It is rather interesting that most people do not take free online marketing tools seriously. Never mind that there is plenty of evidence around and even more examples of web sites and online entrepreneurs who have taken off in a hurry using only free online marketing tools.

In a way this reaction is not surprising because we have been brought up in world where we have been taught to firmly believe in the facts of life. One of the major facts of life is that there is no such thing as a free lunch and nothing valuable costs nothing.

While all this is true, most people have failed to realize that the World Wide Web has arrived with its’ own unique and rather unorthodox but highly effective set of rules.

Even fewer have taken note of the fact that the most successful online business model so far has been based on the heavy use of free marketing tools and heavy spending in marketing comes later when the web site has already started enjoying some success.

A Famous Example
When Bill Gates was playing catch up on the internet after an initial error of judgement over the future importance of the net, one of the areas where he found himself way behind was in free email services. The likes of Yahoo already had millions of users when Hotmail was re-launched.

Did one of the richest men in the world go for prime time television to advertise his new free email service? Did he book newspaper spots across the states? Not really, he used a free online marketing strategy that worked like a dream. A brief signature at the end of each email sent out invited the recipient to open a free Hotmail email account. The rest is history. This simple referral marketing strategy that cost nothing took Hotmail from virtually zero users to millions in a few short months.

There are numerous other examples, but I shoe this one because it is somebody we all know rather well.

Conventional Advertising Does Not Work Online
There is one other reason why free online advertising tools are so effective. And this is based on the fact that conventional advertising as we have always know it has so far been a big failure online.

Banner advertisements with all the color and gimmickry was such a huge failure that it prompted somebody to come up with what they thought would solve the problem and become a huge success. I am referring to the much-disliked and extremely annoying pop-up advertisements. Even the so-called pop-under ads that are supposedly less annoying have not been received with much enthusiasm online.

All these options are not free and people have been paying good money for them.

The reason why conventional ads do not work is simple and yet most people still don’t get it. Folks do not come online to be advertised to. They come online, usually with very little time on their hands and looking for some very specific information. Is it any wonder that any form of unsolicited advertising, be it pop-up ads or unsolicited email (SPAM), is so annoying?

This is why informative well-written articles are such an effective free online marketing tool. Only those who are interested in the information you have to offer will read your article. And they do not mind whatever advertising you put in the resource box at the bottom of the article, because it does not look like advertising to them. Especially when they are interested in getting more information on the subject at hand.

Marketing Is No Longer That Simple
What people need to realize is that marketing online does not fall into the neat offline categories we have been used to.

For example the most successful online advertising has been PPC ads or Pay -Per-Click ads. The main reason is that these ads have been based on relevance to the information being looked for right from the beginning. We first saw them next to search engine results. Those ugly small text things that looked like they were part of the results searched. They have worked like magic because advertisers only pay for actual clicks on their ads, so results and response to the ads are easily quantifiable.

It should not be lost on anybody that these ads actually do not look like ads. More so now when the market leader in PPC ads, Google have their AdSense ads in small sites and blogs all over the net. There is even more emphasis on relevance to the information being looked for.

Free Is Actually Not Free
Then the other extremely important factor to note is that many of the most effective online marketing tools are really not free. For instance, even if you write your won informative articles to use for marketing purposes, this is a very time-consuming exercise. Time is even more valuable than money because unlike money, it can never be recovered when it has been lost. So it is just that people pay using some other currency.

Anybody planning an online marketing campaign should look very carefully at the so-called free marketing tools and options, the effectiveness of some of the techniques will surprise them.

Article by David Callan.

David is the leading search engine consultant with AKA’s Search Engine Optimisation team. AKA provide full SEO services as well as telephone based consulting for those preferring the DIY approach.