Opinions, best practices and research into B2B marketing strategy and practices

5 cost-effective internet marketing methods that could keep your company afloat

It can difficult to view any type of advertising strategy as being affordable or cost-effective when your company is behind on bills and is struggling to stay in business. However, if profits are low and you’re not generating enough income to keep up with financial obligations then attracting new clients/customers may be the fastest way to get out of debt and facilitate a turnaround.

While many business owners are under the erroneous impression that internet marketing is an expensive, high-tech luxury, the truth is that online outreach is a surprisingly easy way to spread awareness and generate quality leads. Furthermore, there are many ways to appeal to a targeted audience on the web with little to no monetary investment required, especially if you operate in a business-to-business industry.

Here are 5 internet marketing methods that can be used to keep your company afloat, even if you have nothing to invest but your own time:

1. Creating a Forum Presence

Start by compiling a list of all the major message boards and forums in your niche. Then systematically join each forum that you believe will provide access to a portion of your targeted audience. Once you’re a member of the most prominent forums in your industry you’ll be able to share your expertise by answering specific questions and engaging in discussions about popular trending topics.

With an active and diverse forum presence you can capitalise on the high traffic levels and authoritative search ranking capabilities of previously established sites to gain ongoing exposure without paying for any of the usual costs associated with maintaining or marketing a website.

2. Strategic On-Site Content Development

If you already have a website or if you’re willing to make the nominal investment needed to secure a hosting plan and a domain name, then you already have access to an ideal content platform that can independently rank in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the key terms and phrases of your choice.

Unlike forums, which let you engage in dynamic discussions in a threaded reply-based format, your website provides an unmoderated venue that allows you to post comprehensive articles and guides on issues your customer/client-base is likely to be interested in.

A well-designed website populated with a strategically devised knowledgebase is all that is needed to establish an online headquarters that could land you the new business transactions needed to keep your company profitable.

So how much would this grand endeavor cost? Well, a domain name can be purchased for about £10 and a minimal hosting plan will cost about the same per month. After those expenses you’ll only need to invest the time and effort needed to write, format, and publish your content in order to start seeing noticeable gains in internet traffic and targeted leads.

3. Guest Posting on Other Sites

If your business or website is need of a publicity boost, one of the most advantageous ways to create awareness is to serve as a guest author for other popular websites. This allows you to tap into the fastest-growing, most-trusted online communities within your niche and establish yourself as an authority on specific topics.

In most cases, webmasters will not charge you to post content on their site as long as you’re providing true value to their readers, as it is a mutually beneficial arrangement in that it brings new content and traffic to their site while helping you promote yours.

You’ll usually be given the opportunity to link back to your own website and passively promote your business within the author byline section of your guest post. Not only are guest posts typically free to publish, they also tend to retain and gain visibility and searchability online for as long as the site is active.

In recent years guest posting has become known as one of the most cost-effective ways to obtain notoriety within a particular niche. Writing and strategically placing a guest post on the right topic has the potential to attract tens of thousands of visitors to your site within a matter of days, all at zero cost.

4. Business Directory and Review Site Listings

If you operate a company that does business locally you’ll definitely want to take the time to create a listing in all of the major online directories.

One directory listing in particular that is especially helpful in obtaining rankings for local keywords is Google Places. When you list the address, contact information, and basic details about your company within this directory your website and place of business will become part of the Google Maps database. This will allow you to frequently appear in the SERPs for popular location-oriented key phrases like “landscaping in London” or “best real estate agencies in Dallas, Texas.”

Furthermore, your listing will appear within the graphical interface of GPS navigation systems that use the ubiquitous Google Maps database, so people within your area will be able to quickly compare your company to regional competitors and obtain exact driving directions to your place of business.

Creating a listing in Google Places and other directory sites like Yelp can have a profound positive effect on the amount of local leads you’re able to generate with no upfront monetary investment required.

5. Pay-Per-Click and Banner Ads

If you have a small marketing budget that you’re willing to devote to online lead generation then investing in PPC and banner ads may be the most cost-effective strategy.

In the PPC investment structure you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and makes it through to your landing page (an action known as a click-through). Although the cost of each click-through will vary depending on how competitive your ad keywords are, you’ll have the advantage of knowing exactly how much each targeted visitor will cost you, so you’ll be able to devise a reasonable spending limit based on the percentage of visitors you expect to convert into sales.

Banner ads may prove to be more effective than their contextual counterparts in some cases, and can be paid for within the investment structure of PPC or PPM (you pay a set amount every time 1000 visitors are shown your banner ad).

Conclusion

Contrary to popular misconception, some of the most effective marketing methods are those that don’t cost any money but require a great deal of creative effort and personal time. If you diligently carry out the 5 methods mentioned in this guide you can be assured that some level of tangible progress will be evident within a few weeks.

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Keith Tully

Keith Tully (guest contributer) is a veteran insolvency expert and business management specialist with Real Business Rescue (RBR) - the UK's most extensive network of insolvency practitioners. RBR is a most-trusted provider of free consultations on matters related to corporate insolvency in the United Kingdom.

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