So you’re looking to grow your business online.
You have a marketing budget, whether $20 or $2000. You must be wondering what’s the best way to invest your money – and time – for maximum return.
But you’re wondering which will work better, paid advertising, or free advertising?
Let’s find out the difference between them, and everything else you need to know to make your decision.
What is free advertising?
You might be surprised to learn there’s even such a thing as free advertising. It might sound too good to be true, but don’t worry – it’s not. There are many different forms of free advertising online, such as:
- Directories (website indexing)
- Blog directories
- Affiliate networks like AdSense, Amazon and eBay
- Search engine submission websites
- Using free SEO techniques
'Earned' advertising is also free. This could include exposure you get through:
- Posting on social media
- Updating posts on your blog
- Advice you provide on Q&A websites such as Quora
What is paid advertising?
Paid advertising is, unsurprisingly, when you have to pay for exposure of your brand. Methods to do this could include:
- Sponsored posts on social media
- Paid-for SEO services
- Banner ads
- Paying to write a guest post on someone else’s site
Which is better?
Both of these types of advertising have their pros and cons, but the benefits of free advertising are:
- With earned advertising, you’ll have qualified traffic. For example, when you’re getting popular through people sharing your articles, you know that the people involved are truly interested in your work. You’re not throwing money or effort at an approach that might hit or miss.
- With earned or free advertising, you don’t have to invest any money! Sure, you’ll have to put in a lot of time to make it happen, but if you’re on a shoestring budget this can be more desirable than whipping out your credit card.
- With earned and free advertising, you can be super versatile. You can use every channel at your disposal to promote your brand – social media, your blog, other people’s blogs, search engines, and more. You don’t have to look for paid opportunities to advertise – you create your own opportunities.
You might think, with all these benefits, free and earned advertising are much better than paid advertising. But paid has its own benefits, too, including:
- Wider reach. With paid advertising, you can reach beyond your regular audience. Social media sites often change their algorithms, which can make it hard for you to reach people outside your existing audience without shelling out a few dollars.
- Proven to be effective. As long as you have a good campaign, paying to get it out there can yield huge dividends for your business. You’ll be using proven marketing channels, instead of creating your own, so you may have a higher chance of success, providing your marketing material is on point.
- Measuring your insights. When you pay for marketing with most platforms, you’re given a way to monitor advertising progress. You can see how many people clicked through, and sometimes the demographics of these people. You can study these insights to work out how you can tailor your advertising to be more successful.
All in all, many online marketers choose to use a mixture of paid and free advertising to promote their brands. If you decide to go that route, make sure that you plan a budget and stick to it. Also, do small test runs of any paid advertising to check its effectiveness before shelling out larger amounts. In some cases, you can even use free advertising as an experimental lab – see what works! Then invest your money, scale your efforts, and watch the leads and sales roll in!