Most small businesses and young startups can’t afford to hire marketers.
That leaves those companies in a tough situation: they need to market to grow their business but they need to grow their business to hire marketers.
Fortunately, there are terrific services and apps that can help non-marketers to market their business until they can hire experienced marketers.
We’ve collected some of the essential marketing tools and services that can help you improve your marketing and grow your company’s revenues, even if you know little about marketing.
Ahrefs is valuable for getting an inside look at what your competitors are doing online. Its resources uncover where competitors’ traffic originates from, how competitors rank in Google Search for specific keywords, and who is linking to their website (including how many backlinks they have).
Great features like “Alerts” allow business owners to set an alert every time a website ranks for a keyword that you’re keyed into.
With “Content Explorer” you can easily explore the most shared content on the web. With filters, a substantial database of keywords and access to keywords in 170 countries, and a thorough SERP analysis, Ahrefs is a heavy hitter in providing any business with valuable data to guide a successful marketing strategy.
Pricing ranges from $99/month up to $999/month for Ahrefs’ “agency” package.
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Want to use a real powerhouse tool to reach new customers and monumentally grow your business?
For many small businesses, Google AdWords is one of the most effective ways to reach new customers and grow your business.
People who use Google AdWords have two possible networks they can use to target users: the search network, and the Display network.
The search network involves pay-per-click advertising (or Paid Search). That means that marketers can bid on any keywords that are useful for their business. They also are given the opportunity to display advertising to users searching Google with those keywords.
The Display network, on the other hand, provides marketers with the option to incorporate banner ads on websites included in the Display network.
The Google Display Network has a massive reach of approximately 90% of global internet users. That should provide any business with a solid shot at connecting with their market.
Although Google AdWords offers a wide range of diverse ad formats, text-based PPC ads form the core of AdWords. Writing ad text is a particularly challenging task, not least because of the space restrictions that advertisers are subjected to.
Need help writing clickable ads that lead to conversions? We have your back. Check out:
- How to Write High Performing AdWords Ads
- 7 Ways to Write Super-Effective AdWords Ads (with Real Examples)
- How to Write High Converting Landing Pages
Free for the tool but ads are paid.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a feature in Google Adwords. You can find it handily located in the “Tools” tab.
The tool allows you to select one or several keywords and provides concrete figures for how many times your word was searched and in which country and language.
You can also see whether the competition for those keywords is high, medium, or low and what a recommended bid for that keyword would be, making the process of choosing the right keyword for your brand straightforward and easy.
Prefer a streamlined process? Google Adwords lets its users launch campaigns directly from your research on keywords, making it a one-stop shop for keyword success.
Here are two more useful tools you should consider: SEMrush is an excellent paid tool (cheapest plan is $99.95 per month; we use it at crowdspring) that can provide detailed analytics on the top keywords used in search engine marketing by your competitors, but also which of your competitors receive the most organic search engine traffic. We also love and use tools from Moz and highly recommend them (particularly Moz Pro, which starts at $99 per month).
Email may seem a little old-hat compared to newer, more innovative marketing options, but it’s still very useful. As marketing firm McKinsey & Company said,
E-mail remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.
When it comes to email marketing, no discussion is complete without a mention of Mailchimp. The email service is one of the most popular tools available for marketing via email.
And for a good reason: Mailchimp has features and services that make email marketing easy and accessible to all. Their “forever free” plan is just that, and it’s nothing to sniff at, allowing you to send 12,000 emails per month at absolutely zero cost.
Free, with paid plans ranging from $10/month to $199+ for the full “pro” plan
Drip marketing (also known as automated email campaigns, lifecycle emails, or marketing automation) is one of the more recent uses of email to gain traction amongst marketers.
Drip marketing, according to Wikipedia, is “a communication strategy that sends, or “drips,” a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time. These messages often take the form of email marketing, although other media can also be used.”
