The best online marketing platforms for small businesses
Being a small business or startup means you and your staff might have to wear a lot of hats – and you’re okay with that, but it helps to have a bank of tools at your disposal to make it just that little bit easier.
However, collating that list of tools and platforms is easier said than done – especially when there are so many out there. This makes it difficult to know which platforms are right for you and your industry, as well as being aware of any sneaky costs that might be involved.
Below, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the best online marketing platforms for small businesses, taking you from design to development to deployment.
6 online marketing tools designed to make your life easier
Best for measuring performance: Google Analytics
Your website is one of the most important business tools you have. But without performance measurement, it can be tricky to see how well your website is working for you and what improvements can be made to drive even more traffic.
Enter: Google Analytics. This powerful tool is completely free for the standard version – but is by no means ‘standard’ when it comes to the information it provides. Depending on your website CMS, you should be easily able to implement the tracking code, either within the CMS itself, or via Google Tag Manager (another free tool!).
Perfect for: Finding out performance details of your website, including time spent on site, top landing pages, and conversion paths.
Best do-it-all CRM: HubSpot
HubSpot can literally do it all. From managing your business contacts to reviewing your website analytics, it’s THE complete customer relationship management tool. With the ability to market, oversee sales, send emails, and measure your business success, it’s no wonder why it’s one of the most popular CRM systems on the market today.
The platform does have tiers you can choose from, depending on how much you want to get out of it. As with most of the tools on this list, the free version will get you to a certain level – and then you might find benefit in investing in the software further.
Free features include capturing leads via forms, analytics reports, email marketing, ad management, landing pages, live chat, and contact management. There really are plenty of great free features – and once your business grows, you can expand into a paid tier, allowing you to get even more out of the platform.
HubSpot also has a fantastic training and resources section on its website. This is a great place to learn about new marketing tactics and strategies and really make an impact on your business.
Perfect for: Managing your sales database and tracking all marketing activity in one place.
Best for campaign planning: Trello
Hello, it’s Trello – your perfect partner for planning campaigns and managing workflows. The free version allows you to create a robust to do list, planning tasks for the relevant people on your team. It’s important to note Trello is a content planner, more so than a content scheduling tool.
As a small business owner, it’s vital to have a good overview of your own workload – and those around you. Determining who is responsible for what can be tricky, but at least with Trello you can see exactly what tasks are coming up and which need actioning.
And if you don’t use it for workflow, you can simply use it for campaign planning. This might mean creating a column for content marketing ideas, email campaigns, and social ads. It’s an easier way to track your small business’ marketing efforts, rather than dumping everything into a spreadsheet.
Perfect for: Managing workflows and planning in campaigns.
Best for email marketing: MailChimp
Want to start sending a regular email newsletter? Perhaps you have a great offer you want to share with your existing customers? With MailChimp, you can design, schedule, and send email marketing campaigns for free. With plenty of templates to choose from, you don’t even need to think about design – but if you want to stay on brand, you can create your own email templates, easily customisable with fonts, colours, and logos.
Of course, as with most of the free versions of these marketing tools, you’re limited to a point. With MailChimp, you can send up to 10,000 emails per month, to 2,000 contacts. As your business grows, you can expand and start on a paid plan – which, with MailChimp, is pretty reasonable. This will allow you to reach a wider audience and not limit how much communication you can send.
Similar to HubSpot, you can even create landing pages in MailChimp, as well as take advantage of their other multi-channel features, such as social posting and a clever content studio. If you’re looking for automation, however, keep it with HubSpot and use MailChimp for more campaign-led sends.
Perfect for: Designing the perfect email newsletter and sending offers to your existing clients.
Best for social media marketing: Hootsuite
One of the hardest parts of being a small business owner is finding the time to post regularly on social media. You WANT to – but with so many different platforms and trends to jump on, it can be pretty overwhelming.
To make things just that little bit easier, a social media scheduling platform, like Hootsuite, can make a world of difference. It allows you to plan your posts in advance and schedule them across the various platforms.
You can try the platform for free for 30 days – and then look into their tiered pricing plans. It’s definitely worth the investment and gives you peace of mind that you’re active and posting on the relevant platforms for your small business.
Best for SEO: SEOQuake
Looking to increase your search presence? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be a tricky tactic to master – but with free platforms like SEOQuake, you can review the performance of your website and optimise it to help improve your online visibility.
Conduct an audit of your website, then export the data to help make those changes on your site. From updating meta data to examining internal and external links, there’s plenty of information you can utilise to help improve your site.
Digital marketing doesn’t have to be complicated – and it’s so important to have the right tools and platforms to hand to ensure your small business can achieve some great results, without breaking the bank. The great thing about many of these platforms is that as and when your business grows, they grow with you, allowing you to expand your needs and get more out of them.
Understanding your markets more and potentially reaching new customers can all be achieved through these uncomplicated and handy tools.