15 Best Free and Low-Cost Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Low-cost marketing strategies are always a priority for small businesses. You need to get more customers and grow your reach, but you don’t have a big marketing budget to work with. We get it, marketing can seem like a daunting and expensive task to new and small business owners.

The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to require a big budget. There are plenty of low-budget marketing ideas out there that can help you reach a lot of customers without flattening your bank account. In fact, there are plenty of effective marketing strategies that are completely free!

If you’re after fast, free, or low-budget marketing ideas, then try out some of these highly effective strategies.


1. Start a Newsletter
2. Focus on SEO Content Marketing
3. Focus on Your Existing Customers
4. Engage With Social Media
5. Consider Guerilla Marketing
6. Publish Quality Content
7. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
8. Focus on Generating Referrals
9. Create Strategic Partnerships With Other Businesses
10. Get Started With Video Marketing
11. Host Online Events
12. Run a Giveaway
13. Become Active in Your Local Community
14. Use All of Your Marketing Real Estate
15. Find online Communities to Connect With Your Customers

1. Start a Newsletter

Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies for any kind of business. It’s the perfect way to keep your audience engaged to retain existing customers. You can also use email marketing to convert new leads into customers without requiring a major marketing budget.

Email is always one of the best low-budget marketing ideas because the ROI can be excellent. It’s also one of the most reliable marketing strategies to get a solid return from your efforts.

With the right email marketing tool, this can be easy and affordable. You can send a newsletter out to thousands of interested leads, and quickly drive up your traffic or push some new sales. As long as you are able to create strong email marketing content, then you should see excellent results with this very low-budget marketing strategy.

Here are some best practices to remember when putting together your email marketing strategy:

  • Always focus on sending out useful, interesting, and informative content to your audience. You have to give them something of value in order to get an action from them in return. This could be a link to a helpful piece of blog content, or a discount code for your new product. Every newsletter that you send should encourage the recipient to take a step.
  • Focus on your email subject line. In today’s world, we get bombarded by marketing emails every day. Your subject line is what will make your newsletter stand out and attract the click.
  • A/B test your emails to find out which offers and elements your audience is most interested in.
  • Consider setting up a series of automated emails to new subscribers. These emails can slowly nurture new leads with interesting content that helps to build trust and establish a relationship. This can be done until the leads are ready to become customers.
  • Attract new email subscribers by offering a special piece of content, an entry into a giveaway, or a discount coupon for signing up.

When looking at using email for low-budget marketing, it’s always a good idea to consider an email tool that allows you to set up automated marketing. This lets you automatically handle important marketing efforts at a large scale. If you don’t have a big marketing team or much time to put into your marketing, then this will be incredibly useful.

Email newsletter

2. Focus on SEO Content Marketing

If you’re looking for low-budget marketing ideas that offer an excellent return, then you have to consider content marketing and SEO. This can be a free marketing strategy for your business, and it can help you achieve loads more traffic in return.

If you’re offering high-quality, relevant content for the right search query, then you could claim the top results on Google. The best part of this is that SEO doesn’t have to cost you anything, so small businesses can compete with big companies.

Of course, getting SEO content marketing right will require some time and effort. You will need to write informative, helpful blog posts, and optimize your website pages. The SEO strategy that you choose should depend on your small business.

If you’re a local business, then you’ll want to focus on local SEO. This includes things like:

  • Optimizing your Google My Business profile
  • Having different landing pages for specific services, locations, and keywords
  • Targeting local keywords across your website
  • Get listed on local online directories
  • Publish blog posts that are relevant to your local areas

If you sell an international product or service, then you won’t be interested in local SEO tactics. Instead, you’ll want to get as much traffic as possible for relevant search terms. For this kind of SEO, you should:

  • Focus on publishing helpful, insightful, and interesting blog content. These blog articles should be optimized for the right keywords.
  • Try to get as many backlinks to your content as possible
  • Offer an excellent user experience on your website

When it comes to low-budget marketing ideas, SEO done right will probably offer the best ROI. If you have a good blog post that ranks for a search term that your target audience is using, then you’ll be able to attract thousands of new visitors to your website. This won’t cost you anything, and it can be effective for years to come.

Content marketing blog

3. Focus on Your Existing Customers

Making a sale to a new customer is far more expensive than making a sale to an existing customer. One of the best low-budget marketing ideas is to simply put more focus on the customers you already have.

