These are good times for DIY entrepreneurship.
An inexhaustible array of free online tools, information and learning resources are enabling entrepreneurs to accomplish myriad aspects of their business at an unprecedented scale. Be it building websites, design and branding, content creation, bookkeeping, most can DIY just about anything they have an aptitude for.
But then inevitably, it all boils down to effective marketing. Your awesome product or service lies around, waiting to be discovered by the larger world. Without a constant stream of leads heading towards a business, 75% of all startups fail. For businesses with limited marketing budgets, this is where we get creative.
While potential prospects can be acquired by advertising on digital channels, organic leads occur naturally- when your audience finds you through search engines, social media references or even links on other sites.
How do you get and increase organic traffic for free?
Check out these 15 content tactics to grow your organic leads for free
Start with these creative and cost-effective ways to drive organic leads, brand visibility, traffic and ultimately business growth.
1. Optimize your website
Before you even optimize for SEO, focus on user experience. Your entire site needs to be welcoming and easy for visitors to use and navigate. Make a great first impression and keep visitors on your website longer by having a design that is user friendly and loads quickly.
2. Create lead magnets to build your email list
Gated lead magnets aka opt-ins that inspire a website visitor to part with their email in exchange for value are important lead generation tools. However, in a recent survey, several entrepreneurs cited copywriting & content as their biggest roadblock for creating opt-ins or lead magnets. The simple workaround here is to offer content upgrades on your best content as a lead magnet too.
Even better are lead magnets that serve as content upgrades. Specific to a blog post, they are extensions of the content your reader is already engaging with. Our blog post on designing a small business website that your customers love, includes a content upgrade to a free, detailed step by step webinar by the author, to enable you to evaluate and design your website from a user’s perspective.
Lead Magnets with a dedicated landing page ensure that your viewers focus on completing one task and not get distracted by anything else.
3. Get yourself in the right places
Let’s say you want to build backlinks to your website. One way to do this is to get included in a round-up on topics of your expertise. Use free search tools like Pinterest, BuzzSumo or Ubersuggest to find out the top shared articles. Or look for bloggers writing about that particular topic and contact them with a request to get included.
4. Consider long form content to attract prospects
Search engines rank long-form content (>3,000 words), a big forecasted trend in content marketing, much higher than short-form. It generates more business leads and social shares for a greater period of time, because it’s likely that the article will attract backlinks and gain organic traffic from Google. Whatever length of content you decide to write, make it valuable, skimmable and easily digestible by breaking it into smaller paragraphs with subheadings for faster takeaways.
5. Repurpose and recycle content
Take any one of your good performing content that resonated with your audience and modify the ways to convey your message as per the channel and audience. Repurpose your content across all your distribution channels and don’t limit yourself. i.e the same article made into a video for Youtube, a lead magnet for capturing emails, an infographic for pinterest, a gif for your website sidebar, socially shareable images, shorter video clips etc.
This not only gives you multiple ways to convey your message, you also show up in different types of search results, like images and videos.
6. Enhance the Guest blogging/podcasting
Writing a guest blog or appearing as a podcast guest give you access to a brand new audience and important backlinks to your website. To leverage these interactions to maximum potential, don’t make the buck stop there. Invest in thoughtful promotions before and after the experience, tagging those involved in the process.
Make it a priority to respond to, and engage with the comments and audience on the website and social media too.
Guest bloggers share expertise and earn backlinks!
7. Stay away from internal keyword cannibalization
Simply put, multiple pages on your website should not have similar content, competing for the same keywords. It makes Google weigh your pages against each other and choose which ones it thinks suits the matching keywords best. Instead, one authoritative page would probably rank higher and convert better.
8. Harness the power of good photography, imagery and icons
Good, relevant images increase connect better with your audience, allowing them to get a feel of your product or service. Unfortunately, low resolution, non contextual and sub quality images have the reverse effect. Trim copy and instead add high quality visuals or icons. This helps your audience quickly get an idea of your business proposition, especially when they are skimming.
