17 Awesome online marketing tools for small businesses

As a small business owner, you understand that it is essential to promote your business online.  Maybe you find the prospect a little daunting and you’re holding back, in which case you should definitely think about outsourcing this task because if you avoid it, then your technology-loving competitor down the road is going to reap the benefits.

On the other hand, maybe you are a ‘techie’ type who loves nothing more than spending your time raising your online profile.  As you head out on your journey into the digital stratosphere, you realise that this is all more than just a little bit time consuming.  Here are some top tips to save you time and improve the results of your efforts.

Check out these extremely useful services and apps, which come highly recommended from me:

Design: 

Unless you are a pro designer, anything you produce yourself is going to be fairly substandard.  It would be great to be able to hire a graphic designer, but if you can’t afford to or choose not to, then the following three apps will become your best friends when it comes to producing graphics and images to use in your online marketing.

  • Canvais hugely popular and allows you to easily create beautiful designs by means of a very simple drag and drop platform.  It also provides templates perfectly sized for all your social media posts and covers.
  • Piktochart– Similar to Canva, but with themed templates to create infographics without being a pro-designer.
  • Instant Eyedropper – allows you to instantly copy any colour or colour scheme that you see online.  It is a free tool and identifies the html colour code of any pixel on the screen with a single click of the mouse.
Social Media Management:

Who really has the time to post to their business social media accounts every hour throughout the day?  Nobody.  And if you are, you are missing a seriously big trick.  There are several web based apps out there where you can plan, upload, post and schedule posts in advance to multiple accounts from one dashboard. They all offer slightly different features and like most digital marketing tools, there are FOC and paid versions, depending on your requirements.  For starters, check out Hootsuiteand Buffer.

URL shortener:

A useful service that takes longer URL’s and transforms them into short, manageable links.  Some services such as Bitly also enable to you to collect data connected with the link.

Content Curation:

If you are au fait with Social Media for business, you will know that it is all about great content.  Sharing your own great content and sharing great content from others, in order to position yourself as an expert in your field. Scoop.it is a content curation service that pulls together the best of all new content shared online every day and emails it to you, ready for you to share it with your own network.   Just set up preferences for the type of content you want to receive and scoop does the rest.

Content research:

Buzzsumo instantly gives insight into how specific content has performed online in terms of social media engagement and shares.  Very useful when your pondering your next blog topic.

Reporting:

Understand your website performance with Google Analytics.  By using the basic version (FOC) Google Analytics helps you measure, learn and implement changes to grow your website traffic and improve user experience.  For starters, you’ll be able to see:

  • Acquisition – Where do users come from, how many do you receive?
  • Behaviour – What do they do on your site?
  • Conversion – Do your users take a desired action on your site?

Of course, there is masses more you can gleam too, but just by mastering the basics you’ll have a whole load of very useful information to be getting on with.

Monitoring:

Mentionallows you to fully manage your online reputation and track your mentions in real time.  As an FOC alternative, but not as reliable, you could set up simple Google Alertsfor your name and business name to keep yourself in the loop.

Direct Email:

Directly targeting individuals who have previously signed up to receive your news and offers is a super-powerful method of marketing.  In order to make things easy for yourself and to stay within the law, you’ll need to send your email campaigns via an email marketing app.  Once you have captured an email address and the individual has opted-in, then you may add them to your list.  Using the likes of MailChimp ensures that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time, it’s easy to track, easy to share and easy to create.  In short, it’s easy. Oh, and it’s cost effective too.

Search Engine Optimisation Keyword/ Search phrase suggestions:

If you want good SEO results, you’re going to have to put in some hard work first doing your research.  You’ll need to understand what your target audience are searching and which search queries or keywords you are going to target in your online content.  Luckily, there are some tools out there to help you with this.  Check out Longtail ProUbersuggest and Answer the Public.

Paid Advertising:

Pay per Click:  You will get traffic from ads on Google, but you need to get it right or you could very quickly waste a large amount of money.  That’s a whole other blog topic.  In the meantime, check out Google AdWords.

Retargeting:

Retargeting works by using ‘cookies’ to track visitors to your site and displaying your retargeting ads to them as they visit other sites online.  This encourages them revisit and carry out an action, once they have already shown interest in your website.  You can set up and manage your ads on Google Ads

If you’d like to find out more or need help in getting a plan together for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

You can email me direct at Clare@cornerstonedigital.marketing or

call me on 07967 628112.  I’d love to hear from you!