Being your own marketing has never been more possible. You have a greater reach, better targeting and more tools available at little to no cost than ever before. Sadly, the marketing budget is usually the first thing to get cut in a business, so you’re left to manage everything on a shoe-string budget.
Take control of your marketing in 2017. Below you’ll find the tools that I use to manage my own marketing systems throughout the year to automate processes where I can, setup reports and maintain contact with my followers. On the plus side, most of these tools are cheap to purchase if not completely free.
Social Media Management
Social media for business comes down to two things: planned engagements and social listening. Thanks to the glory of the smart phone, you can be just about anywhere and still keep track of both. For this, I recommend using two separate tools.
Hootsuite – Free
Hootsuite will cover two bases for you: Planned Engagements and Social Listening. Even with the free account you’ll be able to manage up to 3 social profiles and establish your editorial calendar. If you’re not using an editorial calendar, or not familiar with them, you need to hop on that train. It can, and will, save you hours of time and help you see the larger picture of your business – so don’t skip it.
Aside from the added ease of being able to upload up to 90 days worth of social media posts from a single spreadsheet you’ve got a bevy of other features and reporting options to make life simpler.
Social Listening comes down to a simple concept – somewhere, there’s a conversation going on about your brand. It’s your job to be a part of the conversation. Hootsuite allows you to setup streams within your dashboard around keywords, groups and even locations so that you can be alerted to the right information at the right time. These conversations aren’t going to come find you, so Hootsuite makes it easy for you to open up your phone or laptop and respond to them in the moment.
Buffer – Free
We’ve already got Hootsuite, what do we need another social media posting tool for? Hootsuite allows you to plan your engagements. Buffer (and tools like Edgar) allow you to find and post the latest and greatest content in your niche at the best times for your users.
I like to think of this tool as a bucket with strategically placed holes in the side. I find interesting content for my users and fill the bucket up with it. The holes represent the best times to post that content. When the water in the bucket reaches the right level (right time) it goes out! Buffer has added a handy feature that automatically finds the best times to post based on your own account activity.
Customer Relationship Management
This might be one of the more hated terms in business. It’s doesn’t even sound interesting, but it’s critical to your business. Your job is to make sure that your customers have a great experience with your brand so that they can become multi-buyers and encourage their friends to do so as well. To pull this off, you need to be able to manage your contact with them.
Hubspot CRM System – Free
Hubspot provides a great basic CRM system to keep track of your business contacts, deal status and productivity all in a single dashboard. Set up tasks to make sure you don’t forget about anything important and forecast your future earnings by setting up deals and pricing within the system.
There are plenty of other CRM systems out there. The larger your business, the more complex they can become. All in all, you need to be keeping track of your business contacts and your progress no matter what size your business is. If you’re small right now, all the more reason that you should be getting used to employing a system like this. It’ll only get more difficult to implement as you grow.
MailChimp – Free
Email marketing is dead, long live email marketing. While there are numerous systems out there to work with, my trusted ESP is Mailchimp. For small businesses with less than 500 users on their email list, you can start out free to $10/month. Automation is your friend, so I say splurge on the $10 package deal.
Mailchimp allows you automate your email process based on the actions people take on your website. If they opt-in to your newsletter, send them your indoctrination series. If they purchase, hit them up with an ascension series. Email marketing is the best way to establish a relationship and maintain that relationship with your users. Without it, you’re forgotten much quicker. Organize your lists, design quick and simple email templates and integrate with your CRM System and website with ease. Mailchimp has done a great job putting their tools together so they’re not just simple, but intuitive.
Video & Graphics
Coming from a graphic design and media background, these two tools are my favorite. The visuals associated with your brand not only need to be eye-catching, but they need to be consistent. That consistency is where a lot of businesses drop the ball.
Canva – Free
Canva is a web based graphic design platform. Log in with Facebook or create an account and you’re all set! They’ve done an amazing job putting together a collection of fonts, pre-made graphics, stock photography and sample layouts to allow any business owner to create quality content with ease.
No more searching around for the right document sizes either. Canva has taken care to build templates for just about any social platform you need to work with, document you need to create and email you need to send. Import your own logo and graphics to be used with everything else you can think to create!
Premium graphics and stock photograph, however, will cost you – $1. You read that right. $1, Bob! Canva really pulled out all the stops when it comes to making quality graphics accessible for every size business.
Director (by Youtube) – Free on iOS
Director, currently not available for android users, is your go-to app for building quality video content for your brand. Our smart phones are currently the fastest and easiest way to reach users with a video. We can live broadcast via any number of apps in 4K – no more dropping hundreds of dollars on high-end cameras just so you can buy high-end equipment to manipulate it.
Download the app, sign in and get started shooting with pre-made templates to suit your business. You can add graphics right in the system itself like text overlays and logos. Director, just like it sounds, controls the process for you and tells you exactly what to shoot and how long to shoot for to build your ideal commercial, intro video or ad!
This is the big scary word that most businesses like to avoid. If your businesses has an online component there’s no excuse not to be tracking your progress. Once you get through the initial panic attack, it can be incredibly easy to set up and automate.
Google Analytics – Free
Free. Powerful. Automated. Google analytics can be the best way to make sure that your website is healthy and your users are happy. The two things you’ll need to make sure to include are Goals and Automated Reports.
Goals allow you to track actions of all sorts on your website – email signups, purchases, downloads etc. Track your e-commerce transactions in full detail or include your own values based on averages. Either way you go, you’ll be able to make sure you know where your users are coming from, what they’re doing while they’re with you and what you can expect to earn from it.
Automated Reports sound just as great as they are. Build custom dashboards to track all your data or update some the pre-made templates that exist and have them delivered directly to your inbox whenever you want them.