In order to effectively promote your business, you need to create a foundation for your online presence and focus on getting in front of the right people quickly and efficiently.
A lot of promotional advice recommends pouring money into ads on Facebook, Instagram, or Google. But you can’t put all your eggs in the advertising basket—diversification is key to avoiding diminishing returns over time.
This guide walks you through 25 ways to promote your business, complete with examples and resources for getting started.
How to promote your business 📈
- Write guest posts for blogs that reach your target audience
- Get featured on product review blog posts
- Do an expert roundup
- Find affiliates to promote your business
- Get included in gift guides
- Invest in infographics
- Get press coverage
- Focus your attention on email marketing
- Get to the top of Google search results
- Get on TikTok
- Start a YouTube channel
- Ask influencers to promote your business
- Put up compelling social media posts frequently
- Automate word-of-mouth with social reviews
- Create micro-content for social feeds
- Go live with your followers
- Make it easy to share your products
- Be active on brand-appropriate trending topics
- Create quizzes and other interactive content
- Enable shoppable feeds on all social media channels
- Test out retargeting ads on social media platforms
- Create a Google Business Profile
- Join local events and connect with local customers
- Offer local delivery
- Get local press
Free and low-cost ways to promote your business online
Business promotion is more than just publishing images on social media or buying ads. It’s a process that will help you achieve measurable success in your business. Here are nine free or low-cost ways to promote your business and drive traffic and sales.
1. Write guest posts for blogs that reach your target audience
Free traffic—as opposed to paid traffic that comes from things like purchased ads—is often hard to come by for new websites. You can start blogging to drive traffic, but it takes time before you’ll start seeing results. While you grow your own audience, guest posting gives you a way to get in front of someone else’s. Not only does this drive traffic back to your website, but the links to your site will help with search engine optimization.
Find and connect with bloggers who have the type of audience you want to reach. Offer to write a guest post that their audience will love. Make sure the topic you write about is also related to your business in some way.
2. Get featured on product review blog posts
Getting your product reviewed can be a great way to spread awareness and drive sales. Instead of waiting around for someone to review your product, use a blogger outreach campaign to get the ball rolling. You may end up landing a product review on outlets such as Buzzfeed, like Shopify merchant RT1home.
Contact bloggers with relevant, engaged audiences and offer to send them new products for free in exchange for an honest review. If you have a great product, they’ll love it and tell everyone.
3. Do an expert roundup
While blogging is a great way to drive traffic back to your store, it takes time. This is especially true if you don’t feel very knowledgeable on a topic you need to write about, or you’re not generally comfortable writing. One way around this is to ask for contributions from other bloggers or experts.
Seek out experts on a topic and ask them to contribute an idea, such as a tip, recipe, or story to your blog post. Then, publish a list of all the responses you got back. You’ll be providing your audience with great content from relevant experts, plus the contributors will want to share the article with their own readers, increasing your own reach.
4. Find affiliates to promote your business
If you want to take product reviews a step further and solicit even more people to promote your product, consider starting an affiliate program. Affiliate marketing incentivizes other people to drive traffic to your business by offering a commission on every sale, similar to referral programs.
Take BarkBox for example. If you look through popular dog accounts on Instagram, many will have a BarkBox affiliate code in their bio, like @henrysworldtoday.
Finding your first affiliates can be tough if you don’t have wide brand recognition. Use an outreach campaign to find and recruit your first few affiliates and get the ball rolling. Look for affiliates who have an engaged audience and are already writing about your industry.
5. Get included in gift guides
Gift guides are a list of recommended products or gift ideas, typically centered around a holiday (like Christmas) or a person (like your dad). If you’ve ever Googled for gift ideas, you’ve likely come across several gift guides, like this Valentine’s Day gift guide by The New York Times.
Getting your product in the right gift guides can increase sales and traffic to your website. However, inclusion in these guides doesn’t happen randomly and requires some effort. In many cases, business owners and marketers lobby to get their products included. Use outreach to contact gift guide publishers and ask to have your product included.
