Did you know there are approximately 28 million small businesses in the United States alone?
With a number like this, all small business owners are looking for a competitive edge. If you happen to be one, chances are you’re looking for strategies to get your leg up on the competition.
While there is no way of knowing what the future holds, one thing is for sure: you don’t want to be among the approximately 80% of businesses that fail within 18 months.
So, what does this have to do with digital marketing?
We’re in a whole new era. Gone are the days when you could afford to ignore the internet. If you want to achieve success, regardless of your industry, it’s imperative to have a sound online marketing plan in place from day one – a strategy that leverages the power of social media, uses search engine optimization to drive traffic, and makes good use of the media marketing advancements that are out there.
In the past, I’ve discussed a variety of tools for specific areas of digital marketing. For example, this post details the top tools for launching your first content marketing campaign.
In this post, however, I’m going to outline 10 online marketing tools that you need when starting a business. You may be familiar with a marketing tool or two in here; others might be new to you. But from simplifying your social media marketing efforts to project management, each of these tools will help you get that competitive edge you’re after.
Are you ready to grow your business through online marketing?
Then let’s begin.
Get this: email marketing technology is used by more than 80% of B2B and B2C companies.
This isn’t something you should wait on. Instead, you should implement an email marketing strategy on day one.
With more than 12 million customers, MailChimp has claimed its spot as one of the top email marketing providers in the world. While there are alternatives, this tool remains one of the best, for many reasons:
- History dating back to 2001, well before most companies began using email marketing.
- Self-service support options, ensuring that you can quickly find answers to all of your questions.
- Free plan for those with less than 2,000 subscribers and those who don’t send more than 12,000 emails per month.
When starting a business, it’s not likely that you will have more than 2,000 subscribers. For this reason, you can get started with MailChimp early on, using the tool for free as you get your feet wet with email marketing.
When it comes to marketing, sales and CRM software, HubSpot has become one of the top players.
For the sake of this post, let’s focus on its marketing software solutions. The company has this to say about its all-in-one marketing software:
From attracting visitors to closing customers, HubSpot brings your entire marketing funnel together.
You know just how important it is for your marketing funnel to be in good working order. With this software, you have access to tools that help with:
- Social Media
- Lead Management
- Landing Pages
- Marketing Automation
There is no stone left unturned, when you rely on HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing software. That’s why it’s a top choice for those who are starting a business.
With everything you need in one place, you don’t have to pull yourself in many different directions. This will help you to achieve greater success in the early days, as you’re sure to have many other tasks on your plate.
For those new to content marketing, Trello might sound like another social network that’s popped up overnight.
It’s not. In fact, it’s a great organization tool that can help you and your online marketing team considerably.
Trello is a tool that helps you to manage projects and stay on the same page as your team -a sound digital marketing practice if you want to save time and frustration.
For example, you can share blog posts on Trello before you publish them. This gives others on your team the opportunity to review the post, weigh in with their thoughts and make changes that could strengthen the piece before it goes live.
In the past, before the days of Trello and similar programs, email was the best way to collaborate with your team. While this is still helpful, to a certain degree, it can lead to confusion, missed messages and frustration.
With Trello, everything related to your online marketing strategy can be shared in the same place. It only takes a few minutes to set up a board. Even better, you can quickly invite your entire staff, all of whom can jump in on the action without delay.
Trello isn’t the only tool of its type, but it’s, by far, one of the best. When it comes to collaborating with others regarding marketing tasks, this tool is hard to beat.
Nobody can argue with the fact that social media plays a big part in the success of any company, regardless of size, age or industry; that social media marketing is a must to thrive in this digital era.
A tool such as Hootsuite allows you to schedule social media posts in advance, thus saving you loads of time.
There are many features of Hootsuite that work in your favor as you launch your business, such as those that assist with engagement. For example, you can:
- Identify influencers for your marketing team and leads for your sales team.
- Reply to comments and mentions through the dashboard. There’s no reason to visit each individual platform.
- Take advantage of pre-written responses.
Social media marketing is not as difficult as it sounds, especially when you rely on tools like Hootsuite. With this particular tool, you can schedule and manage social media profiles for more than 30 platforms. Imagine doing this by hand, without a central dashboard to guide you. It would be enough to frustrate even the most experienced entrepreneur, let alone a new business owner. Let Hootsuite operate like the social media marketing manager it is.
As one of the top free tools from Google, Analytics should be part of your digital marketing strategy from the very start.
It only takes a couple of minutes to add the Analytics code to your website, giving you the ability to track every action by every visitor.
This is considered by many to be nothing more than a traffic tool, but it can actually have a big impact on your marketing strategy, if you know what you’re doing.
Take, for example, the ability to see where your traffic comes from:
Maybe you realize that a particular social media campaign is driving tons of traffic to your website. With this data, you can adjust your future strategy, in an attempt to capture the same results.
Or, maybe you find that a particular set of keywords is doing wonders for your organic traffic. Again, you can turn your attention to these keywords, ensuring that you keep these in mind as you create content down the road.