If you want to start a drip marketing campaign, Drip is a natural choice. The service focuses on the email analytics and automation portion of drip marketing, making it easy to create a campaign and track how well it performs.
One of email marketing biggest challenges is making the content you send out relevant to the receiver. Vero answers that need with its suite of email marketing tools that can integrate emails with data from your website for more personalized messaging.
SendWithUs also handles drip marketing but focuses on sending messages directly from your app or website using email designs created by you. It also has a translation service which makes sending email to international users much easier.
Facebook still stands tall as the most extensive social network in the world, averaging 2.2 billion visits per month, which is a 13 percent increase year over year.
Facebook can help you figure out the right type of ad for your business based on which market you’re looking to target. There are a variety of ad types, including:
At this point, Facebook is approaching notoriety for the incredible volume of data it stores on users.
The social network’s real power lies in the vast amount of information available that makes creating highly targeted ads and messaging easy.
That makes Facebook Audience Insights a powerful tool in creating targeted ads.
If you’re interested in preparing a well thought out, intelligently executed Facebook ad campaign, this tool is an obvious must have to deliver significant ROI on your marketing efforts.
Facebook Audience Insights allows you to view the number of users you can access based on several key factors including:
- User interests,
- Devices used,
- User behavior,
- User habits, and
- Life events.
It allows provides valuable demographic data and, in some countries, shows household income.
Want to be sure that you’re curating a complete profile of your target audience? Facebook Audience Insights even shows you other related interests your market may have and the best way to incorporate those into an effective strategy.
With over two billion active users, Facebook represents a tremendous marketing opportunity that cannot be ignored. The social network has many powerful tools that allow businesses to market to specific segments of their audience on the site. Make sure you take advantage of them for your next campaign.
Facebook Audience Insights and Custom Audiences are free. The price of placing an ad on Facebook varies.
Managing your social media presence can be a real chore, especially when you have accounts on multiple networks with simultaneous marketing and outreach campaigns at play.
This is where Hootsuite comes in. This Vancouver-based company provides a web-based interface that collects all of your social media presences into one centralized location.
Once you’ve added your accounts to the service, a plethora of powerful features become available, including post scheduling, content curation, topic tracking and monitoring, and analytics. You can also track all of your social media feeds in one place using its multi-column interface.
HootSuite also has powerful team management features that make it easy for teams to collaborate and post on social media. This makes it straightforward to have a single source of truth for your social media presence while controlling who has access and what can be done.
Free, with plans ranging from $19 to $599 per month.
If you’re looking for another social media management option, Buffer is worthy of your time. The service has been around about as long as Hootsuite, and although the two are often mentioned in the same breath, Buffer is different enough to stand out.
Buffer is optimized for scheduling and managing posts. It doesn’t pull all of your networks’ feeds into one location as Hootsuite does. It also has team collaboration features and post analytics. We love Buffer and use it at crowdspring.
Free, with paid plans available from $15 to $399 per month.
The difference between the two services ultimately comes down to what you need. Because Buffer is focused more on posting and team collaboration features, it’s more streamlined and easier to use. HootSuite takes more of an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach that many will find appealing, especially if you’re looking to consolidate all of your feeds into one location.
You can’t market effectively if you don’t know your audience, and Google Analytics is one of the best (and cheapest) options available for gathering valuable metrics about your website and app’s usage and performance.
Getting started with Google Analytics can be a little daunting at first, as it has a considerable array of metrics and data available. It’s sometimes hard to figure out where to look for the information you need.
Three sections in Google Analytics generally have the most appeal for marketers: Acquisition, Audience, and Behavior.
The Acquisition section shows you how people get to your site: where they came from (known as “referrals”), what search terms they used (if they came from Google search), and much more. You can find out if they came from a social network, or if they clicked on an ad to get to your site.
The Audience section covers what you’d expect: information about the people who used your site. There’s a surprising amount of information available here, including technology (what browser or device they used), geographic info (where they live, often right down to the city), and even personal demographic data like gender, age, and interests.
