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5 Platforms to help you market your business online FOR FREE in the new normal

Market your business online to stay afloat in the New Normal. As the world is grappling with COVID19 Pandemic, lockdowns going on and off, it is imperative that you as an entrepreneur learn how to market your business online for free using these 5 top digital marketing platforms i.e.

  • Google My Business
  • Facebook business pages
  • LinkedIn
  • Digital Marketplaces / classified/ citation sites and
  • Websites

Fortunately, you can start using these platforms without paying a single penny as long as you take time to study and understand each of them in detail.

illustration of platforms to help you market your business online for-free
5 PLATFORMS TO HELP YOU MARKET YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE FOR FREE IN UGANDA DURING THE COVID19 PANDEMIC

In the NEW NORMAL, post-COVID 19 or during COVID19, there is no better way to get new customers or build loyalty among your existing customers than learning digital or online marketing.

As a web designer and digital marketing expert, Ssenyondo Bashir is bringing you five well explained digital platforms you can use to market your business online during this COVID19 Pandemic.

Learning how to use these platforms will enable you to get customers for your business from any part of the world without spending too much.

But first things first:

What is digital or online marketing

digital marketing illustration

Digital marketing or online marketing is the promotion of your business online using platforms such as search, social, video, email, or display ads.

Why market your business online

The fact is that digital or online marketing is taking on traditional marketing in our era, that’s why traditional media like Television, Radio have also decided to digitize.

Transformative and responsive businesses realized this many years ago.

Look around your town, any successful big business you know in your town is doing some form of online marketing or at least some form of digital customer support over social media and their respective website.

Now, if you’re a small, medium, or large business that is still ignoring the power of digital marketing or online marketing, you’re destined to close.

Below are some of the reasons why you should mind about online marketing:

Internet users, smartphone users, social media subscriber numbers are growing spontaneously every day locally in your country and globally. Here is one major reason why you should learn to market your business online:-

According to Statista, 59% of the global population were active internet users as of October 2020. And humans on the internet will triple up to around 6 billion people by 2022 according to Cyber Security Ventures.

When people are connected to the internet, it means they are online, and it is easier to reach such people with your marketing message using the platforms I am about to show you.

Other reasons why you should adopt online marketing include cost-effectiveness of online/digital marketing, ease in measuring performance through analytics, interaction, and reviews from the customers, mobile responsiveness, and many more.

Learning how to use these 5 platforms will enable you to get customers for your business from anywhere in the world:

Platforms to help you market your business online for free

1. Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is a new kind of digital directory that serves the whole world.

Your Google My Business profile can do so much more than you can think business-wise.

Google my business illustration an online marketing tool

The best part about it is that it is 100 percent FREE as of now.

However, many businesses especially in Africa have not claimed their businesses from Google My Business.

Why claim your Google My Business Profile?

Google My Business is the new FREE digital business directory you must utilize to post your business and search for other businesses, products, and services either in your local area or overseas.

So if you’re missing or have a dormant profile on GMB, then you’re missing a lot. Better get started now!

GMB makes it pretty simple for customers to discover, learn about, and contact your business. Therefore, if you want to stay relevant, better optimize your Google My Business Profile.

GMB is now a cornerstone of Local Search Engine Optimization. Many times when a person searches for a key phrase, Google has allocated a section for local businesses before bringing in businesses from other parts of the world.

Setting up your Google My Business

Step 1:
Set up a new Google Account (Gmail) and if you already have one, please have your login details handy with you.

Step 2:
Go to google.com/business and click Manage Now

Google my business sign in page

You will be asked to Sign in using your Google account you created in step 1.

Google my business sign in page 2

Step 3:
After signing in, follow the prompts to input your business basic information (name, category, address, phone number, website) about your business.

Find and manage your business screenshot on GMB

Step 4:
Then, you’ll be required to verify your account by submitting a code that is mailed to your business address. This step is mandatory to open up all GMB features.

GMB verification

But don’t stop there. You’re not done!

