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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7 Ways to Save Time on Daily Sales & Marketing Tasks

You, as an SMB owner, have a bunch of daily sales and marketing tasks you are probably facing every day, right? With these tips we will help you save some time.

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How to Target People According to Their Interests

Have you ever wondered about how it is possible that you actually like the products you see in your feed? That is because of the targeting. You should always know who you are talking to. Who is your buyer persona? If you know it, you can tell Facebook what your potential customers look like and Facebook will target them.

Facebook allows you to target custom audiences, lookalike audiences and saved audiences. The saved audiences are our topic in this article. Those are the audiences that you can define by choosing people’s interests or location, demographics, used devices, income level, etc. You can create Saved Audiences both in the campaign setup phase or in the Audience Manager. To narrow or broaden your audience, you can combine those as much as you like!

Regarding demographics-based targeting, you’ll get plenty of topics to refine your audience based on many options. The basic 3 are: Age, Gender and Language. That’s easy.

Location targeting allows you to pick the whole country, a city, or a specific radius around a pin you drop on the map. Imagine you are a realtor and you have a perfect house to sell in California! As an example, you can target people currently traveling or planning their next trip right there… To read more about the location targeting, read this article.

Facebook Targeting audience
Facebook Targeting in Ads Manager

What is interesting here is the interest-based targeting! Interests are one of the best (and easiest) targeting options. They allow you to target people interested in a specific subject related to your product. Does it sound like a good option to target people interested in your competitors or the market segment you are in? To target people based on interests, you can either browse the menu with hundreds of interests or simply type some of them in and see what Facebook can suggest and offer you.

Everytime you edit your audience, you can check your potential reach and estimated daily results based on your campaign objective.

Facebook Targeting
Facebook Interest Based Targeting in Ads Manager

How does Facebook know? The interests are based on its users’ likes, apps they use, Pages they’ve followed, and more. Adding more than one interest will target people with at least one of them so you’ll broaden your reach.

Behaviour-based targeting allows you to target Facebook users by their purchase history, events they were interested in, personal anniversaries, etc. This data is gathered by Facebook analyzing many factors and also using external data sets.

You can include or exclude people based on another kind of information or connections e.g. ads they click, pages they engage with, the mobile device they use or the speed of their network connection. Interesting, huh? You can read more in Facebook article about best practices for detailed targeting.

Pretty much everything is summed up in the picture above. To save your time, save your audiences, so you can always use them again, copy them to make small changes and have a brand new one.

To read more about this topic, you can download our e-book below!

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How Can You (Effectively) Generate More Quality Leads Through Instagram?

Instagram, one of the most famous social media platforms based mainly on visuals, is currently used by more than one billion users and the number is only growing. That, needless to say, represents a great opportunity to reach the audience you haven't reached yet. One of your marketing goals might be to generate quality leads and Instagram may be the channel you want to use. Now the key question is how to effectively leverage this platform so that you generate valuable leads at a reasonable cost. There are ways. 


First of all, you need to consider if Instagram is a channel for you and your type of business. If you can't think of a way to showcase your products or services, show your personal story or share something from “behind the scenes” in a VISUAL way, Instagram may not be a good fit for you. Similarly, if your audience is not present on Instagram, consider other channels for your communication mix. Try to look deeper into LinkedIn or Facebook which represent opportunities to generate leads too. 


On the other hand, if you figure out a way to leverage its visual style, Instagram is a great fit for connecting your potential customers with your brand. 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories. That's just one placement. If you effectively leverage all of what Instagram offers, people will love you (and your brand).


Let's finally jump straight into ways to effectively generate more quality leads through Instagram!


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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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How Do Sponsored Social Media Posts Help You Reach WAY MORE People?

Have you already come across social media posts tagged with “Sponsored”? Do you wonder what they mean and on which principle they work? Good question! An even better one would be, how can these posts help you reach way more people than you do with your organic posts – the ones that you publish on your social media timeline? In today's post, we will uncover not just that, but also concrete steps to get started!

Truth be told, you can use these types of posts to reach many more people than you do today…

But before we jump into what a sponsored post means, let's look at what it doesn't. Say that you run an Instagram profile and add posts to your profile. So do we. This is what it looks like:

Instagram Feed

These posts are the ones that appear on your social media profile and most importantly, on the feed of your followers and friends. The ratio between the number of people you reached with your posts and the total number of followers is your ORGANIC REACH. The more people who follow your profile, the more people you can reach with every one of your social media posts. Therefore, it is important to build your audience.

But what if you want to reach more people? What if you want to expand your reach to someone who hasn't liked your page yet? Both answers will be clarified, go ahead and continue reading...


In regards to the organic reach, we have to tell you the cruel truth. The organic reach is constantly decreasing. What that means for you, is that you no longer reach the same number of people as you did before. 

