We’ve all heard the old adage, you only get out of it (a particular action) what you put into it. And that is so true when it comes to the online marketing of your business and the sweat equity you put into it. It takes time, effort and can also cost a considerable amount of cash if you have it. But if you are a frugal business owner or have fallen on hard financial times due to the economic climate, you need to review these 8 ways to promote your business online completely gratis!.
Free Social Media Resources #1 Facebook posts need to occur on a regular basis to be effective. Most people are logged on during the prime time hours of 5-9pm. You can create quick posts about a new product or service, a free service tip or even ones that are relevant to seasonal time frames. For example, “Stay warmer longer and out of the cold less with a new SmartStart remote starter!”
#2 Blogging via your website is easy enough by adding a few paragraphs with information specific to your business or service. Adding fresh content on a regular basis will give you consistent indexing on major search engines. You can do this yourself or consider asking a friend or family member that’s a pretty good writer to put a brief article together that gives you an authoritative voice about your particular niche and hopefully a faithful following!
#3 Twitter posts are the easiest but seem to be the hardest to keep up with. Why I don’t know. But I do know is that prioritizing a few Tweets per week can help keep your business relevant in this social medium. If you just don’t have the time, there are social media management programs to help schedule postings on a daily or weekly basis.
#4 Hootsuite is a free social media management tool can help you to schedule and manage multiple Social Media networks and your daily/weekly postings. It’s free up to 5 networks and then becomes a paid service. This is a great no cost/low cost option and it’s super easy to use. Another option would be to consider asking a college student to do it for a few bucks so they can leverage it as professional Social Media management experience.
Free Website Resources
#4 merchantcircle.com holds major clout when it comes to online business networking as the largest social network for local business owners. They offer free online business listings, free marketing tools, internet advertising and so much more. It’s 100% free to set up a profile account so you can connect with other local businesses and promote your services/products.
#5 Yelp touts they are “the best way to find great local business” and true enough they are one of them. The site is well-known as the word-of-mouth for the digital world when it comes to reviews and opinions about businesses. Creating a profile is easy, smart device friendly and it is similar to Zagat, allowing consumers to rate your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your favorite and most long-term customers to add reviews to your business profile which helps increase your ratings. Remember, you will look better to consumers with 3 great reviews rather than someone who has none. But make sure you monitor your profile regularly in case someone puts something on there that’s less than becoming. You want to be able respond timely to anything that’s said which could affect your business’ reputation.
#6 Google Placeshelps consumers, much like Yelp, to help choose the right businesses based on their needs. These searches focus on geographically locating your personal needs in the areas of food, service industries and more. Here you can add photos, videos, coupons and even weekly specials all on your Place Page.
#6 Google+ Profile Business Pageis another great tool by Google helps you find, share, rate, and recommend your business to their friends, and people across the web. But here’s the real gold nugget value – on this site you can also hold free customer meetings via 1 to 1 or even a 10-way video meeting called Google Hangouts. You can even stream and record conversations for playback later.
#8 A Free YouTube Channel for your business will allow you to upload your videos and market via your own channel! Plus you can really leverage this medium by programming certain settings and keywords to make your channel appear in people’s online searches. Not sure what kind of video to shoot? Consider educating your consumers via a Tips Video with several how-to’s or why choose your business infomercials. For example, if you’re an automobile service business, give a how-to-tell if your tire has a real flat or if it’s just the outdoor temperature affecting the pressure. Last Tips
-Unless you want to pay someone to do the work for you, it sill takes a consistent effort of rolling up your sleeves and getting these resources to work for you.
-Remember, the goal is to create engagement and grow your online business presence leveraging these free online tools.
-Be consistent in your business descriptions across all these mediums so that search engines pull the same company information about your business.
-Keep in mind that with these resources, there’s no “set it & forget it” recipe. Even with Hootsuite, you’ll need to follow-up on your postings to check for comments and post responses to those consumer comments.
-You aren’t going to see dollar-for-dollar return on these efforts & the time investment you put into it. But I am confident that within 6 months, you will be surely see the fruits of your labors with leads and consumer recognition.
-Pace yourself so you don’t burn out and remember, slow and steady still wins the race all the way to the successful business finish line.
Choose a topic currently trending in your industry or that of your client. Yahoo! and the various Social Media outlets are great sources for quick, current topics.
Keep A Stash
When the clock is not your friend, you need to have a reserve that you can quickly draw from. Try to jot down some topics and/or write a few lines about a particular topic so that when your back is against the wall, you don’t need to waste time trying coming up with new ideas.
Change The Format Rather than being “informative” and using the written method, choose to do an instructional video on a topic you have adequate knowledge of. This can be a very effective and engaging form of blogging. You can also choose to create a quick Infographic as another great way to convey key information in a visually pleasing and quick manner.
Quality vs. Quantity Writing about something you are passionate about or have adequate knowledge about is a sure way to write well. But to produce this kind of blog, don’t get caught up in the 700+ words of your average, well-researched blog post. Stick to what you know and convey it in a confident and concise manner. Direct, key points work best.
