In this article:
- Free advertising ideas for retail shops
- Free SEO ideas for local businesses
- Get involved locally
Is the cost of advertising your store bumming you out? It’s a tough gig to start a new business, get your name out there, and start acquiring new customers. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, and there are even some free strategies that you can use to get started.
These strategies can help you advertise your retail business for free, and several of them will even help you show up better on Google and other search engines!
1. Create and claim your online profiles
To help increase your store’s online visibility, it is imperative that you claim your major online profiles. Google and Yelp are the big ones here. When you claim these profiles, it helps these search engines and review platforms verify that you are a legitimate business and they are more likely to show your listings to customers.
Make sure you add as much relevant information as possible to these listings so customers can get all of the details they need before coming into your store.
Check out our guides:
2. Get more online reviews
When you have your online profiles created, you can start getting online reviews. Reviews are a powerful conversion tool that will help sway consumers toward your store.
Try these methods to get new customer reviews:
- Provide great customer service and ask for reviews
- Put signs up that encourage customers to leave reviews on your online platforms
- Include links to your Google listing in email receipts
- Include instructions to leave reviews on print and email receipts
3. Respond to your reviews
When you start getting reviews, it’s important to respond to them too. Develop a rapport with your online followers and customers by engaging with them when they leave nice feedback about your store.
It’s especially important to respond to any negative reviews that may come in. You want everyone to have a good experience with your store, so find out what went wrong and try to improve the relationship. This also shows potential customers that you are willing to resolve any issues that may come up.
Go deeper: How to respond to negative reviews
4. Find more listings sites to post your store on
Beyond Google and Yelp, there are tons of other free listings sites that you can use to advertise your retail business. When you do start creating these profiles, just be sure that your business name, address, and phone number (also known as NAP) are consistent across all of these.
Inconsistencies with your NAP info can make it difficult for search engines to verify your information, which could result in lower search result rankings.
Get started with 25 free business listing websites every small business should be on.
5. Set up a free website
While free websites aren’t always the most user-friendly (for the creator of them) they are a great way to get started if you’re strapped for cash. And every business should have a website.
Some of the free resources we like for building websites include:
There may be some fees associated with owning your own domain and hosting the website, but these are usually very manageable and totally worth it when you consider the total cost of creating a website with a professional web developer.
6. Boost your local SEO
SEO, or search engine optimization, is how you get your website and business to show up in the search results on Google, Bing, and other search engines. Some of these methods we’ve mentioned, like setting up a website and claiming your online listings, can help you with this.
We also have 15 free tips for better local search engine rankings that you’ll definitely want to check out.
7. Start a blog
A blog is another thing that can contribute to your SEO efforts. But it can do more than just that. A blog provides value to consumers without them having to purchase anything from you. It can help customers learn more about you and your business too. But remember, you need to keep posting new content regularly for your blog to be worth anything.
Here are some ideas that you can use for your store’s blog:
- Photos of new products as they come in
- Employee features
- Video tutorials (how to create the perfect budget outfit, how to use specific products you offer)
8. Start social media accounts
When most of your target customer base is spending at least 30 minutes of their free time on social media, it’s good to take advantage of that. Create social media accounts for your store on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter—whichever is relevant to your business that you can keep up with posting on.
Create lots of fun content that users will feel enticed to engage with. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Discounts and deals
- New products
- Outfit pairings (for clothing stores)
- Customer testimonials
9. Partner with other local businesses
Get together with other local businesses and partner with each other on social media. Share each other’s followings by doing a Facebook Live video together and tagging each other’s business page in it.
Maybe you’re a clothing store that just got a new shipment of workout clothes in. Partner with a local gym to do a fun workout tip post. Get creative with this and have fun.
10. Send out email newsletters
Email might seem like old news, but there’s still a lot of power in this. For retail businesses, send out emails that offer online specials or sweet deals. Use the subject line of the email to mention the deal and entice your customer to open it.
11. Get involved with your local chamber of commerce
Your local chamber of commerce is all about helping small businesses in their community succeed. Take advantage of their resources, like marketing materials and a free listing on their website. This will help get your business out in front of your community.
12. Get involved with community events
Another way to get known in your community is to get involved in local events. Maybe there’s a 5k or a blood drive going on. Volunteer yourself and your employees to help out. Where your logo and display your branding to help spread awareness.
You might even offer some free swag to participants like pens, bracelets, or coupons for your store.
13. Host an online Q&A
Do you get a lot of questions from customers about the products in your store? Maybe you sell cleaning products and customers want the know what works best to get pet smells out of carpet. Or maybe you sell clothing and jewelry and customers are concerned about what goes best with their hair color and style.
Host an online Q&A for customers to ask their questions or with a list of common questions that you hear from customers and answer them. Post this on your website, in your blog, and on your social media channels.
14. Offer discounts and promotions
We all love to save a few bucks. Offer some sweet deals to your customers to entice them to come into your store and share those deals with their friends. Never underestimate the power of referrals when it comes to great deals.
15. Start a loyalty program
Speaking of saving some money, loyalty programs are a great way to advertise your store and get customers to buy more items. Use a point system or punch card and after they spend so much money, give them some store credit.
Check out our guide: The 6 elements of an effective customer loyalty program
16. Make promotional videos
Make promotional videos to share on your website, online listings, and social profiles. One resource we like for this is Biteable. You can create a free video that looks professional and shows off the great qualities of your store.
17. Start a YouTube channel
When you make your promotional videos, online Q&A’s, or video tutorials, share them on a YouTube channel. This is another great way to spread brand awareness, attract new customers, and build up your online reach.
18. Put customer testimonials on your website
Reviews are powerful. And sharing a video testimonial that shows a customer who is genuinely happy with their experience at your store can go a long way. You can use these as a part of your promotional videos, add them to your social media accounts, and gain more opportunities to bring in customers.
19. Post on the Facebook Marketplace
Take advantage of every platform out there for putting your products in front of new customers. People are constantly searching for great deals on things they need in the Facebook Marketplace. Post popular items from your store in the Marketplace to get them in front of more people.
You’ll have to do this from your personal page, but customers want to connect with real people, so it’s really a win-win.
20. Print out flyers
Spread awareness of your store the good old fashioned way with printed flyers. Get a friend or local college graphic design student to create a professional-looking flyer with an enticing promotion and post those things everywhere!
Test out these strategies to see what works best for your store as you’re getting started. Get new customers, and start growing your business!
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