19 Free Ways to Market your Business Online in 2014
Just some random notes after talking to a past client the other day (after I took a year-off from doing any online marketing… which is like a lifetime!) .. took down some notes for them on what I think would still be effective. Let me know if a year away from the game has skewed my thinking at all and if you have anything to add/remove :)
Social Recognition & Authority
- Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ & Pinterest
- Join relevant groups/pages – participate, sharing your knowledge, but no blatant advertising, become part of the conversation, a valued-member of the community
- Create your own group that attracts those who want to share/learn/discuss ideas relevant to your business
- Likes/shares/comments are most important
- Videos & large images rank higher in Facebook Edgerank
- People will only see your post in their newsfeed if they have you as a “close friend” or if your content has a lot of likes/shares/comments
- Create quiz’s/contests and images that ask for an answer or share.
- People like motivational quotes, as corny as they are
- People like to learn something new and share it with others because it gives them credibility too
- Use #hashtags on google to get more exposure to targeted traffic
Social media is a huge time-waster, so decide whether you are going to go full-on into social media, or just use it as a way to spread the word. Managing and keeping communities engaged, is a fulltime job. Might not be worth it (i.e. depends on how much time you have to spend.. you might be better off spending your time and effort on videos, podcasts & referrals, and just sharing the links on social media to try and catch some attention, rather than dedicating time to the community on there.. ) It’s important, especially as Google finds it important for your pages and links back to your site, but video is way more important. So decide how much time you will dedicate to it and what you plan to accomplish short-term & long-term.
- useful for pinterest & facebook
- a very useful Infographic could go viral..
- useful for gaining links/shares/comments on social media.. but might not be useful to get your target clients to you.
Always have a ‘reason’ why you decide to do something.. a goal in mind. for example, if you are going to create an infographic, know that it’s not to get new clients, but to make your posts more ‘visible’ on social media.. thereby making your ‘other’ posts more visible in the facebook newsfeed… the more popular your posts, the higher facebook edgerank ranks your other posts.
Whitepapers/ PDFs / eBooks / References / Guides
- Useful for credibility-building, having something to download (value-building as well as a reminder that is on their desktop about you, useful for answering common questions/barriers), useful for opt-in email lists
- Useful for sharing on doc-sharing sites which rank high in google
- Useful as call-to-action on articles “you can download their free whitepaper at..”
- Useful for email signatures
- Useful for explaining what you do and how you can help
- Useful for explaining a technique/tool
- Useful for sharing on presentation-sharing sites
- Useful as content for videos/audios/webinars
- Useful for building a one-on-one connection with target audience
- Useful for explaining what you do, how you can help, technique/tool, case studies, etc
- Useful for sharing on relevant video sharing sites
- Useful as blog posts
My thinking is that videos are probably “the” most important online marketing strategy these days.
- Useful for credibility-building
- Useful for building one-on-one connections
- Useful for explaining in-depth strategies, case studies, and so on
- Useful for sharing on video-sharing sites
- Useful as a pre opt-in
- Useful for being able to answer live Q&A’s so that you can resolve their doubts/things holding them back from taking the next step
- Useful for selling something digital as the first step in the funnel
- Also useful for selling high-end coaching and courses
Pre-recorded webinars/video courses are useful because you can turn all existing talks / presentations / workshops into digital content that people can purchase from anywhere in the world, at any time that is convenient to them
iPhone & Android Apps
- Sites should be mobile-friendly
- Apps should be useful for your target audience
The way the world is heading.. can’t avoid it even if we want to.
QA Site activity
- Ensuring site is open for questions/comments
- Ensuring every question is answered in a timely matter
- FAQ’s are useful for answering common questions
- Can re-purpose every “FAQ” into a video/audio/blog post as well
- Case studies, Q&A, tips, latest developments/strategies
- Gets your voice directly into their ears, builds trust, credibility, and rapport
- Interview industry experts
- Lets people find you via iTunes (huge potential audience from ipod owners, iphone owners, and android phone owners)
- Brings more relevant content to your website, especially if transcribed word-for-word
- Can share on audio-sharing sites, can also convert to video to share on video sites
- Can allow people to listen “like a radio show” from their cars on sites like stitcher.com
- Can allow people to connect with you and find you for many years to come
Comments on Highly Targeted, Highly Relevant Posts
- Just another way to get your expertize in front of your target audience
Do not waste dedicated time on this strategy.. just if you happen to find relevant industry-blog posts that you can ‘add value to’, then do it, but don’t have a dedicated team on posting comments.. you’ll only give yourself a headache trying to come up with something valuable to say, and link is not as valuable as it once was.. see it more as a way to share your valuable knowledge to others who are reading the comments.. if you see the opportunity, go for it, otherwise, don’t go “looking” for the opportunity.
Microsites / Landing pages
- Having lots of mini “funnels” ; highly-relevant, highly-targeted smaller sites for Google Adwords campaigns, radio advertising, etc
- Opt-in – getting people on your email list or sms list
- Opt-in – getting people to signup for a live or pre-recorded webinar
- Opt-in – getting people to signup for a free guide/pdf/whitepaper
- Opt-in – getting people to signup for a video series
- Getting expertize in front of journalists, reporters, and industry bloggers
- Highly ranked in search engines
- Getting more people at events
- Getting more people in courses/workshops
I’m thinking like once a month / twice a quarter.
