You can have the best products and services, but that doesn’t guarantee that people are getting to your website. In other words, just because you have a website and great products/services, it doesn’t mean people will come.
And unfortunately, low traffic means low sales. So the question is how do you get people to your site? You can pay for advertising, such as search engine marketing (SEM), or use for search engine optimization services so you rank higher in Google. However, what if you don’t have the money to pay for these services?
Here’s some ideas for businesses with little to no marketing budgets.
If a picture says a thousand words, how many does a video say? A lot apparently. According to one survey, videos help 73% of viewers to buy a service or product. Videos are a way you can build trust by showing your product, expertise, and/or testimonials. They also provide a way people to get to know you, or your product, in a way that an image can’t – people can see your body language, hear your intonation, and see your product in action.
While videos can be pricey – they’re really as expensive as you want them to be.
Videos can be done by simply recording yourself with your mobile device or camera and then posting it to YouTube. From there, you can embed it on other sites and share it with others.
Videos can star you, but they don’t have to. You can pay $5 on Fiverr and have them do a commercial using a script you provide (or pay them a little more to write the script).
After you create your video post it to your site, as well as other video sites to get exposure. Here’s some places to consider:
Blogging on a consistent basis is important because it keeps visitors returning and its a great way to tell search engines that your website is updated often (which they like). Use it to demonstrate your knowledge about topics that would be of interest to your clients and prospects (read Content Creation Blackbook for topic ideas). If you don’t have a blog already, get one. If you aren’t able to add one to your site, start one on WordPress or Tumblr and make sure that it has link back to your website.
Blog content doesn’t necessarily have to come from you. It can also come from guest bloggers – people, external to your business, who write a blog post for you. For example, if you’re an accountant, you may have a financial consultant write a post on the benefits of setting up a trust. This is something that your target market may be interested in, but that someone else has more expertise in than you. Your blog should bring value to your readers, regardless of if it comes from you or someone else. As a side benefit, you could ask the guest blogger to inform their customers, fans and followers about the blog post which will send you traffic from an audience who might be unfamiliar with you.
Another spin on guest blogging is that you can generate traffic to your site by writing a post for someone else. In other words, you can also be a guest blogger. When you do this, the blog owner will often let you mention your business and include a link back to your site. Search the web to look for blogs that cover topics that you have expertise in, and then contact the blog owner.
Limit the blogs you target to ones that:
- have content related to your topic
- provide quality content
- have a good mix of posts by the blog owners and guests – or are written mostly by the owner
You want to avoid blogs that are not related to your area or are mainly guest posts. These can often times be viewed as as low quality links by Google and you can even be penalized for them (ranked lower) if its thought that the sole purpose of the post is to boost your search ranking (as opposed to educating the readership).
Offer Something for Free
If you can, offer something for free on your website. People love free things, and just as important, they love to share deals with their friends and family.
If you sell products, you could offer free samples of your products or a trial (limited supply or limited time). You could also offer free coupons or discounts that people can use.
If you offer services, allow people to get a sample of what you can do while they get a chance to know you. Free consultations, estimates and audits are common. There’s a good chance that you offer this already. If you do, make sure that you use this as a hook everywhere – every page of your site that you can, at the bottom of the every blog post, and frequently in your social networking.
On your website, make sure that it’s as easy as possible to sign up for the free service your providing. Even though a phone call has a higher close rate, it deters many people because it takes additional effort and can be seen as a higher level of commitment. Instead use web forms to get their contact info – the less fields, the higher the response rate (the higher the chance they fill it out) – so if possible, stick to full name, email and phone (optional). If you find that you’re getting a lot of unqualified people, then add additional fields. Make sure that you have a call to action (CTA) on every page! That means having either the contact form or a link to it on every page. Make it highly visible!
Another option is including a widget like vCita which is a tab that shows on every page. When people click on it, it pops up, it shows your calendar and they can schedule with you.
One of the best ways to prove your expertise is by answering questions for free. The best part is that there are sites already built where you can answer questions. Quora and Yahoo Answers where people ask a wide variety of questions. There are also industry specific sites, such as Avvo (law) and StackOverflow (software) where people can ask experts in those fields. I’ve personally used Avvo to ask questions and to vet attorneys based on their answer and site reputation.
This should go without saying, but you want to make sure that you provide quality answers. The person asking the question isn’t the only one who will see your answer – so will every other person that sees that views the question. Often times this can be quite a few people because these question sites rank well in search results because they match, or come close, to the exact questions people type into Google or Bing. On top of that, viewers of the answer have a chance to vote your response up or down and this reflects in a score you’re given for the site (high score indicating you know what you’re talking about more than others).
Podcasts, audio broadcasts, are a free way that you can demonstrate your knowledge. Fueled initially by the success of the iTunes store, many people frequently download, if not subscribe to podcasts as a way to learn about topics that interest them. The best part for you is that podcasts are free to post to iTunes. Record your voice using your computer (and software) and then post it to iTunes. Here’s a tutorial talking about how to create one.
If you have trouble thinking of a topic, read our Content Creation Blackbook. Sometimes podcasts are a topic talked about by one person, sometimes it’s more like a talk show where multiple people talk about a subject and have a conversation.
Press releases are a way to get publicity, as well as generate traffic through links. Write press releases to announce news and events related to your business and publish them to your website, as well as circulating them to reporters via lists or email. One thing that may prevent some from doing press releases is that they may be waiting until something “earth shattering” happens before they write one. Press releases don’t need to be front page news to be released. Some things that may seem mundane are good topics for press releases:
- an upcoming event
- a sale
- a new product or service offering
- a price change
- a partnership (new vendor, supplier)
- a change in personnel (new hire, promotion)
- an award, a mention in media
- a finding (survey results, discovery, etc.)
- a change in operating hours
- a new location
Another way to approach the press is through Help a Reporter Out (HARO). HARO allows reporters to post requests for quotes for stories. For example, a reporter may be writing a story related to a high profile divorce and ask for quotes from attorneys who specialize in this area. You can then submit your quote, and if the reporter picks the quote, they’ll use it in the story along with your name and business name. Sign-up for free on HARO’s websites and you’ll receive daily emails summarizing the requests from reporters.
Local Listings and Reviews
Local listing sites help generate traffic from people who visit them, as well as by telling search engines that you offer these services/products (i.e. boost your business in local searches). Make sure that you’re listed in them, as they’re usually free, and that your info is accurate. Encourage people to write reviews so others know what to expect from your business. Also, watch the reviews so that you can respond to, and learn from, negative ones.
And Share Everything
Don’t forget to share everything you do above with your social networking fans and followers. If you do this on a routine basis, it will lead to people sharing it with their friends and family. Over time it will build your marketing reach and the organic traffic going into your website.