The role of a business owner is similar to a metal smith. To provide the best services, they need to equip themselves with the right tools.
For this article, we’ve compiled the best online marketing tools and software’s that can help with your digital marketing strategies.
We’ve categorized the tools into different groups due to its large number. It will also help identify the function of a specific tool and how it best suits you.
If you’re interested in SEO and how it can help small businesses, check out our previous blog (link).
SiteGround is a web hosting app that comes with various features. It is considerably cheap compared to other hosting apps and is easy to use.
Regardless of which hosting plan you buy, SiteGround can help make great host choices efficiently and effectively.
SiteGround servers are also built for WordPress hosting, making it easier to manage.
A2 Hosting is a web hosting app that makes speed and reliability its top priority. A2’s SSD “Turbo Servers” are notorious for being able to load pages 20 times faster than normal servers.
The app is also environmentally conscious due to the companies “green energy practices”. They have a goal to reduce their carbon footprint and have been 100% carbon neutral since 2007.
Ahrefs is an SEO Software that contains various tools. They are used for keyword research, link building and competitor analysis to name a few.
Ultimately, Ahrefs is used to get a higher rank on Google. Ahref is also expensive opposed to other SEO based apps and rightfully so.
Its ability to conduct different functions will be a big boost to your digital marketing strategy.
The Elementor Pro provides users with professional tools that can help build your website. They allow the user to customize themes and design forms that integrate seamlessly. It also contains a wide variety of templates and widgets.
If you’d like to have a free trial, download the Elementor Free version and have a go at its features.
The finance aspect of a business can be very confusing. FreshBooks is a cloud accounting software designed for small business owners. It helps users keep track of their financial records.
The program is easy to use and it can help create invoices, financial reports, send follow up emails and track your time.
At about RM200 a month, FreshBooks is highly recommended for business owners who have a messy financial system.
Canva is a free designing platform that was introduced in 2013. It rose to prominence due to its wide array of features and simplicity.
Canva operates like a basic version of Photoshop. It is very easy to use and doesn’t require extensive editing knowledge.
The software is great in designing invitations, social media posts, business cards and many more. You can also subscribe to one of the hosting plans and gain access to more features.
Losing files is a common issue that everyone shares. Dropbox was made to prevent this from happening.
Dropbox is a cloud storage service that allows the user to store back up files online. This also makes it easier to access your files from anywhere.
Dropbox is completely free with the choice of an upgrade which gives more storage space and features.
More or less like Dropbox, Google Drive is a cloud based storage solution where you can save your files online.
Google Drive allows for easier access and file sharing from remote locations. Google Drive is very popular due to its inbuilt integration with Google’s services.
Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are additional features that let you create and edit documents.
Hosting and Registrars
The following are web hosting and registrar services that you should consider. These applications allow individuals or organizations to make their website accessible.
Namecheap is one of the cheapest domain name registrars out there. It is perfect for small businesses as they also offer web hosting services.
Namecheap has fast and reliable services with 100% uptime guarantee. They also sell SSL certificates and privacy protection servers. However, the software’s customer service is rather disappointing and has received various complaints.
Exabytes is a web hosting company based in Malaysia. They are among the best in the country as they offer a variety of services.
Besides web hosting, they provide cloud hosting, email hosting, domain name registrations and digital marketing to name a few. The company has over 20 years of experience and are highly reliable.
As mentioned above, SiteGround is easy to use and efficient. They are considered one of the best due to their integration with WordPress.
They have a range of hosting plans that may appeal to all. Their customer service is also one of the best in the industry.
SiteGround is highly recommended for all users especially to those who are familiar with WordPress.
Cloudways is a cloud based web hosting service. Cloudways stands out because it supports numerous apps.
They allow users to choose from multiple platforms such as Google and Amazon. They also have a flexible hosting plan.
Cloudways is easy to use and has excellent uptime. The only downside is the extra costs for emails and no domain registration options.
A2 is one of the best web hosting apps out there and is well known for being a high performer.
Their service has been overlooked due to the presence of other big web hosting sites. Nevertheless, the site is one of the best due to their excellent speed, friendly customer service and environmental practices.
We’ve compiled some of the best plugins you can add to your WordPress websites. Plugins are software’s that can add an additional feature to your website.
We’ve listed Elementor Pro as an essential tool for a reason. Subscribing to the software will get you over 300 customized templates and over 50 widgets.
