Many people know that you don’t need a website or flashy e-Commerce store to sell products. Ebay and Amazon are among the many sites offering online retailers a way to sell products without their own domain. If you didn’t know this and you want to sell products online, then you definitely need to go and check this out now!
For those offering a service and without the luxury of their own website and domain, online marketing can seem a little more troublesome. So what options are there?
Online Business Directories
Is there a place for online directories anymore? I would hazard a guess that the majority of web directories get little to no traffic, most likely due to the high number that are of a low quality and simply set up for SEO purposes. This doesn’t mean that you should write-off all directories though.
High quality directories such as Yell.com (UK) are worth the time submitting your business to. Yell in particular has a considerable amount of search result real estate. If you’re looking to find new customers via search without a website, then Yell or something similar may be just what you need.
If you don’t have a website, but you want somewhere to have custom content tailored to your services, then Facebook is ideal. With tools such as Shortstack, it’s easy to create custom apps for your Facebook page.
Integrate your YouTube channel, Instagram, Pinterest, create a custom contact page and even run competitions. You can ‘fan-gate’ pretty much everything, which means that only visitors that have liked your page can view the content, if you choose. This is a great option for competitions and is an excellent way to grow your page likes.
Facebook Ads are another brilliant tool for those looking to promote on this social giant. You effectively pay to promote your posts, your page or your apps. You can really target your audience, specifying such things as location, age, gender and interests. This final targeting option can be really useful, since you can target people that have an interest (liked) your competitors’ Facebook pages. Sneaky? Yes. Effective? Definitely!
Google My Business
Do you want your business to show up in Google’s search results, but you don’t have a website? Register on Google My Business for your listing and with a little bit of optimisation, you could be showing up on Google Maps and within Google’s local search results.
The Google My Business dashboard is actually an excellent place to view a number of important metrics, including things such as reviews of your business and insights regarding impressions and clicks of your business listing.
If you are a local service and you want to give your listing the best chance of showing up in search results, then there are a couple of things you should focus on.
Firstly, try and get citations. These are basically mentions of your business name and address details on websites, e.g. on directories. When placing citations, ensure that you use the exact business name and address consistently across different sites.
Secondly, try and get positive reviews on your Google+ page. To be honest, you should really be trying to get positive reviews anywhere you can, such as your Facebook page and business directory listing.
You don’t need a website to make use of email marketing. “How do I gather email addresses without a website???” I can hear you asking. Often, businesses grow their email marketing lists using newsletter subscribe forms, but how can you do this without your own site? Well, this is where you can start to tie in a number of methods.
You can require entrants supply their email address to enter competitions on Facebook using Shortstack. You can even add a newsletter subscribe form as an app in Facebook if you wish.
What about once you have an email list? Well, email marketing tools such as MailChimp are ideal, particularly if you are just starting out with email marketing and you want to test it before investing too much money into it. The basic account is free, allowing you to get a feel for how it works and its effectiveness.
Ok, so we’ve already mentioned Facebook and Google+ (Google My Business), but you can also make use of other social platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram. They don’t provide as much flexibility as Facebook, but they can still be beneficial.
A good way to use these sites is to build a following on them and then promote your Facebook page, where you are more likely to convert them into customers or email subscribers. Aside from competitions, you could fan-gate a free download of an ebook, prompting your Twitter or other social network followers onto your Facebook page.
Ok, I know this can seem like a bit of a cop-out. I write an article about how to do something and end it by telling you to be creative, but it is actually a really good point and the best way for you to develop the most effective marketing strategies for YOUR business.
When I say creative, I don’t necessarily mean create adverts along the lines of the Cadbury’s gorilla, but in terms of thinking outside of the box regarding your strategies and the types of places online you can promote your business. It’s also important to tie everything together so that you have everything working as a cohesive unit, e.g. using Twitter to promote your Facebook page and then using a competition to convert Facebook fans into email subscribers.
Good luck with your marketing, regardless of whether you have a website or not. Please do feel free to leave any comments or questions below and I’ll do my best to answer them. Also if you have any suggestions regarding ways to market a service business online without a website, then please do share.
If you do want a website, then check out our web design page.