Local businesses often ask us how they can do a better job marketing their business online. However, businesses don’t always need to invest in big advertising spend or fancy tools. Here are 7 free marketing tools any business owner can use.
1. Yelp’s free, real-time email notifications for new reviews
Engaging in friendly communication with negative reviewers of your business can be a powerful way to earn back business and demonstrate professionalism in a public forum. Yelp offers free, real-time alerts each time a new review is left on your business. This allows you to see when a review is left and respond in a more timely manner. If you have multiple Yelp listings, you may want to set up an email distribution list for routing the alerts to the right folks. This would also help you avoid the hassle of resetting the email address of the recipients if employees leave the company.
2. Hootsuite Free Plan
Many businesses use social media to build their web presence and engage their audience. Managing high engagement across multiple social channels can feel chaotic without organization. Hootsuite offers a free plan that allows management of 3 different social media platforms, allowing you to login with one password and instantly switch between each profile. The management tools include basic analytics, scheduled social media posts, and integration of two RSS feeds.
3. Reputology’s Review Generator
For a limited time, Reputology is offering a free tool that helps you convert your satisfied customers into promoters for your business. You can create a feedback form that is shared and offered to your customers. If the customer reports being unsatisfied, the form directs their info to you, allowing you to address any concerns before they post their complaints online. If your customers indicate they are happy, they can route them to a review site where they can share their experience with others. This allows you to build your business’s reputation while addressing any existing problems.
4. Free Google My Business Listing
Google may not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think of review sites, but Google has surpassed all other sites by number of new reviews. You want to create a free Google My Business so that your business appears when people submit relevant Google searches in your area or using Google Maps. Customize your profile by adding quality photos along with well written descriptions that will show up close to the top on a Google search. Google Maps will also use GPS to prompt visitors to write reviews, so having a listing on Google My Business can help you gain traction on your online ratings.
5. Facebook Business Page
Second only to Google in terms of number of new reviews, Facebook is often overlooked as a review site, but it is a valuable platform for free marketing. Make your page look great with quality photos of your business, detailed descriptions, and regular posts that share engaging content to your audience. You can also add a call-to-action button that makes it easy for visitors to be directed to your business’ full website.
Business profiles on Instagram can gain lots of traction by producing visually compelling content to draw in and engage consumers. And some have taken advantage of Instagram’s video feature to create short videos that are fun and humorous, like Dapper & Wise Roasters in Portland, OR. This sort of sharable content has helped this small coffee roaster with suburban roots to gain a substantial following relative to other roasters that have been in the competitive Portland coffee scene longer.
7. American Express Openforum
American Express Openforum is a valuable resource that features advice, tips, and informational articles from guest writers across various industries. This site is a great spot to turn to for any small business owner looking for some free guidance, and answers some of the tougher questions such as how to handle negative reviews, what to do if someone is boycotting your business, and more.