5 Free Advertising Techniques to Grow Your Ecommerce Business
Digital marketing can get very expensive, very quickly, which is why today I’m going to break down five free advertising techniques.
These approaches won’t cost you a penny, are totally effective, and are fairly simple to execute.
Investing in free advertising won’t just save you money. When done right, certain free advertising techniques can generate results for months, even years to come. Usually, ads appear and then disappear in quick succession. But some of the free advertising techniques mentioned here will continue to work for you long after you’ve finished these projects.
The most basic free advertising technique is email marketing. Now, I know what you’re thinking: email marketing just isn’t as exciting as sponsoring cute videos on Instagram or using audience insights to target your ideal customer. However, the truth is that email marketing continues to be relevant. It’s still a phenomenal free advertising tool to build brand loyalty and increase conversions, and it’s not going anywhere.
If your email marketing campaigns haven’t been performing as well as you like, it could be because you’ve put them on the back burner. Every business should have a proper email marketing strategy. Otherwise, you could see low clickthrough rates a high volume of unsubscribes. Take the time to examine your email marketing strategy every few months. Could you be doing more with segmentation? Promote a better balance of content and products? Test and optimize subject lines?
One major mistake that you’ll see in email marketing is over sending. Many marketers feel that just because email is free advertising, more is more. They might send four, five, six marketing emails in a week, just because it’s of such a low cost to them.
In the short term, frequent emails can potentially increase sales. However, over the long term, these marketers will see their subscriber numbers dip. That’s because there is a fine line between making the most of this free advertising tool and spamming your subscribers. Use your best judgment, and dial back your email volume when necessary.
2. Be a Good Guest (For Blogs and Podcasts)
Even if television reporters and journalists aren’t chomping at the bit to hear you talk about your product, you can still gain media coverage. The Internet is awash in high-quality blogs and podcasts. Once you’ve identified which are relevant to your niche, go ahead and reach out to them.
Now, truthfully, it’s unlikely that these media producers are going to want to give your business free advertising and just write blog posts singing your praises. That doesn’t benefit them at all.
What benefits promoters? High-quality content.
When extending yourself as a guest blogger, make sure that your pitches are relevant to the site. Create a piece of content that capitalizes on your unique expertise, and provides value for the reader. It can be tempting to turn an article into a hard sell for your product, but use some restraint and subtlety. Content marketing is less effective free advertising when it tries too hard.
If the website likes your post, you might be able to establish an ongoing guest posting relationship with them, or even trade guest posts so that their content appears on your blog, too. This is a great, recurrent free advertising opportunity. Make sure to identify your ecommerce company and its purpose in your author bio. It’s actually a valuable place to mention your business and begin to establish yourself as a thought leader.
Another great exposure opportunity is podcasts. Being a guest on a podcast is a fantastic free advertising strategy because it introduces your business to a whole new audience. Make sure to choose podcasts with large listening audiences and topics relevant to your business. Reach out, explain your expertise, and why you’re interested in being a guest on the show. Once they’ve agreed to have you on, it helps to actually make some time to chat with the host beforehand. It’s easy to edit a podcast but your conversation will flow more naturally if you have an established rapport.
Just like guest blogging, being a podcast guest is a great way to establish your authority and reach new audiences. However, while these free advertising strategies require no money, they do require time and planning. Make sure you put in real effort in writing your article or preparing for your interview. Making a good impression on partners and audiences alike is crucial here.
3. Win over with video.
More people are browsing the Internet on mobile than ever before, and it’s no coincidence that video content is becoming increasingly popular. It’s just not as easy to read an article on a tiny screen as it is on a bigger screen. This is why many mobile users opt to get their information from videos and podcasts instead of articles.
The good news is that if you’re willing to invest some time in video production, YouTube and Facebook Live could become your new favorite source of free advertising.
So what kind of free advertising can you accomplish with video? Well, let’s steer clear of just shooting a commercial. Instead, view this as an opportunity to introduce your brand to viewers and share some knowledge. Just like with blogging and podcasting, this is a great opportunity to establish your authority and share your expertise.
