Paid advertising might work quickly, but did you know that organic traffic is actually way more effective in the long run? And, it goes without saying that it’s a lot cheaper too. So, if you’re an entrepreneur looking for new ways to promote your business without needing a big budget, you’ve come to the right place. in this article, I’m going to tell you why organic traffic is a much better long term strategy for your business, and then share 10 free or very cheap ways that you can boost visitors to your online store this year. You don’t need a lot of money to increase your brand awareness, just some good ideas. Here are some reasons why you should be prioritizing organic advertising for your business. First of all, consider that paid advertising only works for exactly as long as you pay for it. When you stop spending, your traffic stops too. So while this can work really well in the short term, it’s not going to keep supporting your business over time. But if you compare this to a well-positioned blog post with great SEO or even a YouTube video, the work you put into content like this can drive free traffic to your business for literally years to come. Also, despite all the hype, paid advertising is not just this easy low hanging fruit waiting for you to grab it. Even if you have a really high ad budget, you’re still going to need to put a lot of time and effort into nailing your messaging and targeting the right audience. This can actually be a lot of work if you’re not already an expert and most entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of cash to burn on experimenting with their paid ads. The hard truth is that promoting your business takes effort whether you are paying for ads or not. So, it’s a good idea to diversify and don’t put all of your eggs into the paid ads basket. Lastly, people that come to you through organic search are a lot more likely to actually be your ideal customers. They’re already searching for answers to the very specific problem that your business solves. So, they’re probably going to be more engaged from the get-go. With paid advertising, You’re usually promoting your business to a fairly wide selection of people based on pretty broad criteria. This gives you a bigger reach, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re reaching all the exact right people. Of course, there’s no rule against using both kinds of advertising to promote your business. It’s just that most advice out there focuses on the paid kind of promotion and ignores the true importance of organic reach. Both can be great methods, but in this article, let’s look at some options to help you build up your traffic with little or no budget required.
Number one, guest posting. When you’re just starting your business, the one thing you don’t have very much of is an audience which is why it can be a great idea to borrow someone else’s audience to help you find your own. Guest posting, whether that’s on a blog, in a newsletter, or even on social media can be a great way to get in front of new people as long as you’re doing it strategically. You wanna make sure you’re collaborating with creators whose fans will be a great fit for your products and services and if you’re clear on your ideal customer, it should be pretty easy for you to think of other brands they already love and are already following. Then, you can just pitch yourself to those same companies to see if they’d be open to content contributions. I recommend that you take a look at the kind of content that these brands already create and propose a collaboration that will be a good fit, whether that’s a useful article for their blog or an Instagram story takeover and if you get nervous to reach out, just remember that guest posting is a win-win because you are sharing helpful information with their customers and at the same time, you get to drive traffic to your own business.
Number two, get product reviews. Product reviews are such an important part of running a successful online store because customers wanna know what they’re getting before they buy. But if you’re struggling to get your first few sales, you probably don’t have any reviews yet and if you don’t wanna wait around for customers to leave reviews, you can get proactive about it by reaching out. So, do your research and figure out some of the writers, influencers, or websites that already offer reviews of products in your niche and then offer to send them products for free in exchange for an honest review. If you have a good product, you’re going to get great reviews that you can use for your website or your social media channels and of course, you’ll be growing your reach by getting in front of their audiences at the same time. This strategy even works well for service-based business owners. You can offer sessions or packages for free in exchange for a testimonial which you can then use to promote your business to others. Plus, remember that if people love a business they usually talk about it. So, for the cost of a few of your products or a few hours of your time, you could potentially end up with lots of people who are essentially doing your marketing for you by sharing about your amazing business.
Number three, do an expert roundup. When you’re just starting out, writing a blog post all on your own isn’t likely to make a big impact right away. So, an easy way to boost your reach a little bit is to get help from experts in your niche. Creating a blog post or video that features recommendations from more established creators has a lot of benefits. Obviously, you’re providing great value to your audience by sharing this expertise, but also depending on how good your content is, those same experts might be willing to share the post with their audiences as well. The key here is to make it really easy for the expert to say yes. Don’t be asking people to write an entire blog post or answer tons of questions for you. Instead, just ask for one tip, one story, or one recommendation that you could use in your post or video then put together a list of all the suggestions you get back in a really attractive way and make sure your experts are the stars of the show by highlighting their backgrounds and linking to their websites. Once your roundup is finished, you can send them the link by email, a tag of them on social media, and ask if they’d be willing to share. If so, you’ll be seen by their audience which is a huge boost for you and if not, your business will still get a leg up by being associated with big names in your field.
