Fun Fact: There are over 543,000 small businesses that are started EACH MONTH.
And there is a good chance that if you are reading this, you either own or are part of one of these small businesses. And you are looking for something to make your business stand out from the crowd.
Another (not-so-fun-fact): Approximately 80% of those businesses will fail within 18 months.
But we are here to make sure yours isn’t part of that 80%. You’re already on the right track, because you are researching an area of marketing that so many (unfortunately) neglect:
Here’s the deal, nowadays almost everyone is online in some way, shape or form. Whether they’re googling something, logging in to Facebook to check on their farm, or just perusing a DIY project that they’ll pin but never finish (ahem) on Pinterest, people are online. Every. Single. Day.
And they are looking for solutions to their problems (whether they know it or not) online. Every. Single. Day.
They are also ignoring print, TV and radio ads in higher and higher numbers, year after year. We, as a society, have grown accustomed to it. Which means that gone are the days when you can ignore online marketing and hope for the best.
It’s absolutely imperative for you to start your business, and marketing discussions, by coming up with a strong, cohesive, and meaningful digital marketing strategy that will set you down the path to success. And put you in that ever elusive 20% club.
So, let’s dive in to some much needed tools, shall we?
1. Email Autoresponder
Over 80% of all businesses across every industry (both B2B and B2C) use email marketing in some way as part of their overall marketing strategy. And for good reason, too!
Email has been a part of the internet essentially since it’s inception. It’s not going away, at least not anytime in the near or distant future. Email marketing can sometimes get a bad rap because those who do it poorly (I’m looking at you spammers) make it harder for the rest of us.
But, there are some amazing stats to back up it’s usage:
Globally, there are 3.7 billion active email users. That number is projected to reach 4.1 billion by 2021. Odds are, some of those 307 billion are your customers
89% of digital marketers said that email was their primary source of purchases
Email ROI is around 122%
So essentially, what I’m saying is, you want to be in email. But which autoresponder?
There are two that are my go to when it comes to recommendations.
Mailchimp and Active Campaign.
Mailchimp has a free version that is fabulous for those who are looking to keep their budget small. This is a bare bones, get the job done, no frills sort of plan. You essentially get the basics of delivering email to your list, not a ton of stats but enough to give you some raw data, and that’s about it.
But, honestly, if you need a free version of an email autoresponder, and you want to keep it basic, this is a solid way to go.
Active Campaign, however, is very robust and offers a ton of features. It’s ‘lower tier’ packages is fairly hefty at $49 a month, HOWEVER, there is a $17/month plan that gives you amazing features, and will make things easy should you decide later on down the road to upgrade to a more robust autoresponder.
Active Campaign allows for a visual representation of your campaigns, gives powerful stats, and on higher tier packages, even allows for text delivery. It store consumer data beautifully and gives you any feature you could possibly ask for in an autoresponder, including amazing data.
AC also integrates seamlessly with a lot of software, including things I’ll be recommending later on in this article, making your job easier.
2. Landing page software (ClickFunnels)
So, landing page software can be seen as ‘not necessary’ for a lot of people because ‘well, I can just use my WordPress landing page’ and while you CAN, it doesn’t work the same. And can actually cost you both time and money in the long run.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is very accurate, especially when you are creating a digital marketing strategy. By trying to save money and hodgepodge together a landing page, you end up losing money in leads lost and time spent.
I prefer ClickFunnels for landing page software because honestly, it’s extremely easy to use, the builder is powerful and very customizable. AND! Split testing is a dream. I can not begin to tell you how easy and efficient it is to split test inside of this platform. But that’s another story for another day.
3. Social Media Scheduler (Buffer and Tailwind)
So, lets be real. Part of digital marketing is getting your face all over social media. But it’s impossible to post everywhere, as often as you ‘should’, on your own, without help. Believe me I’ve tried. So, that’s why I’m a giant fan of scheduling software. There’s really no other way to do it.