You’ll also have 24/7 customer support and WooCommerce which may come in handy if you’re looking to sell merchandise online.
All in One Migration
This is one of WordPress’s most trusted plugins. The software is very easy to use and was built for users who are not technically savvy.
Some of its features include translating over 50 languages, no host limitation, supports various hosting providers and is compatible with your phone.
If you are new to plugins, all in One Migration is one of the best software’s to get.
Keeping your data safe is of utmost importance. Malicious traffic is everywhere and you’ll need the right tools to stop it.
Wordfence is a firewall type plugin that blocks viruses and malware that can harm your website. The plugin is very hard to bypass compared to other firewalls plugins.
Workfence is highly reliable and its unbreakable encryption will keep your data safe.
RankMath Pro is an SEO WordPress plugin that is usually used by established businesses. This is due to its expensive price range.
It will be worth every penny as RankMath is considered one of the best SEO plugins out there. Its features consist of image SEO, local SEO, Woocommerce and video sitemap to name a few.
This plugin is used as a tracking tool for WordPress. With PixelYourSite, you can manage your Facebook Pixels or implement Facebook conversion API. PixelYourSite also supports WooCommerce.
On top of that, the pro version will automatically track huge amounts of data for your business. If you are on a tight budget, try opting for the basic version.
TranslatePress Pro does exactly what the name says. The plugin has an in built automatic translation system that can fully translate your site.
It also allows the user to seamlessly translate their webpage without switching to WordPress’s editor.
Your translated page will also remain forever even after your subscription has expired.
Crocoblock is used for WordPress websites that has the Elementor page builder installed. It is made up of a collection of tools and templates that allow the user to build their webpage.
The features consist of a menu builder tool, high quality templates, WooCommerce and more features for your Elementor Page builder.
ShortPixel Image Optimizer
Sending emails can be a tedious task so we’ve listed 2 tools that may help in this scenario.
Active Campaign is an automation tool that is generally used to reply emails. This software can save you from many hours of sending emails.
Other than its auto responsive feature, Active Campaign has other features such as good customer support, newsletter marketing tool and built in CRM.
There’s also a “conversation” feature which allows you to send a specific message to users browsing your website.
ConvertKit is an email service provider that is very easy to use. It is considered one of the best email marketing tools.
It has descent paid plans and it offers a variety of sign up forms and landing pages to attract more subscribers.
ConverKit also has an easy to manage auto responding system and a variety of different templates to work with.
Many Digital Marketers consider Ahrefs to be one of the more prominent tools. As mentioned above, Ahrefs can help your business rank higher on Google.
The software has a variety of different tools such as link building, keyword research, website monitoring, content explorer and many more. Although it has a very high price range, Ahrefs will be worth every penny.
Many of the applications and software’s above are compatible with WooCommerce. Due to this, we’ve featured the plugin as our sole shopping cart tool.
WooCommerce is an ecommerce plugin that can help you create and manage an online store. It basically lets you adds an e-commerce option to your website.
Its features consist of order tracking, inventory management, customer engagement and many more.
CRO and Analytics
To remain a step ahead of your competitors, you’d need to keep track and analyse the way your customers behave. The following are tools that allow you to do so.
Hotjar is used to analyse your customer’s online behaviour. It can improve user experience by constructing your site based on your customer’s preferences.
There are also feedback tools that allow users to share their opinion. This can ultimately improve your products and conversion rates.
Google Analytics 360 Suite
There are 2 versions of this application; free and enterprise. We’d suggest getting the free version due to the outrageous price tag of the other. The enterprise plan is recommended for big businesses only.
Nevertheless, the free version is still workable as you’d be able to obtain all the stats from your sales.
The following are applications and software’s that can help manage pending tasks and distribute information.
Workspace was created to ensure organizational groups can stay connected. In cases such as the global pandemic, Workspace can maintain work relations even while working from home.
Individuals can have discussions, briefings, brainstorms and many more through Workspace.
Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects. It can tell you the current status of your project, the different people involved and the tasks they are doing.
Trello is very reliable as it can help you and your team stay on track.
This is a messaging app that allows people to better communicate and work with one another. It was designed with the idea of helping people connect more easily.
A special feature of the app are its “channels” which connect people based on the information they are seeking.
Cloudapp is a cross platform application that also has online storage and sharing. Its main attribute are its screen recording features that can capture HD videos and screenshots.
This allows team members and co-workers to communicate and share content better.
