Many small business owners are overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to do, in all directions, just to keep their business afloat. Starting and running a business all by yourself, or with a very small team is no day at the beach. You need to worry about clients and suppliers, the company website, the social media accounts, the promotion and marketing strategies, making sales and whether your processes work as they are supposed to… That’s if you’ve even documented them all yet.
Fortunately, a lot of other people have had the same challenges and have come up with various tools to make life easier for small and medium-sized businesses. These tools are designed to put you in control of various aspects of your online marketing and customer engagement activities in a simple and easy way, without being technically or IT savvy.
So, today I’ll take a personal inventory and present you with my top 5 favourite digital marketing tools:
1. WordPress & WPCurve.com
This is the easiest to use web-building platform. It is cheap to buy a theme or have a custom one designed, you can upload all the content by yourself without any coding knowledge, and manage all changes and updates along the way. If you get stuck or don’t want to do your little changes yourself, you can call on Dan Norris’ WPCurve.com which is an awesome resource, allowing you to get unlimited changes done to your website by real experts, one at a time, for under $100 a month.
Whether you are looking to build a simple blog, a static website, or a full-fledged e-commerce property, WordPress is at your service.
Being an open source platform and developed by a large community of developers all over the world, WordPress gets a lot of updates to keep up with the latest changes in the World Wide Web and has a sea of useful plugins to advance your website’s functionalities.
Manage all your social media accounts at the same time on an integrated platform which allows you to schedule your posts, view the analytics report for each social media account, share access to these accounts to other team members, and improve collaboration work.
What’s so great about Hootsuite? Having all your social media accounts grouped in one place is a huge time saver and makes implementing a coherent communication strategy a whole lot easier. A nifty feature you’re going to love is Hootsuite’s AutoSchedule, which determines the best time to post on your social media pages and automatically schedules the posts for you.
You can even download the app for mobile and keep on top of your social media on the go.
3. MailChimp, aWeber, Drip & Infusionsoft
These apps are your best friend when you have a growing mailing list to send newsletters and promotions to.
For the starter online business, MailChimp allows you to automate, schedule and organise your emails by subscriber categories, so all you have to do is set a schedule for a period of time (say, one month ahead) and you don’t have to think about the newsletter sending issue anymore. You can’t beat MailChimp’s effortless drag-and-drop interface and seamless social integration, and to trump all, their generous Forever Free plan offers 12,000 emails per month to a list of up to 2000 subscribers.
If you’re ready to get a bit more sophisticated, I used to recommend you look at aWeber, which offers a degree of integration and automation, with PayPal for example. You funnel all your optins into a prospect list, then set up new lists for purchasers, or each product, and automate the movement of prospects onto the various customer lists as they buy.
However, I’ve not ever found that part of the service very reliable so nowadays I recommend Drip. Developed specifically to offer the “action based” functionality so that people are moved from list to list depending on the actions they take, the links they click etc. Drip is so good it’s just been acquired by LeadPages.
Create, publish and test great looking landing pages, sales pages, webinar registration pages, thank you pages – this is what you can do with LeadPages. No need to know HTML or PHP or other sort of coding. Use the simple drag-and-drop interface, or select one of the available templates and create a landing page within minutes, fully integrated with your mailing list and GoToWebinar or WebinarJam. Publish it in one click, do the A/B testing, and optimise each landing page for maximum conversion. You can even add Facebook and Google Analytics tracking and conversion codes – and – your LeadPages pages will act just like your own website pages would.
What makes LeadPages even more special? It automatically creates mobile-friendly landing pages and allows you to perform all the testing you need to maximise impact and conversion. Their tuition videos are awesome, as is their customer service.
John Lee Dumas launched his Podcasters Paradise business and created a $98,000 + sales funnel using LeadPages entirely – no website – and you can read all about that here.
And if you are wondering whether to use LeadPages or Clickfunnels, here’s a link to Richard Patey’s comprehensive review of Leadpages V ClickFunnels which should help you make up your mind which is right for you.
(I use LeadPages and love it, I looked at Clickfunnels and liked the look of it, but I’m so embedded in Leadpages and Infusionsoft now, it’s not worth me moving).
If you have pages on your site that you can’t change in-site, you can use Optimizely to test different headlines, different pictures, and different page elements. Determine how much of your traffic you want to see your Optimizely page and start split testing today.
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is, and how much more money you’ll make – really! We increased a clients’ sales (and profits) by over 1000% by just adding a picture of a pretty girl in the background of their hitherto very dull e-commerce sales page.