Entrepreneurs and small business owners are always pressed for time and money. A careless lapse in judgement when investing in marketing can lead to a missed opportunity or a huge loss of money. To prevent such an error from happening, it's critical to be aware of the cost-effectiveness of available marketing tools and tactics.
Below are seven tools on my go-to list for social media marketing. While some are freemium (free versions with limited features), others are insanely affordable and have free trials, so you can test their effectiveness before investing in them.
I'm design challenged. On most days, I can't differentiate between sea green and aquamarine, and take hours to create simple posters for social media. It doesn't matter if you are like me or great at design. If you are an entrepreneur, you probably don't have the time to design posts, ads or infographics.
Canva is my go-to graphic design tool for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn posts, cover pictures and ads. The tool stocks canvases in the optimized dimensions for various social media applications, so you can choose from them and never have to worry about getting it wrong.
My favorite feature is the drag-and-drop editor that you can use with predesigned templates (many free) to create anything from Twitter posts to infographics in seconds.
What I like about DrumUp is its ability to enable consistency and engagement on social media with barely any time investment.
After connecting my social accounts on DrumUp, I created three types of content streams: RSS feeds (from SocialMediaExaminer, Inc and Business.com), content suggestion streams (for the "social media" and "small business" keywords) and content libraries (for my evergreen blog posts and guest posts).
Now, all I have to do is one-click schedule suggestions from the RSS feeds and keyword-based content streams. My libraries have already been set to publish posts on a repeat schedule. The consistency has resulted in an increase in referral traffic to my website.
3. Simply Measured
Most entrepreneurs and small businesses are tempted to restrict their analytics to what Google Analytics has to offer, but that isn't the best idea. Some of the data that Google Analytics provides is obscure, and it has little to offer on the social media front.
Although Simply Measured is a paid analytics tool, it offers several types of social media reports for free. Twitter and Facebook analytics and insights, for instance, are a part of the free reports that are offered.
Using these insights, in conjunction with Google Analytics reports, you can measure referral traffic from posts, identify what's working and measure it against your competition.
4. Google Analytics
While Google Analytics shouldn't be your only insight into social media performance, it has a lot of value to offer. Using traffic acquisition insights available on the dashboard, you can track social media referrals by source and time period.
The insights can also be broken down by landing page, so you can assess which themes and messages to focus on and which ones to avoid.
Google Analytics also gives you insight into the behavior of your social media visitors, and you can use that information to create more relevant content for your posts.
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your attention is split between multiple sales and marketing tasks. Monitoring them all can be a nuisance, especially when you have to juggle between multiple marketing and sales platforms.
Cyfe is a business analytics dashboard that integrates with multiple platforms to collate your data all in one place. What I like most about Cyfe is how much it can be customized. Most analytics tools, CRMs, social media and email marketing tools can integrate with Cyfe, allowing you to build a super personalized dashboard.
The prebuilt widgets available on Cyfe include dashboards for social media, web analytics, marketing, sales, finance, project management and more. I have only mentioned the ones that I have used.
If you want to amplify your social media marketing efforts but don't have the time to tend to each platform, IFTTT is the tool to use. It has several "recipes" that prompt certain actions as a result of others. For instance, you could direct the app to convert all your tweets into LinkedIn statuses.
IFTTT has tons of existing recipes for marketers that can automate several tasks. If you aren't keen on typical automation, IFTTT is a good option, because you could have the impromptu tweets sent out by you replicated on your Facebook page.
My favorite feature, however, is the extent to which recipes can be customized. Because the tool integrates with so many others, the possibilities are endless.
7. Social Mention
If you want to know the sentiment surrounding a specific keyword and the number of times it has been mentioned on social media, Social Mention is the tool to use. As the tool collects data real time, you can access the volume of mentions that occur on an hourly basis, leading up to the time of your query.
What I like most about social mention is its concise and clear method of reporting results. The report has only the most essential details, like mention volume, time, top related keywords and top users of keywords.
You can also set up alerts on the tool, such that you receive an email each time a mention occurs. Reports are also downloadable in the CSV format.
To read about affordable marketing tools for design, web analytics and SEO, read this post.
Now that you have information about some of the marketing solutions available in the market, it's time to give them a test run and assess their effectiveness. While the tools on this post are some of the most affordable and feature-rich options, there are other alternatives out there that might fit your requirements better. As most of these tools and their counterparts offer free trials, I urge you to experiment with them before making a decision.