10 Best Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

There are over 7,000 marketing tools you can use today. And I'm going to name them all. No, just kidding, Scott Brinker already did. Actually, he updates the database every single year, so I don't have to. ;)

  • If you have a lot of time on your hands and want to spend it browsing a list of tools, here is an Excel sheet
  • If you want to print it as a poster for your bedroom wall, click here
  • If you are a marketing expert, I would appreciate your feedback down there, in the infamous comments section.

If you are new to marketing and want to learn about the 10 most useful tools for small businesses, keep reading!

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TL;DR

Buffer, Trello, Canva, Hemingway, BuzzSumo, Wordpress, groost, Google Analytics, Smartlook, Mailchimp, HubSpot, Calendly.

Here are the basics we can start with

"Marketing is a set of activities and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." That's what AMA says.


When it comes to digital marketing, it's nothing more than marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. 


So you basically need to manage some basic steps, create content to help people understand your product or show your expertise, distribute and attract your potential customers all around the web, analyze and optimize your efforts and connect with customers to make a deal.


This basic formula will help you keep focus on your core product, and exploit your online presence at the same time.

Management

There are thousands of management apps out there. As marketing activities often tend to get a little complex, management tools on the other hand, should be as easy as possible.


Trello

One of the best options you have at the moment is the world-famous Trello. Its interface is built on a Kanban board. It's a multi-purpose tool that you can use for many other things in your company. It is great for a single user, as well as for collaboration in a team. I have all the important features you need already packed in a free version.

Creating Content

Content is king. It helps you attract potential customers. Good content creates brand awareness and authority. It means you are more credible for your potential customers. 


Canva

Content creation can take hours and hours of time. But with the right tools, wasting time is not necessary. The truth is, that there are dozens of similar tools, but you should definitely go with Canva. It offers a wide range of templates for different occasions. With Canva, you will be able to create catchy content anywhere on the go with a simple mobile app. The free version allows you to use up to 8,000 templates.


Hemingway

Hemingway is your digital copywriter. This online or desktop app will help you write amazing texts. It's like a spellchecker, but for style. It gives you valuable insights into your texts and suggests edits, so texts will be easier to read for your audience.


BuzzSumo

It's like a Swiss Army Knife for your content. BuzzSumo tells you what kind of content is performing well. These insights will help you discover and create content that your audience will interact with.

Distribute the Content

You basically have 2 options as to how you can deliver your content to the audience you need to address. First, you have channels, like social media, blog posts or newsletters. On the other hand, you are able to deliver content using paid channels. It helps you reach potential customers all over the worldwide web.


Buffer

It is important to post content to your social media profiles. No, wait, it's not! You need to have content on your platforms, but it can be a waste of time to sit behind the computer spending hours of your time publishing content all over again. Buffer can do this for you. Just set publishing times in bulk and let this tool work for you.


groost.

A paid channel that offers you the most cost-effective way to attract your target audience and show what you do or what you can offer them. You don't have to be a specialist in digital advertising, you only need to have as many effective ads as you want, with minimum effort. Start using groost. to manage all your ads in one place and see if your social media ads spending pays off and brings you new customers.

Online Presence and Sales

By now, you probably know that you need an online presence. It can be tricky to choose the best solution for you.  If you are at the beginning, you can't go wrong with these tools.


Wordpress

WordPress claims that it powers about a fifth of the internet. Well, that's a clear sign that it's probably the best tool you can use to run a web presentation. Sony, Mercedes, Time and even Microsoft and Facebook are using WP.  The strong community that surrounds Wordpress creates many plugins, that can add almost any functionality you want. And best of all, it is free to use.


HubSpot

You have probably heard about CRM. Maybe you saw some awful and overly complicated software with dozens of strange features. And then you said you will be OK with the phone Contacts app. But it's not enough for effective digital sales. You need to track the products people are interested in, what services they've purchased from your company, the company they work for, and much more. One of the best tools, used by many, is HubSpot. It is free and easy to use and offers many marketing and sales features, so it can grow with your business.

Analytics

The greatest advantage of digital marketing is that you can translate how consumers behave into data. It brings you valuable insights so you can make the right decision which leads to your goal — increased revenue, new customers, the ability to see what kind of content works for you, etc.


