Marketing is something every small business owner needs to do to attract new customers and bring in sales, however, I appreciate that you don't always have the time to sit down and think up one more original Facebook caption. That's why I’ve put together these labor-saving marketing apps to help you painlessly stay on top of your small business marketing workload.
Creating marketing media
Let’s face it, unless your small business is a graphic design company, you’re probably woefully ill-prepared for creating marketing media. And yet, every marketing platform from Facebook to websites, blogs and emails, require graphics. And not just any graphics, but good ones. So, what is the small business owner to do? Here are my top suggestions.
Fiverr is an online platform that allows freelancers to advertise one-off tasks to potential buyers based on their skillset. And buyers can hire experts to complete pressing, neatly packaged jobs.
Need a Facebook banner by the end of the day? No worries, you can find hundreds of qualified freelancers on Fiverr. Want to revamp your logo? Fiverr has you covered. Written an email marketing series but don’t have a clue about HTML? Good thing hundreds of people on Fiverr do.
So, if you have a bunch of mini tasks you either don’t have the expertise for, or simply can’t be bothered to tackle, get on Fiverr and let it make your life a little easier.
The price: It’s free for buyers to create an account. You simply pay for the jobs you commission. They start at $5 and go up (way up) from there.
Need copy for your advertising campaign? Look no further than your customer reviews! Customer reviews are unbiased, honest accounts of people's experience with your business - and truth be told, reviews make excellent copy for attracting new customers. This is because 91% of consumers trust online reviews as much, if not more than a word-of-mouth- recommendation. Reviews are marketing gold!
The price: Try NiceJob for free for 14 days and you'll have more marketing material than you know what to do with!
Outsourcing can be great, but what if you need to turn around several graphic design tasks? Paying freelancers would soon add up, which is less than ideal for the frugal small business owner. If you want to try graphic design yourself but don’t have the skills for Photoshop, Canva has your back.
It’s an online tool and graphic design library that simplifies the challenging task of creating graphics for your business. It offers 50,000 templates and a drag-and-drop style editor. On its Home page, Canva asks what it is you want to create, a ‘Facebook banner’, ‘Infographic’, ‘A5 leaflet’, ‘Facebook feed post’, ‘Instagram post’ and other endless possibilities.
Depending on your choice, it offers templates you can work from and correctly sizes your ‘canvas’ for the task. So, no more fiddling with picture re-size applications post-creation. And, there’s a wide selection of stock photos and graphic elements available to browse in their library.
The price: Canva is free, with limits. To unlock thousands of free design elements that otherwise cost from $1 each, you can sign up for a subscription for $12.95 per month.
Building customer loyalty
What’s the best way to minimize your marketing efforts? Hang onto the customers you already have. It’s always less effort to keep customers than hunt for new ones. So, every small business owner’s marketing toolkit should include a few good customer loyalty apps.
We’ve all faced eager sales representatives at checkouts pushing more loyalty cards on us that we know we won’t use. If you’re anything like me, they’re chucked in the garbage during your monthly wallet purge.
Clover gets around this customer pain point by digitizing loyalty schemes. A customer can tap their phone to get the same benefits as any chump with a punch card or coupon. It’s pretty hard to lose an app, so this method is more effective at connecting with customers than the alternatives.
It also collects consumer data that you can use to offer more relevant rewards, helps you manage and keep in touch with your customers and encourages you to offer personalized services and greetings that build stronger relationships. That’s a lot of benefits for one little app.
The price: it’s free for the basic subscription or $99 per month for ‘Plus’.
This app builds loyalty while marketing your business to new customers. In their own words, it allows business owners to reach out to their customers “with the right offer, at the right time” enticing customers to return twice as often.
It combines text, email and mobile marketing tools in a cloud-based system called AutoPilot, which is your first clue that it belongs in this list. You can track existing customers, analyze their data, create reports to guide your approach, share campaigns through social media, create personalized and targeted campaigns and more. It also offers a free customer touchscreen that integrates with other point of sale (POS) systems.
The price: FiveStars have a four-tier pricing system: Lite, Performance, Unlimited and Enterprise.
Understanding the content your audience wants
It’s hard to create content for your customers if you don’t know what they want from you. And with millions of new posts making their way online every day, it can be tough to stand out. Everyone wants to give people what they want. These apps will help you find out what that is.
Run out of ideas to share or post? You need Scoop.it in your life. It suggests trending topics by searching for content and identifying third-party pieces that are performing well for your search terms.
By piggybacking on other’s success, you can stay ahead of trends in your industry. So, when you’re too exhausted to get creative, just Scoop.it.
The price: there is a free, limited version and further pricing options for Pro at $14.99 per month and Plus at $67 per month.
If you’re producing content but it’s not getting the attention you hoped, it might be time to get Hootsuite. It’s a useful mix of social media management, listening, publishing and analytics tools.
You’ll be able to see what content is and isn’t working for you, learn how to increase the reach of your posts and boost the effectiveness of your advertisements. Hootsuite’s analytics and reporting feature is customizable, with over 200 optional metrics to track. Meaning you can build reports that are suited to your business’s needs.
If you’re keen on tracking how your content is affecting your reputation, you can also trace your brand mentions by integrating Hootsuite with other tools like Brandwatch and Walkwaker.
The price: there is a free 30-day trial that includes all features, after which you can choose the $19, $99, or $599 per month pricing options.
Managing content marketing
Knowing what to write is only half the battle. The rest is organizing, drafting and posting in the best places, at the right time. Rather than employ an expensive content marketing team, try mastering a few content management apps first.
Instead of switching between Facebook and Instagram to post your content, you can plan, schedule and publish all from one platform. Buffer is an app for small business owners trying to reach customers on multiple social media platforms and looking to save time doing it.
The Price: There are 3 levels of pricing depending on whether you would like to publish, reply and/or analyze your content. Buffer packages range from $15/month to $99/month.
Looking to start using Instagram to build your business? Planoly can help! You can visually draft, schedule and publish to Instagram from one place. It's the only visual planner for this social media platform, and it's easy to use with a drag-and-drop feature. You can even plan, arrange and draft captions for IG stories.
The Price: Planoly has a free plan that never expires, or if you would like to add more features and accounts can range up to $19/month.
Feedly’s content feed is a response to the age-old problem of finding enough to post about. It allows you to follow up to 100 other content outlets so you can find inspiration, share influencer’s material, or work up the knowledge to get involved in affiliate marketing.
Sharing what your competitors or industry colleagues are saying is a great way to encourage backlinks and citations for your website. As an added bonus, by reading around in your industry you’ll find it much easier to regularly generate new content ideas.
The price: Feedly is free if you follow up to 100 outlets and $5 per month if you add more.
About the author: Jodie is a Creative Copywriter, SEO enthusiast and 1st class graduate of the University of Cambridge.