Many businesses make a mistake. They claim their Google My Business account, add the mandatory details, and abandon their profiles then.

When you abandon your Google My Business, you’re leaving money on the table.

You need to optimize it.

Step 5:
After your company information is added, you can access your dashboard to start personalizing your listing.

Google My Business Interface

When leveraged correctly, Google My Business will lead to increased sales and improved customer loyalty.

Here is a piece of advice about optimizing your Google My Business Profile to make more money for your business.

Ensure your information is accurate, comprehensive, and up-to-date.

There are many different parts of your Google My Business listing, so start with your core business information:

Name, Address, Phone Number, Website, Description, Category, Attributes

Google My Business requests your name, address, and phone number (otherwise known as NAP) to begin the listing.

This information will be indexed by Google Search, Maps, and Google+, providing a foundation for your local SEO.

Your information should be consistent with what is currently listed on your website.

You need to ensure the information is the same.

Inconsistencies in the information will negatively impact your search ranking.

For more information about managing your GMB profile, please watch out for the next blog post, and to be notified instantly, please sign up for our newsletter alert.

2. Facebook – Specific to Uganda

In the New Normal, every business in Uganda should be on social media especially Facebook.

Facebook is the most popular website in Uganda and it is the fourth in the whole world according to ahrefs.

It is a very important platform for business owners who want to attract and acquire new customers.

If used properly with creatively crafted content that appeals to a certain target audience, Facebook will become your most effective marketing tool .

Why every business should be on Facebook in Uganda.

  • Facebook offers multiple tools for the promotion and growth of your business.
  • Facebook offers Facebook groups that make customers feel a sense of belonging and ownership of a particular brand or business.
  • Your business presence on Facebook helps to legitimize your business operations in the customers’ eyes. A business without a Facebook profile may be perceived as non-techy, untrustworthy, and less organized.
  • Like other social media, Facebook can be a reliable source of the traffic to your website when properly used to do off-page Search Engine Optimization.

How to create a Facebook page for business

Make sure you have a personal Facebook account. It is what you will use to open up a business page. However, you don’t have to worry—your personal information will not be publicly visible on your business page.

Step 1: Login into Facebook

Go to facebook.com and log into your personal account

facebook sign in page to help market your business online

After logging into your Facebook personal account, Go to the Facebook pages tab:

facebook pages tab

Click Create New Page

facebook create new page tutorial

Fill in your favorite page name, business category then click create page

facebook create new page tutorial

 Step 2. Add Pictures

Next, you’ll upload profile (170 x 170 pixels) and cover images (820 x 312 pixels) for your Facebook page.

Always create a good visual first impression and photos that align with your brand and are easily identifiable with your business.

YES! Now you have a Facebook business page, and my demo page now looks like this:]

a completed facebook page -restaurant

Step 3: Create your username

Click Create Page @Username in the left menu to set up your vanity URL. It should be easy to remember.

create username for a facebook page

That’s it! Your page is live and visible to the world.

Facebook keeps on updating its interface, so don’t be surprised if you a button shifted to another location!

This is just the beginning, fortunately, everything is in plain English. If you can’t contemplate what next, I advise that you seek professional advice from companies like Hyperango Digitals to avoid pitfalls.

Tips for a successful Facebook page:

  1. Tell your story in the About section of Facebook
  2. Create your first post and plan to post regularly
  3. Publish your page and invite an audience. Start by inviting your existing Facebook friends to like your page.
  4. Use your other channels, like your website and Twitter, to promote it. Add “follow us” logos on your promotional materials and email signature.
  5. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can ask your customers to review your business on Facebook, too.
  6. Lastly, visit the Facebook business page by clicking the Go to Business Suite button to access the Facebook business that makes it super easy to manage your business page and ads on Facebook.
go to facebook business suite

P.S: You need to invest some extra effort to learn how to manage and market your business on Facebook but if you need help and Free consultation, don’t hesitate to contact Hyperango Digitals.

3. LinkedIn for professionals and business

LinkedIn has positioned itself as the world’s professionals’ and business-to-business social network.