6. Invest in infographics
Investing in a professionally designed infographic is one way to drive traffic and potentially build backlinks, which are great for search engine optimization (SEO). The cost ranges greatly for quality infographics—depending on what you need and the skill level of the person you hire—but it can be well worth the investment.
Need an idea for an infographic? Check out sites like Visually for inspiration. Once you’ve chosen an idea, research the topic and identify the points you’ll cover in the infographic. You can hand this outline over to a professional designer as direction for what you want the infographic to cover (or as a guideline for yourself if you’re going the DIY route, in which case you should check out tools like Canva or Piktochart).
Let’s say you sell bicycles and related gear. You might create an infographic that talks about the environmental benefits of bicycling. Some points or figures you might include in the infographic could be how much a daily commute saves in fuel emissions, as well as a comparison of the total number of car owners and bike owners.
That message speaks to your customer base, but is also compelling enough that many blogs and even news sites might want to feature and link back to it.
7. Get press coverage
Instead of hiring a PR company, take control of your own publicity. If you have a great story or an interesting product that people will want to write about, put it out there! Get in touch with bloggers and journalists who cover businesses like yours and tell them what you’re up to.
PR is free and gets in front of an audience you may not reach otherwise. Some of my demographic is men 45–50+, and they aren't scrolling Instagram.
While it’s true that most writers are inundated with requests, they are still always on the lookout for a good story. Make sure you target the right publications (i.e., don’t ask a tech writer to cover your clothing line), and offer them a compelling story to improve your success rate.
When marketing a new business, press coverage is a good way to get your name out there. Mercedes Provost, founder of Copper Bottom Swim, shares how she got free coverage for her nine-month-old brand:
“I built a press list, drafted a strong email and press deck, and started reaching out. It’s generally a two-step email tailored to the journalist’s beat, with the first introducing my brand and the second pitching some ideas that would be well-suited to our audiences.”
Mercedes’ pitching was a success. She landed a few hits, but Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail was the most meaningful and biggest publication she got coverage in, by far. PR helped drive 50 sales in three days, which was a huge success for Mercedes as a new business owner.
- How to Create a Press Kit That Gets Publicity for Your Business
- 13 Free Publicity Ideas That Will Get Your Business Press
8. Focus your attention on email marketing
Email marketing is a great way to attract and retain customers as a small business. You can ask potential customers to sign up for an email list on your social media profiles or ecommerce website. Email is one of the most cost-effective ways to market a new business, with an average return of $42 for every dollar invested.
Once readers opt in, you can send them promotions, product launches, or content to build a relationship and increase sales. Many brands, like Cattached (Cat Caboodle), for example, use email to welcome new customers.
Consider creating automated email marketing campaigns to send marketing messages for you. It’s a huge benefit for small-business owners who don’t have a ton of time or resources to spend on marketing.
- 18 Successful Email Marketing Campaigns
- How to Build an Email List: 12 Winning Strategies
- Shopify Email: Let Your Brand Identity Shine with Email Marketing
- 20 Email Marketing Best Practices That Drive Sales
- How to Create a Newsletter That Grows Your Business
Free Ebook: How to Grow Your Ecommerce Business with Email Marketing
Whether you're just getting started or dreaming up your next big campaign, this email marketing guide will provide you with insights and ideas to help your business grow.
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9. Get to the top of Google search results
When it comes to promoting your online business, SEO is one of the best ways to get traffic and sales over time.
The goal is to get to position one, so when shoppers type in a specific keyword, they find your brand first on search engines. These shoppers are considered “high-intent,” which means they are more likely to buy your products, because they’ve set out to find something to meet a need or solve a problem.
The problem is, small businesses often don’t have the time or resources to do search engine optimization. The upside? Executing the basics can be enough to put you ahead of competitors.
- What is SEO Marketing?
- 30 Free SEO Tools for Your Website
- 21 Real Ways to Increase Website Traffic
- How Investing in SEO Can Grow Your Ecommerce Site Traffic
How to promote your business on social media
Social media can help you promote your business to new customers, create community among existing customers, and help you grow a following and further develop your brand. Some brands have taken off by crafting authentic and engaging presences on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Here are some ideas for how to promote your business on social media platforms.
