Digital Marketing Is Tough for Small Businesses
Whether you run a small business, are just thinking about starting one, or are busy organizing a non-profit marketing is something that can easily fall off the radar. The need for a website, print styles, color pallet, logo design, communications planning, the list goes on and on. On top of that, there seems to be an endless set of tools for graphic design, building a website, and getting the word out on social media.
Digital Marketing Doesn't Have to Be Expensive
There are several free tools that you can use to help you get started. Keep in mind, these tools all have their limitations, but if you consider that things don't need to be perfect, but just good enough to get by, then you will gain a great deal of power from these free tools:
- Google Chrome
- Google Analytics
Google Chrome Can Be Your Virtual Office
I make no secret about my love of just about everything Google does. The Google Chrome web browser is secure, very easy to use, and is well maintained by the developers working on the project. If you are a small business or a non-profit using Google Apps, then Google Chrome is indispensable.
GOOGLE CHROME HAS TONS OF FREE APPS
What surprises me is that often times folks I talk to don't realize that Google Chrome has an app store. There are loads of free apps! They range from productivity apps to light-weight graphic design apps and everything in between. Beyond the variety of free marketing apps I have access to, I also have access to project management tools, CRM solutions, and a variety of other essential business tools, all for free, and all accessible right from my phone. The rest of the apps I will discuss in this section are available in the Chrome Web Store.
Google Chrome Syncs Across All My Devices
As an added bonus, many of these apps also have corresponding Android or iOS apps to help you monitor and market your business on the go. I run Argyle Analytics entirely on Google Apps and love that I can switch between my desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone with ease.
Hootsuite Can Be Your Social Media Dashboard
Social media marketing is critical for small businesses. Here in Philadelphia, small businesses rely on social media to help engage customers, both local and visiting, and get them to enjoy their services. Social media, while critical, can be a major time suck for small business owners and non-profits. There are multiple channels to manage, the audience on each channel can be a bit different, and then there are the multiple accounts, logins, and interfaces you have to touch just to make a single post. All this means time, and money, you could be spending on your business.
Hootsuite To the Rescue
I almost always recommend Hootsuite to my clients who rely on social media to get the message out about their business. Rather than blabber on about what Hootsuite is, let me share this video from their YouTube channel.
Hootsuite's Account Levels Free vs. Paid
Hootsuite offers a pretty robust free account service that let's you manage up to 3 social media accounts at once. If you only need to manage a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn account, then you should be good to go using the free package. However, if you want to manage more than three accounts you will need to sign up for a paid account. I think the costs is very reasonable and counts as a business expense. Check out their account pricing and decide which is the right fit for your business.
Canva is a lightweight, cloud-based, graphic design tool for folks who are not graphic designers. It should be noted that if you can afford the services of a professional digital graphic designer you should make the investment. However, for many small businesses and nonprofits, you make need to invest your resources elsewhere depending on your priorities. Canva offers a very simple way to create professional looking graphics with the need for extensive training as a designer. They offer several free templates, as well as some premium ones you can purchase on an a la carte basis. Here is an example of the Facebook banner I added to the Argyle Analytics Facebook page and it only took me 15 min. to throw it together from the other marketing collateral I have lying around.
Google Analytics is a one of those tools that can't be omitted from this list. It's free, powerful, and has a wide variety of paid and free learning options. Google Analytics is too deep of a topic to be covered in depth in this post, but it's an essential component of any marketing program. This tool allows you to identify what kind of blog posts are most appealing to your audience, it can aid you in search engine optimization of your content, and can even help you evaluate the individual ROI of multi-faceted marketing campaigns (e.g., blog posting, Google Adwords pay-per-click, and discount flyer programs). Google Analytics can be a bit overwhelming at first, but with a bit of training and practice you can easily make it a cornerstone of your digital marketing toolkit.
What Are Some of Your Favorite Tools?
Hopefully this was something you found helpful, but I would love to hear from you and what your favorite tools are! Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.com and let me know what tools you find useful!