Google Analytics isn’t one of those tools that you should ignore. Installing this early on is a key decision, in regards to your online marketing strategy. The data you can collect and review is extremely valuable.
The tagline of this tool says it all:
Track, analyze and optimize your digital marketing performance. See what’s working and what’s not, across all campaigns, mobile and web.
It’s good that you want to spend so much time on online marketing in the early days of your business. But, do you really want to make decisions that aren’t having an impact?
You need to track and analyze every move that you make, as this is the only way to focus on the tactics that are providing the best return on investment (ROI).
With KISSmetrics, you can easily see what’s working and what’s not, across all of your campaigns.
Take, for example, its Analytics products. With a funnel report, you can see if there are any “leaks” in your business. Here’s a screenshot of what to expect:
Starting at $120/month, KISSmetrics isn’t the cheapest tool on this list. Even so, it’s one that you’ll want to think about, as your business gets up and running.
With a variety of products at your fingertips, the insights you receive will be invaluable to your company’s growth.
Do you plan on spending a lot of time on social media marketing?
While this is a great way to engage your audience and send traffic to your website, it’ll only work in your favor if you have a solid plan in place.
Tools, such as Followerwonk, are designed to help you improve your social media marketing strategy, such as by digging into your Twitter analytics data.
I included this tool on the list for two reasons: it’s easy to use and it’s extremely effective.
Followerwonk breaks down its service into three distinct categories:
- Find – use the tool to search Twitter bios and compare accounts.
- Analyze – breakdown your follower list by bio, location, who they follow and many other criteria.
- Optimize – match your strategy to follower gains and losses, to understand what type of content performs best.
The only downside of Followerwonk is that it can’t be used with other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. However, if you have big plans for Twitter, this is a tool that you should use often.
Even though you may not use it on a daily basis, it can come in handy from time to time. After all, it’s imperative that you understand your audience.
If WordPress is your content management system (CMS) of choice, you shouldn’t hesitate to install the All in One SEO Pack plugin.
A big part of your online marketing strategy should be based around search engine optimization (SEO) and this tool will ensure that you always make good decisions regarding your content and its appeal to search engines.
Some of the top features of the plugin include:
- XML Sitemap support.
- Advanced Canonical URLs.
- Automatic generation of META tags.
- Compatible with most other plugins.
- Automatically notifies major search engines, including Google and Bing, of any site changes.
Even though all of these features are exciting, it’s something else that has made it one of the most popular WordPress plugins of all time: its ease of use.
Here’s a screenshot, showing a small portion of the tool’s back end:
You don’t have to make many decisions in order to get started. And, if you’re ever confused as to what you should be doing, there is help to be had. All you have to do is click the “?” symbol and you’re provided with more information and advice.
The All in One SEO Pack plugin has more than one million active installs. You won’t have to look far to find competitors, but there’s a reason why so many people use this tool. Not only is it free and simple, but it’s results can’t be denied. It will definitely help your website, from an SEO perspective, which is something all new businesses are interested in.
A tool that I have discussed many times in the past, BuzzSumo is a big deal for people who need to learn more about their market.
When you start a business, it’s safe to say that you know a thing or two about your industry and primary competitors. But, once you dig around even more, you’ll find that there is additional data that you can use to your advantage.
If you want to better understand your competition or if you want to learn what type of content performs best with search engines and your audience, you don’t need any other tool by your side.
A BuzzSumo search results page looks something like this:
Additionally, there is high level data associated with each result:
This information can come in handy at many times, such as when you are creating content for your blog.
Why guess as to what is performing best in your niche? You can use BuzzSumo to answer this question with 100% accuracy.
With this search, you see that the top result has approximately 20k social shares. You now know what to strive for, if you want to achieve the same level of success.
As a big fan of BuzzSumo, this is a tool that I use on a regular basis. Even if you don’t do much with the data at first, each search will help you to better understand your competition and target audience.
10. Crazy Egg
Do you ever find yourself asking this question: what’s working and what’s not about my website?
This is where Crazy Egg can step in and provide assistance.
There are two keys here:
- You can use Crazy Egg to make website changes that generate better results.
- You don’t need much, if any, IT help to get started.
When you’re new to your business, you don’t want to spend countless hours dealing with IT issues. Unfortunately, this often happens when it comes to split testing. Unless you use Crazy Egg, of course.
The tool is packed with features, such as:
- Heatmaps and mouse recording
- Analysis and reporting
- Platforms and integrations
- Targeting and personalization
- Research and user feedback
A tool that helps you understand what your website visitors like and don’t like, so you can maximize your sales and leads, means that you have to give Crazy Egg a try. It’s one of those tools that you don’t know you need, until you use it one time.
According to the CMO Council, “60% of a marketers’ time is devoted to digital marketing activities.”
Being part of this group means having a sound digital marketing strategy in place- one that incorporates social media marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing and consistent, valuable content that truly speaks to your audience.
To ensure that your online marketing plan succeeds, it also means using the right tools at the right time. It’s my hope that this list will help you in your digital marketing efforts- and bring you the success you seek.
Would you add any other tools to this list? Did you use any of these as you launched your small business? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.