Individual professionals maintain and share their portfolios or CVs as also companies and businesses maintain their profiles / pages for viewing by prospects.

Companies post jobs, job seekers showcase their portfolios, and students and knowledge seekers join the learn more stuff through LinkedIn’s online learning center which was formerly Lynda.com.

So, if you’re a business owner offering some sort of professional service, LinkedIn is the way to go.

Also if you’re a business owner targeting a certain nitch of more so professional people, you can easily reach them through LinkedIn.

Linked is suitable for:

  • Marketing consultancies
  • Law firms
  • Accountancy, finance and tax consultancy firms
  • Designers (Graphic, Interior, Landscapers…)
  • Engineers etc.

LinkedIn will work for you by submitting a well optimized profile either as a person or as a business as prospects will be able to contact you directly.

So if you’re not of LinkedIn, I want you to take these 2(two) very important steps so that you can recruit your business.

Step (A): Create a LinkedIn Personal account

Step (B): Create a LinkedIn Business page

How to create LinkedIn Account (Personal Professional LinkedIn Account)

Step 1: Visit linkedin.com and click Join now

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step one to market your business online
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step one

Step 2: Enter your personal details; email and password and click Agree & Join or you can choose to Join with Google if you already have a Google account!

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step two email and password
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step two; Enter your email and password

Step 3: Enter your names and click continue

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step three; Enter your names
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step three; Enter your names

Step 4: Enter your country/region and city/district and the click Next

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step four; Enter your country and district
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step four; Enter your country and district

Step 5: A bit about your profile and if you’re a student, make sure to choose I’m a student. However, today I am focusing on professionals and businesses.

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step five; your profile
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step five; your profile

Step 6: Confirm your email: Log into your email account, LinkedIn must have sent you an email with a verification code which you have copy and the next window:

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step six confirm your email
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step six confirm your email

Step 7: You will be asked: Are you looking for a new job? I will choose Not Now since in the article we’re talking to business owners and individual professionals who offer consultancy services.

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step seven job search
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step seven job search

Step 8: Accept LinkedIn to lookup your contacts, this will be a good start to developing your network from among your peers and businesses you have been talking to in your email.

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step eight lookup your contacts
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step eight lookup your contacts

Step 9: Because you input your email, LinkedIn will suggest to you some people and businesses to immediately connect with.

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step nine connect
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step nine connect

Click the plus(+) sign to add a person to your network.

Step 10: Add you recent photo. Don’t ignore this, your alumni can easily remember you by seeing your photo.

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step ten add your photo
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step ten add your photo

Step 11: Follow some influencers and companies to grow your network

Opening a LinkedIn personal account step eleven follow some people and companies
Opening a LinkedIn personal account step eleven follow some people and companies

Tips to help you succeed after joining LinkedIn

  • Work on and complete your LinkedIn profile; Your profile is what other people see when they find you on LinkedIn. You can think of your profile as a resume, where you can add information about your employment history, education, and skills. You can also add things you might not include on a traditional resume, like a profile picture and personal summary.
  • Keep on connecting. A connection is a person you’ve added to your LinkedIn network, similar to having a friend on Facebook. Connecting with people lets you send them messages, see their profile updates, and ask for recommendations.
  • Seek recommendations. A recommendation is a short paragraph about your professional strengths and skills that are found on your profile. Recommendations are written by your connections, and you can ask them to write a recommendation if you want. Of course, you can also return the favor and write a recommendation for them too!
  • Ask for endorsements. An endorsement is when your connections vouch for the skills on your LinkedIn profile. Having others endorse your skills adds credibility to your profile, which could make a good impression on potential employers.

4. Online market places and classified sites

Most popular marketplaces in Uganda
Most popular Marketplaces in Uganda – Jumia, Kikuubo online, Jiji Uganda and Facebook marketplace

An online marketplace is a digital platform where vendors come together to sell their products or services to a sourced customer base brought by the owner who earns commission from each sale e.g. Jumia in Uganda.