This could look different for different businesses. If you run an eCommerce store, you should focus on upselling to existing customers. You could do this by showing recommended products to customers based on what’s in their cart.

Any small business can use email marketing to maintain relationships with their existing customers. For example, you could make a list of customers who bought a specific product and then send them a special offer for similar products. Or if your customers bought a summer item, send them a message in winter advertising your new seasonal products.

You could even send personal messages to your best customers or set up some kind of a loyalty program. These are already people who trust your business, so it will take a lot less to get more sales from them than trying to find new customers.

coupon code

4. Engage With Social Media

As a small business owner, you already know that you have to be on social media. Social media is a free way to reach a big audience and promote your business. As long as you focus on the right channels, post good content, and engage with your audience, then you’ll be able to use social media for powerful, free marketing.

Building a social media community allows you to express your brand’s personality, find new customers, and keep them engaged and interested in your business.

Of course, there is paid advertising on social media if you want to reach a much bigger audience. However, we’re focusing on low-cost marketing. Here are some ways that you can use social media to achieve effective free marketing strategies:

  • Drive more traffic to your website by promoting your blog content on social media.
  • Repurpose some of your long-form content into quick, easily digestible content bites. This can include things like Instagram reels or TokTok videos.
  • Use social media as a way to engage with your audience and connect with your customers. Ask questions, respond to comments, and welcome feedback. This will help you to build an engaged audience that trusts your brand more.
  • Post consistent, interesting content that relates to your target audience.
  • Encourage user-generated content, and share any tags or mentions of your brand on social media.
  • Use relevant hashtags to broaden your reach.

Instagram

5. Consider Guerilla Marketing

Guerilla marketing is all about grabbing a lot of attention without using a big budget. Creativity is more important than budget, where the focus is on smart strategies that can be easily implemented.

This could include things like chalk graffiti on a sidewalk that promotes your business or plastering stickers with your social media handles around the city. Viral videos and publicity stunts are forms of this. The idea is to think outside the box and see how you can grab a lot of attention without having to spend a lot of money

guerilla marketing

6. Publish Quality Content

It doesn’t cost your business anything to write an insightful blog post. Successful online marketing relies on great content. This is what will help you attract a bigger audience, build trust, and inspire new customers to make a purchase.

Quality content should be original, thoughtful, and interesting. It should answer your audience’s questions, educate, and show that you’re an expert. Popular types of content including how-to guides, data insights, top 10 lists, best practices, or ultimate guides to specific topics. Use your expertise as a small business owner, and write blog posts that speak to your niche.

Great content will engage your audience, improve your SEO, and get you more free traffic.

Blog content

7. Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

If you’re focused on local marketing, then you will need to market your business with a Google My Business listing. This is entirely free, easy to set up, and very necessary for being more visible in local search results.

When you set up your Google My Business account, try to include as much relevant information as possible. For starters, you will need to include your:

  • Business address
  • Service areas
  • Business website
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Up-to-date photos
  • Operating hours
  • A short description of your business

Then you can optimize your GMB listing further by adding the right categories and attributes for your business. You can choose up to 10 categories, and there are various different attributes that you can choose under these categories. This could include things like “wheelchair friendly”.

Having a strong Google My Business listing will help you to appear at the top of relevant local search results. This means more traffic to your website, or through your business doors.

Google My Business

8. Focus on Generating Referrals

Word of mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. If you just focus on marketing your business yourself, you might find it hard to increase your reach. However, if you can get a lot of referrals, then you’ll be able to get your business out to a much bigger audience.

People also trust their friends and connections more than they will trust businesses they don’t know. So if you’re able to generate a lot of referrals, you should have a better chance of getting more potential customers.

A referral contest is a great way to boost brand awareness without spending much money. You can run a contest where you reward bonus entries with each referral. The only real cost to this is the prize that you’re giving away, and you can end up generating loads more brand awareness and traffic to your website. This is a really cost-effective marketing strategy that can deliver great results.

Referral code

9. Create Strategic Partnerships With Other Businesses

You can always team up with another business that compliments yours for a marketing partnership. This allows you to double your marketing efforts without any additional cost.

You will need to choose a business that isn’t a direct competitor but still shares a similar audience to you. Then you run a campaign together that you each promote to your audiences. You will be able to get your brand out to a whole new audience.

