The most challenging tasks for small and start-up businesses is how to promote their products and services in this dot come web 2.0 era where likes of Google have made online and advertising space too competitive and too pricy! A recent report suggests that despite the surge of many social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, still the three channels that drive most traffic and sales are high search page ranking, pay per click and email advertising, and the gap between these three channels and other advertising channels is huge.
So considering routine social media updates can’t bring much traffic and sales, start-ups and small businesses are not left with not many options but to explore search engine optimisation, Pay-per-click (PPC) and email newsletters to grow their business. However, all these three options can be very expensive and time consuming and not every new company can afford that. For example, for top keywords getting high organic search engine ranking can take years, keyword bidding can be very high cost with very low conversion and building a real email list can take too long!
So how can small businesses and start-ups find ways to promote their businesses online, quickly and cheaply , so that they don’t go out of business?
We have come up with following ideas based on online promotion analysis we have done with our clients that can help businesses to grow quickly and cheaply.
1. Use Bing Ads in place of Google Adwords
No doubt Google still dominates the search engine market and has become, for most people, the default home page or place to find any information. Businesses are outbidding each other to get high ranks on Google and therefore a PPC campaign with a mere 2% click through rate for relevant keywords can be as high as 40p-per-click (average) i.e. an advertising campaign with very low conversion can run into thousands of pounds.
But since Microsoft (Bing Search Engine) and Yahoo joined hands for combined advertising, Bing have become a force to be reckoned with, and running an advertising campaign can be far cheaper, with a high conversion rate, for the simple reason that even though Bing and Yahoo hold 30%+ of the search market, businesses are giving them less importance than Google for advertising. However, both Microsoft and Yahoo users are very loyal due to their long-term bonding, since the start of dot come era in 1996! This leads to far higher conversion on Bing and Yahoo than Google!
2. Create Social Networks Channels and Schedules 4/5 unique updates with two Hashtags everyday
Here is another secret. Due to the crowdsourcing nature of all social media channels, they quickly get far higher ranks on Google and Bing than your website, so the first thing you do is create Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pintrest, Google+ and LinkedIn pages/channels and do routine but uniquely informative updates with targeted keywords using tools like Hootsuite or Bufferapp. And hashtags have become the universal way of tagging content among all these networks so don’t forget to add at least one to two relevant hashtags to get maximum reach!
And if you don’t believe this, try the above and after just a week put “link <Your webstite>” into Google and you will see many back links from the social updates, more than links from other websites!
3. Run a competition to give away freebies to collect customer insight data
Rather than buying an expensive email list or waiting for people to sign up your email newsletter on your website, why not give away freebies to build customer data and email addresses so that you can build an email list? For example Tikbuzz giveaway two Justin Bieber tickets in a competition and asked participants to select an artist they would like to watch live after Bieber. They got thousands of entries from Justin Bieber fans plus many entries from the fans of Lady Gaga, Usher, and Michael Bubble, all hoping for a chance to watch their idol live!
4. Make comments on top blogs and news sites to drive traffic and to get back links
In an attempt to make their sites attractive for crowdsourcing, many top news sites and blogs let readers leave comments with links these days, so another way to source traffic is commenting on famous blogs like TechCrunch, Huffington Post, AllThingsD and news sites like CNN, Guardian and Blooomberg. This way, not only can you get backlinks for high page ranking but lots of traffic. For example Tweepforce made comments on popular tech news site (CNET News) and technology blog (TechCrunch), those comments were indexed by Google search engine within a day and brought lots of traffic too! (See below image for stats.)
5. User Twitter Advance Search for lead generation
Twitter with over 1bn+ tweets every 2.5 days has loads of data that businesses can use for lead generation, especially if Twitter search is used with GEO location, sentiments and social influence via a Twitter marketing tool like Tweepforce, Hootsuite and BufferApps to engage with your audience. It can bring loads of traffic with high conversion rates because here you are engaging with people based on their intent and interest.
6. Create and Share Social Newsletters including updates from target customers
An email newsletter still ranks very high when it comes to keeping your subscribers informed, but people spend substantial time on social networks talking to their friends, and catching up news. So use tools like paper.li and scoop.it to build a social newsletter by mixing your company and (potential) customer’s Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest updates and share them via those very same social networks. This will create more engaging newsletter and drive more traffic!
Overall, small businesses or start-ups can start to promote their products and services without using expensive digital and PR agencies by simply using Bing ads, commenting in top blogs and news sites, running competitions and some smart social marketing like using advanced Twitter search tools and social newsletters!