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As a small business, you need to do as much marketing as you can to benefit your business, while expending the least amount of cash!

Here are some very easy to use tips and techniques that you can use to gain that cutting edge over your competitors without the huge marketing budget.

1) Content, Content, Content

Content marketing is something that can be done with almost zero cost. All you need is to write a blog about something important to you, your industry and your customers.

But why would you do this?

Writing a blog post can help you and your business in so many ways. First of all, it makes your business seem human. Businesses, at the end of the day, are ran by human beings and are trying to offer a product or service to other human beings.

In addition to this, It also means that when people realise a problem that your company can solve for them, you are more likely to be the first business that they think about because of the blogs that they have been reading from you.

There is also Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is the (magical, dark) art of appearing first when someone searches for something on Google. Google absolutely love unique, appropriate content. If you are writing a blog post every few days, this will make your website more favourable in Google's eyes. Which brings us on nicely to the next point...

2) Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

To be done well, this can take a lot of time, expertise, guesswork, backlinking, tears, testing, keyword researching and a few more tears. But there are simple things that you can do to get you started and here are some quick tips:

Typing in "Your Company Name Ltd" to Google and appearing first is not an example of good SEO - You want to "rank" well in Google for terms that your potential customers will be searching for and if they don't already know about you, they won't be searching for your company name.

Researching keywords that are loosely connected to your business and its offering will help you - If you own a dog grooming van and want more K-9 customers in your local area (say, Manchester), you want to be optimizing pages on your website for "Dog grooming in Manchester", "Pet cleaning services Manchester" and even more obscure keyword phrases such as "Dog grooming north west". You can even now start to optimise for questions such as "Where can I clean my dog in Manchester?" or "What do I do if my dogs nails are too long?". 

Adding keywords as an <ALT> tag to pictures on your website - another quite simple fix. Google can not read a picture when it visits your website so adding a piece of ALTernative text in the coding of your website to the image tag will tell Google what that picture is showing (and help your ranking). A simple way to add an <ALT> tag is as follows:

Take the picture tag in the HTML of your website: <img src="happydog.jpeg"> and add the ALT tag just after the closing speech marks of the image file as follows: <img src="happydog.jpeg" alt="insert keyword here">.

For the above example, you can add one of the keywords listed earlier.

Don't have a robot voice on each page - Make the content on your pages readable and flowing. Google will award content that is valuable to someone visiting your website. An example of bad "keyword stuffing" is as follows (can you guess what the keyword is?):

Auto enrolment software is great for your company because every company needs auto enrolment software. Ensuring that your auto enrolment software is running correctly means that your company will remain compliant because it is using auto enrolment software. Get your auto enrolment software today and save time and money.

While the above sentence is completely true, it can be worded in a much better way that is both easier to read for visitors and more likely to rank you higher for that particular keyword in Google.

3) Monitor and analyse

This sounds like a relatively mind-numbing task. However, monitoring and analysing things such as your website, will eventually save you a large amount of time and money; and ultimately increase sales.

First of all, you should install Google Analytics to your website. This will give you a great insight into the amount of people visiting your site, which pages are most popular and where that "traffic" is coming from amongst lots of other things. With a bit of learning and trying new things with Google Analytics, you can start to gain great insights into your website.

Wouldn't it also be great to monitor what people actually do when they arrive on your website? Well, now you can do that. A great tool from Hotjar (even with a free account) allows you to add a little bit of code to your website and then start tracking "heatmaps" of clicks, movement and scrolls on certain pages. This will show you which elements of pages people click on the most as well as which elements people are ignoring. You can use this information to make informed decisions on changes to your website and increase the likelihood that people will click on something that will lead to a sale, download or form fill.

4) Get social, get chatting, get snapping!

Whether you are lying in bed, sat on the train, hiding your phone behind lecture notes, entertaining yourself over lunch or showing your mates a funny video; social media has become a massive part of many peoples lives. Even if you don't like it yourself, there are literally billions of people who do. Tapping into this goldmine of social interaction is extremely important. This is where all of the techniques talked about in this blog come together.

Writing interesting blog posts and including great images and photos is perfect content to try and engage people on the main social media. Here is a quick breakdown of the best things to post on social media:

Twitter - Write interesting, share-worthy, snappy content. With a maximum of 140 characters (even less if you want to include a picture or a link; or both) Twitter is fast paced by nature. Getting an interesting picture, video or message across that can be "retweeted" or "favourited" is what your aim should be.

Facebook - This is your opportunity to expand and elaborate on posts that you would put on Twitter. Include a captivating image or video and encourage people to like, share and comment. Be thought provoking, ask questions and challenge the norm and increase the chances of your posts becoming shared.

LinkedIn - Definitely a professional space for professional people and businesses. While there does seem nowadays to be a large influx of recruitment going on; LinkedIn is a great way to form conversations and relationships with like-minded industry heavyweights. Join groups, post in discussions and share your interesting content.

YouTube - Post videos of yourself, people using your products or even any advertisements that you may have. This gives your potential customers a place to view all of your video content in one place and share or embed the videos.

Instagram - Admittedly more for businesses that have a product to photograph and video, instagram is where you can share great pictures.

Pinterest - Recently I created a board on Pinterest where I can save all of the pictures I like of nice bedroom ideas. If a company is on there with pictures of their furniture, I am probably more likely to visit their website to enquire about purchasing. Apply this to your products (if suitable, like Instagram).

Writing a blog and adding in some pictures, sharing it across your social media network and linking back to your website will help with your SEO. Adding a few quick fixes to your website and then monitoring and analysing the changes to make better decisions about what to do with certain pages will also increase the likelihood that people will click on forms, downloads or your webstore.

All of this costs very little but will help with your marketing vastly.

If you found this useful and you want to keep up to date on the latest from IRIS, the industry or other help guides, you can subscribe to our free, monthly newsletter by clicking on the link below.

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Posted by
Lee Noble
15 October 2015
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