Thousands of free online marketíng tools clamor for attention, with new ones popping up every week it seems. You know you should be doing more to reach out to your customers, but just researching which tools to use can be a vast time investment, even if they don’t require a big financial outlay.
Below is a compiled líst of the most popular (or most useful) low-cost or free small business marketing tools. You might be using some of them already, but you’re sure to find a couple that will round out your small business marketing toolkit nicely. And, if you’re just starting out marketing a new busíness online, this líst may help point you in the right direction.
The Open Directory – A staple of the SEO crowd, this directory can be tricky to get into but well worth it for the link juice it passes along to your site.
Yahoo! Directory – It’s not free – this directory will set you back a couple hundred bucks a year – but it’s well worth it for inclusion.
Best of the Web Directory – This directory has been around a while and can pass along some good PageRank to your site.
Find the directories in your industry that pass along good link building opportunities. Some examples to get you started: SBDGraphics.com for ad agencies, web developers, printers and other graphics professionals; sbdpro.com for small businesses and businesses that serve them; Cpapro.com for the accounting industry; SEOAlpaca.org for alpaca breeders, and so on.
Press Release Distribution Services
Marketwire – The most bang for your buck from an actual wire service, Marketwire’s prices are lower than PR Newswire and Businesswire. This newer service is built for powerful online exposure, and you’ll enjoy the full online distribution with any geographical AP wire distribution. (Sometimes you can get statewide wire distribution for nearly the same cost as only your local metropolitan area.) It’s great for building inbound links – just choose the SEO Enhanced option.
PRLog – A good-performing free press release distribution outlet, PRLog press releases rank really well and for a really long time if they are written with SEO copywriting best practices. Press releases include three links, though they are URL based (starting with http) rather than text anchor. PRLog also lets you create your newsroom where all your press releases reside, as well as an “about us” page and product showcase area.
PitchEngine – A relatively new PR-for-social-media site that promises to let you create and share press releases easily and for free and syndicate content to Google News. Lets you include HTML in your press release, so you can use keyword text anchor links. The site is marketing itself quite aggressively and will likely build a big presence quickly. The only catch is your release will disappear off the site after 30 days if you aren’t a paid member ($50/month for your press room).
AWeber – AWeber makes it easy to start building your emaíl marketing líst, if you haven’t already. For less than $20/month, you can build unlímited newsletter lists, send unlímited email blasts, and email unlímited autorespond messages to up to 500 subscribers/líst. (Then it’s $29/month up to 2500 subscribers.) Also offers a recurring 30% commission – a pretty good affiliate program for a service you’ll appreciate enough to recommend to others. (Disclosure note: the link above is our affiliate link. We’ve been using the service for 3 years now, after trying out Constant Contact and researching about 20 other providers! Most either do autoresponders or email blasts/newsletters – not both.)
Content Sharing Websites
Squidoo – Create a lens around your business area. A good one with lots of information will even rank in the search engines and can bring traffic to your web site.
Scribd – Share your expert content like white papers and articles. You can make them available for free or sell them. You can submit documents in PowerPoint, Word, PDF and many other file formats.
SlideShare – Post your presentations and documents online for others to view and share. This is a great way to get exponential exposure for your sales or marketing materials – or share documents privately. See some tips for getting more visibility with SlideShare: http://bit.ly/aNXmS2
Flikr – Does your product or service translate well visually? Use this popular photo sharing site to get more eyeballs.
Blip.tv – A video-sharing alternative to YouTube, blip.tv lets you embed links in your descriptions and create a TV station showing all your videos in one spot.
Facebook – Create a page for your business. Feed your blog in. Start a group. Get fans. Advertise to targeted users if your products appeal to the Facebook crowd (which is basically everybody nowadays). See using the new Facebook business page layout to learn more. Stop by our page and become a fan, too!
LinkedIn – Like a virtual Rolodex. Build your professional profile, link up with other professionals, join groups or even start a group. Participating in Q&A’s related to your profession is a great way to build credibility and visibility.
Ning – Build your social network around your business. You may even get your network into the search engine results pages. Learn more about using Ning for business. (http://bit.ly/amLKcE)
Read “Utlize Social Media to Gain Additional Exposure for Your Site” (http://bit.ly/bcoWEQ) for more information about social networks and how they can drive targeted traffíc to your site.
Digg – Getting your content on the home page of Digg is one way to bump up your web site’s traffic by thousands within minutes. This can result in valuable links to your site. Start with this beginner’s guide to Digg.
StumbleUpon – Build friends and send them your articles to rate. More thumbs up will get your article shown to more people outside your network and can result in thousands of visitors every day. Tips for using StumbleUpon.
Reddit – Even if your content gets buried on Digg, it can flourish on Reddit – which can be a catalyst for jumping to the home page of other social bookmarking sites. Learn more about the types of topics that do well on Reddit.