Finding a more efficient way to create content? Jarvis.ai is an AI driven copywriting tool that can help create basic content.
Jarvis.ai works automatically by gathering existing content and reconstructing it into something new.
Digital Marketing has completely changed the way companies compete for the audience’s attention in the last few years. With the pandemic happening, the stakes are even higher because everyone is now online.
US eCommerce sales grew by 20% in 2020, and digital ad spend for 2021 will reach $389B. This is why investing in online marketing will bring a lot of benefits for small business owners. Yes, it is affordable than traditional marketing, but the important part is it helps you build a relationship with customers and boost conversions.
Using digital marketing to promote your business will give you a much better chance of success, but what strategies should you consider? What is cost-effective, and what works? We’ve listed down seven online marketing strategies you can apply for your small business.
Strengthen Your Small Business Brand Identity
Often, small business owners focus on selling and marketing but usually forget that their company is a business and a brand. Foregoing branding means that the messages sent out can produce undesired outcomes, getting more questions than conversions.
We may be competing with big brands that have enormous resources and loyal customers, which is why we must figure out how to stand out. Brand identity expands beyond a creative logo; it combines how the brand looks, feels, and speaks to audiences. It influences how customers view the business.
So, where do we start? Research. We can’t create a unique identity if we don’t understand ourselves, our story, audience, and how we want to be portrayed. This requires time and deep thinking, so take a deep breath and be patient.
Know Who You’re Selling To
When in the process of identifying who you are as a brand, you’ll go through the process of defining a target persona. If I asked you to visualize your ideal customer? What would your answer be?
These are some of the questions you might want to ask yourselves when defining your target persona:
- What type of person is going to buy my service or product?
- Where are they located?
- How do they communicate?
- What are their interests?
- What are the problems I am solving through my service or product?
Knowing these things will help us, business owners, develop a more targeted and effective marketing strategy.
Build A Strong Presence On Social Media
How much time do we spend on social media?
We know that more and more individuals spend lots of time on their phones, just like us. That is why social media is the best platform to directly connect with the audience and build brand awareness and loyalty.
For small businesses, social media is an effective platform because it is free and because it is a great strategy to use for lead generation. Once you give content and resources that provide value to prospects and customers, they will be more likely to interact with the business.
Every successful strategy starts with a good plan, so before diving right in, set goals and objectives that follow the SMART framework. Instead of increasing page or post likes, aim to gain customers and increase conversion rate. You must be strategic and ensure that you are sharing the right content with the right people. LinkedIn won’t be my platform if I am looking for a clothing boutique online, just saying.
Utilize Search Engine Optimization
SEO has so many branches, and this might seem like a big task that only businesses with extensive resources can do, but there are areas that small business owners can utilize.
Local SEO is a must, especially for businesses with a physical address, whether a notary public office, retail store or dental clinic. There is only one goal: to get our companies on top of searches related to our business location. So, if I have a “dental clinic in South Hamptons” when users search for this term, we want our business to be listed on the top.
If keywords are integral to our SEO strategy, then on-page optimization is necessary. You can have the right keywords, but it won’t deliver results without optimizing your web pages. So, what are the basics of on-page SEO?
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- URL Optimization
- Image optimization
- Page Load Speed
- Keyword Density
Create High-Quality Content For Your Audience
How do we get our keywords across the website? Content!
Every website now has a blog section containing resources related to the business’s products and services. But it’s not just content for the sake of it. All the information you’ll have to provide should be unique, helpful, and relevant.
For example, a dental clinic can write valuable content such as “Effective Solutions To Keep Bacteria Away From Your Teeth”. W.” would this qualify as valuable? That’s because it directly addresses the dilemma of a person with tooth problems.
But remember, content doesn’t only mean articles. It can range from infographics, eBooeBooksdeo tutorials, and more.
Reach Customers Wherever They Are
Now that we have produced high-quality content, how can we promote it to reach the right audience?
Most businesses opt to advertise on Google because they want to reach the widest audience possible. But, if your key demographic uses Facebook often, you can choose it to promote your content, services, or product. As I mentioned earlier, I won’t be looking for clothes on LinkedIn, so if you’re running ads on the wrong channel, you wouldn’t be getting a return on your investment.
Google and Facebook provide valuable data to improve our ad’s performance and accurately target prospects or leads for future campaigns. We can view the date and time our ads get the most response or the device the users use the most when they interact with our ad.