Behavior looks at just that: how your users behaved while they were on your site. What links did they click on? What was the flow they took through your site? How much time did they spend on a particular page? How did they leave your site?
Using information across these three sections is a powerful way to divine valuable information about who your visitors are, what they’re interested in, and how they use your site.
It’s fitting that a site with over two billion active users and deep wells of personal data would have its own robust set of analytics tools. Facebook provides marketers with some impressively detailed reports and dashboards that show you at a glance how your brand and Facebook pages are doing on (and even off) the network.
Use Facebook Analytics to see what content resonates best with your users, where users came from to get to your content, and how widely the content was shared.
You can also see how users engaged with your content. Did they like it? Mark it as spam? Hide it from their feed? Use Facebook Analytics to post content at the optimal time for the highest engagement.
Of course, you can also access very detailed personal information about your users: demographic information like age and where they live, what language(s) they speak, and much more.
If you’re a small business owner or marketer, you need to find smart ways to improve your company’s visual marketing without breaking your budget. Visual marketing is considered to be the second most important form of marketing content – second only to blogs. In fact, a Social Media Examiner report revealed that 74% of marketers use visual content in their social media marketing.
Fortunately, there are some terrific, affordable tools and services that can help you to improve your company’s visual marketing and help your company compete more effectively against established companies.
Here are two terrific visual marketing tools that can help you grow your business.
If you’re confident with graphic design, Snappa may be the choice for you.
You can build designs from scratch with Snappa or use templates.
But be careful when using generic templates for visual design. The point of visual design is to tell unique stories. Using generic templates is the opposite of unique.
Snappa offers a library of thousands of royalty-free photos, icons, and fonts to choose from. You can also easily upload your own images, resize your own images and upload new fonts (check out Font Squirrel below!).
One of Snappa’s strengths is shareability. Snappa supports team collaboration; making it easy to share brand assets or designs. And, it integrates directly with several social media platforms, allowing you to publish your creations straight from Snappa.
Snappa’s impressive Pro service starts at $10 per user/ per month, but you can give Snappa a test drive with their free version.
If you’re looking for affordable, custom, professional visual designs, you won’t go wrong with crowdspring.
Crowdsourced design platform crowdspring is an awesome resource for custom, professional graphic, web and product design at a price that fits every budget.
Over the past 10 years, crowdspring has helped tens of thousands of the world’s best entrepreneurs, small businesses, Brands, agencies, and non-profits with logo design, web design, product design, packaging design, and even naming businesses and products.
Crowdspring is perfect for business owners and people who are not designers but who demand high quality, affordable custom designs to help their businesses grow. You can get a finished design in as little as one day.
Here’s how crowdspring works:
Step 1: Select your package. With a variety of options, crowdspring’s design packages are perfect for businesses of any size, and upfront pricing means you’ll always know the cost. No hidden fees, no surprises.
Step 2: Create a project brief. Answer a few questions about your design needs in crowdspring’s simple project questionnaire. The more you share, the better the results.
Step 3: Crowdspring designers get to work creating dozens of designs.Crowdspring’s 210,000+ designers from Australia to Zimbabwe, and everywhere in between, are standing by to help you. They’ll share dozens of designs for you to review, and will tweak the designs based on your feedback.
Step 4: Pick the winning design and complete the project. When you find something you love, select it as the winner. You’ll review design proofs and make refinements. After you approve the final files, crowdspring will pay the designer and you’ll receive full intellectual property rights to the design through a custom, written legal agreement.
Custom design and naming projects on crowdspring start at $299 (including all fees) and there’s a 100% money-back guarantee. You can request a free, no obligation design consultation if you have questions.
Even if you can’t yet afford to hire marketers for your business, you can use these services and tools to get informed, organized, and collaborate effectively and ensure that your marketing efforts pay back with a healthy return on investment.
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