Want free tools to design better social media graphics? Grab this free ebook!
9. Get creative with Newsletters
Newsletters that surprise and delight are a constant, iterative process. The question to ask is – does my content serve the customer or only the company?
Focus on making the larger part of your emails about providing value.
Include great visuals, GiFs, Videos and importantly, take inspiration rather than reinventing the wheel. Really Good Emails is one such place that curates emails sent by other companies for you to see what works. In fact, you can even submit your own awesome email for consideration and ultimately more brand visibility.
10. Invest in a Keyword strategy
Think keywords before creating any piece of content. Think with buyer intent – what would you search for if you were the customer?
The more specific your keywords (i.e search phrases), the warmer the audience will be. Include relevant keywords and use them in subheadings, page copy, meta description, url and image alt tags. Do not overstuff, instead follow a natural writing style.
Question-based keywords can be used for many different mediums, including blog posts, videos and FAQ sections on ecommerce product pages. Not to mention, they are the most common types of queries that trigger featured snippet and get you to rank on top of search results. Begin your answers with terms like, “Start by”, “The first step is” etc. The reason – Google tends to prefer featured snippet content that begin logically as an answer would. In fact, that’s exactly how we started the pointers in this blog. ‘Start with these creative……’
Balancing content with keywords paid off in this example in the image below. Not only has this article ranked first, it has also featured as a Rich Snippet.
11. Magnetize your Headlines
You will spend lots of time and effort in generating the body of your content, but don’t overlook the headline and post titles. While 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, only 2 out of 10 people will read the rest of your post.
An exceptional post title can get your article shared on social media, even before its read. Invest time in compelling, magnetic, persuasive copy.
In this video the title offers a fresh twist to what Moms do, with both humor and curiosity. It got great engagement on Facebook and Youtube.
12. Do expert (or product) roundups
Roundups are curated answers on a particular topic, offered by influencers or experts in that niche. Whether you seek the answers on social media, via platforms like HARO or through direct email outreach, not only does it provide you with free content, but also free promotion and increased visibility. The featured entrepreneurs happily share and promote your content, exposing it to new audiences and boosting engagement and traffic.
With this blog post, not only did we answer the frequently asked questions from our members on the best business books to read, but we sought the recommendations from the experts themselves, who even shared the final blog with their audience.
13. Repurpose your lives, how-tos, insta videos on YT
It’s great that you’re investing your efforts into Facebook lives and Instagram videos, but don’t forget the other channels too. Start with downloading your Facebook Live video and then upload on Youtube, Vimeo, embed in a blog and even share via newsletter. With the same video, each new channel is a source of new leads.
14. Use Actionable CTAs
Compel your users to take action – frame your CTAs for visual impact and it’s sense of urgency. E.g: Instead of Sign up now, how about get 40% off now. A good idea to decide copy for your CTA is to ask yourself, does the CTA end the story of your content with a ‘What to do now?’
15. Newsjack your way to visibility
Newsjacking is a way to join or use an online conversation in your content, while it’s still hot & trending. In other words, it’s using current news stories to expand your overall brand visibility.
You can create content that piggybacks on breaking news or capitalizes on the flavor of the season. Either way, newsjacking can be used in your content marketing mix to drive interest and leads.
Anything from a well-timed social media post to a blog can be effective as long as it stays on brand.
Getting organic leads for free requires a multi-pronged approach. While it all starts with good content that offers value, there’s plenty a lean business can DIY to boost organic traffic and leads to their website.
Look out for part II of this article, on leads and traffic generation for free via your customers and new channels.
You can’t use up creativity. The more you create, the more you have.
A Designer and Entrepreneur, Aditi graduated from a top design school and subsequently started her own design and merchandising business. Co-founder at Maroon Oak, she has over 17 years of business experience with Two Dotts, her design consulting company and an Etsy store which serves as an outlet for her gifts and patented product designs.
A mother to a teen and a tween, she enjoys running, dancing and raising her newest baby, a Bichon named Miltie.
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