Think of these apps as marketing robots that will work tirelessly, 24/7 for you
An integral part of your success will be careful management and (at least some) automation of your processes. Marketing automation helps in two key areas - firstly, in making sure you don't drop the ball in terms of keeping everything running smoothly and secondly in reducing the amount of time you actually spend working on the promotional side of your business. This give you more time to focus on your core business.
You can read more on marketing automation here.
What follows in the next part of this guide is a quick run down of a few key systems and applications that you'll find handy when running your strategy. Essentially, I think that there are six types of systems that will need as a bare minimum, as follows (you can set up free versions of all of these types of applications):
CRM stands for 'customer relationship management'. The main benefit of a CRM system is that it helps you keep track of all of your relationships in one easy application. The range of systems available is diverse and there is almost guaranteed to be an off-the-shelf, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform that will fit your needs perfectly.
Tip: Although you may think it's possible to get by with working on a spreadsheet, it really is worth taking the time to set up a proper CRM system. If budget is an issue, there are plenty of free versions available too.
If you want to look into this area in more detail, you might find the following post useful:
What is a CRM system and what can it do for you?
Social Media Management Platform
Social media as a marketing and lead generation method is rapidly growing in importance. While it is true that not every business needs to be interacting on these sites, I'd argue that every business should at least be listening into discussions that are happening about them or their industry on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. However you decide to use these sites, there are many tools that can help make the process much more efficient and effective.
A couple of my favourites are as follows:
SocialBro (Twitter Only)
Lead Nurturing Software/Email Marketing Software
Being a huge fan of lead nurturing myself, I'd be inclined to say that of all of the pieces of software you could implement in your business, your lead nurturing system is probably the most important. If you'd like to see why this is the case, please read my lead nurturing introduction post (linked in section one above).
Depending on your budget and need, there are many systems available for you to choose from. These range from email marketing/autoresponder systems that can be used for a basic lead nurturing program, all the way through to specialised software that can learn your prospect online behaviour and send them individually tailored communications.
As a bare minimum, you want to make sure that whatever system you choose allows you to set a series of emails in place that can be sent automatically after your prospect completes a certain action, such as providing an email address in order to download an e-book.
Some great systems that can help you here include:
Another key area that you will need to have covered is your blogging platform. Even if you only intend to blog once a month, you'll need to decide which platform suits you best so that it's as less hassle as possible.
Two of the most popular systems are WordPress and Blogger - each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and it will largely come down to your own preferences when it comes to making the final decision. The important thing is to pick one, learn it and then get using it.
Here are links off to some great blog platforms:
Note: before you go off and research the above, I suggest you have a look at this post, which is all about how you can actually set up a blog on your site/for your business.
Its definitely a good idea to be able to quickly and easily identify how your site is appearing to - and performing in - the search engines. One way you can do this is to set up a Webmaster Tools account from either Google or Bing. I'd set up both, although if you only want to set up one, go for Google.
You can get to both of these free services by following the links below:
Google Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools
Finally, you'll want to be able to tell exactly what your web visitors are doing when they arrive on your site. Are they bouncing right off, or are they looking through a dozen pages and spending five minutes consuming your content. Google Analytics will provide a wealth of such information so that you can make informed decisions when it comes to marketing or changing your site. You can set this up by following the link below:
Now that we've finished Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide, we'll go on to Part 3, where we'll look at how you can actually start designing your own successful marketing strategy.
Part 1 - Potential Marketing Methods
Part 3 - Putting Your Strategy Together
Thanks for reading,
By Alan MacDougall
Got a nagging marketing question?
Ask me here.
_ _ _
Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.