There are so many ways to market your products or business these days. With the definition of marketing becoming increasingly vague, each day, people are being very open-minded about new marketing practices. Take Google AdWords, for example. It wasn’t likely for businesses to spend billions of dollars each year on things like pay-per-click search engine advertising, ten years ago. Now, it’s the fastest and most cost-effective marketing technique available.

It may cost you anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 to run an ad in a small print magazine. But how would you know if people are reading your ads or even seeing them? How many people read your ad? What are the demographics? How effective was the ad? How many people buy your advertised product in comparison to the number that read your ad? These things cannot be measured through conventional advertising as easily or as quickly as they can with today’s technology-driven advertising methods.

Unless you can afford to hire four-figure marketing analysts, advertising specialists, and spend millions on marketing research, to firms like Neilson, then you need to start using low-cost marketing techniques. These techniques can be just as affective for your small business, are far more rewarding, and involve less risk.

Here are the five low-cost marketing techniques I’ve found to be most effective in Internet Marketing.

As far as Internet Marketing goes, word-of-mouth advertising seems to be the most promising technique of all. Affiliate marketing, email marketing, direct marketing, JV marketing, and network marketing all use the “word of mouth” technique. Any commercial or ad can tell you that this product is great and that you really need to buy it, but there’s nothing more convincing than a friend telling you that. How many times do you remember hearing that infamous catch-phrase, kids always get, “if all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it too”? The reality is that kids actually do jump off of a bridge just because their friends are doing it. Teenagers don’t all go out to buy the same brand jeans or the latest videogame console because they really need it. They just follow the crowd, because they want to be a part of the crowd. This is what managers call bounded rationality. A consumer’s decision to buy a product may not always seem rational, but it is rational within their frame of mind.

The second low-cost marketing technique I find to be extremely useful in a highly competitive market is what I like to call the get personal technique. This is yet another growing trend in Internet Marketing. It helps create a slow and steady rapport with individual potential customers. If you sound like a friend, act like a friend, and look like a friend – then you must be a friend! It seems silly, I know, but it actually works. Establishing a friendly and informal relationship with your customers is a good way to keep customers coming back and buying more from you. You’d be surprised at how an informal e-mail from you, using the customer’s first name, and talking to them about your life on a personal note will work wonderings in creating life-long customer relationships that pay-off.

I know many of you probably have gotten sick of hearing about AdWords, but there seems to be one marketing technique in particular that delivers the most success with this program. I’ve heard some call this the never stop selling technique. The beauty of AdWords is that you are free to use it how you want. Some people believe they have no control over the way their ads are displayed, and use AdWords with a point, click, and try your luck approach. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The biggest difference between an ad campaign that has a 15 or 20% conversion ratio and one that only gets 0.1 – 5% conversion is the constant trial and error process used by the expert marketers. The key is to never stop testing (i.e. never stop selling).

Here are some quick tips for you to improve your AdWords campaigns with the “never stop selling” technique:

Check your add analytics and stats every 3 hours.

Change ads every 24 hours.

Avoid using the same titles in the same ad campaign.

Compare between site-targeted and keyword-targeted ad results.

Capitalize the first letter of each word in your ads (especially the title).

Remember you have very little space to write your ads in, use it wisely, and keep in mind that it’s the tiniest changes that make the biggest difference. If you find you have a higher CT conversion with site-targeted ads, but a lower sales conversion then go back and negate the differences. Recalculate your cost-benefit and change your bids to reach the optimal sales conversions with lowest cost in advertising expenditures. Just because the customer walked out of the store doesn’t mean the sale can’t be made. Keep customers coming back with new ads, different targeting strategies, and constant testing.

Tracking your CTs is vital in making this technique work more affectively. One of my favorite AdWords experts has taught me that everything on the Internet can be measured. So we should take advantage of that and really measure our results.

Now here’s another one that still works fairly well to this day. The article marketing technique is one of the cheapest forms of Internet marketing around. Websites like articlemarketer are making this process easier and more dynamic. This program offers a lifetime subscription for around $200 and allows you to submit your articles to thousands of e-zines and article databases for a very cheap price. Usually this technique proves more effective with those of you selling informational products or services. However, it can still work for other products when applied properly.

Giving people free information to sell them on your products or services is a form of promotional advertising. You offer them a free sample and if they like what they see they can buy with confidence. Typically your customers will think “if I can get this much information for free – just think how much information I’ll get when I pay for the product or service”. Throw in a free report with your newsletter. Post links to your website on your blogs. All this information will be your free sample to attract more customers.

Finally, we come to the free advertising technique. This is probably the least effective of Internet Marketing techniques, but I felt it was still worth mentioning since some have reported good results with this technique in the past. The trick to free advertising is that it isn’t really advertising to anyone except the advertisers themselves. It’s more like a glass of water that’s stirred constantly to give the illusion of expansion in a very finite environment. People that join safe lists, banner exchange programs, or any of those types of free advertising gimmicks, aren’t joining to read or see YOUR advertising. They’re joining to advertise their own products. That’s why the water always stays inside the glass. It never goes anywhere. However, there is one way around this. Because it’s free you’re not really losing anything, but the time spent on setting up these programs. So instead of trying to advertise in the middle of all the noise and end up frustrating yourself in the process, try to build relationships with other advertisers. This can actually be a flip-side to free advertising and I’ve seen it work before.

Upon testing the effectiveness of a large safe list program offering a double opt in list of more than 50,000 members, I found that only 1 out of every 1,000 emails were even remotely interesting. That means that the chances of me buying into any of the products or services offered in the tens of thousands of emails, I received every week, were probably 1 to every 1 million emails. If that’s not a long shot I don’t know what is. But the reason anyone even bothers with these programs is because they hope that they would get that lucky one-in-a-million chance and land a sale. My advice to you is don’t waste your time. Unless you can think of a creative way to implement the previous four techniques into these free advertising programs, you really don’t stand a chance of making any real sales. For example, don’t try to sell products. Offer free samples and bring the leads to your website. Then get them to join your mailing list. That way you can drive them away from all the noise and have a nice serene conversation about your products. They’re much more likely to buy from you when they get a chance to clearly hear you out.

So let’s wrap up. To review we’ll go over all the techniques very briefly. You might want to write these down on flashcards and keep them on your desk while brainstorming. They will remind you of how you don’t always need a huge budget to market your products. Here are our five low-cost marketing techniques: