If you’re a small business owner and are looking for cost-effective and interesting marketing methods to grow your business and client list, we’ve got some options for you. With almost half of the worldwide population now on the Internet, the potential reach of marketing is as large as it has ever been. This market space is steadily growing each and every day, so it is never too late to go down the rewarding path of online marketing. eMarketer estimates that digital ad spending will grow from $83 billion in 2017 to a whopping $129 billion by 2021. Mobile search is a large portion of the dollars spent in this department, as are social media and video advertisement.

We are aware that many small business owners cannot afford to spend the amount of money large corporations and conglomerates can spend; however, that does not mean that you, as a small business owner, are out of the game. There is a host of low-cost, simple marketing tools to get you started in the digital world. Here are just some of the cost-effective options available for you to consider as you branch your marketing out into the online world.

Tighten up SEO
One of the first things you should do when attempting to grow your business’ digital presence is to make sure your SEO is working as well as it can and should be. If you’re new to the digital space and unaware of what SEO is, don’t worry you are not alone. In a nutshell, SEO entails efforts that work to increase the visibility of your website or webpage to users by improving your search engine rankings to ensure your site is listed in the top results for relevant keywords for your business. Increasing the visibility of your website is a sure way to drive more revenue results, the same way the increased foot traffic in your store results in more sales.

Start a Blog
A great way to increase the amount of eyes on your product or service is to start an online blog. WordPress estimates that every month, more than 409 million people read over 23.7 billion blog posts on its platform. With this amount of presence in the digital world, starting a blog about your product or services is bound to pay off.

Guest Post on Industry Blogs
After you’ve created your own blog and gotten better at writing it, you should branch out and guest post on other blogs from around the industry. What this means is posting into specialized online marketing publications to get your brand and service out there. This can be very inexpensive and it can create a great channel for people to read your insight into the business. People are always in need of good content for their own blog or site, so being featured is easier then you may think. Most people would be happy to publish or post a well-written guest article as long as it’s tailored to their key audience – so make sure it’s relevant.

Join or Create a Facebook Group
Completely free from cost, Facebook is a service that is highly used by marketers. A Facebook group provides a platform for like-minded individuals and businesses to gather and share valuable information online. If enough individuals share your group on Facebook, the results can be astounding for business.

Utilize Facebook Live
You may already be on Facebook with a profile, page or a group; however, you could be doing more by adding Facebook Live into the mix. Facebook reports that over 20% of its videos are live, meaning that many people already interact with the live feature, making it a useful tool for you to utilize in your marketing campaign. Thinking of going live at your next event, big sale, doing a store tour and maybe behind-the-scenes footage.

Register on Freelancing Platforms
Freelance platforms such as Fiverr, offer a convenient way to get your services publicly listed and in front of a large audience. It also offers a great option for outsourcing work or tasks that you don’t have time or the skill set to do. Need digital ads created? Updates made on your website? I custom flyer for your annual sale? Take advantage of outsourcing with freelance platforms and be sure to get your companies services listed too.    

Although Facebook can be a very useful marketing tool, it is not the only online forum that exists. Websites such as Reddit and Tumblr provide an excellent service in facilitating idea sharing between your business and the rest of the industry, so utilize them. Join in conversations, post questions and get feedback from an engaged user base. These types of forums offer a great opportunity to learn more about your audience and make business connections.

Build an Email List
Email lists are an often overlooked form of digital marketing, but this can be one of the more useful strategies to incorporate. For every dollar spent on an email marketing campaign, businesses achieve an average of $44 return in investment. This is most likely due to the fact that emails are more often read thoroughly than social media posts. You can get a free Mailchimp account to start building your list!

Create Craigslist Posts
Amazon’s Alexa ranks Craigslist as the 14th most popular website searched in the United States. Overlooking such a valuable marketplace is something you can’t pass up—especially because it is completely free to make posts. Because of Cragslist’s geographically assorted regions, it holds a great deal of utility for localized marketing campaigns.

Host Video Content on YouTube
Video marketing is showing great potential and is steadily trending upward. Nearly 75% of online traffic is video-oriented these days. YouTube dominates the video media market and is second only to Google as far as search engines go. Utilizing YouTube is a great way to get your brand out into the digital video space for free. Try creating a tutorial or DIY video, film using your smart phone and a tripod. You don’t need to get fancy with these, if you offer valuable content people will come to your channel for your videos.

Stay Active on Social Media
Social media, if done correctly, can be a very useful platform for small business marketing. Most social media users are on their platform of choice daily—whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the hosts of websites. This means that, if given the opportunity, they would come across your advertisements at least once a day. It can be time-consuming to manage three, four, or more social media strategies, so if you’re strapped for time it’s better to pick one or two and do them well rather then spread yourself too thin.

Respond to Online Reviews
Online reviews are indeed a major part of any business these days. These reviews help to guide people into deciding on your business or services versus your competitors. For this fact alone, you want to make sure you check online reviews for your business. Potential clients will see that you are willing to respond to previous client’s reviews, creating a more personal relationship rather than just a professional one. 

Automate Everything
Scheduling posts in social media can be very time-consuming and expensive. There are a host of useful automated marketing programs that you can explore that will take the posts you’ve created and post them automatically to websites. The top programs that come to mind when it comes to marketing automation are HootSuite, Rebuyers and ConstantContact. You can schedule posts to multiple social media platforms, saving you hours of time.

Remain Current on Maps
Some potential clients or customers will only use a mapping program to find businesses, especially when traveling – think Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, etc. If they can’t easily find your business address, hours, and  contact information on your site then they won’t be visiting your story. This is the modern day equivalent to being in the Yellow Pages, so make sure you take advantage of it. Ensure your address information is listed on your website in text format so search engines can read it, and get your store listed with Google My Business, Localeze and other directory listing sites.