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I have been consulting for some time now and it seems to me that small business are in the driver seat in being able to cherry pick from some of the best systems and tools about there (many free) to drive their marketing.
Here are a list of my top tools and resources that would be useful to invest in today.
1. Build your blog – this is a way to connect with your target audience in an interactive way. It is also a great way to optimise your web by linking your blog in it. The best tool I have found is wordpress because it has the best widgets (applications to enhance your communications). Blogger and typepad are also good but I have a preference for wordpress. It has more functionality.
2. Build your webpage – I think the key thing for small business is to have a web page with a content management system built into it. I use citymax but there are many software programs now that are web based that can give you a basic template and tools to build your website. A word of caution, make sure that the content management system is easy to use, provides all the services you might need, hosting, web optimisation – key words, meta tags and layout formats and will support you as your business grows ie shopping carts, pay per click options, search submission, adding extra domains and pages. You can purchase great templates for wordpress and use it as a website which is a low cost way of getting started but unless you host it on your own domain and use your own CSS tools it is hard to get all the functionality of surveys, forms and product sales online.
3. CRM – a basic database that collects your customers information. I use officeautopilot (sendpepper for SMB) for the base for my customer segmentation and I can use it to send campaigns from, and create landing pages. There are many tools out there that will give you this capability for little investment. 4. Autoresponder – I use aweber. Really great tool for setting up a series of emails to subscribed customers. Not a spamming tool. People need to opt in. It gives great tracking capabilities and allows me to launch many campaigns to different segments with ease.
4. Form creation – I am using Wufoo and finding it excellent. I was using surveymonkey but I think Wufoo has surpass this tool because of its great intergration with paypal and merchant services. Not only can you create a form or survey (great templates) but you can sell using a template.
5. Sell on-line – I have found Paypal to be great and easy to set up but there are many more including shoppingcart. I think you just have to see what works for you best in your country. 6. Tracking tools – Google analytics is the best for me as it tracks information in more detail than some of the other tools but compete is a great one for looking at your competitors. Website grader is also another good one to see how to optimise your website.
Next steps: So if you are not sure how you stack up or the right questions to ask, take my online survey to help you audit your online marketing strategy.