10. Get on TikTok
You’ve no doubt heard of TikTok by this point. According to the latest TikTok statistics, the social media platform has one billion active monthly users worldwide. Using TikTok for business is also the easiest way to reach younger demographics like zennials and Gen Z.
With many small businesses like Loungefit finding success on the app, TikTok might be the tool you need to scale your business’s social media presence and drive fast growth.
For example, SendAFriend was able to scale to $5 million in two years, thanks to its TikTok marketing strategy.
TikTok is great for building brand awareness. But you can also drive sales with a link-in-bio feature that directs viewers to a landing page.
11. Start a YouTube channel
In 2019, a study found that YouTube users watched over one billion hours of video on the website every day. Yet, only 9% of businesses use YouTube to promote themselves. As YouTube is second only to Google when it comes to the popularity of search engines, it’s a prime marketing opportunity for you to take advantage of.
A YouTube channel can help:
- Build credibility with your audience
- Create engagement and loyalty
- Increase your social media presence
- Drive traffic to your website
Compelling video content is excellent for attracting new customers and engaging with current ones. A basic YouTube marketing strategy will help showcase your brand’s identity and connect with your target audience in a fresh and exciting way.
- Like, Comment, Thrive: How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business
- How to Get More YouTube Subscribers and Take Your Channel to The Next Level
12. Ask influencers to promote your business
Sometimes you don’t need to write a guest post or ask other people to review your product. When you find the right match for your brand, a simple mention on social media can go a long way.
Reach out to influencers on the social media platforms where you feel your potential customers and target audience hang out. Specifically, you should look for nano- or micro-influencers, who have smaller audience sizes, are less expensive to work with, and whose influence is proven to drive more engagement.
Find influencers to drive sales with Shopify Collabs
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Just make sure that you reach out to folks who have audiences that would like your product. Ask them if they’ll consider featuring your product in a post, and make sure that you align on expectations with them before you send them your product for free.
- Find The Best Fit: Your Beginner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing
- It’s Your Time to Shine: How to Find and Work With Instagram Influencers
- 13 Influencer Marketing Platforms for Partnering With Internet Famous Creators
13. Put up compelling social media posts frequently
To grow your social following over time, it’s crucial to post content consistently. Studies suggest that audiences respond differently depending on your posting frequency, so make sure you test to figure out the best cadence for your brand. You can also compare your posting frequency and engagement rates to your competitors.
On platforms like Instagram and TikTok, consider posting different types of content throughout the day. For example, @kyliecosmetics publishes a mix of single image posts, Reels, and Stories. It shares a mix of product-related and user-generated content to keep followers interested and engaged.
As consultant Jay Baer notes, it’s more important to focus on creating a strong marketing plan and a process to create genuinely compelling posts on a regular basis than it is to post poor quality content constantly.
Two helpful marketing tools for scheduling future posts are Hootsuite and Buffer. You can integrate them with your browser and dozens of other apps to schedule posts and track engagement metrics for your social networks. These apps can help you cut down on time spent actually pressing Publish.
- Instagram Marketing 101: Using Hashtags, Stories, and More to Grow Your Business
- What Should You Post On Instagram? Here Are 20 Ideas to Spice Up Your Feed
- How to Get More Followers on Instagram: 17 Reliable Ways to Grow Your Audience
Social media strategy and planning templates
Ready to get started with your social media strategy? These free, customizable templates give you tools to plan and execute a strategy that connects you with your target audience while keeping your content calendar organized.
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14. Automate word-of-mouth with social reviews
Using product reviews and testimonials to create trust and gain insights into your products is a great way to increase online sales.
Yotpo is a review app available for Shopify sites that encourages customers to leave reviews after they’ve made a purchase. The process is automated, so you don’t have to manually reach out to customers yourself.
Connect your business’s social accounts and post the reviews directly to your pages. These reviews provide fresh content, build trust in your brand and product quality, and help drive traffic from social to your site.
