Branding. I am sure you already know why banding is important even for a blog or a small website and how you may benefit from creating a strong brand and a good reputation among your fans or clients. The online presence gives your clients the opportunity to find more about your products, your services or yourself but at the same time, it will allow them to interact with you and/or your company and this will help build trust between you and them. Trust is very important when it comes to building a strong and reputable brand.
Expand your audience. Regardless of what your business’ industry is, it’s quite obvious that the online presence will give you access to a worldwide audience. Even if you own a local shop and do not need access to people from other countries, you may benefit from a website or blog for it can make your business more popular on a local level and maybe, even give you reasons for expansion.
Establish yourself as an influencer in your industry. The more readers you have, to more popular your blog or website, will be. The better your write, however, the more your popularity will grow among peers and people who are interested in the same subjects as yourself. You will not become an influencer instantly and maybe it will take you several years just to expand your audience enough. However, once you get there, the trust between you or your brand and the clients will be rock solid.
Market and advertise your products or services easier. The World Wide Web gives you access not only to a large audience but also to an entire set of marketing tools and strategy you can rely on in order to build a powerful brand.
Why are marketing and advertising important?
Now that we know why we need an online presence, let’s try and answer another important question: Why is internet marketing important?
Almost everyone is online. Whether you rely on local customers or just on an online audience, you need people to follow you or buy your products in order to be successful in what you are doing. You need a strong brand and to build trust with your audience. It’s obvious for a website, eCommerce shop or a blog why an online marketing strategy is the key. What about local businesses that do not sell online or whose services are not performed online? Do they also need online marketing?
The answer is yes, they need it. Why? Here’s your answer: In 2017, almost all your customers are already online. Most of them are present on social media but even those who aren’t, they all have email accounts, they all visit websites, read blogs, get to be informed from online magazines and news channels. You can create different marketing strategies based on their behavior but what is important here is that there is a strategy available for all kinds of customers, regardless of age, social status or other facts.
According to these stats published by Statistic Brain, 80% of the US Internet users say they use the Internet to find information about products and services they want to acquire.
Online marketing is cost-effective. We all know how traditional marketing works. You need printed materials, people to distribute them, you need TV and Radio ads, magazine inserts and so on. All these materials cost a lot of money and if you want to at least target a specific audience, you will need a significant budget. When it comes to the World Wide Web, on the other hand, small businesses have a lot to gain because there are many strategies that do not require capital investments. Even advertising services, on the Internet, cost less than traditional ads and advertising materials.
For example, with traditional advertising, you never know how many people saw your ads and how many people out of those who saw them, will come to you. Online, however, you can choose a pay-per-click advertising campaign and have a clear image of the exact number of people who get to you. Or, you can target a specific niche of individuals and deliver the ads to them in particular.
There are also other methods of conducting online marketing which will not cost a thing, such as content marketing, influencer marketing etc.
You can communicate with your audience. Traditional marketing addresses people from your targeted audience but the communications stop there. They have no way of responding to your message, other than visiting your local shop or office and contact a direct representative for a face to face talk. Online marketing, on the other hand, maintains the communication channels open 24/7 and dialogue is always possible. How? Customers and fans can contact you via email, via comments on your website, on social media, on Skype etc. There are endless possibilities when it comes to online communication and you can only benefit from them.
Why is important to create the possibility of an open dialogue? Well, think about your marketing campaign and about the reason you created it in the first place. You want people to notice your brand, to visit your shop and buy your products, to access your services or read your blog. Regardless of your reasons, there is always the possibility that some of your potential customers or readers will have questions to ask you. Or, they will want to know more about your company or your brand. The online marketing campaign allows them to access this information and more importantly, to ask questions directly to you or your employees, without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Access to information is unlimited. There are no “working hours” on the Internet. Your door is always open and people can access information at any time. Think about how much you would need to pay a team to distribute flyers day and night. Now, think about how easy this job is when you have a blog, a social media account or a banner posted on specific websites.
Online content is always there, it is always available and accessible.
If you want to grow your business, in 2017, you need an effective online presence, a clear marketing and advertising strategy and a clear vision of what you want to achieve, your main goals and your budget.
With this article, I tried to demonstrate that when it comes to advertising, you can attempt to grow your reputation and awareness of your business or website without spending a dime, at least at the beginning, when your budget may be limited due to all the start-up related expenses. There are several effective ways to advertise for free, and I hope that my guide will help you create a strategy that will allow you to market your business, make it grow and reach out to the expected audiences.
How many of these strategies did you try to implement until now? Were they effective for you?
Feel free to add your inputs in the comments section available below and we will discuss together this incredible concept of free advertising.