There are all kinds of different ways that you could execute this. You could run a contest together, collaborate on a webinar, podcast, event, or more. This is an excellent low-cost marketing idea for small businesses because it allows you to make use of the knowledge, tools, and customer base of another established business.

Copromotion

10. Get Started With Video Marketing

As long as you’ve got a smartphone, you can start creating viral videos at no cost. Video is one of the most engaging marketing tactics, and it’s becoming more accessible for small business owners to do. Yes, hiring a professional videography team can be expensive, but with platforms like TikTok and YouTube, this isn’t a necessity.

Video marketing can be applied to any kind of business in any industry. Your aim should be to create videos that are helpful and relevant to your audience, and that you offer them some kind of value. This could include:

  • Instructional videos
  • Product demos
  • Unboxing videos
  • Videos that introduce your business or team
  • Behind-the-scenes videos of your business
  • Interviews with industry experts
  • Customer testimonials

You can publish your videos on social media, promote them in your newsletter, add them to your website pages, or even use them in ads. It’s always a good idea to end your videos with a clear CTA to direct the viewers to take a specific action.


11. Host Online Events

Hosting events can be a major marketing expense. However, you can easily host online events without spending any money. Webinars and live streams are great online marketing tactics to engage and grow your audience.

You can run regular webinars where you interview industry leaders or talk about specific pain points that your customers face. This is an excellent way to get some high-quality content out there because you can record the events and release them as videos.

Regular webinars can help position your company as an industry expert. This helps to build trust, and attract more potential customers. This is also a great way to develop strategic partnerships and co-promotions with other businesses. It doesnt have to cost anything and can help you reach a much bigger audience.


12. Run a Giveaway

We realize that a successful giveaway needs to have a good prize, so this isn’t a completely free marketing strategy. However, a giveaway can be an effective low-cost marketing strategy compared to the return that you can get from it.

You’ll need to give away a prize that will attract potential customers. This could be your best-selling product or service. Everyone who enters your giveaway will be interested in your business, which gives you a great opportunity to market to them later on.

With the right giveaway tool like Wishpond, you can run all kinds of different contests, and add all of your entrants to your mailing list. Your contest will boost your brand awareness and generate more leads for your business.

Follow this guide to learn how to run an online giveaway step-by-step.

Online giveaway

13. Become Active in Your Local Community

If you’re a local business, then one of the best marketing tactics is to just develop a strong presence in your community. Network with your community, attend local events, join local social media groups, and engage with your community. This doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it can help your brand to build up an excellent reputation.

If you want to dedicate some marketing budget to your community, then consider some kind of a local sponsorship or donation. This will help you win over your community, and generate some great exposure for your business.



14. Use All of Your Marketing Real Estate

This isn’t necessarily a marketing strategy, it’s more of a best practice that many businesses don’t get right. Make sure that every marketing channel you have gives your business maximum exposure.

This could be your social media channels, your physical store, or even your car. For example, use every space you have on your social media account to link to your website and increase your traffic. You can use your about me section, cover photo, profile picture, and more.

If you own a brick-and-mortar location, then maximize your window space and any space that offers marketing possibilities. Brand your car, print T-shirts, get creative. If you’ve already got the space available, then use it as much as you can. This will help you to get maximum value from each marketing dollar spent.

Branded car

15. Find Online Communities to Connect With Your Customers

Your customers are all online, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything to find and engage with them. Platforms like Quora or Reddit are full of communities of people with very specific interests. You can find interests that match your target audience and offer them helpful content. This can send a lot of interested traffic to your website, and result in more customers.

If you can find relevant Facebook groups and online communities that match your customers’ interests, then use these places to post your interesting content. You won’t have to pay for ads that target specific interests, instead, you’ll have your communities readily available.

Reddit

Conclusion

It’s possible to market your company by barely spending a dollar. Whether this is online or offline, your company has loads of low-budget marketing opportunities available.

If you’re worried about how you’ll be able to reach more customers with a tiny budget, then try out the strategies listed above. These are some of the most reliable ways to help small businesses grow.

Wishpond_Newsletter

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Written by Tom

Tom is a marketing content writer at Wishpond, focused on the latest marketing and tech trends. Also a keen sourdough baker and dog person.