Most are free, others have a trial period or low cost . . . all are useful tools for businesses and organizations that want to effectively and efficiently grow their online presence. Over the years, I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience through the ever changing landscape of the Internet. As more people decide to start their own business or an organization that has decided to enter a new digital environment, they need to use what works. I figured I would share what I believe are the best tools for businesses and organizations to succeed with Email, Social Media and the Internet.
Email Marketing and Social Media Go together like Ham and Eggs. So here are some tools you should consider.
Toolkit from Constant Contact. Integrates all of the most important tools you will need for successful online marketing. Email Marketing is more than just sending out nice looking newsletters. It’s also about list management, Social Media integration, measuring & managing your results, and of course, making life a bit easier for each business owner.
- Includes a stress free event management. This allows you complete control of the look and feel of your event and helps to maximize attendance to your various events.
- Grow Your Fans, Grow Your Business. Run promotions and offers on Facebook with Social Campaigns. Social Campaigns helps you grow your audience and keep them interested in your business.
- Create and promote shareable local offers that look great and are free to send. It’s easy for your customers to share with friends, so you reach more new customers. Since you’re in control of all the details, you get better results and . . .they don’t take up to 50% of your revenue like the other guys.
- Use Online Survey to deliver inside customer information to your clients — information you can use to help keep their customers happy and coming back for more. Refine you message to your customers and prospects. Find out how they really feel and get the results in real-time.
You still want to create professional looking email newsletters using Email Marketing. This is one of the most cost effective ways to get your message out. Try this free for 60 days. And there is a money back guarantee.
If your business has a Facebook page, then you need ShortStack. It’s that simple.
ShortStack gives you the tools you need to grow your Facebook Fan base. Whether you want to promote a grand opening, offer coupons, or run a sweet giveaway, ShortStack is the ridiculously simple solution. ShortStack gives you the power to create custom Facebook tabs that can be simple to very complicated. It is Free if you have less than 2,000 likes.
Curating Content should be a very important part of your social media strategy and it can become very time-consuming if you’re not using the right tools. This is the best RSS tool I have have found.
Adding content is as simple as searching your topic or blog name and the interface is incredibly easy to navigate, organize and add new feeds. If you’re using Feedly on your desktop, you’ll want to make sure to download the app to all of your mobile devices because it will look very similar to what you’re used to using.
Flipboard allows you to create a personal magazine to help curate content.
Choose your favorite social networks, publications and blogs to view all on one aesthetically pleasing platform. This is especially impressive on a tablet. It makes finding content fun and it no longer feels like work. Subscribe to different magazines to get real time updates when a new piece of content is created and share it with your Flipboard and other social networks.
This can easily be done by clicking on the plus signs next to a magazine or story. Now you can make the internet work FOR you.
Another great automation app you can use is Buffer, it gives you scheduling capabilities and reporting, but the big plus for this one is that it allows you to put evergreen content [which is content that is relevant no matter when it was published] into a queue to easily share later. This can make your social posting even faster.
Find content even quicker by using Buffer’s suggestions tool. You can set-up topics you’re interested in receiving and Buffer will add articles they find around your topic! They’ll even shrink the link and add the handle of the author, so all you have to do is pick and time and schedule your tweet.
Pocket is another free app that you can add to your phone or access on your desktop as a plug-in. While you’re perusing the interwebs on desktop or mobile, you can click a button to save a video, link, article, or video to your Pocket list. Later on when you want to schedule that to share with your audience, you can access your list and share it from there. It’s a great way to bookmark in a more user friendly way than a traditional bookmark list.
Use SinglePlatform to put your digital menu, products, and services in front of potential customers as they search for a business products or services.
Update your digital menu once and publish it across our network of search sites and social networks including Google, Foursquare, Yahoo, YellowPages, TripAdvisor, and dozens more. And the best part of all this is that you control everything from just one source.
Now that you are on the web, here are some great tools to consider.
vCita makes it easy to offer online appointment setting, online payments, contact management and even document sharing and puts it in a beautiful slide out right on your website. Beyond simple contact management, you can create forms, create invoices, have your client/prospect schedule their appointment at any time.
The internet is on 24 hours a day, and now you can take advantage of that and get new business 24 hours a day.