15. Create micro-content for social feeds
Consider the context in which most users are browsing social media. Maybe they’re on a mobile device during their commute, taking a quick brain break at their desk at work, or killing time as they wait for their show to come back on after commercials.
There’s one thing those scenarios have in common: Social media users are often scrolling in between other tasks. That’s why bite-sized content is an effective way to captivate your audience. This social media marketing strategy works particularly well on platforms made specifically for quick experiences, like TikTok.
For example, let’s say you sell products for soccer players. On your blog, you write an article titled “7 Training Exercises to Improve Your Soccer Skills.” You then repurpose that content into seven pieces of micro-content for use on social—one for each exercise. That would play much better than trying to cram an entire article into a much faster social media experience.
16. Go live with your followers
Engagement is critical to keep any online community alive and well. A great tactic to engage with your online community is going live with them on whichever social channel you have the best engagement.
Consider hosting a live session around a particular topic (maybe you’ll pack orders live with your audience) or theme (like teaching a different watercolor technique each Friday). You can also call upon co-hosts you think your audience might enjoy.
- Instagram Live: How To Sell Through Instagram Live Shopping
- TikTok Marketing: How To Advertise on Tiktok (+Video)
17. Make it easy to share your products
Social share buttons are a key element to increasing the “virality” of your site, which can, in turn, drive traffic and boost online sales. Make sure the buttons to popular social networks—like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest—are easy for users to find.
You might want buttons that match your store’s visual aesthetic, like Culture Kings has on its product pages.
To implement this social media marketing tip on your own online store, consider an app like AAA Social Share Buttons Marketing, which has its own analytics and can help you optimize positioning and layout.
18. Be active on brand appropriate trending topics
The emergence of the hashtag organized a big part of the social web according to conversations, making it easy to join in on discussions and events. Now, as the hashtag is less of a guiding force and more of a supplementary tool, it’s up to businesses to find the types of trending topics they want to engage with as a brand.
A social media monitoring tool like Hootsuite can help you find and engage with different trends based on your brand. If you’re a TikTok user, the platform has a Discover page that allows people to view and see what’s popular.
As you figure out what kinds of marketing efforts work best for your brand, also consider the types of trending topics that make sense for you to jump on (or create yourself).
For example, watercolor shop Case for Making encouraged customers to paint with a different color during each day of October, coining the challenge #Colortober.
Above all else, don’t just post to post. Make sure that you’re contributing to the conversation in a meaningful, natural way.
- Instagram Hashtags: How to Find the Most Popular Hashtags and Connect with New Followers
- The 20+ Best TikTok Trends for Ecommerce Stores
- 11 Consumer Trends to Guide Your Business in 2023
19. Create quizzes and other interactive content
Thanks to Buzzfeed, quizzes have made a strong comeback.
Pieces of interactive content work really well on social media—that is, if they can provoke quiz-takers to show off their results publicly. To do that, you need to create a quiz that tells people something about themselves or how much they know, so they’re compelled to share it.
If you want to try building your own, try Playbuzz, an easy-to-use tool for creating interactive content.
20. Enable shoppable feeds on all social media channels
Social commerce is growing, with ecommerce sales from social media projected at $1.3 billion in 2023. If your social posts aren’t shoppable, then you’re missing out on providing a crucial part of an omnichannel marketing strategy for your followers.
Essentially, you put virtual “tags” on videos, Stories, and posts in-feed. Social scrollers can then click on these “tags” to see how much a product costs, and they can tap to learn more and make a purchase without leaving the app—an ultra-efficient process.
For example, accessories shop Cupcakes and Cashmere links its inventory on shoppable Instagram posts for easy purchasing.
- What is Social Commerce? Tips, Tools, and Trends
- How to Sell on Instagram: A Complete Guide to Success
- How to Use TikTok for Ecommerce
21. Test out retargeting ads
When you run retargeting ads, you send ads to prospective customers who have been to your site before. These ads can be personalized based on their behavior. The positive aspect of using retargeting ads in your marketing efforts is that you can reach potential customers who are already interested in your products.
For example, Frank Body retargets consumers who were previously browsing but didn’t make a purchase.
