Grow Your Business with these 10 Free Marketing Ideas

Building trust with your audience is crucial for business success, and it all begins with effective marketing for your small business. If you’re already running a few marketing campaigns, you likely have an edge over your competition. In fact, almost half of small businesses spend less than two hours per week on marketing. But of those, 46% are unsure whether their marketing strategies are even working.

Understanding the marketing funnel, the path your customers take from awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, and, finally, advocacy, can help you see why developing and investing in a strategic marketing plan is more than just a good idea; it’s a necessity for brands looking to stay competitive. 

Even without a large budget, extensive marketing experience, or much time, you can still effectively market your business with these inexpensive marketing ideas for small businesses. These strategies will help you build trust, increase visibility, and drive growth without breaking the bank.

1 – Create online business directories

An online business listing is the digital equivalent of the Yellow Pages phone book (remember those). It’s where people can find information about your business and leave reviews. Setting up or claiming your business listings on directories like the Google Business Profile, Yelp, Facebook Pages, and LinkedIn for B2B business is a great way to make your business easier for people to find.

There are hundreds of these kinds of directories. Don’t overlook the industry-specific ones like Zillow (Real Estate), TripAdvisor (Travel), and AutoTrader (Automotive).

And keep in mind that even if you don’t claim your listing in a directory, it’s still possible for you to have a presence there, even without knowing it. 

Taking the time to claim your listings across all the relevant directories is an easy, free way for you to market your business.

2 – Leverage email marketing 

Email marketing remains the most effective marketing channel, outperforming social media and search engine marketing — making it one of the best ways to build strong relationships with your customers. Platforms like AWeber offer affordable plans tailored for small business marketing.

3 – Use social media to promote your business

Social media can be a powerful tool to increase awareness, create customer loyalty, drive sales, and find influencers for your business.

The first step is understanding your customer demographics and which social media platforms they’re using.  Are you targeting businesses? If so, you may want to consider being active on LinkedIn. If you’re targeting consumers, you will have more work deciding which platform(s) are best suited for your audience.

Once you’ve determined your target social media platform, be active and encourage customers to like or follow you. Post regularly and make your content interesting and interactive. The more people who interact with your post through likes, comments, or shares, the more visibility your posts will gain both within your network of followers and beyond.

Keep in mind people are following you because they had a good experience with your brand and want to learn more about you. Social media isn’t a place for hard sells; it’s a place to share and engage with your audience.

Tips on what to post:

  • Creative pictures of your products
  • Announcements of new products or services
  • Any interesting news about your business
  • Special offerings or coupons

You can even use specific social media platforms, like Facebook, to increase your email subscriber list. You can create a sign-up form for your page, allowing your Facebook followers to subscribe to your email list. Then you can email them newsletters, advice, and offers.  

4 – Use the press to help spread the word

A well-written press release is a great way to give your company media exposure through news outlets (TV, print, and radio), influential bloggers, industry-specific publications, and more. A press release can bring you instant exposure, grow your sales potential, increase your brand awareness, improve your search engine results, and expand your target audience.

Writing a press release isn’t difficult. Once you find a structure that works for you, use that same format with every release. The most time-consuming part of issuing a press release is finding journalists who might be interested. To build this list, research and find a journalist who has previously written about your industry or topic. 

Tips for writing a press release:

  • Start with an interesting, attention-grabbing headline.
  • Include essential details like who, what, where, when, and why in the first paragraph.
  • Add quotes from key players in your business.
  • Provide background information and context about your business.
  • Include your contact information for follow-up.

5 – Build landing pages to collect new leads

One of the most effective and inexpensive marketing strategies for small businesses to generate new leads is through dedicated landing pages. 

A landing page is a standalone web page specifically designed to capture visitor information. Its main purpose is to convert visitors into leads by focusing on a single call to action without the distractions of a full website. More leads can ultimately result in more sales.

Landing page tools

AWeber landing page building example

The AWeber landing page creator allows you to develop highly converting landing pages to drive more potential clients to your brand. Our landing page tools enable you to build visually stunning landing pages.  A few of those landing page features include:

  • Pre-stocked image library
  • Professionally designed templates
  • Powerfully simple design flexibility with our drag-and-drop editor
  • Automatically tag subscribers to manage and segment your list easily

The best part? You don’t even need a website to start.

6 – Utilize an effective search engine optimization strategy

One of the best things about search engine optimization (SEO) strategies is that even small businesses with limited budgets can still get the #1 spot in search results. By optimizing your web pages to increase visibility in search engines like Google and Bing, you can get more organic traffic without a huge budget.