How-to videos, unboxing videos, and customer review videos are all great ways to show your expertise and talk about your products. But what happens after your video is just as important. Be sure to answer and engage with commenters to start forming real connections on YouTube.
Facebook Live provides a whole other opportunity. While the same content is relevant here, you can also fold in discussion and answer questions from viewers and customers. Let your followers know ahead of time that you’ll be doing a Q&A or making an announcement at a predetermined time. This way, your audience can plan ahead to attend your livestream.
On a platform saturated with ads, this is a great way to gain visibility and get more sales from your fan base. Facebook owns Instagram as well, which also has a live stories feature. You can choose to use this livestream option as well if you find that your Instagram following is more robust than your Facebook following.
4. Develop Partnerships
Being a guest blogger or podcast guest is just one type of free advertising partnership. However, you don’t always need to devote time to content creation to reach new audiences for free.
It used to be that businesses felt the need to dominate their niche and squash the competition. However, many ecommerce merchants take a different approach, and it’s surprisingly effective.
Chances are, there are a lot of brands in your niche, or at least a lot of brands who appeal to your target audience. Because they’re already in your sphere of awareness, you might have noticed how one has great social media content, or another has products that are dramatically different from yours, but still appeal to the same buyer persona. Instead of viewing these brands as your competition, try and understand them as a vehicle for free advertising.
Reach out and propose a marketing partnership. As you both tap into one another’s respective audiences, it’s free advertising for both of you.
This could take many forms. Maybe you promote each other occasionally on social media. Perhaps you bundle your products together in a giveaway. Maybe you sponsor an event together that’s on brand for both of you. Of course, you can always look into building your brand by trading guest posts, podcast appearances, or even creating video content together.
As long as you’re not selling products that directly compete with one another, this is free advertising for you and free advertising for them. For example, if you’re selling ceramics, don’t partner with another ceramics producer. Partner with someone selling bespoke textiles. Your products would compliment one another, rather than compete with one another.
5. Recruit affiliates
Alright, you got me. This doesn’t count as completely free advertising. But with no money down as an initial investment, incentivizing affiliate sales is one of the best marketing strategies for your ecommerce business.
We all know that word of mouth is the oldest way to grow a business. Traditionally, word of mouth has been completely free advertising, generated by fans and customers. These days, people are less likely to ask their neighbors for advice on which product to buy, and more likely to do a Google search or pose a question to their social media network. This is where affiliate marketing comes in.
Affiliate marketing offers financial incentives for word of mouth advertising online. This might take the form of social or blog posts discussing your product’s merit, YouTube videos that mention your product and plug the affiliate link into the description or responding to people asking for product recommendations online. You don’t really need to worry about that side of it because you don’t pay unless the affiliates’ initiatives are successful.
Generally speaking, affiliates can either use a unique link or provide a unique discount code with which your ecommerce company can track their conversions. Let’s say that an affiliate talks about an online course you offer, which is priced at $150. Your affiliate program states that they earn a 10% commission. If five people sign up for the class using the affiliate link or code, you have earned $750 from that affiliates sales, and you’ll pay out $75 in commission to that affiliate.
Aside from tracked conversions, there’s another aspect of free advertising that’s not as easy to measure. When affiliates are actively talking about your products, you’ll start to develop brand visibility, whether or not a customer chooses to buy something at that moment. There are countless businesses selling online and the Internet is completely saturated with products. Getting people to talk about your product in a positive light can make all the difference. In this way, affiliate marketing is just like traditional word-of-mouth; it’s free advertising that gets you on buyers’ radar.
Free Advertising Techniques
Paid digital advertising can be extremely effective, but it doesn’t have to consume your marketing efforts. Try out some of these approaches to free advertising. You’ll save money while you build brand awareness and generate sales. What free advertising techniques have been the most successful for you? Let us know in the comments below.