As people starting an online business, we want to be frugal, yet we want things to work.
And we want things to work well.
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You'll know from my previous posts that I'm a massive fan in taking the non-headache approach to things. By non-headache approach, I mean I will usually always pay for software over free alternatives, if:
- There are no free alternatives: I mean, what can you do? There's nothing for free that does what I want it to do, I have to pay for it. BUT, more on this below.
- Free alternatives don't have a sustainable business model: Now, if I am going to be using something that is temporary, sure, I might go with a free alternative. But, if I am choosing a product or service that is core to my business, and the company behind it has no means of making revenue (either from pro-versions of the software / service etc) then what is going to keep them making the software?
With the advancement of technology in the business world, everything is possible, partly due to the endless software out there.
And with this list of available software growing daily, it can be difficult to keep track the ones ones you should be using.
While all businesses are different, there are software in particular that I've repeatedly found incredibly valuable when launching ideas and starting online endeavors.
[clickToTweet tweet="Every time you borrow money, you're robbing your future self." quote="Every time you borrow money, you're robbing your future self."]
In this post below, I outline the 6 most useful online marketing software (in my opinion, and they're all FREE!) that you could try out today.
Each one is worth your consideration, so take a look and let me know what you think!
1 - MailChimp
If you are not familiar with MailChimp, this tool is an email marketing technology used by more than 80% of B2B and B2C companies. MailChimp is the top email marketing provider in the world, and one I always hear people using, so you may already know about it. Started in 2001, it has a self-service support feature to ensure that you can easily find answers to all of your questions.
Before I found ActiveCampaign, I was using Mailchimp for everything because you can use it for FREE for lists up to 2000 people. This is great, because, by the time you reach 2000 people, I guarantee you you'll know whether or not your business is going to be viable.
Being one of the most popular email marketing software available, it also integrates with A LOT of the things you'll be wanting to integrate it with. That comes with popularity, right? Yep! For example, WooCommerce, Gravity Forms, Beaver Builder page builder for WordPress - they all have options to connect your forms and data to Mailchimp.
For me, personally, I switched from Mailchimp to ActiveCampaign for my email marketing because as my list grew, I wanted to do some email automation with my website BeyondBeaver.com.
That's the only downside to using Mailchimp in my eyes. You have to pay for the automation features. For example, if you want to set up 10 emails to send one a week over 10 weeks, you have to pay for this with Mailchimp. ActiveCampaign is only $9 a month and when compared to the paid versions of Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign is hands-down my favorite. ActiveCampaign is actually my favorite software right now and is the heart of my BeyondBeaver.com blog.
To wrap up my recommendation on Mailchimp, Mailchimp I use to validate ideas as it is FREE, and you should too! I set up a website, drag in a Newsletter Form using Beaver Builder, and then when people fill out this form, they are added automatically into Mailchimp for me to send emails to.
If all goes well and I get a few people into Mailchimp, to the point where I want to set up automated campaigns and set up automation, it is at this time that I start paying for ActiveCampaign.
Give Mailchimp and let me know what you think!
2 - Trello
You've probably heard of Trello before. It's a project management software, and, in terms of starting a business, it's super useful. And, it's FREE!
So, there are many ways that you can use Trello for your business, and all I can suggest, is that you need to use it and decide how you can leverage it best for you. Everyone's brain works differently, even your brain and my brain will work differently, so we may set up Trello differently.
But that's what's great about Trello. Not only is it FREE, but it's also extremely flexible! And can quickly be set up.
What’s even better about using Trello is the fact that you can quickly invite your entire staff (or other people) who can be in and managing projects today.
3 - Buffer
Buffer is my social media automation software of choice, and it has a FREE plan. I'm actually on the $9 a month plan because the FREE plan limits you to only scheduling 10 posts per social media account, and I like to use it a bit more.
The free account, however, is more than you need when you first start your online business.
The way I use it is that on a Sunday night I log in to Buffer and schedule all my posts that will go out over that week.
So, I create a new Post in Buffer, select it to go to my LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook Page, and then add my post. It automatically gets the featured image from my WordPress Posts, so it is literally all done out-of-the-box.
Buffer also has a lot of users, so it can work out patterns based on the data it gets from all its users. For example, Buffer would know when things shared on social media get the most likes, and it uses this information to your advantage.
When I schedule a post in Buffer, it automatically sends it out at the time Buffer knows is best for each different platform.