5 Simple steps to improve your SEO

  1. Keyword research
    • Determine what keywords will be the focus of our webpage or blog post. There are a few free keyword research tools you can use to help.
    • Target long-tail keywords as they tend to be less competitive, giving your small business a better chance to rank.
    • Think about the keywords your customers might use in a search bar to find the information that you provide.
    • Consider additional keyword suggestions that make sense for your blog.
  2. Optimize your content for SEO
    • Write content focused on your chosen keywords. 
    • Mention your main keyword in the first paragraph
  3. Structure your page URL
    • Your page URL extensions should have your focus keyword.  For example, if your main or focus keyword is “How to paint a house”, your URL extension could be /how-to-paint-a-house/
  4. Add your title tag
    • A title tag is your display title that appears on a search engine results page.
    • Structure your title tag to include the page title, a separator like a dash or a line, and your company name for brand recognition. 
    • The optimal length is 50 – 60 characters.
  5. Add your meta description
    • A meta description is the brief information shown below the title tag on a search engine results page.
    • Ensure your meta description accurately describes the content of your page.
    • The optimal length is between 150 and 160 characters.
    Example of a title tag and meta description with an AWeber search

    These simple steps are just the beginning. Continuously improving your SEO strategy can indefinitely boost your chances of ranking higher in search results, driving more traffic to your site.

    7 – Let influencers do the work for you

    Influencer marketing involves leveraging individuals who are passionate about your company and can actively promote your product or service to their network. Influencers have the power to affect the buying decisions (influence) potential customers due to the trust and relationships they have built with their audience.

    Brands are increasingly seeking out these influencers because of their potential impact. Influencer marketing is when a business actively collaborates with influencers to promote their brand. 

    A great place to find your influencers is through social media. Identify who is already promoting your products and services to their friends, family, and colleagues. Reach out to these individuals and consider offering incentives or to attract more popular influencers who have greater reach.

    8 – Check your local chamber of commerce

    Joining your local Chamber of Commerce can be a great way to increase your brand awareness within your community. Becoming a member has several advantages, including being listed in their newsletter and on their website. Some Chambers of Commerce also offer free advertising opportunities for their members.

    A Chamber member also comes with a certain level of credibility. Studies have shown customers are 80% more likely to purchase from a business that is a Chamber member.

    Additionally, you will have the opportunity to meet with other business leaders who can provide valuable business advice or potentially develop partnerships with other businesses.

    9 – Grow your email list with sign-up forms

    You can use sign-up forms to expand your email list by adding them to your landing page, website, blog, or Facebook page to collect subscriber information. With an AWeber, you get access to unlimited sign-up forms, making this an inexpensive yet effective marketing tool. 

    A sign-up form is designed to collect subscriber’s information through input fields so you can communicate with them through email.

    AWeber's sign up form example

    You can use a sign-up form to get subscribers for your email newsletter, webinar or event registrants, students for your online course, ebook or guide downloads, customers for your products or services, or just general lead generation.

    You can effortlessly grow your email list with hundreds of ready-to-use sign-up form templates. It’s easy for even amateurs to create professional-looking sign-up forms in just a few minutes. And if you don’t have a company website, AWeber has you covered there, too. You can add a sign-up form to your landing page builder, and AWeber will also host the sign-up form for you, allowing you to use it on your Facebook page.

    Example of using a sign up form on a Facebook page

    10 – Set up a business partnership

    Do you have an opportunity to partner with a complementary business? A business partnership can be as simple as a collaboration between a local restaurant and a movie theater offering a dinner-and-a-movie package, or it can be more complex, such as strategic alliances between Fortune 500 companies.

    Regardless of the scale, business partnerships are an excellent way to tap into a new audience and create mutually beneficial opportunities. Look for businesses that offer products or services that complement your own and explore ways to collaborate on joint marketing efforts, special promotions, or bundled offers.

    11 – Collect customer feedback

    Collecting feedback from your customers is a cost-effective way to update your products and refine your brand’s marketing strategies. By understanding what your customers think and feel about your offerings, you can make better, more informed decisions which will, in turn, boost your customer experience and drive brand loyalty.

    There are lots of simple survey tools you can incorporate like Google Forms and SurveyMonkey. And, yes, AWeber also has tools to easily create and distribute surveys. 

    Also, by encouraging customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google My Business and  Yelp, you can further get the word out about your business and attract new customers. 

    Finally, including feedback forms on your website or in your emails gives your customers a direct line of communication to share their thoughts and suggestions.

    12 – Run competitions or donate a prize

    Organizing contests is another inexpensive and fun marketing strategy. Encourage participants to like, share, and comment on your posts. This spreads the word not only within your network of followers but reaches their followers too, getting your name in front of new potential customers who may not have ever heard of you.

    Besides social media contests, donating a prize for community events or charitable causes like auctions is another great and cheap way to get a better reputation in your community. 

    13 – Create a referral program

    Encourage your existing customers to refer friends and family by offering incentives like discounts, free products, or exclusive access to new products. This tactic rewards your loyal customers and also encourages them to advocate for your business. 

    It’s important to make sure you track and manage your referrals well. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if you sent your friends and family to some company website, expecting a gift or a discount in return, and got ignored? That’s how you lose customers! 

    Use a simple referral tracking program like ReferralCandy or LoyaltyLion. These even automate the process, ensuring your customers get the rewards you promised without you having to micromanage the process.

    Ready to start marketing your business?

    As you can see, you don’t need a bottomless budget and hours of time to effectively market your business. With these inexpensive marketing ideas for small businesses, you can begin to make a splash right away.

    The great news is you don’t have to do it alone. Get started with AWeber Free and get access to

    • Email marketing  
    • Landing page 
    • Sign up forms
    • Our award-winning customer service team
    • 24/7 support
    • Free migration services
    • And more

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