Google Analytics

Although the analyst may look complicated at first glance, it's not. Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that helps you measure and understand what's going on within your digital channels. You don't have to go into complicated details right away, just start by looking at some basic metrics.


Smartlook

This tool will show you, what your website visitors are doing. Smartlook records every web visit so you can see how users behave. Based on these insights, you are able to optimize your website and make it easier to shop or to order your services for a customer.

Communication

Last, but not least, is communication. This is a very important part of your marketing. Staying  connected with your customers or potential customers should be your top priority. These tools are what you need to be effective.


Mailchimp

You need to build an email list and send newsletters to your customers. Mailchimp is definitely a good tool to use. It is simple and offers all the features you need. 


Calendly

The customer is always the most important in marketing. It is always a good idea to talk to your customers, so be ready to schedule meetings in the simplest way possible. With Calendly, you are able to connect your calendar and share your availability with anyone online. It is easy and convenient for you and others.

Conclusion

That's it. 10 tools that will help you boost your digital marketing. But don't forget, it is not about tools, but about your customers. Focus on communication with them and don't spend too much time trying new tools.


Missing some tools here? What tools help you with marketing? Let us know!

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40+ Tools for Creating Visual Content on Social Media

It is well-known that visual content is the basis of success on social networks. It’s easier for users to consume pictures and videos, than text. It’s also more visible in a mess of other content. According to some studies, tweets with pictures receive up to 150% more retweets than plain text posts without pictures. So, it is clear that the importance of visual content is steadily increasing and you definitely shouldn't ignore it.


You don't have to worry, you don't need to hire expensive agencies right away. You don't even have to learn to work with complicated and expensive tools, like Photoshop. Fortunately, today there are plenty of free online and mobile apps available to create visual content in just a few clicks.


In this article we will introduce you to 40+ tools that are available on the internet for free. We use these tools on a daily basis, so we can highly recommend them.

Canva

By far the most famous online tool for creating all kinds of visuals, and not just for social media. Canva allows you to create literally everything you can think of — from nice Facebook covers to Instagram Stories to beautiful Infographics. You can choose from dozens of templates and it all works for web browsers or mobile apps.


Vizzlo

Whether you need a simple pie chart or a complex business graphic, Vizzlo's portfolio offers you a broad range of different visualization choices. It works for browsers and it is easy to use. You can enter your data using the simple sidebar, and then choose to import spreadsheets from Excel or Google Sheets. Add the result to your slides and documents or directly share it on all your social media channels.


Graphicriver

An endless collection of various templates, fonts, logos, flyers and much more. Graphicriver is where you can find ready-made graphic designs for almost any digital content. You don't need to hire an expensive agency and create all visuals and graphics from scratch. It is often enough to modify existing templates. This saves you not only a bunch of time, but also money, because the prices of the templates are very low.


Tip: If you are not familiar with editing graphics, try to outsource it via Fivver.


Landscape

Size matters! At least when it comes to social media. Landscape has hundreds of recommended dimensions, sizes and ratios across different platforms and devices. It is easy to get lost in these constantly changing numbers. So try to use Landscape by Sprout, it helps you resize multiple images for your profiles automatically.

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6 Things to Avoid When Hiring a Marketing Agency

For anyone who’s not an expert in this field, marketing strategies, SEO or social media can be like a maze. If that’s the case, navigating through it can get super difficult sometimes. However, that’s okay! Marketing agencies exist exactly for that reason — to help business owners and entrepreneurs efficiently use their business’s potential in the name of marketing. Naturally, you want your business to grow. You decided that it’s time for you or your firm to start working with a marketing agency. Good for you! But where do you start? How can you make sure that you choose the right one? There are so many questions that might seem tricky, but this list of things you should avoid will answer the most crucial ones.

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6 Reasons Your Online Advertising Brings No Results

Let’s be honest — some online ads simply don’t work. At least we think that they don’t. Or better put, we judge them before knowing the real reason they don’t… Now, there are almost unlimited ways to reach your target audience on the internet: targeting people who search on Google with your search ad, capturing people’s attention with your promoted social media post, direct messaging on LinkedIn or creating a short video on Youtube. There are many channels and many types of ads that can use to target your potential customers.

