When I was 13, my parents bought a lawn and garden store. The store had been started in the 1970s and the processes and tools used to manage it were dated. During the time they owned it, technology became increasingly accessible. They had no idea what kinds of marketing tools were available to help them grow their business, and as a result, they were slow to adopt ones that could have really helped them.
There are many people like my parents. People who are experts in their business area, but aren’t experts in marketing. The way technology has evolved, it seems that everyone needs to be an expert, or at least have access to one in order to best use the marketing tools available.
The reality is, you don’t have to be an expert in each of these marketing areas, but you at least need to know enough to ask the right questions.
Before we get Started
Begin with the plan. I know, plans aren’t exciting but they can be. Anyone can implement marketing tools, but if you don’t have a clear plan and purpose for them, you’re going to end up wasting time and money. Don’t waste time and money! Unless that’s something you enjoy, in which case, have at it. But for those of you who don’t, here is how to get the most out of your marketing tools.
You need to know:
- Your target audience
- The value your business provides (and why)
- How to reach your audience
- How to be compelling and relevant for your audience
Once you can answer those questions as they relate to your business and audience, then you will have a better idea of the right tools you need. Use that information as your guide to determine which tools you need now, or if it’s a longer-term solution. Focus on mastering each one before adding more. Companies that try to do too much at once take longer to succeed at all of them.
Make Your Marketing Work With These Five Tools
These are the five marketing tools you need to effectively manage your marketing and grow your business:
This one is easy. Of course your business needs a website. Make sure people immediately understand what you offer. According to Hubspot, more than half of your visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your site. You get one shot for many of those visitors. Therefore, it’s critical to have a website, and keep it current. it’s infinitely easier now than ever before.
There are many different options for website builders that range in simplicity and functionality. The best options for small businesses include:
Here is a really helpful blog post that compares each option. Everyone’s goals are different. If you’re just getting started and need to have something up quickly, Weebly and Wix offer great templates to start quickly.
Other considerations you need to take into account when selecting a platform, go back to your target audience and business goals. For example, some businesses need ecommerce capabilities while others are focused on blogging and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
And lastly, please make it clear, easy, simple for people to contact you on your website. You’d be surprised how many companies make it difficult to contact them.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM tools centralize all of your prospect, customer, sales and marketing data in one place. They can be an extremely powerful tool and provide critical data about your company and customers.
Many businesses start with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. This works for a while, but as your company grows there is no central view of the business. The sales and marketing data is saved in disparate spreadsheets, data disappears, and people leave. These methods don’t allow for a central view of the business to effectively understand what is really happening. As your business grows it is important to:
- Have a central view of your customers
- Provide a seamless customer experience
- Understand your pipeline
- Quantify the results (ROI) of your marketing efforts
In order to implement CRM software, you need to understand your business processes, goals, and what you want out of the software.
By centralizing all of your customer and prospect data in one place, you have the ability to stay in contact with your customers and respond to them based on their actions. There are free and paid CRM solutions. The tool you select will completely depend on your needs. One helpful article by Business News Daily compares different CRM tools and is a great starting point. Another helpful article by Cloudwards outlines eight of the top affordable CRM tools for small businesses.
CRM is a really big topic, It’s also one that I like to talk about. You can be sure it will be included in future posts.
3. Email/Marketing Automation
At the most basic, email can be used effectively to provide that personal touch that many companies lack.
When my parents had their business, I was able to help them centralize their customer information. They were able to email their customers and remind them it was time to service their lawnmower or chainsaw. Their customers appreciated the reminders and didn’t take much time to set up.
Everyone should be using email both to help customers move along the funnel and to retain them. Even if it is a simple autoresponder and occasional email either from someone in your company using scheduled reminders or set up on a platform like MailChimp.
If you rely on a lot of content development and frequent contact with your target audience, then a marketing automation tool will definitely be something of of value to you.
They vary in abilities, ease of use, and price, but they can help take your processes to the next level and increase efficiency if set up in the right way for your customers.
What are you measuring?
Whatever it is, start with Google Analytics.
The base level is free and it will track many of the important things you need for your website. You can set up goals and events to track conversions and the insights it provides are invaluable to understanding how people are coming to your site, how many are using mobile, where are they leaving your site, etc. etc.
If you’re going to get fancier or are extremely focused on lead conversions, tools like Optimizely can help you better understand and test the best ways to convert your website traffic. But if you’re looking for basic information to understand how people are interacting with your website, start with Google Analytics.
5. Social Media Management
Oh, social media. We love and hate you so. Social media can be the best thing for your company when done well, and one that drives you crazy when done badly.
The essential tips for effective social media marketing include:
- Listen and do your research before jumping in
- Identify your goals for social media marketing
- Go where your audience is
- Know how to speak with them
- Engage and respond
- Perfect one channel before you add another
Once you decide on your channel(s), there are tools to help you schedule, monitor and track your posts. If you want to compare your options, Social Media Examiner has a great article that outlines the best tools for scheduling and posting across social media platforms so you can ensure your messages will get out on time.
The best thing you can do is determine where you are and what your sticking points are. Is there a lack of visibility into your sales and marketing? Are your social media posts being scheduled irregularly, when you have time? Do you have the right insights into your website traffic?
Just remember to focus on one thing at a time so you don’t end up with marketing ADD which tends to confuse your staff and doesn’t help your customers. By implementing one thing at a time and understanding why you’re doing it will help create the path to your marketing success!
Have questions? We’d love to hear from you directly, or in the comments below!
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