To some, it’s merely another fancy buzzword. To others, it’s the backbone of their entire business.
In my life, digital marketing is almost everything I do.
For most entrepreneurs, however, it is a highly underutilized and misunderstood tool.
Most people think digital marketing has to be an expensive endeavor that takes thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to see any success with.
This is simply not the case.
There are a number of free tools and opportunities within digital marketing that most entrepreneurs are missing.
Here are just a few of them to help get you started.
1. Use the power of blog commenting to build links
Blog commenting has become a practice synonymous with spammers and sleazy online marketers.
Because of this, most entrepreneurs do not take advantage of this incredible opportunity.
Despite the negative connotation, blog comments are a fantastic way to promote your business and build a very natural link profile.
It’s only when blog commenting is used improperly (like in the image below) that it’s damaging to your Google ranking and personal reputation:
So, how can you use the power of blog commenting to market your content in an authentic, natural, and non-spammy way?
The first and most important step is finding the right blogs to comment on.
The best way to do this is simply to use blogs you regularly read or blogs that show up in your social media feed.
This practice ensures that you are posting on sites relevant to your niche.
It also increases the authenticity of your comments since you are an actual reader and probably have gained real value from the content you are commenting on.
However, if you already comment on your favorite blogs on a regular basis and are looking to expand your reach, there are other ways to find places to comment.
An easy way to do this is to utilize the Google Search Console and Advanced Search Operators.
Let’s say you are running an online fitness clothing store for women.
You could enter any of the following search operators into Google:
- Women’s athletic wear “comments”
- Women’s athletic style “leave a reply”
- Women’s athletic clothing “leave a comment”
The search operators you are using clearly specify to Google that you only want search results that have the option to comment on the page.
After you’ve compiled a list of potential blogs to comment on, you can check their Ahrefs ranks to determine whether or not they are worth your time.
Now that you are done with the easy work of finding high quality blogs to comment on, it’s time for the hard stuff.
And that’s getting your comment approved.
This basically comes down to writing a non-spammy comment that still includes a link to your site.
Since most high-quality blogs have a pretty heavy moderation policy, this is not an easy task.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Always fill the name field with your name—not the name of your site. Comments that have URLs in the name field are deleted most of the time.
- Leave the website field blank. Since you are going to include a link in the body of your comment, leaving the website field blank will help improve the odds of your comment passing the moderator.
- The best way to comment is to pick a relevant point from the blog content and then expand on it in an authentic and genuine way.
Take a look at some of the examples below to see the right way to do this:
2. Don’t overlook press releases
I know, I know.
“What the heck, Neil? Press releases?! We are in the 21st century here!”
And I get it.
But press releases, when used properly, can actually be a pretty fantastic tool.
If you time the article right, a press release can generate a load of views and shares for your content.
When you have a large number of people, especially journalists, reviewing your content, it is more likely that your work will be picked up by major publications.
This can be a pivotal component of getting your content to go viral.
Press releases can also help your link-building campaigns in a big way, but you have to be intentional about the content.
Here are a few of the benefits, if you can ignore the not-quite-accurate benefits of “rankings” and “links.”
Links and rankings do happen, but only indirectly.
If a journalist or blogger sees your press release and decides to cover your content or include it as a part of a major story, the keywords you’d use would be key.
Make sure your content is filled with keywords you want to rank for.
This way, if a journalist takes a quote from your work, you’ll be able to build up links to help boost your rankings.
The most important thing to keep in mind when running a press release, however, is your message.
Unlike with a regular blog post or YouTube video, when you run a press release, you and your content are now in the spotlight.
If you have any incongruency in your messaging, any incorrect data, or serious errors within your release, the PR will do more harm than good.
With a press release, you are shouting your message from a mountaintop.
Make sure you are shouting the right message.
While press releases are typically very expensive endeavors, costing anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, there are tools online that let you generate press coverage for free.
Here are a few of the best:
There are certainly drawbacks to press releases.
They do not directly improve SEO; they are difficult to track; and if you make a mistake, you can do more damage to your brand than good.
However, if you know your way around, you can actually market your content quite effectively using free press release sources.
Just make sure you consider the pros and cons before filing for a release.
3. Google Hangouts
The big one.
Google Hangouts is by far one of my favorite marketing tools.
If you have any degree of authority within your niche, running regular Google hangouts is one of the fastest ways to engage your audience and improve your sales.
When people get to interact with you in a raw and unedited form, they tend to connect with you on a deeper level.
This will build engagement with your audience, transforming them from casual readers to raving fans.
Using a Google Hangout to host a webinar is also a great way to boost sales, especially whenever you are releasing a new product.
However, be warned.
If you are using webinars solely to promote new products, users will leave, and you will damage your online reputation.
You need to offer massive value while hosting webinars before you even mention a new product.
4. Do link outreach (the right way)
When digital and content marketing first started to take off, the tactic of link outreach became very common.
Link outreach basically looked something like this:
And the thing is…
…this used to work.
However, in the modern business world, the above strategy will probably have a 1-3% success rate, likely with lower tier websites and blogs.
The core strategy of connecting with other influencers and having them promote your content (either by replacing a broken link or just sharing it outright) still works.
If you do it the right way.
What is the “right” way?
Focusing on relationships first and link building second.
Here is the deal.
A lot of Internet marketers are a pain in the butt.
They are constantly seeking to gain value from other people—those they have no relationship with—and rarely offer anything in return.
If you want to stand out from this crowd and actually succeed in your link-building efforts, you need to try a different approach.
The first step is to find companies you want a link from in the first place.
I once again recommend you select blogs and websites you are already familiar with and read on a regular basis.
But if you’ve already worn out all potential opportunities with your “regulars,” you can try another approach (shout-out to Ryan Stewart of Ahrefs.com for introducing me to this).
If you want to find great places to get potential links, then fire up Google, and input one or more of the following searches:
- [Your keyword] + “Top posts of the week”
- [Your keyword] + “Friday link roundup”
- [Your keyword] + “Best posts of the week”
This will allow you to find blogs and websites already curating great content.
Trust me: it’s a lot easier to get a link from one of these resources than from a blogger who only promotes their own content.
Now that you’ve found the blog you want to get a link from, it’s time to connect.
This does not mean you immediately email them, asking for a link to your content.
The first step you need to take is to start following the blog/website/influencer on social media.
Once you are following them, drop them a line with something simple:
Hey, this is so-and-so. I read your piece on XYZ and really enjoyed it! Keep up the great work!
Once you have broken the ice and made the first contact on social media, start commenting on their posts and on their blog.
Do this for about a week, continuing the conversation you started above, if at all possible.
Once you’ve established good rapport and the influencer is aware of you, it’s time to ask for the link.
While this tactic works great for broken links, it works even better if the blogger regularly posts a “Best of the web” article or something similar.
You will end up getting more traffic from a weekly roundup than you would from a broken link.
And, if your content is good, you may end up getting a repeat “customer” who will continue linking to your company for months or years to come.
BONUS: 9 More Free Marketing Ideas
Here’s 9 tactics that you should be leveraging.
Digital marketing can be a lot simpler (and less expensive) than people think.
But you have to be willing to take an “outside the box” approach to it.
Equipped with the above four tips and tricks, you’ll be able to market your company more quickly and effectively than ever before.
None of the advice I’ve given here is easy, but it’s simple and doable.
Take the time to educate yourself on these four opportunities, and learn how to capitalize on them to grow your business.
And invest your time in uncovering the wealth of other free digital marketing opportunities available in today’s marketplace.
You may be surprised at how effectively you can market your company and your content without a big budget.
What is your favorite free digital marketing opportunity?