These automatically-generated reports will help small business owners make a more insightful business decision, especially if we don’t have the budget to hire experts who can dedicate a lot of time monitoring and gathering data and metrics for us.
Connect With Customers Through Email Marketing
Thanks to emails, we can do business from anywhere in the world. According to HubSpot’s Email Marketing stats for 2021, 64% of small businesses utilize email marketing to reach their customers. So, who is to say it doesn’t work?
With 306 billion emails received and delivered every day, we can say that email marketing provides businesses with immense opportunities to engage with new and current audiences. If utilized correctly, email can play an essential role in building long-term and profitable relationships with customers.
Email also helps us understand our audience more because it is the closest thing we can get to communicate with our customers directly. It can also generate a lot of return for minimal investment and helps us retain customers.
Why Is Online Marketing Important For Small Businesses?
The group of potential customers we can find online is much larger than the group we can attract using traditional marketing or locally. There are various areas of Digital Marketing we could explore even when the budget is tight.
We can reach a global marketplace and interact with prospects while learning what they are looking for, their pain points, and what solutions we can offer them? In this way, we can build a relationship with our customers and become their trusted partners.
Is Online/Digital Marketing The Future?
Yes, we could say that it is the future. Online Marketing is no longer an option; it’s a necessity that sits on top of every business’ strategy. The data, ease-of-access, etc., all contributed to the success of this industry, and the future for Digital Marketing is definitely bright.
Leveraging various online marketing strategies we have mentioned above can help small businesses compete even with large corporations, bringing their brands in front of the right people.
What’s the best way to design a website on a small business budget? Luckily, options abound when it comes to domain creation, design, and distribution.
The world has gone virtual post-pandemic. Companies that were strictly brick-and-mortar operations moved to the internet. Today, a good portion of the 31 million small businesses in the U.S. have some form of online address.
You don’t have one yet; however, you’re ready to get one. Unfortunately, you don’t have a huge budget to play with. This is okay because there are several options for you to choose from to give you an active online presence.
Here are a few ways how to design a website on a budget for your small business.
For the most part, the internet is a powerful and useful tool. It helps you find items that could’ve taken days to research through the library. So, there’s no excuse not to perform extensive research on web platforms.
Review sites are the best place to start. They provide fairly accurate discussions about a company’s design tools, prices, and customer service. If they’re generally positive, then it’s a good idea to examine them further. If it’s a mix of good and bad reviews, then use your best judgment on how to proceed.
Choose Between A Site Builder Or Design Group
As you research you also want to be aware of the type of service you want to use. Is it self-service or should it be a website development group? Both have their pros and cons.
The self-service site builder gives you plenty of options to customize your virtual eCommerce location. Their drag-and-drop tools make it easy to add blogs, audio clips, and videos. However, development is limited to what they offer on the user menu.
On the other hand, the development group has subject matter experts to optimize the website’s front end (the user interface, or UI) and the back end processes (the user experience, or UX). Thus, you get a site that’s a head above many other small businesses. Yet, design group services cost more than most site-building platforms and could be out of your budget range.
Choose Between A Hosting And Building Platforms
Should you decide to pass on a development group, the next option is the type of platform you need to design the site. There are two forms of this. One is a hosting site, and the other is a creation-only platform.
Examples of hosting sites are locations like Wix and Squarespace. Not only do you have the power to build your online location but you also host the site on their servers. Though this saves a good deal of time, the downside is some difficulty relocating your website from its proprietary environment.
A good example of a site-builder platform is WordPress.org. Released in 2003, the site recently implemented its drag-and-drop menu called Guttenberg, thus making it easier to design an online location. The downside to WordPress.org is you need to find a separate hosting site for your web pages.
In your research, don’t confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. The latter is a hosting platform similar to Weebly or Hostgator. Additionally, where the services of WordPress.org are free, you must pay for a subscription to the .com version.
Determine How You Want To Pay
One way or another you need to move your website to a hosting platform so it becomes active. Most sites offer several options for personal use, freelancers, and small to medium-sized businesses. What you choose and how you pay depends on your budget.
If you’re just starting, we recommend a low-end plan that allows you to also host a fully qualified domain name (FQDN). In other words, your small business site should read www.widget.com instead of www.widget.wordpress.com. It provides a more professional look.
How you pay depends on the options. For instance, if you select an annual WordPress.com Premium subscription you receive a free domain for one year. However, if you select the monthly option for the same plan, then you lose the domain.
