Advertising takes many forms. Your website is an ad for your business. The things you do and say on your social streams are also ads. Whenever you interact with your consumers in a public way – for example, online on your Facebook page or your web page – you’re advertising your products and services by reminding your audience who you are and what you do.
While a lot of online advertising is implicit – taking the form of conversations and customer service interactions – there is still a place in the marketing mix for traditional advertising. Directly selling your products and services using online ads can be a quick way of generating interest in what you do, and is often used to take up the slack in an online marketing campaign, before your search engine optimisation (SEO) kicks in.
A lot of classic advertising on the internet is paid for. Google runs a pay per click (PPC) service called Adwords, which generates the sponsored links you see when you search for a particular term. But what if you want to put your ads up for free?
Look for free ad spaces on the internet.
Some sites, like Craigslist, allow you to place ads for free. Loot, UK Classifieds and Friday-Ad all offer a similar service. A free ad placed on these sites may be seen by thousands of users every day, and can swell your revenue if targeted correctly.
Free ad sites are not charities. If you’re given the opportunity to place a free ad on a website, you’ll have to give something in return. Some free ad sites are only free for a certain amount of time, giving you the opportunity to find out how their service can raise your online profile. After the specified time has elapsed, these services will charge you to continue placing ads with them.
Other free ad services collect your data and sell them to direct marketing companies. The registration process on these sites requires you to supply information that can be used to sell you goods and services at a later date.
Use your own social media.
One of the easiest ways to place free ads online is to use your own social media. In the UK, the most commonly used media for advertising are Facebook and Twitter. Facebook in particular allows you to create pages for your business, which is a form of advertising in itself: and you can use the status updates on your page to advertise specific events or promotions.
Twitter is also used to advertise elements of your business, often by trying to engage your consumers in a dialogue or competition. If you can get people to talk about your products and services by retweeting you, or linking to things you have said and done, the outreach of your promotion grows.
Use your audience.
Finding a way to leverage your local audience is an excellent way to develop a free online advertising stream. Let’s say your business operates in London. Target London based ad pages, and use your location as a keyword in your Twitter and Facebook advertising. Local online communities of potential consumers respond better to ads placed by companies they know are in their own area.
There are plenty of ways to advertise for free online. As with any advertising campaign, the key is research. Find out where your audience goes, and follow it.
This article explores the different ways in which a small business or sole trader can place free ads online. It looks at the UK audience, and recommends sites and practices that work. It also recommends local advertising – for example, advertising specifically London-based services to consumers who live in the London area.
Find out what price you will pay to place free ads on sites like Craigslist and Loot, which may offer free trial periods before charging you for their services; or which may use your data as payment instead. You’ll learn what happens to that data, and how it can be used in advertising campaigns conducted by other companies and brands.
The article also tells you how you can use your own social media to create a number of free advertising streams – often with better effect than a paid ad, because your social media advertising directly connects with your existing audience. You’ll learn that the best people to advertise to are your own customers, who have already shown an interest in your offering by purchasing goods and services in the past.
It’s important to understand the place free ads play in your overall marketing mix. Like any element of an advertising campaign, a free ad works best when it’s created in tandem with other targeted marketing. Use your free advertising to direct your consumers to your websites, social media pages and other online offerings, and you’ll begin to develop a digital catchment area that touches the widest possible cross section of your fans.