Number four, find affiliates to promote your business. Getting affiliates for your business is an awesome way to drive traffic without needing to pay upfront for ads that may or may not convert. Instead, you can pay for successful sales from your affiliate traffic. That way, you’re rewarding people for sharing your products and finding new fans for your business all at the same time. And it’s actually pretty simple to set up an affiliate program, especially if you’re using a platform like Shopify, because there are tons of easy plugins that can get you up and running pretty quickly. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably need to reach out to your first few affiliates to get them on board, of course, as with all these recommendations, do your research to make sure you’re approaching people whose interests and audience are aligned with yours. You might wanna start with reaching out to smaller creators who are more likely to say yes to your program rather than super popular influencers who probably charge big bucks for a promotion. Start small, build your affiliate program over time, and you might be surprised by how many new customers you can reach.
Number five, get included in gift guides. Getting your product featured in a popular gift guide is a great way to reach new customers who are ready to buy. Of course, getting featured is easier said than done but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. If you’re trying to get on a gift guide, make sure you choose wisely. Do not pitch your product to every magazine and blog that does one just hoping that you’ll be featured somewhere. Instead, you want to send specific relevant pitches to a select few places and consider including samples of your products as with the product reviews tip that I mentioned earlier. These publications are looking for products that their readers and viewers will ultimately love. So, consider it your job to make their job easier. Tell them upfront what makes your product special and exactly why it would be a good fit for their specific audience. If you do, you’re much more likely to succeed in getting your product featured.
Number six, invest in an infographic. Most of the suggestions on this list are built around one key idea, which is to make it easier for other people to share your business and message with their community. And so, another idea in this same vein is to create an infographic for your ideal customer. Infographics can be incredibly shareable, especially if they are beautifully designed and contain lots of helpful information. They are often featured in articles and videos, usually with a link back to your business as the original source which is great for your SEO and for driving traffic to your site. Plus, creating this kind of resource also positions your business as a leading expert in your field, which lends legitimacy and could help pique your customer’s interests, especially if you’re just starting out. So, think about the problem that your product or service solves and then put together some key facts and ideas about that problem that would fit nicely into an infographic. For example, if you have a candle business, you could put together an infographic about the pros and cons of burning different kinds of wax or one teaching people how to clean out and reuse their candle jars. The possibilities are truly endless and if done right, this can help create lots of interest in your brand.
Number seven, email marketing. If you have a business, you should have an email list. Email marketing is one of the most effective strategies for promoting your business and you can get started without needing to spend a dime. Just find a good platform like Shopify Mail, Klaviyo, MailerLite, or another Shopify app, and then start sending regular newsletters to your list. Most of these services are totally free to start with, but when you do need to upgrade your plan, rest assured that it is a good investment. On average, every dollar invested in your email list has a $42 return. So, if you have an online store, you can start building yours in a few different ways. You can offer a coupon code when people sign up, or promote your newsletter on social media, or ask your customers to opt-in whenever they buy from you. The growth won’t happen overnight, but if you’re providing helpful information and bonuses to your list like early access to new products or special subscribers only sales, you’re going to be building strong brand loyalty for years to come.
Number eight, get found in Google search. I’ve mentioned SEO or search engine optimization a few times already, but it’s so important that you don’t underestimate this option for growing your traffic online. Research shows that online businesses actually receive 35% of their total traffic and 33% of their revenue from search engine results pages. That is a lot. So, it’s a really good idea to prioritize your SEO whenever you’re building your store using your keywords in your product descriptions, on your pages, and of course, in content like blog posts and videos. The higher you can rank in search results for the keywords that your customers are searching for, the more likely it is that you’ll reach new people interested in your business.
Number nine, promote yourself on social media. Obviously, this is a huge category of strategies and there are tons of ways to leverage the power of social media to build your brand awareness. The options you choose are going to be specific to your business and your ideal customers. So, I would start by figuring out your people are already hanging out online and then focus your energies there. Don’t think that you need to be on every single social media platform at once. It is way more effective to do a really great job on two platforms than to sort of phone it in on five of them. Once you’ve picked your platforms, make sure you’re using all of their features to the fullest. For example, on Instagram, you have options like adding relevant hashtags to your posts or turning on the Shopping function so fans can click through to your products from your stories. and creating fun interactive things like reels, or story templates, or quizzes. Again, the name of the game here no matter what platform you’re on is to create really good content that people will want to share with others or tag their friends in because that’s what will ultimately boost your reach and get your stuff seen by new people.
Last but not least, don’t ignore the huge potential of promoting your business on a local level. This is especially true for businesses with a physical storefront, but I think it applies more broadly because people really love to support local and cheer for new businesses in their communities. There are lots of ways to build local interest and buzz. One of the easiest is to create a Google My Business listing so that your business comes up in search results and on Google maps for your local customers. This makes it super easy for people to learn more about your brand and, it also adds some legitimacy to your business because you can include photos, and links, and collect reviews from your real customers. Taking it a step further, you can also try things like adding local delivery options to your website instead of shipping, or taking part in local events and festivals as a vendor, or reaching out to local press sources for coverage. The good news is that on a local level, there’s probably a bit less competition in your specific niche, which can make it a lot easier for you to stand out and be featured.