MARKETING | APPS | PRODUCTIVITY
Time and money are precious commodities for business owners. Fortunately, today’s digital marketing world has evolved to offer tools, services, and platforms that help small business owners maximize these resources. There are now dozens, even hundreds of tools that you can use to build, manage and grow your business—that’s enough to overwhelm any entrepreneur!
But don’t worry; you don’t need to be a marketing expert to promote your products and services on social media. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 tools that small businesses should add to their marketing strategy right now (and it’s easier than you might think!)
Maintaining social media accounts for your company can in itself be a full-time job – it is easy to get overwhelmed with the many posts you have to create. Eventually, you’ll realize that the only way to manage your social media accounts effectively is to plan your content ahead of time. And by adding a social media management platform to your tools, your entire process will be more organized. The best part though is that they give you the ability to schedule your posts in the future. You can plan and schedule an entire week’s worth of content in one sitting, giving you time to focus on other things.
Popular Choices: Buffer, Hootsuite, Later, ContentCal, Planable
My Pick: Later
Consider this: Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second. That adds up to more than 1.2 trillion searches a year. That’s a lot of people looking for information on just about everything under the sun — including your products and services. But how can you make sure that your website is one of the results they see when there are so many other websites out there offering something similar?
That is where search engine optimization comes in – it is how you can make sure your site is in front of the right people at the right time. And SEO tools will help you do this by giving you the data you need to optimize each page on your website for the best results. When you optimize your pages, they will drive more organic traffic to your website, and in turn, get you more customers. This is why you definitely can’t skip out on adding this tool to your marketing strategy.
Popular Choices: SparkToro, Semrush, Moz, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, SEO Powersuite, SparkToro, UberSuggest
My Picks: SEO Powersuite, Google Search Console
Sidenote – This is pretty much only because I am cheap, and these two tools you can use for free. In an ideal world, I would be using Semrush or Ahrefs, but a monthly subscription with either of those would run me $100 or more, and that’s just excessive for a solo freelancer IMO. But, if you have it in your budget, I would suggest using one of those because they are more advanced and include a lot more features.
This is my Google Search Console dashboard – it gives you all kinds of details about your website traffic and can be used to help you gain insights about your site’s audience.
PRO TIP: While it isn’t necessarily a “tool” as much as it is a resource, check out the website Backlinko for anything to do with backlinks and link building (which definitely should be a part of your SEO strategy).
This is one of the most important things you need as a digital marketer – without one, you will never be able to keep track of the many tasks you and your team have on the go. And if you can’t keep track of things, eventually something will slip through the cracks and get forgotten about. Obviously, you’d like to avoid that happening, which is why you need a PM. Choosing which PM to use though can be arduous and time-consuming because there are so many options.
When deciding, consider what tasks your team does daily, and then use that to determine the features you want to look for. Remember, you want the PM to make your workflow more streamlined, not more cumbersome and annoying – so don’t get something with a bunch of features that you won’t need.
That being said, there are some key features you should be looking for:
You should also take into account the number of people on your team and how you communicate, and how you communicate with your customers and clients. Then choose a PM that will provide an easy way to collaborate and brainstorm with the rest of your team.
Popular Choices: Trello, Asana, Basecamp, Monday, ClickUp
My Pick: ClickUp, for sure. Confession: I am totally obsessed with this PM. (Read my review on ClickUp to find out why!)
Every digital marketer needs a program that will enable them to create beautiful and eye-catching imagery for their social posts. Why? Posts with images perform better on every single social media platform, by a long shot. They are shared more, get more engagement, and quite frankly, they are just more interesting to look at than plain text.
The go-to platform for a lot of more experienced users is the Adobe Creative Suite – which is an amazing set of programs (it includes things like Photoshop and Illustrator and several others) but it also can be confusing to use for someone new to design. If you are looking for software that is easier to use AND cheaper, I would suggest trying something like Canva, which is free (although they offer a paid subscription that is 100% worth purchasing IMO).
However if you don’t want to pay for the pro version, you should still find that everything you need is in the free version, including hundreds of ready-made templates for you to use for your social posts. You will find that it is extremely straightforward to use, even for users with no experience. Canva even has an option to publish directly to your social media channels too, which is super handy and will save you another step in your workflow.
Popular choices: Canva, Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator), GIMP, Lunacy, CorelDRAW Graphics
My Picks: Canva and Photoshop
The incorporation of AI software into the marketing content creation process is becoming more and more common these days due to how much time they will save you during your content creation process. If you take the time to understand how to use these tools correctly, they can easily double your content output or more, saving you many hours of writing copy.