But why the heck don’t they work for you? Many businesses have rapidly grown thanks to online advertising and yours hasn’t. What is it that makes your campaign inefficient?

First of all, be clear on the problem you are facing. What metrics say that your campaign is not working? Is it the ROI (return on investment — easily put, how many dollars are you making out of 1 dollar you invest in the ad), cost per lead (in case of lead generation campaigns) or number of people your campaign reached? When reporting on your marketing efforts, make sure to be as precise on the desired metrics as possible. “Thoughts” are the worst reporting tool.

Secondly, who is running your ads? Is it you who has access to all the important metrics and reporting or do you outsource ad management to someone else? If so, are they fully transparent on the process of a campaign setting? Do they let you “watch the chef while cooking”?

Let us be clear: this point is crucial. Online advertising is not a black box. It truly works and increases the ROI if done well. But if not, there is no positive ROI, just money thrown out of the window… What I am trying to say is, that there will be plenty of companies charging you for the ad management who are not truly willing to help you. As a result, your campaign ends up being inefficient.

Let’s say you are running the ads on your own and still suffering from lack of efficiency. We won’t let you down. We’ve prepared a few points which — when done well — will increase your ad efficiency.

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How to Define Your Buyer Persona

Do you know who you should have in mind as your ideal buyer? What are their needs, what do they desire, how and when do they like to consume content, and through which channels? To answer these questions, it's extremely helpful to create buyer personas. The personas are developed based on a combination of customers' behavior and your understanding of their motivations and challenges. In the process of creating these personas, you’ll gain insights into how your audience thinks and discover what they want. You will find out the communication style that works for them, and the ways in which they like to consume content. Also, you can find out the ideal price they are most likely to pay for your product or what features the product should have.


For your business, it is crucial to define your buyer persona (aka marketing persona). What are buyer personas? Imagine them as a representation of the demographic where you can find your ideal customer. Creating them helps you understand your customers' needs, while online marketing gives you the ability to target groups or individuals according to specific aspects you can define by creating the personas. Your result? A more efficient and effective marketing campaign.


The challenge of current operating businesses is whether or not to take time out of your already busy day in order to spend time on a persona project. But so much information and knowledge can be gained and your marketing can really improve by doing it flawlessly. And remember, personas are also crucial to getting your 5 marketing Ps right


How do you start? 


1. Ask questions!

To elaborate your personas you need to determine what their goals and attitudes are. You have to ask yourself, what do they know? What do they respond to? What are their behaviors? What do they need? Where are they?


Do qualitative research to gather this knowledge. Ask them. Watch them. Follow them. 


Try to create one or more buyer personas. Developing personas helps you understand your buyers as much as possible. It can provide insights into the different roles in companies or families, as well as into an individuals' life.  This information may eventually factor into a customers’ decision to make a purchase. 


Basically, personas are a comprehensive kind of map of your customers’ minds and personalities, helping you see the world from their perspective. With this X-ray super power, you can find and tailor your ideas to fill in the gaps, meet their needs, and ensure that your content is interesting and relevant to them.


2. How do you get this information? 

Well, you are an entrepreneur, you know nothing is easy. The best source of information is interviews and surveys! Do you see your customers in person? Ask them! Do you have a sales or customer support team? Ask them about the customers. Once you determine your personas, you can schedule user interviews that last about 20 minutes or send them a survey. Make sure they get a little reward afterwards :)


A good source of information is also statistics and reliable broad research done by companies. 


I am sure you have heard that some companies even hire trained anthropologists to watch what people do and how they behave. Your research can be as deep as you want. Just do not bother your clients for too long. 

3. How do you create the personas? 

Once you’ve collected your responses, comb through your research to identify the common threads, concerns, hopes, desires, and challenges people face. Sometimes, you may notice a common theme or even phrase in your responses. These are incredibly valuable.


