This is a question I have been asked multiple times by business owners in industries that Google and Facebook feel don’t comply with their advertising guidelines — most often by companies that sell electronic cigarettes and vape products.
Google AdWords and Facebook ads can provide instant traffic and conversions, but just because your product or service isn’t allowed to advertise doesn’t mean it’s the death of your brand online. Here are some ways to market a product or service deemed to violate Facebook and Google’s advertising policies.
Build highly engaged social media profiles.
While Facebook won’t allow some products to be advertised through its ad platform, they don’t stop companies from having a brand fan page. You will need to spend extra time to build a following of really engaged users.
Include a note on your packing slips inviting your customers to connect with your brand on all social channels. It really helps to have the same handle for all of your profiles. For example, my teeth whitening brand has the same handle for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Run contests and offer discount coupons to those who share your social posts and/or tag friends in your posts. Get creative and make sure to offer an incentive to follow and engage with your brand on social media.
If your paid advertising options are limited, you will need to focus a lot of energy into dominating the organic search results. “We put a lot of effort into doing search engine optimization the right way, focusing on long-term results. Without the option of running paid ads, it has forced us to really concentrate on SEO and make it a priority, marketing-wise,” explains Gary Wilder, CEO of Lizard Juice, a national e-cigarette brand.
When it comes to SEO, you need to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. You aren’t going to see instant results, but if you approach it the right way and execute a high-quality campaign, you will slowly see your organic traffic and website authority increase.
Give free product to bloggers and influencers to review.
Identify the top influencers and bloggers in your industry and offer to send them free product to review. A review on YouTube or a popular blog can drive traffic (and sales) for a long period of time.
You don’t want to be too pushy with the review process. You want them to provide a genuine review, as their audience will respond much better if it doesn’t feel like a paid promotion. You can provide them with a link to the particular product on your website, just don’t insist they include it. They know how their audience interacts with them, so let them have complete creative control over how they review your product.
Build an email list and offer frequent discounts and deals.
You should already be building an email list to market to on a regular basis, but if your advertising options are limited, you should be a little more creative and aggressive with your email marketing.
Create an opt-in form on your website or use an exit-intent popup that offers an immediate discount code for joining your newsletter. You can mention frequent discounts and special offers as a way to entice website visitors to hand over their email addresses.
If you are emailing your list on a regular basis without providing any value, you will see subscribers opt-out, but if you are including discounts and special deals you will see your list remain intact. As your list grows, the revenue generated through your email efforts should also increase.
Launch an affiliate program.
If you want to really increase your sales, start an affiliate program and offer an attractive structure that pays specific commissions on products or a total percentage of sales. You can invite popular websites and bloggers to participate or approach affiliate networks to handle your program.
Affiliate networks are great because as long as your offer is attractive in terms of your product and payout, you can start to see instant results. Make sure you do you due diligence and only work with an established network that has been around for a long time.