How to promote your business locally
As customers return to in-person retail shopping, brands need to meet customers where they are—literally. Engaging with your local business community to collaborate on products or events, joining your local community at events like street fairs or farmers markets, and even setting up a business profile on Google are just a few ideas.
22. Create a Business Profile on Google
Google business profile is an easy-to-use listing tool to manage your presence across Google Search and Maps. It’s the best way to promote on Google for free and get in front of prospective customers.
A “Google Business Profile gives local businesses a separate online presence other than their website,” says Amy Falcione, founder of a local marketing agency called Big Picture Marketing. “Your listing gives a brief but detailed description of what your business offers and who you are.”
Amy explains that people will search for your Google Business Profile to check and see if you’re legitimate. You can add photos and videos of your shop and provide links to your website or appointment booking software. You can even give people a look inside your business to build trust and credibility with potential customers.
If someone decides they want to engage with your business, they’ll be able to see your contact information, website, and business address right in the listing, so they can easily visit you online or in person.
23. Join local events and connect with local customers
A local event refers to any affair that attracts an audience from a local market. Artisan markets, craft shows, trade shows, and festivals are examples of events small businesses can promote themselves at locally.
“Right now, many local businesses are meeting online. They are using livestreams and online meetups to show off products online and reach people at scale,” Amy tells Shopify. “But as areas start to open back up, we don’t want to overlook the power of local in-person events.”
Local events help small business owners meet customers one-on-one and create individual connections. People can touch, feel, and smell whatever you’re selling and interact with your products.
“Another way to promote your business locally is through workshops and lectures,” says Amy. “For example, if you run a candle making business, you can run local workshops to teach people how to make their own candles. It’s a great way to build your reputation in the community and increase brand awareness.”
24. Offer local delivery
Offering local delivery allows you to provide a faster, more convenient alternative to traditional carrier shipping and in-store shopping, and is a thoughtful way to reach your local customer base.
Data from Shopify also shows that online shoppers spend 23% more and have a 25% higher cart size when local delivery and pick up are offered by independent retailers.
For example, Ottawa retailer Chris’s Ice Cream offers free local delivery with minimum purchase order.
Learn more: How to Create a Local Delivery Service
25. Get local press
Another great way to promote your business locally is by getting local media coverage. Getting a story in the local newspaper can drive potential customers to your website or into your local shop.
“Start by creating a press list of all the publications you want coverage in,” Amy says, “then write your own press release and start pitching it to reporters. Make it easy for them by getting your own quotes and statistics and making your story sound newsworthy.”
Amy recommends the following tips when writing your press release:
- Avoid sounding salesy.
- Focus on how your product helps the community.
- Mention if you’ll be hiring local workers.
- Discuss locally sourced products you use.
Press releases that focus on community empowerment encourage local reporters to cover your business.
Free: Press Release Template
To help you get started, we put together this template to help you structure your story using a common press release format. You can replace each component with your own information and adapt it according to your needs.
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Improve your digital marketing game
There’s no doubt that promoting your business isn’t just a nice-to-have. Businesses need low-cost and free marketing tactics to help meet their business goals—whether it’s raising brand awareness, driving website traffic, or making sales.
You don’t need to tackle all 25 of these tactics right away. Start with one or two that feel the most relevant to your business. Then, continue to add more as you grow.
Illustration by Rachel Tunstall
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Business promotion FAQ
How can I promote my small business?
- Guest posting
- Product reviews
- Email marketing
- Press coverage
- Social media
- Local events
How can I advertise my business for free?
- Guest post on blogs
- Get product reviews
- Find affiliates to promote your business
- Get press coverage
- Use Instagram influencers
- Start a TikTok
How do I get more customers for my business?
- Create a strong social media presence
- Build positive online reviews
- Offer discounts and incentives for new customers
- Partner with influencers
How do I attract and keep customers?
- Offer high-quality products
- Develop good customer service skills
- Understand your customers and target market
- Follow up with past customers regularly
- Offer samples
- Use fun and interesting packaging
- Create a loyalty program