HootSuite is a Social Media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard. Pricing is 3 levels, Free, Pro (free for 30 days then $9.99/month) and Enterprise and goes up.
Key social network integrations include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ Pages, plus a suite of social content apps for YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress and more.
And don’f forget the Hootlet browser extension. This will save you multiple hours per week.
Unlock the value and potential of Social Sharing! To be valuable to your clients or customers you need to provide value first. And one of the easiest and best ways is to share content that you find valuable. This is called curation. But you don’t just want to send someone out on the internet without a way to COME BACK to you. Sniply allows a way to share content and still have them return by attaching your own Call-To-Action to every link. And even more impressive is the ability to review the analytics of what works. They have a free version, but the Basic Plan gives you some cool stuff including the ability to customize your links. The Pro version offers A/B testing. Click here to see Sniply in action (bottom left of the page).
Overgram is now Quick. A much better product.
Add awesome text to your photos seconds. Only for Apple devices though.
Canva is a free online image editor that has tons of templates – for Instagram, Pinterest pins, Facebook cover photos, Twitter & more – and you can also use it to create collages or your own original designs with overlays and text. Although Canva is free, some stock images and designs you may want to use do cost a dollar each per design.
PicMonkey is a free online tool that allows you to edit photos, create collages, and add overlays and text onto images too. Although PicMonkey is free, you can get more features with the paid version, which is $33 per year – totally worth it!
Pablo – is a free, super-simple app designed by the social dashboard app we mentioned before, Buffer. It was designed specifically for creating text overlays in seconds. It gives you 3 sizes to choose from depending on the network you plan to share it to and a bunch of stock images you can pick to put text over.
Pixlr – is available for desktop or mobile and it’s a more robust photo editor. It functions like a user-friendly PhotoShop and you can really do a lot with it to doctor up your images for social. If you’re not interested in purchasing something as professional as PhotoShop, try Pixlr. It comes in beginner, intermediate and advanced versions – with free and premium pricing tiers.
One of the best free tools on the market. Every business should be using this. You use Google Alerts to track all mentions of your personal name, business name, domain name, email addresses, and keywords. It’s also a great way to keep an eye on your competition. Once you set it up, you don’t have to do anything else unless you want to adjust an alert.
Strong and powerful. Try it now and see for yourself.
Tools to help make your efforts look great and almost effortless.
Accept Credit Cards almost everywhere. With NO monthly fees. Complete solutions for every type of business. Using this referral link will get you (& me) FREE credit card processing on your first $1,000 in credit card sales during the first 180 days.
Square is one service for your entire business, from a register in your pocket to reports on your laptop. Whether you’re selling out of your trunk or opening your twentieth location, Square helps make business a little less work.
RoboForm is great application for securely managing your passwords. Roboform has an intuitive organizational structure that allows you to easily find the website and logging in to speed up your web browsing experience.
The one caveat, is that you HAVE to remember your master password. But the good part, is you only have to remember ONE password. And please make it a secure 10+ character password.
Color Cop is a multi-purpose color picker for web designers and programmers. It identifies and represents colors in various hex color code formats. Simply drag the eyedropper control to any location on the screen and release. The hex color code for the selected color will be automatically copied to the clipboard.
A very nice source for free photos and clip art. Almost all of these images are royalty free. Be sure to read the “Usage and License Options” for each picture you want to use.
This is the photo source I use if I can’t find it free at the Free Images website. The credit system works well, and I usually buy the small photos anyway. You don’t need a high DPI for internet work.
And here are some resources that every business or organization should always consider using.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) is a great organization that provides assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs. SBDCs help entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership and help existing businesses remain competitive in a complex, ever-changing marketplace. SBDCs are hosted by leading universities and state economic development agencies, and funded in part through a partnership with SBA. My local SBDC was instrumental in helping me start my business and I still visit them on occasion for help and feedback.
SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. The key word here is MENTORship. These are a group of over 11,000 professional business volunteers. And that means that they are a FREE service for almost everything they do. There are over 320 chapters and hopefully, you can find one near you.
The US Small Business Administration helps small businesses with loans, loan guarantees, contracts, and multiple other forms of assistance for Small Businesses. The SBDC is a subsidiary of the SBA. Definitely a valuable resource as I have grown my business.