Utilize Your Own Content
Most website builders have built-in content, images, and videos to use for free. However, these choices are limited. If you need something different, then you must pay for it, and that takes a chunk out of your budget.
Bypass these options and utilize your own content. There are plenty of sites that allow you to create or download items for free. For instance, Pixabay touts over two million free images. Meanwhile, Canva allows you to create logos, banners, and other items needed to spruce up your website.
Store Items On The Cloud
Web hosting platforms tend to have packages with storage capacity. Unfortunately, when you need to create one on a budget, what they provide doesn’t fit your desires. Prevent this by utilizing Cloud storage services.
Several options in this market have more storage for little or no investment. For instance, if you subscribe to the Microsoft Office Suite of products, then you receive up to 1TB of storage on OneDrive. Meanwhile, Google offers 15GB divided between its Cloud and Mail services.
FAQs On Website Design For A Small Business Budget
Can I learn web design on my own?
It’s easy to learn web design on your own. Most site-building platforms offer drag-and-drop options to create templates, change colors & fonts, and add multimedia options. If you have the time, there are online opportunities to learn website coding for more comprehensive designs.
How does a website development team operate?
A development team goes beyond the drag-and-drop setup of a website. They utilize coding platforms like Python and PHP, among others, to enhance the site’s user interface (UI) and the background user experience (UX). In simpler terms, they make it easy to maneuver and process information.
How do web hosting services work?
Web hosting services provide shared or dedicated anchors to host websites. Not only do they provide the platform for your site but also give it an address. This allows your customers to visit the location.
Most platforms do provide free hosting services, however, the options provided are somewhat limited. You must pay a monthly or annual fee to host your own domain name or increase the level of customer service. What option you select depends on your immediate needs.
Are domain names free?
Domain names are similar to street addresses. However, like someone does to live on a certain stretch of road, you have to pay for a fully qualified domain name (FQDN). Companies like GoDaddy allow you to search for a name and claim it for a fee.
Do I need a domain name for my website?
It’s a good idea to assign a domain name to your website. One reason is it gives it a professional feel. Another is it makes your site easier to find through search engines.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is one of the oldest web design platforms. The free version, WordPress.org, allows you to design a set of pages through a combination of drag-and-drop elements and plugins. However, you must select a hosting site for something designed in WordPress.org.
It could be you are setting up a new business and wondering if you need a website for it. Or, you already have an existing business and have come this far without a website.
Understandably, you might have a list of justifications why you don’t need one. But, the reality is that not having a website costs your business more- both money and time. We have compiled a list of some of the top reasons you should consider getting a website for your business.
We live in a skeptical digital era where almost everyone will first browse the internet before making a purchase. Once a potential client can’t find your website, they will question the legitimacy of your business more likely than not.
Besides, a website helps vouch for the quality of your goods or services to the masses, giving you a chance to stand out. It is your chance to build a lasting first impression, which gives you a competitive advantage.
2. Having Control of Your Brand
“Focus on the right message for the right people at the right time.” – Russell Glass
3. It is a Marketing Strategy
You can have the best products or services in the world, but if you don’t tell the world about it, it does you no good. That is why you need to create an effective marketing strategy.
Given that most people rush to the search engine first thing, SEO comes in handy. Therefore, when you have a website optimized for search, you can effectively spread the word about your business.
4. 24/7 Presence
Chances are, your business does not operate 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Therefore, you can only communicate with customers within the hours of operation. However, a website does not restrict you to a few hours each day but instead remains operational round the clock.
Consequently, even when you or your staff are not available to interact with your customers, they can still find information about your business on the website. Even better, customers can submit their orders through the website any time, any day.
5. Staying Relevant
While uniqueness is a fundamental principle in business, it is also important to keep up with the prevailing trends, lest you will soon be out of business. Regardless of which industry you are in, your competitors likely have a website. Therefore, to stay relevant in your niche, you also need to have a footprint online by having a website.
6. It Saves on Time
7. Compelling Customers to Engage with You
8. Making your Business Easier to Find
9. Leads to your Business
While other strategies, such as word of mouth, still work, we cannot downplay the role of a website in appealing to a new audience.
Your business grows when more and more clients are streaming in, and a website can increase the chances of getting leads. Especially if your website is search optimized, people can find your business with ease.
Pair that with readily available contact information, and the return on investment will be significant