On the other hand, classified sites work on a model of classified advertising we have seen many but still end up bringing together buyers and sellers of products by specific categories and location.

In Uganda and East Africa at large, we have jiji.ug ex OLX free classifieds site, craiglist.org is very popular in Kenya, USA and very many countries in the world.

In this COVID19 pandemic times, it will be very beneficial for individuals, small and medium-sized businesses to leverage online market places and classified sites like Jumia, Safe Boda, Ubber, jiji.ug, Afribaba, ttunda, and others out there.

Try these market places, you will never regret.

5. Business Website

hyperango completed website projects
Hyperango completed website projects

Have you ever dreamt of solidifying your online presence? Getting a website is the best way!

Whereas social media and other platforms discussed above are powerful tools to engage with your customers, they can’t compare to having your own website.

A website is the king of “Owned Media”.

Advantages of owning a business website

a) With a website, you can leverage search engine visibility.

Having a website is the best way to be found in online searches.

People in Uganda and the world over, search using keywords in Google and other search engines like Bing and Baidu to get want they crave for.

Try it yourself:

Visit Google and type “Local food restaurant near me” which is a keyword in this case.

I am sure – No facebook pages or other social media pages will show up in the results page.

But website with relevant content will appear just below local search results which come from Google My Business.

That is the power of having your own business website.

(b) Secondly, with your own website, you can control your content.

With your own website, you will choose the look, the user experience and strategize on conversion.

You will customize your site the way you like.

With your own website, you can add features to your website like shopping cart, contact forms that allow you to start and grow own email list etc.

And even better, with a website, you can customize your tools to match your business identity which increases your brand and branding mileage.

c) Remarket your visitors

Having your own website enables you to remarket the same prospects that pass by your site. This can easily convince them to become clients overtime with repetitive contact, and you can even sell additional services to those who already bought some from you.

How to build a business website

Seven years ago, building a website was a big hustle to business owners, designers, developers and advertising agencies.

But nowadays, building a website is becoming easier and simpler everyday

Building a website for a small and medium business can be as simple as drag and drop if you choose to use any site builder tool normally found in site tools of popular web hosting companies like Siteground, Godaddy, etc.

Any beginner will be able to figure out a few things and build a simple website for his/her business.

Even Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress and Joomla have got drag and drop site builder plugins like Elementor and SP site builder respectively.

However, it is advisable to hire a professional web designer or even better, look out for a boutique web design and digital marketing agency like Hyperango to save you from the headache that comes with becoming your own web designer.

Why hire a professional web design agency or personnel?

Besides all, it is highly recommended to hire a professional web designing agency like Hyperango or individual professional designers like Ssenyondo Bashir to research, plan out and design your website, after all, it still very affordable in African countries like Uganda.

There’s a lot to learn and to avoid effects of guess work, you had better hired a professional designer so that you can focus on other important things that can grow your business.

As a self taught designer, at one point in time, you’re going to hit a haddock that requires to tweak some codes, even if it some simple HTML5 or CSS.

We have always faced these scenarios in development phases of different web design projects we have handled in our life. It is always our programming skills that save the day.

On a bad note, when business owners face these simple programming haddocks, they waste hours or even days researching on Google and browsing through Youtube to get a solution and the solution does not come early, they will give up on their dream of having a website and developing their business online presence.

Yet, in Africa and particularly Uganda, small web design agencies like Hyperango charge way too small and quite affordable to design and SME website.

Bonus

seo-illustration-uganda-by-hyperango
SEO illustration by Hyperango

Designing a website alone is not enough, you need people to visit it if you’re to successfully market your business online.

You need to attract and increase your website traffic through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a series of tweaks you can make to your website to help search engine like Google discover and show your website in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

It is quite technical but highly recommended to at least think and plan out a basic SEO strategy even before starting to design your website.

And due to the fact that SEO is a very technical job, It might delay your online presence if you choose to handle it your self.

That’s why it is always advisable to consult experienced web design professionals or agencies to save the headache.

Thank you.

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