In the world of Inbound Marketing there are a lot of options. Agencies, software and freelance subcontractors can provide all the needed assistance you need to attract and collect potential clients and leads.
Unfortunately, for most small and growing businesses, these services cost money. But, with a little time and effort there are free options that can generate the traction your business needs to be successful online.
Inbound Marketing by Content Category
Not every business is the same. Some companies provide products/services online while others have a more local appeal and need a storefront location. Other businesses sell directly to the customers (known as B2C or Business to Consumer) while other companies target and sell directly to other industries (known as B2B or Business to Business).
Regardless of what category your company falls into there plenty of free inbound marketing options.
Inbound Marketing Through Written Content
On the internet, content makes the electronic world go ‘round. With singular or limited content types the net just wouldn’t be the cornucopia of knowledge, images and plain ol’ useful info that it is today. Your business needs representation, so let’s dive in.
If your business is online in any capacity, then blogging is a great way to promote your services, products and to share industry-related info. Start keeping a list of questions your clients ask you and start answering online.
Chances are there is more than one person looking for solutions to the problems presented by one customer. Place your answers online where anyone can see them and become part of the solution and a leader in your industry. Here’s some examples of blog categories to get you moving:
- Announcements: Industry wide or specific to your business (trade shows, new products on the market, etc.)
- How-To’s: Show people how to do-it-yourself.
- Education: Make your sales cycle easier by informing your readers about the finer points of your product or service. The more they know, the less they ask during the sales process.
We’ve linked a few examples of our content above and below. Take a look to get an idea of how we do it.
Tip: Check other blogs related to your own subject matter and scan through for topics and inspiration. Keep a running list of ideas generated from customer feedback and what you find on the internet.
News and Press Releases Done Right
Writing your own press releases is almost as easy as writing blog posts, albeit with a little more structure and professional language. Once a press release is written it can be published through multiple channels such as:
- Your own blog.
- Press Release websites like PR-Web.
- In local print publications such as newspapers and magazine.
Tip: Contact the local newsroom and ask where to send the press release material. Print publications sometimes need filler for open space in their print runs. Well-written and relevant content has a higher likelihood of being published so try and produce a polished gem ready for print.
Document Sharing and Guest Posting for Colleagues
You know how it goes. Love is nothing until you give it away, and you’ll end up having more. Show your colleagues some love by offering to write a guest post on their blog rolls. If you do, you’ll end up having more… leads and authority.
In order to find Blogs and Websites to guest post on all you need is Google. Search the term that relates to your business in Google Search. After keying in your term and hitting enter you’ll get your results. Go to the left-hand side of the results page and look for the “Blogs” tab (sometimes hidden in the “More” tab). Click “Blogs” and Google will refine your search to blogs that use that same term or phrase.
Now that you’ve found your colleagues, ask them if they’d like some free content. The secondary benefit is that you grow your contacts list and reach inside your industry!
Tip: Try and write original content for your guest posts. Google is on the lookout for duplicate content and in some cases can penalize those who are producing unoriginal work. Write fresh copy or redraft existing articles to get the best results.
Infographics are the Bomb; the Social Sharing Kind
If you spend any time on the internet chances are you’ve been exposed to an Infographic. These visually oriented bits of information have a huge impact on an audience hungry for content. Infographics are also easy to read and digest for the user and are one of the most shared types of content on the web.
Here’s some examples of good Infographics:
- The Value of Thanking Employees
- The Vast Anatomy of a Successful Marketing Campaign
- Sensible Social Media Checklist for Businesses
Crafting your own Infographics based on business topics relevant to you can be hard without the right skills and software but sharing existing Infographics to your social media accounts can still help you get a push in clicks, likes and overall web authority.
That being said, there are a few free Infographics creators online that can help you build some basic visuals.
Tip: Generate a few ideas for Infographics that relate to your business. Over time collect any relevant images and content that you have created on that subject. Once you feel you have enough to draft an Infographic start building. It will be much easier if all the content you need is right at your fingertips.
Whitepapers: Paint a Picture of Your Industry Knowledge
Ever heard of a Whitepaper? Simply put it’s a downloadable document, usually in PDF format, that users and readers can download and take away for later reading. This Whitepaper has mutual benefit for the creator and the user.
The user gets some free valuable information while the creator gets to drop an electronic business card of sorts into the hands of a curious reader. There’s no telling when that soft lead might convert into an actual sale but without the download available you have a lower chance of making a sale in the future.
What’s more, this content could be shared with friends, business contacts and the community at large through the power of social media.
Here’s an example of one of our Whitepapers about SEO Myths in 2015. Take a look and see how valuable a whitepaper can be.
Tip: Make your document as open, honest and useful as possible. There’s no point in holding back information. If people want info badly enough the internet will have the answers. Be the one providing solutions, rather than protecting items you see as proprietary.
Article Submission: No
Batteries Website Required
Producing fresh content to the web is always helpful, no matter where it’s posted. In addition to publishing blog posts to your own website, and submitting guest posts to colleague’s sites, you can submit content to article submission locations across the internet.
Article submission is in some ways different however. On most article submission sites you’ll need to create an account. Designate one email or point person to manage any and all submissions so your account sign-in info isn’t spread across unrelated email addresses. This way all announcements, shares and notifications will be reported to one person.
Here’s some of the best article submission sites we’ve used in the past for added online gains:
It’s important to note there are other submission sites out there but most of them are paid versions.
Tip: Some submission sites won’t allow you to place links to your content, or any web address (URL) for that matter, but they will allow a complete authors section that runs at the bottom of each article. In most cases you can add a business description and homepage link. Make sure you fill out your authors section in full to reap all the benefits of article submission.
Promotional Handouts: Facts Deductible
Ah, the real world. Still a great place to collect some leads. Just because online Inbound Marketing is gathering steam by leaps and bounds doesn’t mean you can ignore real people.
Some folks just aren’t internet savvy, and others consider themselves too old and set in their ways to make the transition into electronic mediums. Any way you slice it, this demographic has needs and money to spend like anyone else.
For us at Canopy Media, we have both a beefy internet presence and a storefront office for walk-in clients. Some of our most promising leads and valuable long-term clients have simply walked through our doors and sat down for a face-to-face meet and greet.
Not everyone can afford office space but every business and their kid-affiliate should have some promotional materials. Here’s a list of the most commonly read promotional materials for face-to-face client meetings:
- Business Cards
- Pamphlets/Brochures (link to new Hubspot page for the Brochure)
- Info Booklets
Tip: Creating promotional materials is rarely free but Vistaprint will produce 250 free business cards for you if you don’t mind having their logos and promotions on the back of your card. Sharing space on your business card isn’t ideal but neither is spending money when your bank account has limited funds. Take a look at their offerings and decide for yourself.
That’s content in a not-so-nutty shell. Of course there are many types of content listed above and probably some we missed but don’t feel overwhelmed. Pick and choose the content types you want to create based on time, value and expected returns.
Ok, we’re not done yet. Let’s move on to social media in all it’s forms. Coming soon!