There is no shortage of companies asking small businesses to shell out hundreds if not thousands of dollars to promote themselves. But if you’re like most small business owners, you could really use some free marketing ideas and tools to jumpstart your marketing. That’s why we’ve begun a weekly blog series featuring free tools for SMB owners to help you with your various marketing needs.
While social media platforms give small business owners the ability to engage large audiences, these networks are over-saturated with content, thus lowering the reach of your posts. Facebook has decreased visibility of the posts published by small businesses, so that the natural reach for your posts is only at about 4%. However, the more engagement there is on your post, the higher the organic reach. That’s why the key to running a successful Facebook page is to create posts that will generate the most likes and shares.
As a result, today’s challenge for small businesses is to find the right, low-cost tools to use in their internet marketing strategies and gain a competitive advantage.
One of the marketing trends for 2014 for small business owners is the rising importance of visual content and the following statistics show why:
- 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. (Source: Zabisco)
- Facebook posts containing photos perform best for likes, comments, and shares compared to text, video, and links. (source: Dan Zarella)
- In the first month of allowing brands to have timelines on Facebook, visual content produced a 65% increase in engagement. (source: Simply Measured)
- Publishers who use infographic improved traffic to their sites by an average of 12% more than publishers who don’t use it. (source: AnsonAlex)
One site that can help you to produce engaging visual content is Canva.com. Canva is the ideal, user-friendly tool for small business owners to make your marketing content more attractive, effective, and professional. You can market like a design pro without actually having to be one.
How to Use Canva for Online Marketing
Canva provides a wide variety of free (or low-cost) layouts, images, and fonts to communicate messages in a visual format. It also allows you to improve your branding efforts by customizing posts and uploading images to display them in an artistic way. In essence, Canva offers an easy way for small business owners to discover their potential in creative marketing. The site encourages you to experiment, while guiding you through the process and providing pre-made templates as backup plans. The visual content produced through Canva can be used for:
Pinterest has generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, Youtube and LinkedIn combined (Source: Shareaholic). The site now has 70m users and strong visual content is key to your success on Pinterest.
Through colorful, eye-catching images, you can make it easier for people to absorb and engage with your posts.
Instead of having your audience read off of the powerpoint slides and ignore your delivery, provide entertaining imagery to enhance your presentation
This tool can be used for creating both online and off-line marketing content, and you can create posters like a professional graphic designer in minutes.
While the text used in blogs improves SEO, images enable engagement with the website visitors, and will help to keep them on your site longer.
How to Create Images using Canva
While the site is extremely user-friendly, it also provides step-by-step design tutorials for those who want to be guided through the process. Creating a design using Canva takes just 4 steps:
1) Choose the Template
On the homepage, you’re given the option to choose between different types of formats. That way, once your image is finished, you can publish it directly, or transform it to the desired medium seamlessly. The site also gives you the option of choosing your own dimensions, if you prefer to do so.
2) Choose the Design Layout
Once you’ve chosen the template for your visual content, you can begin creating it.
The website provides a wide variety of design layouts for your visual content, with the flexibility of changing them to satisfy your aesthetic. By simply clicking and dragging the different text boxes and images, you can move them around, replace them, or delete them. You can also choose a different background, coordinate the color scheme to match your company’s palette, or upload your own images manually or through your personal Facebook photo gallery.
3) Upload Images, and Customize Content
In addition to the large library of free images, Canva also offers premium options for $1.00 per image. The site also allows you to incorporate your own images by either uploading them with one easy click, or accessing them through Facebook. Additionally, although Canva provides pre-designed layouts that combine texts in appealing ways, you also have the chance to experiment with the fonts and explore the various options. One of Canva’s best attributes is that it lets you explore your artistic talents, all the while providing a format that you can either refer to, or fall back on.
4) Publish Design
The site allows you to publish content directly to Facebook or Twitter, or convert it into a file that you can save and use for other purposes. Before saving the visual content, the site will charge you for the premium images you might have used. Otherwise, it’s free!
Need Ideas? 5 Ways to Use Canva for Social Media
1) Inspirational Quotations
Have you ever seen those social media posts with beautiful backgrounds and fitting fonts? Well, it turns out they’re incredibly easy to make. Give it a try, and inspire your audience!
2) Facebook Contests
It’s hard to create an enticing Facebook contest using text alone. Canva allows you to make fun images to accompany your creative ideas!
3) Event Invitations
Entice your audience to attend events by creating visuals that will make them double take when they see your post, and want to learn more.
Use Canva to provide information about your products and services, while using visual samples or relevant images for the background.
5) Brand Assets
Rather than using your logo and slogan in the same formats over and over again, experiment with the various ways you can apply them to Canva’s layouts.
Click here to start using Canva for your visual marketing needs!
Looking for more free online marketing tools to help you with your marketing? Subscribe to our blog to receive email updates or download our free guide,“45 Free Marketing Tools to Promote Your Business” to find more tools to help you research, create, and publish your marketing content. If you’re looking for free visual marketing tools, download 25 Free Tools to Rock Visual Marketing.
Image credits: Canva