5 low-cost online marketing ideas

6 min read
Digvijay Singh

You might have built the most useful product or the most unique service, but all your efforts fall flat if you cannot attract visitors to your website (and therefore, your business). You need to reach out to people on the internet who might be interested in buying your offerings. One of the most effective ways to do this in today’s world is online marketing.

Online marketing encompasses all the tools or techniques employed to spread awareness about your business, product or services via digital media.

Online marketing is also known as internet marketing, web marketing and digital marketing. It often includes a combination of various elements:

  • A business website.
  • Promotional email.
  • Search engine optimisation.
  • Social media marketing.
  • A content strategy.
  • Pay-per-click advertising and other tactics.

If you are a small business or have just started, you might be searching for economical ways to attract more eyeballs. If so, keep reading.

5 marketing ideas for a shoestring budget

It’s essential to get the word out about your product or service. But it doesn’t have to cost a bomb.

  1. Online reviews.

  2. Google My Business.

  3. Social media posts.

  4. Interesting content.

  5. Influential friends.

There are many ways to promote your business inexpensively — if you’re willing to take the time to learn how.

1. Online reviews

Online reviews work like digital word-of-mouth. A substantial number of positive reviews works as social proof, convincing potential customers you’re worth a look.

People trust the reviews as much as their friends’ feedback.

Let’s take an example: if there were two sweet shops, one empty and the other flooded with the crowd, it won’t take more than a minute for you to conclude that the second one must have tastier sweets. This is social proof at work.

Online Marketing Just Dial
Just Dial is one of many low-cost advertising options available to small businesses.

To start accepting reviews, you can get your business registered on:

If you operate in the hotel or restaurant industry, consider registering or getting covered by TripAdvisor and Zomato.

How does it help? Millions of people visit these sites in search of reviews on businesses, product and services. A good rating and compelling reviews can get you tons of more business.

Read this post to learn how to ask for testimonials and reviews from your customers. And always encourage your happy customers to leave you reviews and ratings on your Facebook page.

2. Google My Business

Online Marketing Google My Business
Google offers free business listings to everyone.

If you are a local business, get listed on Google My Business (GMB). This is totally free and is one of the trending online marketing strategies to attract local customers.

Include all the necessary information about your business on the listing, including photos, hours of operation, phone and complete descriptions of what you offer. You don't have to make a separate listing on Google Maps, as it automatically takes your business address from GMB.

Once your GMB listing is complete, ask your customers to leave reviews for you.

Bonus Tip: Write posts on local events or news for extra local traffic through Google.

3. Social media posts

To benefit from social media marketing, it is not necessary to be present on every social media network. Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social networks in India, followed by WhatsApp. It’s important to carefully choose the platform that resonates with your audience.

168 million people actively use social media in India.

All the social media platforms facilitate paid ads but why buy a cow when you can get milk for free? You can attract substantial interest without spending a penny if you choose your platform wisely and consistently post high-quality content (get tips here).

Your choice of social media depends on where your audience hangs out and what you are trying to promote. For example, if you create beautiful handicrafts, try to promote them on Instagram or Pinterest. If you create DIY (Do it Yourself) tutorials, YouTube is the place. Make sure all posts include links back to your website and an invitation to visit.

The benefits of community-building

As you might know, with the latest change in the Facebook news feed algorithm in 2018, the organic reach of Facebook pages has shrunk to 1.2 percent. Therefore, marketers are investing more money in the paid options.

Online Marketing Social Community
Building a community on social media takes nothing more than time.
Photo: rawpixel on Unsplash

But there is another excellent way to leverage the Facebook audience, and that is by building your community there.

Facebook Groups is a great way to build a community around your product or service. Educate and help people or post entertaining content. On the social media platforms where you cannot make a group, you can build a community by being active on it (like, share and comment). This type of marketing is slow but steady and effective.

4. Interesting content

Blogging is one of the most effective types of content marketing there is. You simply create educational, informative, helpful or entertaining articles to attract visitors to your blog and from there, to your website.

Content marketing has long-term effects on your sales and search rankings.

But you don’t have to stop with a blog. Content can be in the form of:

  • Research studies.
  • Tutorials.
  • Shareable visuals (images, photos, infographics)
  • Videos and more.

When optimised for targeted keywords, this type of content draws visitors who might not find your business another way.

Once Google has indexed your articles and videos, try syndicating them for maximising the reach. Some of the free content syndication platforms are Medium, GrowthHub and SlideShare.

5. Influential friends

Influencers are people who have tens of thousands of fans and followers on social media. For example, lifestyle guru Ayushi Bangur is a top influencer on Instagram, while Kanan Gill rules YouTube.

Online Marketing
You can find influencers to promote your business on sites like VURoll.

Influencer marketing is much more powerful than investing thousands of dollar in hiring a celebrity to endorse your business.

Gone are the days when influencer marketing used to cost you an arm and a leg. These days, you can find many affordable social media influencers and bloggers who have smaller niche communities related to various industries. Their opinion can influence the decision-making of their followers, since they trust the influencer.

Some of the platforms where you might be able to find influencers in your niche are Influencer, Fromote, VURoll and TRIBE.

Online marketing doesn’t have to be expensive

All the methods discussed above are either free or entail a nominal cost. To avoid getting stressed by these many strategies, take baby steps. Start with the low-hanging fruits — those that are easy to implement and are absolutely free.

Listing your business on review platforms and GMB and starting a blog are strategies that do not involve much cost. Once you’ve mastered these, gradually move towards the more expensive strategies like social media ads and influencer marketing.

Online marketing is no more a choice in today’s world. You need to beat your competition to the draw at every single point. Take the advice offered here and you’re bound to succeed.