Harnessing The Internet For Business Marketing On A Budget
ness the internet
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on a budget
With tighter marketing budgets during the recession,
many businesses are turning to the internet for a
Almost every business, even those with a local customer
base, can benefit from marketing on the internet. The
key is to keep things simple and to look for the
opportunities that offer the best value.
This tutorial covers some of the best options for small
and growing businesses for marketing online.
PR represents one of the cheapest ways to promote your business online.
• Remember, it’s not just about press releases, it’s about building relationships
with online publishers and journalists
• Create interesting news related to your business or make a comment on current
issues. Send this out in a press release to contacts you’ve made at relevant
online publishers and to journalists
• Use a press release sharing service such as www.responsesource.com – your
press release will land straight in a journalist’s inbox. You’ll have to pay to
subscribe to the service but if you keep up your PR activity it will pay for itself
• Search for sites which let you upload news stories and press releases for free.
• Write articles and find websites that will publish them and give you a link from
them back to your own site. This will not only drive traffic but will also give you
back-links to boost your search engine rankings.
• If you get any coverage in your local paper, try to get it onto local websites too
Optimising your website
If you have a website, it’s important to optimise it for listings on
the major search engines. This is time consuming but it’s free!
• Structure – how is your site set up? Is the good content buried
deep? Are your pages in a logical order?
• Navigation – your main navigation menu is the most important.
Make sure all your major pages link from this menu. Make sure
the menu contains your most important keywords
• Page names – make sure each page URL has a page name
that is relevant to the page content. Use keywords in the name
where possible. A string of numbers after your domain name
won’t help the search engines identify the page.
• Keywords – identify the keywords that your potential customers
are most likely to search for and then use them in the wording on
your site. Specifically, put a keyword in the page header, the first
paragraph and use it on any relevant links.
Optimising your website
For more in-depth information about how to optimise your site for
search engines, visit the Simply Business Website Marketing Guide:
Keywords are highly important.
Investigate which ones are relevant to your business using this tool:
www.google.com/sktool or www.vretoolbar.com/keywords/
Keep it simple. If your site is too complicated you’ll have a difficult
time optimising it
Content is king. The more relevant content you create for your
website – articles, guides, lists etc. the more likely those pages are to
appear in search engine listings
Great content is essential for any website.
Creating news, articles, product guides, videos, webcasts, blogs,
forums etc has the following benefits:
• It helps search engines to index your website and your pages to
appear in the listings
• It gives other internet users something to link to from their own
websites, blogs, forums and social media sites
• If others want to link to your content this generates back-links
to your website which are another essential ingredient for getting
ranked in search engines such as Google
• It keeps your existing visitors coming back to your site – as long
as the content is updated regularly
• It acts as leverage for your own social media activities
Paid search listings – Pay-per-click
Pay-per-click can be a very cost-effective form of online marketing.
It can be very cheap if you pay for keywords that aren’t very
competitive or popular, but even for the more expensive keywords it is
often still cheaper than your regular advertising campaign.
• Try Google and Bing as a starting point
• Identify the keywords that are relevant to your business and then
check them regularly, weeding out ones that aren’t giving you any
return on your investment
• Create a separate campaign with its own ad text for each keyword
group. For example, use the same ad for variations on phrases like
‘business insurance’ &‘insurance for business’ and a separate one for
• Create a landing page on your website for each of these campaigns,
which is directly relevant to the keyword or phrase.
Directories and review sites
A large proportion of people now search online if they are looking
for a service, product or even a high street shop. Can you afford
not to be listed on the directories that these people search in?
• Try traditional directories such as yell.com as many people still
use this as a fall-back
• Newer directories such as bview.co.uk help out local businesses
as well as national ones. You can post a profile and users can post
reviews. This site also allows you to post discount vouchers.
• Review sites can be very helpful for those looking for services or
specific products. Try to get your business listed on sites like
qype.com, welovelocal.com, ciao.co.uk, reviewcentre.com
• There are a plethora of industry specific sites on which users can
search and leave reviews, including for restaurants, pubs,
hairdressers, builders and tradespeople
Generate leads online
There are more websites springing up for business and consumer
services. These offer businesses a way to generate leads from
customers searching online.
Some examples are:
There are a lot of social media sites and some can be used
effectively to promote a business if done in the right way.
• Forums – there are many different forums for all sections of society from
mums to the disabled and for all areas of life. This is great news for a
• What to do? Get involved in the discussion. Use your expertise to
answer people’s questions, post links to useful information and articles
and start discussions around key issues. Do this and you will then get the
opportunity to tell other members about your business.
• Social networks – choose networks that will allow you to connect with
others who might be good business contacts or who would be interested in
your business, such as linkedin.com or ones specific to your industry
• What to do? Create a profile with information about your business
and your personal experience. Reach out to other users to make
• Blogging – setting up a blog gives you the opportunity to have your say on key
issues relating to your industry and on any other topic you’d like to cover.
Popular blogging sites are blogger.com or wordpress.com. With a good blog you
can build up a reputation and regular readers.
• What to do? Plan out your blogs in terms of content and frequency. If
you don’t post consistently you won’t attract followers. Link to other
useful sites and content from your blog. Post your blog on your website via
an RSS feed.
• Twitter – many people don’t understand Twitter. It’s 140 character status
box and invitation to say ‘what’s on your mind’ confuse people with what is
actually an excellent tool for connecting to others in your industry, getting
involved with discussions and promoting your web-content.
• What to do? Set up an account and then search the site for terms that
relate to your business or to things you are interested in. Follow people
who you think would be interesting or helpful. Follow people who have
lots of other followers. Then create several posts that you think will
catch the interest of others. Use keywords with a # before them. Post new
content every day.
• Facebook - the daddy of social media sites, facebook has now also
introduced features for businesses, such as the ability to advertise to targeted
segments of the users. Most brands concentrate on the social side of it,
however, and create profiles and fan pages.
• What to do? Think about how you could promote your business without
making it too obvious. Remember, people like to connect around issues
that are important to them, not necessarily to products and services.
Unless you have a big brand such as Coca-Cola you’re unlikely to build a
following from your business name.
Instead, start groups and fan pages around more relevant issues. For
example, when promoting their tampons to teenagers, the company didn’t
set up a ‘Tampax’ fan page, they set up a group to talk about women’s
Selling online can be expensive to set up, however there are quick
and cheaper options to get you started.
• Ebay and Amazon. Setting up a shop on these sites to sell your
goods is easy and quick. You just need to keep an eye on the fees
to make sure you aren’t paying too much out of your profit.
• Software – you can buy off-the-shelf software to integrate a
shopping cart and payment system into your website. These
require varying amounts of technical knowledge.
• PayPal – this is one of the most popular online payment services
and it also offers a checkout system which can be integrated
easily into your website.
Remember you need to manage stock and postage as well as
taking orders on your site.
Analysis of your web traffic is one of the most important activities you
should be doing and it is free!
• Choose a free analytics package like Google Analytics
• List all your pages in the analytics software
• Useful metrics you should look at:
• Visits to the site
• Page views
• Which pages are most popular
• Most popular entry and exit pages
• Where you traffic is coming from
• How long people spend on your site and how many pages they look at
while on there
• Keywords generating traffic from search engines
• Popular content
SimplyBusiness.co.uk offers businesses of all sizes a way of
comparing insurance quotes from a range of insurers, buying
the policy and then managing it online.
In support of small business owners, Simply Business also offers
a library of business articles covering all aspects of running a
Simplybusiness.co.uk also offers invoice finance quotes for
businesses that need help balancing cashflow or with late
See our full Website marketing guide for beginners here: