When you’re bootstrapping a startup, budget is always tight. You want to spend as much as you can on the product which leaves little room for advertising. With these tips, you can skyrocket your website traffic for free.
“Content marketing is more than a buzzword. It is the hottest trend in marketing because it is the biggest gap between what buyers want and brands produce.”Michael Brenner
This is an obvious one, but lots of people struggle to do it right. Content isn’t about quantity but producing quality content with a solid distribution strategy.
1. Start with Pillar Content
To be ranked top 10 for a keyword on Google, the average article length is between 1500 – 2000 words. Pillar content is the long-form, highly researched and quality piece of content you push out. These should not be rushed and be focused on a specific topic or issue. Pillar content can be in any form: articles, podcasts, or videos.
How to find what content to create?
My recommendation here is to first identify what type of customers you’re looking to attract. For example, here at OKRicky, we’re looking for owners of startups, businesses and entrepreneurs. Then think about what these users are likely to search for. My assumption here is that the users I’m targeting will be searching for questions related to startups, entrepreneurship and business.
To find the specific keywords to target, I search for these keywords on Google Keyword Planner. With this tool, it’ll tell me similar keywords and how competitive the keywords are.
Google will then provide a comprehensive list of keywords.
What you want to look for are high monthly searches with low competition. Most articles will recommend you target long-tail keywords which are low search but highly specific keywords. I don’t recommend targeting long-tail keywords when producing your content strategy because the goal here is brand awareness.
When you’re creating squeeze pages which are pages designed to “squeeze” the visitors to a conversion, then I would recommend using long-tail keywords.
2. Create Micro-Content
After creating your pillar content, you need to break it into shareable content. With most social platforms, you won’t be able to paste 1,000+ word content into an Instagram post. What you want to do is break your pillar content into parts and share that idea.
For example, I have a pillar article about the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make. This article has well over 2,000 words, but is broken by 25 different mistakes. I created an Instagram post for each one for these mistakes and a summary of what the mistake is and how to fix it.
3. Exclusive Content
Lastly, you want to create exclusive content for the platform you’re looking to market on. This is to drive increase engagement and community involvement. For example, on Instagram, you might want to start an Instagram live to answer questions from your community. The goal here is to create content that engages your community, so it’s not always a one-way conversation.
4. Distribution Strategy
Your distribution consists of 2 different parts: how often to post, and where to post. My recommendation here is always to have your content pillar strategy on a blog you own. You can easily create one with SquareSpace or WordPress. This way, you have a flexibility to convert them to mailing lists and later into paying customers for your product & services.
For micro and exclusive content, these are your social marketing channels. Each social channel will require a different form of micro-content. For example, you cannot create the same content between Snapchat and Twitter, since Snapchat requires you to be “in the moment video content” versus Twitter is more of a text based news or update channel.
Here I will list the core channels you should look to promote on:
Core Channels: These are the must have in your distribution strategy.
Other Channels: Important social networks if you can do it right.
Supporting Channels: Easy communities to push content to.
Another thing to note here is that if you have a small content team, I would not recommend going all out to all social networks. It’s better to have a concentrated focus on a few distribution networks so you can be responsive to your community.
If you don’t have a huge following, you can spend time engaging with users in an existing community. Remember, the users here are looking for answers to help, not to buy your product. The point here is to become an industry expert in your field and help as many people as you can.
Quora is a Q&A site where anyone can ask anything. There is a strong community of experts looking to help with anything. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to answers that have been submitted by other users, similar to Wikipedia. Here’s an article where Neil Patel showcases how he attracted over 10K visits in one month from Quora.
To be successful on Quora, you need to write short form answers to questions that quickly get to the point. If you get upvoted, your answer will appear as the number 1 answer to the question.
Things to note is that you shouldn’t simply copy and paste answers from your blog or spam the same answers to multiple questions. The reason why Quora is so successful is that they have a huge team of moderators. Committing these offenses will flag your account as spam and you won’t be able to answer questions for weeks.
Reddit is collection of sub-communities. Depending on the community you’re joining, they all serve different purchases. It could be a Q&A Reddit thread with the same dynamic of Quora. Others could be purely sharing tips and guides for a specific topic.
You should not join a sub-reddit with the intention to push your product. Similar to Quora, there are thread moderators that can ban you from the community. Also, each post can be upvoted and downvoted. This can help you measure the best content to post for each community.
3. Niche Communities
You don’t always need to go to the big communities. There are lots of micro communities with lots of passionate users you can market to. Most of these are forum based pages that don’t have a lot of traffic. This is the best grass root marketing strategy because the ones who are involved in these micro communities are usually the most passionate about the topic.
4. Local Meetups
This is the best chance for networking opportunities. This method requires the most time and the least amount of reach, but the advantage is that you can talk to your community face to face. Here, you can not only gain insight from potential customers, but talk to other business owners for collaboration opportunities. The best way to find these local gatherings is through Meetup or you can find local events on Eventbrite.
1. Local Listings
Another easy way to get free marketing is actually having your business found. By listing your business on listing sites, it will naturally rank on Google. The local listing also provides chance for customers to provide reviews for your product/service. As long these reviews are positive, it’s the first thing your customers will see when searching for you.
Here are the top 20 local listing sites:
- Facebook (Domain Authority = 100)
- Apple Maps (Domain Authority = 100)
- Google My Business (Domain Authority = 100)
- LinkedIn Company Directory (Domain Authority = 98)
- Bing (Domain Authority = 94)
- Yelp (Domain Authority = 94)
- Better Business Bureau (Domain Authority = 93)
- Foursquare (Domain Authority = 92)
- MapQuest (Domain Authority = 92)
- HubSpot (Domain Authority = 91)
- Yellow Pages (Domain Authority = 91)
- Angies List (Domain Authority = 91)
- Yahoo! Local (Domain Authority = 91)
- Manta (Domain Authority = 87)
- Merchant Circle (Domain Authority = 86)
- Super Pages (Domain Authority = 84)
- Yellow Book (Domain Authority = 83)
- Thumbtack (Domain Authority = 82)
- Local.com (Domain Authority = 77)
- Kudzu.com (Domain Authority = 76)
2. Startup Listing
You might not have a physical location or your startup hasn’t been launched yet. Luckily, there are sites dedicated to getting your startup found by early adopters.
Here’s a list of free startup listing sites:
I hope this articles gives you a solid framework to start marketing your product for free. Don’t wait to get started on these. The earlier you start, the faster you’ll see results. These strategies will take time to work and compounds over time. This article purpose was to provide a solid framework to start your marketing strategy. I will write another article in the future to talk about creative ways to market your business.