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Free Marketing Techniques for Online Sellers

Four simple, no-cost ways to get exposure for your online business.

Looking to create a “buzz” about your online business but worried about the cost of running an advertising campaign? There are a number of effective ways to promote your business that won’t break the bank.

We’ve summarized a few simple marketing techniques that anyone can use to increase exposure. Best of all, these options are free. All you’ll need is a little imagination and determination to make them work for you.

Be social

It seems you can’t have a discussion of e-commerce anymore without the mention of social networking. The two have become so closely aligned that if you are not using social media in your business marketing, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Start today by creating business pages on Facebook and Google+, and open accounts on Pinterest and Twitter under the name of your store, site or selling ID, then put social media buttons on your website and product pages to invite customers and visitors to join your network.

If you’ve been using your personal social accounts to promote your business, stop now. You should have a distinct social media identity for your online business so your personal messages don’t distract from your marketing efforts.

Use social networking sites to build and promote a community around your business. Talk to customers, share information you think they’d be interested in (particularly, as it relates to your products), and encourage customers to join the conversation.

Then, occasionally, mention your products or a sale you’re having. While you should never be too aggressive in marketing your products via social networking, it’s OK to share listings or mention specials once in a while. Remember the 80/20 rule. If you do 10 Facebook posts a week, make only two of those posts about your products.

But be careful to not let social networking consume too much of your time—it can! There are plenty of tools available to help you organize, automate and track the effectiveness of your social posts, so you can focus on operating your business.

Just blog it

Blogging is one of the best marketing techniques to increase buyer traffic to your product listings, and get your name out there as an expert in your niche or area of business. It is best if you blog about topics that would interest the people you want to buy from you. If you carefully weave relevant keyword search terms into your blog posts, you can start to build a search engine reputation that will help your pages get higher placement in search results. Of course, since the point of your blog is to promote your online business, you’ll want to link to your blog from your store, and vice versa.

So, now you’ve got a blog, how do you get people to come read it? Here’s where social networking can be a big help—share your latest blog post with your community and pose a question to get a discussion going. To help find readers outside your usual social sphere, start commenting on other blogs whose readers might also be interested in what you’re writing about, and include your blog’s URL in your signature.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, notes marketing consultant and mom-blogger Melissa Culbertson. If you’re going to take the time to leave a comment—especially with the intent of building a community back at your blog—say something that adds to the conversation, instead of just plugging your own site.

This helps you build credibility without leaving the impression that you’ve crashed someone’s party. Then you’ve then earned the right to drop your link, just leave the sales pitch at the store.

For more blogging tips and a review of popular blogging platforms, read The Online Seller’s Blogging 101 series.

Link up

One of the easiest ways to lead buyers to your site is to leave a virtual trail of bread crumbs. Just as commenting on others’ blogs can help drive traffic to yours, participating in online forums, social networking groups, industry associations and other online communities can help you build your reputation as a merchant while allowing you to sprinkle around your URL. However, as with blog commenting, avoid gratuitous plugs, unless that’s the purpose of the forum.

Once you’ve established relationships within these virtual communities, offer to share links with other site owners whose products or blogs are complementary to your online business. Not only does this create a referral network to help bring new business to your store, but it can boost your search engine standing—especially if the sites you exchange links with already have good SEO karma.

Have a gallery opening

Gallery and slideshow widgets or plugins are great little marketing tools that let you cross-promote items you have listed online. Free versions are available from various sources, and typically are designed for a specific platform, such as eBay or blogging sites.

On eBay, the widgets appear right in your product descriptions, and display thumbnail images of other items you have listed. This “store window” approach lets any buyer who stops to look at one of your listings easily get a look at what else you offer, increasing the chances they’ll find something (or something else) to buy from you.

Used on a blog site, slideshows or scrolling galleries let your readers see what you’re selling and—bonus—they also create backlinks to your store that can help your SEO score.

There you have it: Four free marketing techniques for your online business that are relatively simple to implement. Use these to help get your business off the ground, or to give a boost to your existing advertising and marketing efforts.

What other free or inexpensive marketing techniques have you found that worked for your business? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

Crista Souza
Crista Souza is founding editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. A journalism graduate of San Jose State University, she spent 13 years as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley. Crista has been writing about B2C and C2C ecommerce since 2008. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Susan

    WOW such great tips…really wondered about the over abundance on my twitter and fb personal acct from people overflowing their items up for sale and selling sites overpowering …I dropped them fast when family and i got tired of having to hunt for the personal messages…thanks for this…will print and read again and again…and it was for free…sure thankful of that! Susan

  • tony

    Great advise in plain English to. Thank you I will read this again.

  • MarJac Outlets

    Thanks you so much for the information. I just wish I could utilize the tips but I am so handicapped with the hosting site on what we can put in the stores that linking is impossible. I have tried to add this on Twitter as well



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