We have covered this topic more thoroughly in this article, but to point out the importance of this decrease, see the graph below:

Facebook Organic Reach Decline

From 2012 to 2016, the organic reach on Facebook has sunk to almost zero…


Let's do some math to understand it perfectly. Say your page or profile has 10,000 followers. Due to the organic reach decline, your organic posts may reach between 300 and 800 people based on its performance – making your organic reach between 3% to 8%. Now the chance that some of these 300 to 800 people interact with your content is way lower than if you reached 3,000 to 8,000 people (call me captain obvious). It may sound logical and totally clear, but ignoring this fact and relying solely on your organic reach may cost you your share of voice or market share. In other words, you may lose your followers, fans and customers if you don't act.


Now that we've come through what organic posts mean, let's finally clarify what these “sponsored” posts are that serve you targeted content on your social media feed…


Refresh your Facebook or Instagram feed and scroll for a few seconds… Stop, there it is! A post that looks like any other one with one small difference. It is tagged with “Sponsored” in the upper part. Can you see it?

Vogue Business on Instagram

You will find plenty of these on your feed. And most of them will be perfectly targeted at you – based on your interests and preferences. Now the key is to leverage this feature for you and your business, isn't it?


Let's dive into how this sponsored content works. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tik Tok and other social media platforms allow you to run ads through their advertising interfaces. You sign up, learn how the platforms work and jump straight into promoting your content. These interfaces – let's call them the Campaign Manager Accounts for now – remain unknown to “ordinary” users. It's all the magic that “happens in the background”. 


Let's take Facebook as an example. Say I want to promote our post that has been (organically) published on our timeline:


Facebook Feed

Organically we didn't reach as many people as we'd like to. Let's promote the post then…


Either in Facebook Business Manager or tools like our own app, you can follow a few steps and create your campaign – sponsor a post. By defining your goal, marketing persona, budget and message, you can expand your reach and speak to people that have never heard of your business before or show your content to followers you'd not have been able to reach organically.


Going back to our example, let's say that we want to target small business owners in California. According to data from Facebook, we could reach 290,000 people, respectively 277 to 800 people a day for less than $10 a day. 


Yes, promoted posts are about investing something into expanding your reach. But as you see, you don't have to sit on millions of dollars in marketing budget to speak to more potential customers than you probably do today. You don't even have to sit on hundreds of dollars to achieve your goal of reaching more people… 


Not to say that when they purchase from you, your investment is back – with interests (or margin:)


This is what the set up would look like...


Facebook Ads Manager

With only a few clicks – in case you use tools that simplify this process – you are able to start your campaign (sponsored post). 

The best thing is, that you target your posts solely at people who are relevant to your business. In other words, you tailor your content to people that can become your customers, followers or fans.


Say you run an eshop with accessories. You sell watches, necklaces, small pieces of clothes, rings and other goods. You have two types of products: those made for men and those made for women. 


You manage your Instagram profile and post content about your customers’ satisfaction (reviews), newest pieces of clothes and inspiration as to how they fit with other outfits. This content can be interesting for both men and women. But what if you want to run a campaign targeted solely at men with the goal of selling all the men's watches that have been sitting in stock for a long time? That's when the sponsored post comes into play…


The process has already been described: you define your goal (sell more watches), marketing persona (men in California between 25 and 45 years old, interested in fashion), choose which channel you want this post to appear on (Instagram), set your budget and campaign length ($5 a day for 7 days) and finally, create your great content – the ad that your potential customer sees on his feed. Say your post looks something like this:

Example of an Instagram Post

Thanks to this campaign (while using the setting in the brackets), you are able to reach more than 7,000 people. And you've invested $35 in total. Awesome, isn't it?


Is this the only option to increase your organic reach, you may ask? It's definitely not. Marketing is all about synergy. You may want to combine more tactics to achieve the best results. 


Let's go through some tips & tricks that can work perfectly with (or without) promoting your posts.

Create engaging content that can't be ignored

Again, this may sound obvious, but is not always completely understood. Creating super engaging content comes first, along with understanding your audience! If you don't know who you're talking to, your speech can never really resonate, right? 


It's like in life. Imagine you go on a date with a pretty and intelligent woman who is into fashion and yoga. You spend the whole time speaking about the Super Bowl! How would that date end? You probably know the answer... 


The same applies to your social media profiles and any content that you publish. If you create something that no one's interested in, you decrease not just your reach, but also engagement. 


Start with defining your marketing persona and create content that they find interesting, educating, funny or shocking – anything that goes with your brand.


If you do so, your followers will like, comment, share and recommend your content and products. Thus, you can leverage the real power of social media: the snowball effect that happens once people share your content.


Leverage other channels and platforms

Let me share one secret with you. Your followers are not only on Facebook or Instagram. They also use other platforms like Youtube, Pinterest, LInkedIn or Tik Tok. In fact, an average American Internet user has more than 7 social media accounts. That being said, you should definitely leverage the potential to reach your audience where they are (and where your competitors probably aren't… yet)


Platforms like LinkedIn or Tik Tok have a much higher organic reach now. They are where Facebook was a few years ago. That may change as they grow and decide to monetize their audience, but till then, you can build your follower base and successfully grow your business! Go for it...


Are you also suffering from a continuous decrease in organic reach? Do you reach less people than you'd like to? Try some of these tactics and let us know how it has helped :)

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