Paid shopping ads, marketplaces, and social commerce ads are a great way to “cut to the front of the line” to reach qualified shoppers. But if you’re not using alternative — and free — methods of reaching your audience, you’re leaving sales on the table.
Here is a list of our 10 favorite free online marketing strategies.
1. Free Google Shopping product listings
Remember Google Froogle? That was the first iteration of Google Shopping product listing ads. It was free up until 2012 when Google switched PLAs to the PPC model, effectively ending the ecommerce community’s free ride.
Guess what, though… It’s back! (Sort of.)
Google Shopping now offers free PLAs in addition to paid listings. There are obviously perks to running paid listings too (better placement, more visibility, etc.), but with 3.5 billion daily searches on Google, free listings still get plenty of looks and clicks.
2. Google My Business
Google My Business is one of the most powerful ways to improve a business’s local search engine optimization and online visibility. Your Google My Business profile serves as a modern-day local business listing (think Yellow Pages).
Business profiles appear in local SERPS and Google Maps, making GMB a really good platform on which to serve important information to local customers. It also creates a direct pipeline to feed Google’s algorithm with pertinent information about your products.
Blog content costs nothing to create and it allows merchants to create a narrative for their products. The trick is to target long-tail keywords that are highly specific to your categories. For example, a shoe merchant can use their blog to write a series on finding the right shoes for… running, walking, working in a restaurant or a construction site. The list goes on.
Use your blog to highlight the benefits of your products. Use it to show your products up-close-and-personal. Use it to answer consumer questions. Use it to discuss materials, design, or manufacturing techniques. The more in-depth and specific your blog posts are, the more likely they are to rank in SERPs.
4. Facebook Live
Facebook Live is a great way to reach your audience. Using live video gives you a unique platform to answer customer questions, highlight product features, provide use cases, and even lead users in product-usage exercises.
Facebook Live viewership is at an all-time high right now so there’s never been a better time to run sessions and talk about what matters the most: Your products!
5. Giveaways on social
Giveaways are an easy way to reach your audience while simultaneously promoting your products.
- Get people excited about a new product
- Repurpose returned (but like new) items
- Unload out-of-season products
- Collaborate with another merchant to create a bundled giveaway and multiply reach
6. Post and tag products on Instagram
Hashtags are a free and yet powerful way to expand your social media visibility. There are probably dozens — if not hundreds — of trending hashtags for your products. But broad Instagram hashtags like #nikeairmax or #aloyogaleggings aren’t going to give you much visibility. The key is to use location and industry modifiers to pinpoint your product-audience+user-niche.
Instead of #nikeairmax, try something like #nikeairmaxstreetstyle or #nikeairmaxnyc.
Instead of #aloyogaleggings, try something like #aloyogahiking or #aloyogalosangeles.
7. Leverage customer reviews
Reviews can increase conversion rates for ecommerce websites by as much as 270% according to G2. It makes sense when you consider that word of mouth remains one of the highest-converting referral methods, and product reviews offer the next best thing.
Reviews are an opportunity for shoppers to learn from others’ experiences. Reviews are also an opportunity for sellers to show social proof without the marketing slant.
8. Product showcase videos on YouTube
Ecommerce has many benefits, but there’s one clear drawback when compared to in-store retail. Online shopping doesn’t offer shoppers the experience of touching and inspecting the product they’re considering. Naturally, there’s a physical disconnect.
A good product showcase video can solve that. Of course, you will want to have fancy product videos on your website and product landing pages, but what we’re talking about here is different. YouTube product showcase videos don’t have to be splashy or overly produced.
There’s no formula for a good showcase video but there are some basic rules to follow:
- Show your product from every angle, including a 360-degree sweep.
- Show your product’s dimensions. This can be done by standing with or next to the product, or holding the product.
- Show the product in action. If it’s apparel, wear it. If it’s electronics, turn it on and run. If it’s home decor, display it.
9. Buy on Google
Did you know that in addition to its paid and free Google Shopping listings, Google also has a third-party marketplace you can sell on? Did you know it’s commission-free?
While most of our retailers drive traffic to their websites with shopping ads and free listings, many also use Buy on Google to give shoppers a way to “add to cart” directly on the Google interface. By removing commission fees, Google is lowering the cost of selling online and making it even easier for retailers of any size to leverage Google’s huge audience.
10. TikTok challenges
The easiest and most common way for online retailers to leverage TikTok challenges for their business is to participate in a trending challenge. All you need to do is find a trending TikTok challenge, then record your own version of it that relates back somehow to your products, then post it on TikTok with the challenge’s most popular hashtags. Bonus tip: Repurpose it on Instagram with those same hashtags.
This approach lets you ride the wave of popularity of a trending video without putting too much effort into creating a new marketing campaign from scratch.