Among the myriad challenges of running a business, one of the biggest is cash flow. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, eight out of ten businesses fail due to cash flow issues.
Despite this, it’s crucial for businesses to invest in marketing and sales.
However, if you don’t have thousands dollars to invest in promotions and advertising just yet, read on. In this piece, we’ll give you some budget-friendly tips to grow your small business.
5 Ways To Grow Your Business Online For Free
An essential part of running an online business is establishing a strong brand presence and building a community of loyal customers who promote your business.
Here are five ways to establish your business online:
1. Set up local listings like Google My Business
Local business listings and directories help customers in your area easily find your business online. This can increase your business's search ranking and attract new buyers.
As you may know, Google dominates other search engines and holds more than 92% of the search engine market share.
So setting up your Google Business Profile account should be your first step. In addition, you can add your business to other local listings on Facebook, Yelp, or elsewhere.
Here’s why you should add your business to online directories and local listings:
- It ensures that people in your vicinity looking for your products or services find your business online. It shows them where and how they can visit your business.
- It will increase traffic to your website because you will appear in more searches due to better SEO.
- Google My Business makes it easy for customers to look for your business on Google Maps.
- You can gather customer reviews and testimonials as social proof of your credibility because Google My Business has a feature where customers can give your business a star rating and leave a detailed review.
- You can share interactive photos of your business directly onto Google My Business to increase customer engagement.
We have a detailed blog post showing you how you can set up and optimize your Google Business Profile. All it takes is five simple steps.
Step 1: Create an account. Sign in to Google Business Profile Manager.
Step 2: Add your business. Type out your business name in the search bar, and if it doesn’t appear, click on ‘add your business to Google’ and select the appropriate category for your business.
Step 3: Enter your business location. If your business has a physical store that customers can visit, add that address. And, if you’re an online business, you can list out your service areas.
Step 4: Fill in your contact information. Filling in details like your contact number, website link, and social handles will allow customers to interact with your business.
Step 5: Verify your business. You can do this by following the directions on the page. Once your business profile is verified, you can customize and optimize it.
Setting up a Google My Business account is a free way to increase your small business's online visibility, credibility, and traffic.
2. Leverage user-generated content for promotion
Small businesses usually don't have the same resources that large companies do for advertisements and promotions. But, you can effectively promote your business for free using user-generated content.
User-generated content includes online reviews, testimonials, video tutorials, and unboxing videos that customers make for your product. Every picture and video of your customers using your product can help spread the word about your company.
Encourage your customers to post about your products or services on social media and tag you.
Re-sharing your customers' content is an authentic way to advertise your business for free while also showing your customers that you enjoy looking at their pictures and videos.
Leveraging user-generated content for promotion is a very effective method because:
- Customers enjoy posting online
- You see how customers are using your products/services
- Potential customers get an authentic picture of your company’s products or services
- It builds a community of engaged customers who will be loyal to your brand
- It’s free and fun advertising
For example, 49% of TikTok users admitted they made a purchase after seeing something promoted, used, or reviewed on the online platform. Those numbers speak for themselves.
So, inspiring your customers to create user-generated content is a highly effective method to attract new customers.
3. Build a community through social media
Humans are wired to love a sense of belonging and community. But, how can you build an online community for your business? And why should you?
Communities for your business will bring your customers closer to your company and create a welcoming and engaging environment to attract more people. It’s a great tool to unite all the people interested in your business and give them a sense of belonging.
You can harness the power of Facebook groups to connect with people who are interested in your business and share exclusive offers and content with this group to reward their loyalty.
Here are some easy steps to build a community:
- Create a Facebook group
- Invite your friends and family to join the group and interact with your content
- Invite your customers and other people interested in your business to join the group
- Regularly post exclusive content, updates, and offers on the group
This community lets you effectively engage with your customers to grow and expand your business.
You can also find groups based on specific target markets, such as “mom groups”. In these groups, you can search for requests for the services the company offers and respond to them.
You might also get the opportunity to advertise with posts in groups that allow ads. Some allow ads on certain days or certain threads.
Another way to build an engaged community online is by posting YouTube videos and Shorts.
YouTube has more than 2 billion users, and regularly posting interactive videos and Shorts can attract millions of new eyes to your business.
Posting YouTube Shorts building communities through online groups are both free, but go a long way in growing your small business.
Well, that's not all. You can do plenty more to maximize engagement on other social platforms and make yourself more visible to your target audience.
You can maximize your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn reach by doing the following:
- Use social employer pages for yourself and everyone on your team. This way, people in your contacts will be able to click on your website link to check out your business.
- Use relevant hashtags to attract new customers. This lets anyone searching for those hashtags see your posts.
- Cross-promote your social pages. For example, link your Twitter handle on your Instagram account and your Instagram handle on your LinkedIn account. This way, you will maximize your reach across platforms.
- Respond to your community and actively engage in your online groups so your customers know you care about them.
- Work with influencers to have your business promoted by people who already have a large following.
Social media is a powerful tool to grow your business online and engage with your customers.
4. Engage with online forums (like Quora and Reddit)
Quora and Reddit are the social platforms where people love to talk. These are question-answer forums where people explore and discuss content, health, companies, and products.
These platforms attract millions of people, and you can partake in the discussions by creating a page for your company and engaging in content relevant to your brand.
This is an excellent way to let potential customers know of your brand values, your product, the environment-friendly packaging of your new product, and any other topic relevant to your brand.
Suppose you have already exhausted other social media options and are looking for further growth. In that case, these platforms will let you engage with an entirely different group of people interested in topics related to your company and its product/service.
All you have to do is make a page for your company and consistently participate in discussions while staying true to your brand and its values.
Remember, don’t mindlessly promote your company. Instead, build authority by adding value to conversations and posting helpful content, and only link your business website where it's appropriate.
5. Using Google Analytics For Measurement & Insights
Using Google Analytics is an essential part of tracking the growth of your small business. This is the perfect tool to see how your website is performing and what areas you can improve.
This free tool allows you to monitor your website traffic to see how effective your different marketing strategies are.
It can be difficult for your small business to spend hundreds of dollars on online promotion tools in the early stages. However, these free ways to grow your business can help you reach the affordability to invest in these tools to develop further.
Establishing a presence online for your business will take time, but you should stay consistent in your engagement. As you get new customers, remember to ask them to leave a customer review for your business to increase your credibility and local SEO.
NiceJob helps you automate your customer review requests, which allows you to get more reviews with less effort. This helps your company build a strong brand presence.