Recently, I spoke at Inc's GrowCo conference on social media strategies for any business or budget. With so many small business owners wanting to maximize their marketing dollars, I wasn't surprised when several attendees came up to me after my keynote to ask about other aspects of digital marketing on a budget. One of the most popular questions was, what kind of digital marketing tools should small businesses - especially those with tiny marketing budgets - be using? Thankfully, there are lots of excellent, effective - and yes, totally free - marketing tools that can add immense value to any small business's marketing efforts. Here are a few of my favorites. HubSpot Marketing Free One of my current favorites is HubSpot Marketing Free. As the name says, it's completely free, so small businesses can start using it with no risk. It's a simple-to-use program that links in with your website, yet it still collects a wealth of information that allows you to see where your web visitors are coming from, what pages on your site are converting, and much more. With this level of detail, you can customize everything from the articles you write to the offers you make -- resulting in better engagement and ROI. Every person who signs up for your email list is captured in HubSpot's free tool and it will even show you their social media profiles so you can learn more about who they are, where they work, and what they're interested in. As I've shared in my most recent book, Momentum, agility through analytics is a competitive edge. In fact, marketers who check their analytics three or more times a week are 20% more likely to have a positive ROI. Analytics can also be incredibly helpful for re-targeting. For our client, EyeCare 20/20, a LASIK provider, we used data about who shared their email address on the site to specifically reach out, via a targeted email, to males/females 55 years and older who'd had LASIK to promote a new procedure that eliminated the need for reading glasses. A more targeted approach increased the odds of their message being relevant and resulted in more business. In addition, Hubspot's free tool integrates with a wide range of other online tools, like Wordpress, Shopify, and others. This might not sound that important, but it actually is. It means that if you've already set up email capture forms using other systems, the activity associated with those users will still show up on your HubSpot dashboard.
Buffer When it comes to managing multiple social media accounts, we can all use tools that make the process more streamlined. I've found Buffer to be one of the very best free platforms for managing social. It has all the important features you expect with a social media management platform - post scheduling, solid analytics, and the ability to customize posts for each social network, for example - as well as some more advanced offerings. For instance, with Buffer's browser extension, you can quickly and easily share what you're reading online. No more logging into to three different social networks, copying and pasting the link, and deciding what to say about it on each. Instead, you can simply click on the Buffer button in your search bar and then decide which networks to share to, and when - all without leaving the page you're on. SurveyMonkey Data-driven marketing is the name of the game in today's digital landscape. But if you're a small business, you likely don't have the resources available to get data on your customers the traditional way: by hiring a market research firm. Instead, you can use SurveyMonkey. This platform is a survey and questionnaire tool that offers a robust free option - with it, you can design and send effective surveys to your email list and use Survey Monkey's analytics tool to analyze their answers. What makes SurveyMonkey really useful is that you can use expert-reviewed templates and questions to make sure the data that you're getting will be accurate and helpful - not skewed because of the way you worded your question or answers. Building a business on a tiny marketing budget doesn't have to feel overwhelming. These free tools can help you boost your efficiency, streamline your workflow, and gain real, actionable data so you can take your company to the next level - whatever that may mean to you. The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com. By
What to Promote with AddThis Marketing Tools For Optimal Conversions
For those of you not aware, the AddThis.com plugin is a social share plugin that has gained popularity for providing an all-in-one solution to bloggers. Over the past few months, the AddThis.com team has made several changes to their plug-in, making it more user friendly. What's interesting is the diversity of websites this plug-in is perfect for and it does increase overall engagement. With the recent introduction of the "Welcome Bar", I'm not surprised more people are using the custom message option to generate traffic while promoting their content. AddThis.com recently collected data and found the custom message option works well with the following types of content. For you to make full use of this content, it's important to leverage the AddThis.com plug-in and install the "Welcome Bar" to display custom messages. If you're already utilizing this plugin, then let's look at some ways to really bump up user engagement. What is Custom Messages from AddThis.com? AddThis.com has data from 14 million websites that will help customized your plug-in. You can set up your website to display a specific message depending on where they come from. This will allow you to target more precisely, making sure your message gets across to the right visitor, increasing your conversions. The custom message function is very simple to understand… You can display a specific message or call-to-action depending on where they have come from. AddThis.com, through their data, can track visitor's online behavior, displaying the right message to the right person. Here are the most effective custom messages that produce the highest conversions. You should consider implementing these strategies into your blog going forward.
Surveys Because AddThis social plugin can display customized messages depending on their interests, then why not collect feedback on the way they perceive your content? If you're like me, then you have 4-5 different niche relevant websites and creating customized messages for each can be tedious. With this awesome tool, you can control everything from one back end and display the right messages to the right visitors. Even if the visitors are first time visitors from an unknown source, AddThis.com has enormous data to capture the right metrics to display a targeted message. Here's something else… The AddThis data can be used to display tested custom messages that perform well so you are converting more than simply testing. Networking If you've been in the industry for several years, then you've built relationships with influential people in your industry. Having the ability to customize messages is a great way for each of you to promote the others content. Through custom messages, I can tweak the message so it promotes my partners content and place the right call-to-action directing them to the right page. They can even do the same for me, tightening our relationship while building each other's brand. It's a great way to promote high quality relevant content and find out what works and what doesn't. For example, I can test different messages on my partner's blog then track which content gets the highest conversions. I can then focus on that content going forward. Contests These are a great way to build a relationship with your audience. A contest is very simple because in exchange for their opinion or vote, you're giving away a product or service. This can be a product or service you offer and doesn't have to be expensive. However, through contests, your main objective is to get the right type of feedback from your audience. When visitors arrive on your page, you can ask them for their feedback on anything, which gives you a better understanding of the chances you should make going forward. Depending on how things are set up, you can find out more about the content you should be writing or changing specific elements on your page. Here's a cool trick… Ask for their opinion and tell them they'll be notified by email when contest is over. This way, you're building an email subscriber list at the same time as getting valuable feedback. By Rizvan Ullah