One of the best things about creating a marketing strategy for your small business is realizing how many tools exist to simplify the process. From tracking and analytics tools to automation, suddenly it becomes clear that what may have felt like an insurmountable task is actually pretty doable.
Here at Bplans, we love finding and testing new tools to make our lives (and the lives of our readers) easier. So, while we’ve already got some clear favorites, there’s always room for more. We turned to the experts at the YEC to find out what marketing tool, tactic, or strategy they can’t live without.
We’ve covered some of our personal favorite marketing tools in our article, 20 Marketing Tools Every Small Business Owner Should Try, so be sure to check that one out as well.
Here at Bplans, we’re also fans of Hootsuite—we recommended this social media monitoring tool on our list of our favorite marketing tools.
Cynthia Johnson of American Addiction Centers considers Hootsuite an essential because it saves her time—which allows her to focus on actually coming up with content, rather than spending time posting it to a variety of platforms.
“I love to be able to put in my marketing messages with Hootsuite and then have them populate across all platforms,” she says. “This saves me so much more time, which means I can put more into what I’m saying rather than in typing it up for each social media site.”
“Scrivener is one of my go-to tools when I need to plan out an email automation sequence, for example, or a new product launch,” she says. “I love the visual organization that it offers in addition to keeping my notes and content readily available.”
3. Analytics tools (from Google to MailChimp)
While we are also a fan of these recommendations here at Bplans, the main takeaway here is to choose at least one analytics tool and familiarize yourself with it as much as possible. This way, you can determine if your marketing experiments are successful, or if they aren’t performing as well as you’d hoped.
“[These tracking tools] give me the data to confirm whether what we’re doing is working,” says Davani. “After all, success is only success when it can be measured.”
4. The Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework paired with Qualaroo
“For generating traffic and making sure it converts, it’s tough to beat the insights from your target audience,” says Ruben Gamez of Bidsketch. To get as clear an understanding of his target audience as possible, he uses and recommends Qualaroo. “Qualaroo is a tool focused on micro-surveys that you run on your website,” he explains. “It’s great for instant (and highly relevant) data.”
To get the most out of Qualaroo, Gamez recommends pairing it with the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework, a theoretical framework and mapping tool which helps capture customer needs. “[It’s] an interview process that focuses on a single story, e.g. what customers did when they bought or canceled your service,” says Gamez.
5. Old-fashioned signage
Don’t knock physical marketing materials—they’re not as irrelevant as you might think. “I find myself going back to what worked for me as a teenager 20 years ago in my first business: guerrilla marketing driven by large street signs with a clear call to action,” says Charles Moscoe of SkinCare.net.
The trick is to make sure you are actually tracking your offline marketing campaigns, to determine if the return on investment is worth it. Moscoe has had huge success with offline ads, and he says the ROI “can’t be beaten.”
“I can put up signs with bright colors with my short .com domain and a toll-free number and the sales just roll in at a relatively small expense,” he explains.
Pinterest can be a great marketing tool for businesses—even if you don’t have a particularly visual business. While the platform is still essentially a visual pin board, it has huge marketing potential.
“Pinterest has been a surprisingly good marketing tool for our business,” says Jayna Cooke of EVENTup. “Our customers want to browse venues and share their favorites with friends, and Pinterest is a platform that allows our users to extend our brand without any added costs.”
For more on how to create a Pinterest marketing strategy for your business, check out my article Pinterest Marketing: A Small Business Guide.
If you’re looking for a tool to monitor your mobile marketing efforts, Brian David Crane of Caller Smart Inc. recommends Appboy. “It’s a comprehensive tool to monitor our community of users and provide personalized updates via push notifications and email campaigns,” he explains. “AppBoy makes it easy to keep track of feedback and allows us to create custom onboarding campaigns, answers to frequently asked questions, and more.”
If your business hasn’t quite figured out a mobile strategy yet, and you’re wondering if you need one, check out How the Movement to Mobile Will Affect Your Business.
Creating videos as part of your Facebook or Twitter marketing strategy (or even starting your own YouTube channel) might seem complicated, but Blair Thomas of First American Merchant argues that it’s well-worth looking into. “Video content has become a cost-effective way to create successful marketing videos that educate our customers and help provide conversion strength to our landing pages,” he says.
Thomas has seen such good results from video content, that he’s even emphasized the importance of production skills with his staff. “Having a technical staff that is also well-versed in the Adobe suite of products is extremely beneficial for us,” he says. “Good videos only take a few days to produce but can provide months of return potential.”
9. A company blog
In the same vein as video content, creating a blog is a no-brainer when it comes to content marketing. “Blogs are a great way to market without having your audience feel that they are being marketed to,” says Zach Binder of Ranklab. “Instead, you are sharing interesting and relevant information while building your personal brand and thought leadership. In turn, your audience begins to turn to you when they need specific things.”
If you’re interested in starting a blog for your business, check out our article, Help! My Parents Are the Only Ones Reading My Business Blog—it’ll show you how to avoid this outcome.
“I have used Raven many times over the years for doing content and search engine marketing research, creating customized and white-labeled analytics reports, and as a marketing dashboard that integrates with a variety of tools and services,” says Robby Berthume of Bull & Beard.
While there are plenty of analytics tools and dashboards that you could choose from to help you track your social and email marketing, Berthume recommends Raven based on its well-rounded functionality and less expensive price point. “For search, social, and email marketing, Raven is an affordable, easy-to-use platform that does a lot with a little,” he says.
We’ve recommended Buffer on our list of our favorite marketing tools as well—it’s a clear favorite, and comes highly recommended overall. “I recommend Buffer to everyone,” says Roger Lee of Captain401. “Buffer is the industry leader when it comes to understanding the impact and benefit of social media and can offer a lot of help to teams without this expertise in-house.”
Lee argues that virtually every type of business can benefit from using Buffer: “Every company (retail, B2B, B2C, SaaS, brick-and-mortar, etc.) has some kind of social media maintenance they need to do, and Buffer is a great tool that makes this much more efficient,” he says.