It’s no secret that marketing is crucial if your small business hopes to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, new entrepreneurs often struggle to raise the advertising funds necessary to compete with more established businesses.
Inbound marketing allows small business owners (SMBs) to mine effective marketing channels without spending a bundle. By increasing attention and impressions, you can ultimately generate more leads that can turn into valuable conversions for your business. Here are some of the best, low-cost inbound marketing options open to startups on a budget:
1. Social Media
Social media is one of the best inbound marketing options available to small business owners, as it exposes businesses to millions of pairs of eyes at a fraction of the cost of paid advertising. The abundance of social platforms, however, means companies have to take care in choosing which services to employ. Facebook attracts more than 1.4 billion active monthly users, which small business owners can engage in a variety of ways. Twitter is also a great tool for reaching customers with spur of the moment announcements about things like short-term sales and new product announcements.
LinkedIn can also be used as a valuable tool for small business owners looking to enhance their marketing efforts. The best way to build your brand is to start a LinkedIn group, which lets you establish yourself as field leader while marketing your services to potential clients.
One of the best ways to bring additional customers to your business is to provide them with new, original content on a regular basis. For best results, concentrate on publishing well-researched, thought-provoking and SEO-rich weekly blog entries. You may also want to create infographics, which provide information in a way that is more visually intriguing to users.
While it’s great to post blog entries and other content to your own website, SMBs should also make efforts to make guest appearances on blogs on other sites popular among their client base. Before asking site managers if you can post on their sites, take time to comment on others’ blog entries and articles. The goal is to build your authority among both peers and customers while increasing your overall SEO rankings.
3. Email Marketing
With traditional advertising venues like TV spots, radio commercials and print mail, companies have to rely on a single message to reach the entirety of their audience. Along with each venue’s inherent expenses, this method may not address the needs and preferences of particular target customers.
Hence, a majority of your base will be unwilling to convert. Email marketing, on the other hand, allows businesses to customize unique, personal messages based on their clients’ demographics and purchase histories. Small businesses can utilize email marketing to convey special discounts and coupons and even remarket products and services that appealed to clients in the past.
4. Local Marketing
Modern-day phonebook-style sites provide local business directories that allow companies to list their names and contact details free of charge. If your business isn’t present on the most popular local business listing sites, you may be missing out on numerous opportunities for conversions.
Not only do sites like Google+ Local, Yellowpages.com and Yahoo Local help you reach new client bases in your region, but they also let you promote coupons and other specials. For best results, make sure your business is listed and check that all the information is correct. The last thing you want is for your customers to show up at the wrong address or on a day you aren’t open.
Additionally, small businesses may want to consider joining an small business-specific directory, such as MerchantCircle. It’s no secret that controlling your reputation is crucial in the business world. Along with allowing businesses to add and claim listings, the directory lets them promote coupons and specials, add links to their newsletters and even reply to reviews from customers.
5. Trade Shows
Trade shows are organized events in which companies in particular industries can interact and showcase their products. Not only are these exhibitions ideal for keeping up on new business trends, but they also provide opportunities to meet people in person and make valuable connections with peers, suppliers and clients.
Despite the many benefits of trade show attendance, traveling to these events can put a significant burden on the cash-strapped small business owner. If funding prohibits you from attending trade shows in person, consider participating online through blogging or social media. You can event publish a post detailing the main points of the conference to engage with attendees after the fact.
Inbound marketing is complex at best. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to measure the results of your new marketing endeavors. A VoIP phone system lets businesses attach each of their campaigns to a unique phone number. As a result, they can easily track and compare the success of their social media campaign with that of their local marketing endeavors. Try each of these inbound marketing strategies to see which one works best for you.