Buffer is fabulous for places like Twitter and Facebook. I love keeping my Twitter topped up there so I can realistically get my 7 posts a day in with ease.
Tailwind is my go to for Pinterest and Instagram. I get it, using two scheduling softwares is not ideal, but hear me out.
Tailwind does Pinterest and Instagram like no one else right. There is just no other platform that offers the high quality scheduling and analytics with both of these platforms like this. AND, using Tribes for Pinterest just seals the deal. As a matter of fact, I’ve used Tailwind to increase my Pinterest like woah (again, more on that later)
4. Organizational Software (Asana)
I am the first to admit, I am one of the most disorganized people on the planet. Like, hands down I get myself so mixed up and and turned around at times that I really can let important things slip through the cracks if I don’t pay close attention.
Asana really helps me keep on track. I can input each written piece of blog content I’m working on in there and see exactly what steps I need to take next to put out not only a quality piece of content, but all of the social media aspects that go along with it.
5. CRM (HoneyBook)
When you are beginning to work with clients, especially in a one on one setting, you really need to have a solid CRM software that will organize all of your important documents, such as contracts. HoneyBook not only allows you to keep your contracts and contact forms organized, but they allow you to brand everything beautifully and let you visually see exactly where each of your clients is on their journey through your services.
Plus, you can use their connection platform to find people in your area that you can connect and network with! It’s a fabulous piece of software that I really can not do without.
6. Scheduling Software
Again, if you are working with clients, especially 1:1, you have to have something that will integrate with your calendar so you can schedule client meetings easily, and make sure that there are no scheduling conflicts. I really recommend Calendly, epsecially if you are HoneyBook like mentioned above. Calendly integrates seamlessly with both HoneyBook and your Google Calendar to keep you on track and on time.
Google Analytics, need I say more?
You have to figure out where your traffic is coming from and how they are behaving. This can drastically change your future marketing strategy. For example, lets say you have both an ad going on Facebook and a giant organic Pinterest strategy you’ve been implementing. You assume that the ad is performing best because, well, you’re paying for it. Then, you sign in to analytics and find that 80% of your traffic is actually coming from Pinterest. Without seeing this, you’d keep pumping money into an ad that isn’t doing anything for site.
8. Accounting Software
So, let’s be real. You need to keep track of your expenses and how much you are bringing in. It’s crucial, especially in the beginning. You don’t want to go down a slippery slope of spending more than what you really can (or should) and you don’t want to get caught without cash for a bill coming up. Grab yourself a copy of Quickbooks, hook it up to your accounts and keep a close eye on it.
9. Payment processor
This kind of goes along with #8, but is definitely in need of it’s own spot.
You need to be able to take payments for your services. Like, there are no two ways around it. Unless you want to work for free and that’s just fine! But odds are, you actually want to make some sort of living out of this, because that just makes sense.
Stripe and PayPal are two of the most popular payment processors around right now. Stripe is actually my preferred payment processor, because they do substantially better with merchants who are selling services than PayPal does.
10. Meeting room
So this space is for more of a digital ‘meeting room’, a place for you to gather your clients and do video calls so you can meet ‘face to face’
Skype kind of gets the job done, but generally you need something a bit more robust. Zoom is fabulous and has an awesome free plan! Sure, there are time restrictions and it doesn’t have as many features as a paid plan, but it really does get the job done and allow for you to meet with your clients while saving some funds for more pressing expenses.
Listen, when you are starting out in your online business foray, it’s imperative to have the right tools at your disposal. Getting the right start, with a solid foundation, is absolutely crucial to your continued success.
It also does not have to be expensive to get yourself going either. A large portion of the tools I mentioned above come with free or reduced price options, allowing you to comfortably keep your overhead low while still continuing to see rapid growth and success in your online marketing efforts.
You want to be in that ever elusive 20% of businesses that make it past the first 18 months. I want you to be in that club too. Let’s get you there the best way I know how: With a solid digital marketing plan.
And now, you know where to start!