Another thing about buffer I like is that it comes with a Chrome extension (there's a Firefox one, also) so if I like content while browsing the web during the week, I just click the buffer icon and click posts and it shares that post on all my social media channels.
It's really powerful stuff, and since using it I have saved so much time. I'd definitely recommend trying out the free version if you're trying to grow your online business.
Especially if you consider this (someone told me and it has always stuck with me). Producing the content takes hours, if not days, but that's just the content. With your business (especially bloggers, or people who produce content online), making the content should be 20% of your time and 80% of your time should spend sharing and promoting the article.
Buffer - It'll get you one step closer to automating your online business, which is what we're all wanting, yeah?
More time to focus on the things that matter - like our actual business!
4 - Google Analytics
Your online business isn’t complete without Google Analytics. It should be a part of your marketing strategy from the very start. This tool allows you to track every action performed by visitors to your website.
Now, in life, there's data - facts and figures. Once we analyze these facts and make sense of them, we turn them into information. Information allows us to make more information decisions.
Having information allows us to make more information decisions. And that' exactly what Google Analytics does.
With the data you receive from Google Analytics, you are able to find trends and the capitalize on them.
For example, I use Google Analytics to see what my post popular posts are. With this information, I then know what sort of information people who are visiting my website are looking for. This allows me to write more information on only popular topics, which is a win, because then I am giving my readers more of what they want. This also saves me time and headache because I'm not writing articles that no one cares about. If I write 3 articles on a subject and 6 months later no one has visited those posts, I will not be rushing to write more on this subject.
Best of all, Google Analytics is FREE!
5 - WordPress
You probably already know about this beast so I'll keep it short. WordPress is FREE to use, but you'll need to find hosting (I'd recommend InMotion Hosting - that's who I am currently hosting this website with and their support is great).
WordPress is great because there's lots of documentation online and (poor me) there's A LOT of people who know how to develop and design websites with it, so pricing always stays competitive.
In terms of Plugins and Themes for WordPress, I use the Beaver Builder Theme that comes as part of the Beaver Builder page builder for WordPress. I also recommend trying out the Genesis Child Themes, OR the Themes on ThemeJunkie. These are really the only Themes I trust and will use (and do use myself) because I know they work well.
Plugins - I recommend trying out Beaver Builder because it's a drag-and-drop page builder for WordPress and it allows you to build websites really quick without knowing how to design or code. I've even made a comprehensive video course that teaches you how to use everything in Beaver Builder.
RELATED: Click here to see the Getting Started with Beaver Builder course.
6 - BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo allows you to see what content is being shared the most online for a specific topic.
So, say you're starting a blog that teaches people how to become a consultant online.
On BuzzSumo, you'd type something like "become a consultant" into the search box and the results will show you what blog posts are trending the most on social media. With this information, you know what people related to your business are wanting to know more about.
Not only can you search by topic, but you can also search by domain name.
I use this tool in two different ways (but there are many ways you can use this - be creative!).
The first way I use BuzzSumo is to find ideas for blog posts to write. I enter the domain names of other websites in my niche and see what their most popular blog posts. Then, I might write a blog post myself one of these topics.
Think of BuzzSumo as a validator. It validates your idea before you get to work producing content, as it shows posts that have already done well and been shared online.
So you know the effort you put into writing the post about a particular topic is going to be a hit because it was already been a success for someone else.
Another way I use BuzzSumo is to see what sub-topics I should write about.
For example, if I want to write about email marketing, I might type "Email Marketing" into the search bar and then see what the most popular posts are in relation to email marketing.
I'd then click to read these posts, get the general idea of the topics, and write my own spin on the topic.
If you’re a business owner still learning more about your market, then you need this tool, BuzzSumo. Starting a business requires that you have knowledge about the industry and your primary competitors.
If you want to understand more of your competition then look no further!
TL;DR: BuzzSumo will help you understand your competition and target audience.
Are you using any of these tools for your business? Share your thoughts with me below in the comments!
No matter what software your Online Business is using, you won't be successful unless you have set up your business in a way that will allow it to grow and thrive in an online marketplace. The Lean Startup is a book I have read and it runs you through how you can start a business without needing to map everything out. I was always taught that I had to write a 10 page business plan, and go from there. I feel this book is more on the money, as it discusses how you can set up a business in the dynamic, fast-paced world we live in today.