- Useful in building credibility
- Useful in demonstrating how your business has helped people in certain situations
- Can be used as blog posts, used in webinars, used in presentations, used in brochures, used on videos/podcasts, used on a separate case-study page
- Builds trust, and makes people relate to each other “oh, that guy has a business like mine.. if it helped him, it might help me”
Guest Blogging on Highly Targeted, Highly Relevant Sites
- Useful in getting in front of target audience
- Useful in sharing expertise in front of target audience
- Builds credibility.. if they trust “that” site, they trust “you”
- Article must be unique content, not the same article you’ve posted on your own site
I’m thinking maybe one high-quality blog post every quarter to high-traffic, highly-relevant industry site.
- Getting interviewed on radio shows
- Getting interviewed by popular podcasts
- Record them all and re-use them as content on your own site – convert to videos, blog posts, etc.
- Directory submission to relevant directories
- High ranked in search engines
- Complete manual profile setup (rather than paying an outsourcer.. do it yourself.. and spend the time to do it properly & professionally)
Keep up-to-date (check top directories like Google Places & Hotfrog quarterly)
Reviews & Testimonials
- Builds trust & credibility
- Makes people see how your service can help them
- Put a note about “what it means for you” to get their review on review sites, and a link
- Can also get womo to get a facebook app to make it easier to collect reviews by adding it to your facebook page
Google places is the most important, but hardest to get from clients (because they have to signup for a google account, which is an extra barrier that many won’t bother or will ‘stress’ about doing)
Why is your competition or video ranking high?
- Reverse-engineer your competition, find out why they are more successful than you, find out why they are ranking higher, analyse their strategies.
- Not just the website.. everything… Google, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
i.e. do they have more subscribers, more authority-quality links pointed to them, a viral headline, lots of content, more viral social-links, is the site well-aged, etc. Google Panda hasn’t completely rolled out yet, things will keep changing often and noone except Google knows what their algorithm is now.. so you can try to reverse-engineer like a detective to find out what is working for those who are doing well.
Blog post tips
- Catchy headlines …longer, more attention-grabbing headlines for articles & links. No more focusing on SEO keywords. Focus more on grabbing attention and using more share-worthy titles that entice people to click & share to their social networks
- Each post should have a “pin-worthy” graphic to share on Pinterest & Facebook
- On-Site SEO now more focused on Internal linking (deep links within your own content) and “social” inbound links from social networks. Meta stuff is no longer that important, neither is tags/keywords, or content optimization.
- Keeping related posts together (sectioning your site so that each “category” contains relevant, related posts)
- Feature your best articles on every page so that the posts you want them to read are the most visible (not just the latest posts) – attract visitors to click on the posts that “you” want them to see (that builds your credibility, show-cases what you are all about, or that puts them into your sales funnel)
- No duplicate content
- Your site should be a knowledge-base/repository for future customers & current clients – “wow if they give all this information for free, how much extra value will I get by signing up.. ” also useful for people who like to “share/spread” knowledge to their friends that also gives “them” credibility.
- Create a 6-12 month content strategy, and spend 1-2 days a week implementing it and following a ‘process’ that you’ve created that is going to get your content in front of your target audience. monitor how it is going and if you aren’t getting any ‘love’ from a certain strategy – get rid of it, and just focus more on the places that are getting the right type of leads (maybe once a month counting how many likes/comments/shares/hits/new subscribers/new clients, etc. and interaction you are getting from the previous month’s content, and basing your next move from that)
- Social-sharing links on every post (at least Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and possibly others if they are relevant – for example, try Pinterest & others, but don’t be married to any of them if it doesn’t attract the right clients)
- Create a social-circle, people who are on the “same page” as you, that think the same way, and that would appreciate the posts. It could be your clients, other industry experts, friends, etc. Share your relevant posts to them, via email, or Facebook, LinkedIn groups, Google+ circles, and so on. you could even create a fb group just for your “circle of influence” and invite them there (that way, if they are not interested, they can easily leave, as well as makes it easy to popup on their newsfeeds, and if its something they like, they can like/comment/share
- Have an email list, post your latest blog posts to the list as well as having a strategy on what would be relevant content to share on the list.. products they might be interested in, tips/strategies, latest news, etc. Newsletter should at least promote one of your featured articles per week, and perhaps a wrap-up of other articles of interest. Even better if your have a weekly podcast show or video (more valuable/better connection)
- Listen to every question you ever get, and create a blog post / podcast show / faq / video / guide, etc. to answer it (the questions they have is what others want to know too, but might be too afraid to ask, they would type it into Google though…people type things into Google that they would never ask someone face-to-face.. its all about removing the barriers “is this person going to rip me off”, “am I going to get value out of this”)
- Content should be longer than it was in the past, more than 600 words. (aim for 800+)
- Content spanning several pages makes people stay on your website longer, therefore gaining ‘credibility’ in the eyes of Google. That’s why those slideshow pages are gaining in popularity. (But I find them irritating and annoying, and I personally hate sites that do this, but they are doing it for a reason.. it helps them rank in Google, but I don’t know how “real people” react to having to load 10 pages instead of 1.. personally, I’d rather keep “people” happy than Google, but it’s something to consider)