Some days I sit here and imagine if I were the marketing director of Nike or Lexus or Rolex, how I’d spend the millions of dollars allocated to marketing. Then I skyrocket back down to earth and remember I need to turn off my $50 Facebook ad before it goes over my budget.
When you run a small business, every dollar matters. Believe me, I get it. That’s why I’ve spent the last year sniffing out the online marketing tools that make the biggest impact at the best price—zero dollars.
Here are six tools I use every day for myself and my clients. If you market your business online, you shouldn’t live without them!
Buzzsumo is a free tool for finding the most-shared content on the web. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s completely transformed the way I discover great content to share on my social media platforms and those of my clients.
Why is Buzzsumo so awesome? It’s almost like a crystal ball that can predict exactly which content is going to be shared virally.
For example, I write about marketing. If I go to Buzzsumo and type ‘marketing’ into the search bar, it will return a list of the most-shared articles on marketing with in any given timeframe.
Take a look at the results. I’ve filtered them by topics shared within the last month.
An article from the Washington Post titled ‘Why you should always buy the men’s version of almost anything’ has been shared 190,000 times. 185,000 of those shares came from Facebook alone.
If I share this same article on my Facebook page, there’s a good chance people are going to click on it, ‘like’ it and share it.
But wait! That’s not all… Searching on Buzzsumo is also a fool-proof way to find topics to write about.
For example, you can see the above post about a student-created ad for Johnnie Walker is getting tons of shares. Maybe I’ll write a blog post rounding up the best student ad campaigns this year, or try and score an interview with the kid who made this popular ad.
If the audience likes topic X, there’s a good chance they’re also going to like a topic that’s closely related with X.
I am not a designer. There is hardly an artistic bone in my body. And while I’d love to use a professional graphic designer to create all of the visual elements for my site, that kind of cost adds up quickly
Enter Canva. Canva makes it easy to design simple, great-looking images like the ones I use in my blog posts, no design skills required.
The tool offers premade templates, which you can see on the left in the image above, for pretty much any type of design from Instagram graphics to Facebook ads to PowerPoint presentations. You can pick a template and modify it to suit your needs.
There are tons of free fonts and stock images to choose from, or you can upgrade to premium elements for just a dollar apiece.
Once you get the hang of it, you can even design your own graphics from scratch and Canva makes it nearly impossible to screw up. For example, design elements snap into place to make sure they’re properly aligned.
I have a love affair with Buffer. It’s not often that an app comes along that works so perfectly for its purpose. For me, Buffer is that tool.
Buffer helps you schedule your social media posts in advance. My accounts couldn’t run without it. You can use Buffer for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, but I use it almost exclusively for Twitter.
You can schedule one post or 100 posts in advance. Here’s how I do it. I’ll sit down for an hour or two and batch create a few dozen posts at a time. Then, I pop them all into Buffer and it magically schedules them across the next few weeks. Genius!
If there’s a post that I want to appear on a specific day and time, I simply drag it into the correct position on the schedule.
After your posts have gone live, you can then use Buffer to see which of them were the most successful. Be sure to re-share those posts in the future!
If you manage a website, you’re probably already using Google Analytics. But if you’re not, I recommend getting it installed pronto! It’s free and only takes a few minutes.
Google Analytics is an essential tool for seeing who’s coming to your site, how they’re behaving on your site, and where they’re coming from. When you monitor these metrics on a consistent basis, it’ll help you make adjustments to grow your traffic even further.
If you’ve built up a good deal of content on your site, Google Analytics can single out your top performing articles so you know which pieces of content to share more often.
You can also use Google Analytics to see what type of interest your audience has outside of your niche. Let’s do this for a site I work on.
I log into Google Analytics and go to Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories (in other words, interest areas for this site’s audience).
Google Analytics tells me this audience’s interests, ranked in order of importance. You can see here that movie lovers and TV lovers top the list. So, it stands to reason that if I wrote a post geared specifically to the latest hit show or movie and tied it back to the product, the audience would gobble it up—leading to more shares and more purchases.
On Twitter, there’s this unspoken (and kind of silly) rule that you should have more followers than people you follow. If you’re one that abides by this rule, you’re going to love this tool.
Manage Flitter makes it easy to see which of the people you follow are not following you back, so you can unfollow them. While I have to admit it seems superficial, it’s a great way to weed out accounts you don’t really care about or that are old, abandoned, etc.
You can also use Manage Flitter to find people in your niche to follow. Four example, if I type West Palm Beach into the search bar, Manage Flitter will show me all of the people who either tweeted about West Palm Beach or have West Palm Beach in their profile. I can follow these people from within the program.
Sharing other people’s content is a part of good social media etiquette. But if you’re like me, deep down inside, there’s this selfish little troll that wants all the website traffic for yourself!
Sniply was made for that selfish little stroll.
Enter any link you’re about to share and Sniply will create a little blurb with your custom message. It’ll appear on the bottom corner of the website when you share the link.
I use this one sparingly to avoid annoying my audience. But if ‘m sharing an article that’s directly related to a similar post on my site, Sniply is a great way to point readers in my direction.
What are your can’t-live-without marketing tools?
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