You’re ready to get started marketing your business, but there are more tools out there than you can count, let alone research. You could be stifled by paralysis analysis by the hundreds of tools on the market, or you could pick a few tools and just go for it.
My advice to clients is to get started with the basics, and you can identify additional tools along the way. If you want to find out what tools I use to get my clients started, here’s what I recommend. They’ll get the job done, and at a marketing budget that most small businesses can afford.
- Asana - Asana is a project management system, the easiest I’ve found. I even wrote a blop post about how I use it.
Cost: It’s free, as long as you don’t have a major team to manage which would require you to have specific privacy settings for projects. I recently upgraded from the free plan, so I could include some of my clients in my project management system without sharing all of my unrelated projects with them. It’s $50/month for the upgrade.
Tip: You could set up multiple Asana accounts if you want to get around the upgrade.
- Tweetdeck - This is still my favorite Twitter monitoring tool to discover what people are talking about in various niches. You can use it as a scheduling tool for multiple social channels, but I prefer to keep it as my Twitter-only tool.
Cost: It’s free.
Tip: Its monitoring functionality rivals that of most of the agency-level monitoring systems out there. Not great for analytics/reporting, but it is practical and helps you keep your finger on the pulse of your community.
- Wordpress.org - This is my favorite platform for setting up your blog and content marketing. I could get all nerdy on why it’s the best, but I’ll save that for another post.
Cost: Wordpress itself is free, but you will need to buy your domain and get a website hosting company. (I use site5.com, but BlueHost comes highly recommended by my colleagues.)
Tip: Whatever you do, don’t use Blogspot or Wordpress.com! Those sites are for the amateurs.
- Buffer - This is one of my favorite tools for scheduling posts on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. It’s intuitive. It’s easy to use. It’s a client favorite.
Cost: It’s free, if you only add 10 posts to your queue at a time. Awesome Plan starts at $10/month.
Tip: The free plan works well for most of my clients, as I don’t schedule out dozens of posts in advance. I tend to schedule out posts weekly for some of my clients and daily for others.
- ManageFlitter - If you want to do some unfollowing on Twitter, this is my favorite tool to use. There are dozens of other tools out there, but this one has the best interface for unfollowing (in my opinion).
Cost: It’s free, as long as you don’t need to do bulk unfollowing or bulk following. It’s $12/month for those features, and they are not intuitive.
Tip: Stick with the free plan.
- Nimble - This is my favorite social CRM management tool. If I want to monitor my conversations online and tie all of those interactions into email correspondence for a complete picture of my fans/leads/customers, Nimble is the tool I use.
Cost: It’s $15/month per user. You only need one user, as multiple team members can log in and connect their email addresses underneath one account.
Tip: If you have more money to spend and want to have additional SEO features/analytics, check out BuzzStream and BuzzSumo. I have recently moved a few of my clients to those systems because they have better media outreach functionality.
- Bit.ly - This is my favorite link shortener and tracker. It’s not the latest and greatest, but it shows that you know what you’re doing. I have talked about why I use bit.ly, if you want the nitty-gritty details.
Cost: It’s free. No need to upgrade.
Tip: Make sure you customize all your bit.ly link names, if you want to get more clicks.
- Mailchimp - This is my favorite email marketing tool, especially if you are just getting started with email campaigns.
Cost: It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails/month. Pricing starts at $10/month and up.
Tip: There are several features, tips and tricks to Mailchimp. Spend your time learning the platform functionality, as it will pay dividends if you know how to use the tool for your specific needs.
- Google Drive - This is my favorite tool for collaboration, especially if you don’t like working in Microsoft Office. It’s much easier to collaborate on docs, leave comments in spreadsheets and ensure you always have the latest-and-greatest version of any document available.
Cost: It’s free.
Tip: It takes some time to make the switch from Microsoft Office to Google Drive, but it’s well worth the effort. Don’t worry, you can easily export from Google Drive to Microsoft Office formats, if you have clients/customers who prefer that format. Here's a helpful guide to get you started.
- Boomerang - This is my favorite tool for scheduling emails for my various inboxes. It’s not a specific marketing tool, but I wanted to include it. If you find that you want more control over when your emails go out, this is the tool you need. You can also remind yourself of emails, which I like A LOT.
Cost: It’s $15/month. There’s a free plan, if you just want to try it out and only schedule 10-15 emails a month.
Tip: If you need help keeping track of emails and have more control over when your emails go out, just pay the money for the plan. It will shave at least 1-2 hours/week off the time you spend in your inbox.
So, there you have it. My top ten tools for getting started with your marketing system. If you are looking for more help doing the actual set-up of these systems, I am happy to help. One of my favorite parts about marketing is setting up efficient systems based upon your specific needs, preferences and business goals.
Your Turn: What is your favorite marketing tool, and why? Tweet me @mindizone or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to share your favorite marketing tool with me. I’m always on the hunt for new ones!