All businesses need marketing, but often they are worried about the high costs associated with it. Small businesses often struggle with this the most and because of this, don’t prioritise marketing in their business strategy.
However, not all marketing has to come with high costs and there are many low-cost and free tools available online.
Our top five cost-effective marketing tools
Our top five marketing tools are free or cheap, and very easy to use. They’re perfect for small businesses who need to market their product or service, but don’t have a dedicated marketing department to do so.
It is important to remember that although there are tools available, any marketing, whether that be email marketing, social media marketing or paid marketing, takes time and effort to be a success.
Canva is an online platform used to create professional graphics and visual content. It has free images, graphics, and templates to use for designs such as business cards, posters, banners, and social media content. There is also an option to upgrade to the premium plan (but this comes at a cost!).
The advantages of using Canva are:
- There are so many templates, graphics, photos, videos, and audio to use for free
- It has built in layouts, measurements and templates for specific designs (e.g. Facebook post, Brochure and A3 poster)
- There is room to be creative, but also inspired by the templates and designs
The disadvantages of using Canva are:
- The set templates may not always suit the business
- Not all graphics, photos, videos, and more are available on the free version
- You cannot export designs with a transparent background on the free version (PNG file)
Google My Business
Google My Business lets you control the information that people see when they google your business. It allows businesses to easily edit and add, location of your business, opening hours, photos, products, and links. Also, it shows you data and analytics.
Usually, Google creates an account for businesses based on the data it has from people searching them. However, if this is not the case, you must create a google account and ‘claim’ the business as yours.
The advantages of using Google My Business are:
- You can control the information that is shown to the public, and ensure it is accurate
- It gives a detailed and professional first impression to customers
- It allows clients to post Google Reviews – you can always ask key clients/customers to write one!
Social Media – This is a big one!
Social media is a broadcasting tool used to get your brand out there, position yourself as an expert and bring leads back to your website and business. Businesses can also use social media to gain insight into their audience, who is talking about their business and what they can improve on in future.
Although social media is a great tool, it is NOT going to immediately boost sales or increase customers. For businesses, it is not all about the number of followers and likes you have. Instead, focus on slowly and organically building and engaging a genuine community.
For businesses, it is good to split up your social media activities into:
- 50% advertising your business – can be paid or organic
- 50% posting things of interest to your audience
It is important to have a consistent brand voice, tone and aesthetic when using social media channels for your business – think about your audience and what they like. Also, use recognisable visual branding and ensure your content is timely and relevant to your business and audience. To maintain engagement, businesses should post consistently, but not drown their audience in content.
Make sure all your channels are working together cohesively!
Now, let’s get into different social media platforms.
Facebook is a social media platform used by businesses to reach their audience and promote their products/services. Facebook is a great tool for more detailed content (e.g., longer captions and videos)
When using Facebook, businesses can utilise back-end analytics to see when their audience is active, how many people they’re reaching and what content has the most engagement.
If a business would like to spend some of their marketing budget on Facebook, they can boost your posts and reach a wider audience too.
Note: Facebook can create a business page for a business if someone checks in to their location. If this is the case, try and control what is out there representing your brand and ensure you have one professional and established account.
Instagram is a social media platform used by businesses to reach a younger audience. Instagram focuses more on visual media, less information and aesthetics, with short videos and reels becoming increasingly popular.
Instagram is where businesses can use hashtags to reach a wider audience. It is important to keep them relevant to your business and to use a set group of business-specific hashtags on all your posts to keep consistent. The general rule for hashtags is 10-15 in your caption or comment section.
It is also beneficial to utilise stories and highlights on Instagram. This content might be behind the scenes, shares of your feed posts, participatory or those posts that aren’t suitable to post to your feed.
Although LinkedIn is a network for job seeking and finding professional contacts, businesses can still use it as a marketing tool. Often, businesses don’t post a lot of their content on LinkedIn because they don’t think it is professional. But, if you choose to post content on LinkedIn, it could be your point of difference against competitors in your industry.
Mail Chimp is an email marketing tool used by many small businesses. Email marketing is a very cheap way of reaching lots of people and an easy way to directly target the right groups of people with relevant content.
With Mail Chimp, you can schedule and send out blanket emails from any allocated email address and create your own or use existing templates and designs. It is often used for newsletters, email marketing campaigns and keeping track of your contact database. Mail Chimp have the ‘Forever Free Plan’ which gives up to 2,000 contacts for free.
The advantages of using Mail Chimp are:
- There are built in templates and designs, which businesses can customise to suit their branding
- Businesses can schedule and save campaigns
- It gives businesses insight into analytics
A disadvantage of email marketing on Mail Chimp is that if too many people unsubscribe, your business can be flagged as spam.
Blogging is a great way to position your business as an expert in your industry. By giving away your expert knowledge on topics, it will show potential customers and clients that they can come to you for advice.
Also, it gives businesses lots of content to share on other platforms such as social media. If the blog is regularly updated, it’ll keep your website higher up on Google rankings.
Key aspects when blogging:
- Be consistent
- Be timely
- Include visuals – relevant photos or links to YouTube videos
- Avoid jargon
- Share it!
Marketing tool honourable mentions
- Unsplash – High quality, free images
- Lumen5 – Video maker
- Bensound – Royalty free background music
- Sendible or Hootsuite – Social media management and scheduling (not free, but worth it!)
- Survey Monkey – Survey creator
- Linktree – a useful way to share content links through Instagram
Overall, there are many cost-effective marketing tools that small businesses can use to promote their business. Although marketing involves time and effort, it can really benefit your business (it doesn’t always have to cost a lot!).
If you would like to invest in paid marketing tools or a marketing consultant, it will usually yield a better result.
For more of our blogs, visit our insights page!