The Ultimate Guide to No-Cost Marketing

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Passing over the bulk of the SEO tips that may require either a great amount of time to implement such as improving product descriptions and adding more robust category text; and also forgetting those that require a huge amount of often costly web developer time; here are some quick tips to improve sales and awareness that don’t cost anything – what’s more, they should always be considered even if you do have a decent marketing budget available.

Competitions Sites
Websites such as Money Saving Expert have sections where people can submit competitions to tens of thousands of people, much like UK Competitions. Whilst HotUKDeals have sections which promote deals, voucher codes and freebies. You will have to check the terms and conditions of the sites before you submit as for some website owners aren’t allowed to add their own competitions – for those you will have to get others to do it for you … which brings me on to …

Use your friends
Of course, endless promotion of your business and products may get a bit tedious for some, but the infrequent sharing of offers and interesting items would generally be welcome by many – in fact, friends should be supportive of what you’re doing or involved in.

If you share a page on your website into Facebook then double-check your privacy settings and make sure that particular post is viewable by the general public so it can be viewed if your friends share it and by search engines.

Pro Tip: Consider Facebook Open Graph

Have a play with Instagram
It is staggering what sort of following and interaction you can get on Instagram where the users are generally in the 18 to 34 category. If this is your demographic then consider adding interesting, behind-the-scenes photos where you use generic hashtags that describe what’s in the photo or your company as ones that are inspirational such as #trainers #running #goforit. This way your photos and your brand will be found by people searching for those hashtags.

When you share photos you will be given the opportunity to also share it into your Twitter and Facebook accounts, you should do this at it will also help build up your following in Instagram – you can find this tip, and others, on Instagram’s business blog.

Pro Tip: Embed your Instagram photos in your website’s blog.

Twitter Noise and Fans
There is a great deal of noise on Twitter which is to be expected given that it has 302 million monthly active users and around 500 million tweets are sent every day. But despite that, Twitter is a goldmine of potential customers. You just need to have the right mindset to make the most of the opportunity that Twitter offers.

The logic of Twitter is much the same as Instagram in which you share interesting content, use hashtags and follow the right people. One potential method is to engage with people that are talking about your industry which you can find using the search tool. If you wanted to organise this into a structured process of engaging with people then you could use Hootsuite to create multiple searches that you review on a regular basis and reply as necessary.

Another option is to use Google News to find topically relevant news and share it into Twitter (and other social platforms) – using hashtags to make it worthwhile people following you. Consider the 80:20 rule of 80% other people’s content and 20% your own and then share using Buffer.

Pro Tip: Consider using Twitter Cards to make your products stand out.

YouTube
There are frequent stories of young people making millions by producing videos and uploading them to YouTube. Although they may have minimal or no production costs the truth is that most of these videos are of a sensationalist nature or reviews of other products. But if you can learn from the most successful then you can greatly increase sales (pdf).

Before you start creating videos it is essential that you would out who your customers are and what sort of content they would respond well to and then ensure that you follow through on that knowledge. One of the most successful approaches is to give insightful and honest product descriptions and reviews. By also adding those videos to the product pages themselves then you can also encourage visitors to your website to subscribe to your business video channel.

You should also create interesting videos describing who you are and what your company stands for – making sure you inject personality and offer something that cannot be found on any of your other marketing channels directly.

Again, don’t forget to add ‘tags’ to your posts, but YouTube allows you to be a bit more ‘direct’ with your marketing so make sure you submit detailed video titles that correctly describe the content – don’t use “Vid05″ as the title, for example, but something like “How, At [Company Name] we find new [product category] to stock” or “Meet the [Company Staff] and see how we process your orders” etc.

All these videos can be made on any Smartphone now as most have easy to use video editing software to compile good quality videos.

Pro Tip: Consider the live streaming of content into Google Hangouts and then reuse them on YouTube.

Don’t forget Vine
If YouTube is a bit too involved with you then you can also make use of Vine with is a social video sharing site that uses six second video clips. Again, just like the other social networks, you can use tags, however, you should consider the demographics of vine users first.

Pro Tip: Get yourself a tripod!

Pinterest
The coverage of Pinterest Boards (curated photos from the internet on a particular theme) is staggering. If you are able to get coverage on one of these boards, or, indeed, create your own on a particular high-value niche then this can drive significant levels of traffic and sales to your website.

Make sure that each product page on your own website allows people to easily share the product photograph into Pinterest.

Pro Tip: Make sure you create boards around your major product categories so you can get them to appear in the search engines! And then make sure you track what people are sharing from your website by viewing your ‘pins from‘ page and changing the ending of the URL to that of your website and then engage with those people.

Mobile SEO
Google has some set criteria to reward websites when their users conduct searches on mobile devices. If you score 80%+ then you will be rewarded but if you fail you may only need a few small tweaks to pass – you can find more about that here.

Product Reviews
Virtually all product software providers charge for their services. However, depending on your ecommerce platform you are likely to be able to integrate a free product reviews plugin to show reviews. You can then share them into your social networks to gain more trust and awareness.

Blogging
Many website owners think of their company blog as a simple extension of their main website’s SEO efforts. Although this is partly true, you can gain traction from social media alone by blogging useful content. One of the most often shared topics and interviews with others in the industry. If you’re a retailer, for example, you could simply email interview a supplier about their processes and priorities and give your customers an insight that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Pro-tip: if you go to industry shows, festivals, conferences and exhibitions then you could always interview them on your mobile phone’s dictaphone or even on video and then add it to your blog and then YouTube as well.

Another option is to write a controversial blog post to gain attention. Take a subject important to y our customers and offer a unique or unconventional view of it and then share it into your various networks.

Encourage email-list sign-ups
When customers purchase from you encourage them to opt-in to your email newsletter – many ecommerce platforms have plugins availed that connect your shopping cart with MailChimp which has a free plan to allow you to mail out to your lists

Whenever you mail out to your users make sure that you not only incorporate sales messages, but also include your useful blog content where you offer insight and advice – think ‘reciprocity’.

Pro Tip: try and segment your mailing list into broad categories so you can tailor your email messages to that audience to greatly improve their conversion rates.

Aim for Free Press Coverage
Often you can quite easily get free press coverage by engaging with local journalists and sharing your own success stories – local newspapers are seemingly built on promoting how great their town is so this should be a fairly easy tactic.

Also if you’re generating controversial blog posts and have a corporate view on important topics then you should be able to get national and international coverage too – if you can leverage that content on Twitter – which is a major source of news and expert opinion for journalists.

Pro Tip: create a ‘Press page’ detailing your view points, giving high res images of yourself, your company, your logo and important products. When you get coverage make sure you promote that on the same or separate page so other journalists see that you are comfortable and willing to work with them.

Image (c) John Henderson – removed “Confuse Everyone” as this is the opposite of what this post is about.