Have you gathered all of your data from research? Now you can start developing your unique segments. Divide the people by:


a) Demographic

b) Location

c) Interests

d) Behaviour

e) Whatever is relevant for you e. g. job title


4. Finalize them!

Once you have your “rough” personas, it’s time to polish it all. Make sure you have a name for each, and circulate your personas for feedback from relevant people (e.g., your sales team). Once refined, memorialize these in a Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet that is easily accessible. Use these finalized personas to brainstorm content. Going forward, you should be able to identify: Which persona will be interested in your product, service or idea. Why will that persona be interested in it? Make sure to regularly review and update personas, as well.


The more detailed your personas are, the better your marketing targeting can be. You should be able to imagine them or draw them. You should be able to simulate an interview with them, to know what tone you should use, and what their interests are. Imagine that you are selling something to them personally and play with your new imaginary customers. 


You know you did a good job if your personas are: Divergent from each other, feel real, and are easy to explain. Create files for each one, so you don't forget anything about them, hang pictures of them around the office, so you feel they are present. If you have coworkers, they all should know these personas perfectly. Your aim is for the company to culturally adopt the concept of talking about these personas as real people.

How can personas help create content?

Audience insights: 

Your created personas will help you understand your audience’s concerns, preferences, and goals. When you know these, you are able to create content your buyers will find engaging, relevant, entertaining and valuable. Personas help you determine that very sort of content you will need. If you divide your current content down by persona, you can simply see which personas are getting enough content - they are nurtured, and which personas need more or a different kind of content.


Communication styles: 

Because you already know who you are talking to, set the tone, style, and delivery strategies for your content according to your personas. For example, some buyers respond best to a friendly, conversational voice, with some jokes and questions, while others trust a more formal tone and serious negotiation. By creating your personas, you’ll determine the best tone and style for your content. You can even target the topics you should be writing about for each persona. 


Content preferences: 

At the end of the day, personas tell you where buyers prefer to get their information. Are they like bookworms? Do they like to sink their teeth into 100-page guides, or do they prefer short, concise texts and easy graphics? This information will help you set the way you create your content for each persona and how your buyers will discover it. It's the same for your creatives. Some people won't watch a video, some will only respond to a colorful picture and some only to a call to action post. Create content that will engage your buyers more effectively. 

Note: The delivery strategies for your content may or may not be the same for all your buyer personas. It is also okay to have only one or to have many buyer personas, it's up to you!


How can you target those personas via online advertising platforms?

Besides demography e.g. age, location and sex, each platform gives us a different way to target the customers. 


LinkedIn, as an employment platform, allows us to target people based on their job title, their knowledge, education, abilities, their current employer, as well as companies they have been employed by or their level of seniority. 


Facebook is more informal and fun, so you can target people according to their interest, pages they like, devices they use, travel plans or according to an upcoming birthday in their friend list. There are a vast number of options you can select to describe your persona(s) as precisely as possible. If you take an interest in this topic, you can read more about Facebook targeting according to interests , as well as location


To sum it all up…

Create a comprehensive list of your personas. 

One campaign should target one persona, for a more effective strategy.

Smaller campaigns, with an in-depth target, are more effective with an individual persona.


Having said this, buyer personas are something you REALLY need to run your business and use the online platforms effectively. Got any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us! 

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10 Marketing Books You Shouldn't Miss

Books have been a main source of information for a long time and although we can’t exactly say that today, they’re still very important. Lots of people still read books to educate themselves.  Even though the internet is now overshining our good old books, it doesn't mean that there aren't great works of literature anymore. If you keep on walking around the marketing section in your favorite bookstore and you just can't decide which one you should read, here's your new TO READ list.

Maybe one of them is exactly what you're searching for.


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One Channel Dependency Might Kill My Business!?

Is all your revenue coming from one source? That's a huge risk! Using a single sales and/ or marketing channel to market your business might be a fatal mistake for you. Single-source dependency means over-reliance on one thing and that could ruin your business. It's like having no backup. As much as you diversify your effort into various marketing channels and revenue sources, it’s unavoidable that you find a disparity in results. But that’s not to say you should stop doing it. You never know when a small revenue driver can become your main income and vice versa. 


Some businesses are dependent on one revenue source so they make themselves unduly exposed to forces outside their control. What if that source is over?


For lots of businesses this source is Google, when sales are primarily driven through Google Ads. And they take huge hits when a new competitor outbids them. 


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