Use Imagery to Fill White Space Using relevant imagery to support your topic is a great way to fill up the white space of your blog. In your spare time search for & purchase various images on iStockphoto or 123rf and keep a reserve that you can quickly draw from.
End with a Call to Action Calls to Action take a little more pressure off the writer and puts some of the onus on the reader. It’s another great way to engage your readership by creating dialogue about your blog and hopefully a following.
Save Editing For Last
Once you start to write, write-write-write! Don’t stop to correct, edit or add hyperlinks, images or anything else. Save the clean up work for last.
Last Words These simple steps will allow you to create a quick yet informative blog in a fraction of the time. Remember folks, you’re not going for a Pulitzer. So do what’s needed, do it well and then click post.
Last week Design Theory allowed the outside world an inside look at our audience numbers for our weekly blog postings via Peeking Underneath the Hood at Your Blog #’s. It was great to get feedback by email and comments on the blog as to what people thought of our exposure and how that helped them to consider the importance of analytics. Most companies should know that tracking their visitors through a source like Google Analytics includes hits from search engines, pay-per-click networks, email marketing, displayed advertising and the like. Off-site analytics, like the ones I’ve demonstrated here, are to measure not just the website’s current audience but also it’s potential audience and what we at Design Theory can do to create more opportunities, exposure and buzz (aka comments) about our services. So, the analysis of our web data helps to improve the website and our blog content for Design Theory and it’s visitors.
During the last week of September
887 Page Views vs. preceding week’s 994 Page Views
As opposed to last week, this week we see a significant increase in readership directly from www.jpdesigntheory.com. Additionally, the top referring website is still Google but there seems to be a little less traffic via Google UK than the week preceding and Google.com jumped 46 more than last week as well. Last week there were very few unique readers on Monday & Tuesday (how readers are tagged via a persistent cookie that stores and returns a unique id value so that Client V is always the same Client V whenever he/she comes back to the website) but this week, there are definitely more than its predecessor (361 vs. 221). That’s great because that tells us we are reaching new people and therefore more potential clientele. As far as the blogs go, Daphne & I are still neck & neck, which once again confirms that our blogs and tags are working well for us. Lastly, as ironic as it is, our top view location moved from Ulaanbaatar, New Mexico last week to Meriden, CT this week. I can’t explain that one at all! But at least it reflects the diversity of our readers and confirms that Design Theory has a worldwide presence.
During the first week of October
717 Page Views
What I also notice right off the bat is that Tuesdays readership fell drastically and I know exactly why. I was on vacation and didn’t blog. Yes that’s right, I did it…I took a vacation and I’m not sorry about it. And although I’m not happy the numbers dipped, it did provide us with some solid intel. It shows that I have a reading audience and there is value in the content I create weekly for the blog. So Daphne metaphorically DUNKED on me HARD but that’s ok. Despite having different titles and talents, we have the same goal. And that ultimate goal is increasing the ROI that those talents provide via the blogs and the work we do for our clients.
As detailed in the Audience Stats, our number of visits/readers let us know that people are accessing our website and whether or not we are capturing new audiences. However, something this particular report doesn’t reflect (but should definitely be considered) is the bounce rate. The bounce rate tells us how many people come to our site and quickly left it. Now there are plenty of reasons that happens. Maybe someone had to answer their door or walk their dog…but most often it reflects that they didn’t find what they needed or became bored with the content. There’s no room for ego when looking at these numbers I must tell you. Because what it does is identify areas that we could improve on like imagery, written content and the ease of navigation throughout the website.
So once again we learn, we grow and do better. I’m encouraged by our numbers while knowing there’s ALWAYS room for improvement and I look forward to continue to write and put out great content & tidbits to our readers and clients.
~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
The beginning is easy; what happens next is much harder. ~ Anonymous
Everyday these blogs and more put out pretty good content on various topics that are relevant to us all. However, most of that content is from a true professional experience. Another words, the person writing the post usually has some level of authority on the subject and has been involved in the industry for many years. The key is to focus on the comments from real users like you.
The rich content I’m talking about, the real world advice is in the comments. I’m not negating the post itself, but you’ll hear some real honesty in the comments. Think of this; your favorite design blogger posts about some new piece of software from Adobe. They talk about their first experience using it, how much it costs them (probably nothing), and how they like or dislike using it. All of those opinions are based on their feelings for that software apart from the many other programs they have access to. The average designer, especially those just starting out, don’t have the money to just keep buying software until they find one they really gel will.
Now reading the responses in the comments area is where the real gems are. This is where you’ll hear arguments from many people on their “real world” experiences. From the amateurs talking about the learning curve on using an application, to seasoned users explaining why an open sourced program has better features and costs nothing to own. You’ll also have the opportunity to find and communicate with other people who seem to be in the same level as you are in your career, or connect with experts that may be more than willing to be a mentor you.
Point is, next time you really need advice on a topic, program, or tactic, read a few blogs that have the topic you’re looking for and read through the comments. Don’t be afraid to engage by replying to comments. Sign up to get emails whenever new comments are posted and save ones really informative so that you can use them at a later time for reference. If you’re looking to crowd source, this is also a great avenue for little effort and great returns.
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