Keep in mind, that these tools aren’t perfect just yet, so you still will need a human to edit the content and make some tweaks here and there. But implementing the use of AI is certainly something you should invest in as part of your content marketing strategy – there isn’t any downside, and the quality of content they produce will only better over time, because they are constantly learning and adapting with each interaction.
Popular Choices: Peppertype.ai, Jarvis, Copy.ai, Scalenut, Writesonic, Frase
My Pick: Scalenut
If you have never heard the term CRM before, that’s okay – I hadn’t either! It is short for customer relationship management system, and if you don’t have one, this should definitely be at the top of your list for tools to get.
So what does a CRM do exactly? It is kind of like a very fancy phone book that includes your customers’ contact details, in addition to keeping a record of your interactions with them. This creates a great source of customer knowledge that will open the doors for you to create more personalized and impactful marketing campaigns.
You may find that many CRM platforms offer you an entire suite of products that are all designed to work together – an example of this would be HubSpot or Zoho. This can be a huge time saver for large companies with lots of different departments, and make things less complicated to keep track of since you only need to use one program to manage everything. But for a smaller business or someone freelancing, you may find those to be a bit more advanced than you require – and you don’t want to overcomplicate things or pay extra for features that you won’t need.
There are so many CRM options, many of which are geared to smaller-sized companies and freelancing specifically, and these usually are a bit more reasonable in terms of pricing – some are even entirely free! So do you research and find something that fits your particular needs – be sure to ask your employees for their opinion too, as they will be using the software just as much as you, if not more.
Popular Choices: Salesforce, Hubspot, Oracle, Zoho, FreshWorks, Pipedrive, Keap
My Pick: Keap for smaller businesses/freelancers, Hubspot or Salesforce for large companies
Something that often is overlooked by people is what software you use to actually write your articles, but it isn’t something that should be forgotten about because the program you choose can help or hinder your writing workflow without you even realizing it. I think a lot of people still instinctually choose Word, probably because for years it was one of the only choices that existed. But those days are long gone – now with a quick Google search you can easily access a dizzying amount of options, so don’t just settle for using Word if it doesn’t have everything you want! See what else is out there and find a platform with features that will work for you.
Popular Choices: Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Hemingway.app, Grammarly
My Pick: Google Docs, and Grammarly for editing
Your analytics software is what helps guide your marketing strategy, and if you don’t have one, how can you measure the success of your marketing efforts? You can’t. And if you can’t measure what works and what doesn’t, you will just end up floundering in a sea of mediocre marketing campaigns that don’t accomplish anything substantial.
The industry standard is Google Analytics, and this is one thing that should be used by every marketer on the face of the planet. It is a free source of endless data points about your customer base – who doesn’t want that? Be sure to learn how to use it correctly so you get the most out of your data. It can be overwhelming at first, but Google Analytics (and most other analytics platforms) have tons of tutorials and guides to help you throughout the learning process.
Popular Choices: Google Analytics, Mouseflow, Hotjar, Crazy Egg
My Pick: Google Analytics and Mouseflow
If you aren’t using some sort of automation software, I guarantee that you are wasting your time on tedious, repetitive tasks that you don’t want to do. Automation software of some kind will help you get these things done without you having to do anything! By connecting all your various platforms to the automation software, you can create rules that will complete an action when the trigger fires.
For example, you could create a rule that when someone fills out the contact form on your website (trigger), then it will automatically send them a welcome email (action), or add their contact details to your CRM. Or you could create a rule that when you post on Twitter, it will post the same thing to your Facebook page. There are infinite ways to configure these programs, and once you start to use them, you will wonder how you ever worked without one.
Popular Choices: IFTTT, Zapier
My Pick: Zapier
No list of digital marketing tools would be complete without an email marketing platform. Email still remains one of the most effective ways to reach your customers online. It helps you build better relationships with your audience and keeps them engaged with your business. There are plenty of email marketing platforms out there, from MailChimp, which is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, to ActiveCampaign and Drip, which include more advanced features for $9-$49 per month.
Popular Choices: Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Drip, Constant Contact, Email Octopus
My Pick: Constant Contact or Mailchimp
When you are deciding which of these tools you’d like to use for your company, take your time to really evaluate all the options – there are a lot of them out there! Most of the platforms mentioned will have some sort of free trial period for you to see if it will work for your particular needs – so definitely take advantage of this, and give the platform a test run before purchasing.
It can be expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating for you to switch platforms down the road, so don’t rush the process or jump into something too quickly. Be sure to consider your company’s unique needs and goals, your team’s dynamics, and your company’s strengths and weaknesses – that way, you can put together a marketing strategy that will help you and your team work more efficiently, and ultimately, help you scale your business.
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