5 Free Marketing Tools To Grow Your Small Business

We’re big fans of focusing on what works and throwing out what doesn’t. You probably might agree that when it comes to growing your business, winging it just doesn’t work. We know that without the right tools, systems and structures in place it’s easy to get distracted. We’re in 2018 with more data and tools available than we can handle. So where do we even start? Below are some awesome free tools that we’ve tried, tested and approved.

MailChimp

First off, whatever you  may have heard – email is far from dead. If you’ve earned your way into the inbox of your audience, the sky’s the limit. And if you haven’t, it’s time to start. Email is the best opportunity to nurture those relationships in a more personal and connected way. MailChimp is a freemium email marketing service that makes it super easy to get started. Our small businesses clients love how detailed yet simple the reporting is on the platform. And if you have an email list under 2K, your account is absolutely free to maintain and send mass outreach. Plus, MailChimp’s fun-loving quirky brand makes any task on the platform just that much more fun – yes, FUN.

 

HubSpot

You’ve probably heard about the importance of Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMS). They’re invaluable in helping streamline and optimize specific business operations. We’ve worked on multiple platforms for our clients at different stages of business growth. However, we can confidently say that HubSpot really fits the bill for growing businesses small to large. To start you’ll have the ability to track relationships and deal pipelines, streamline project tasks as well as automate repetitive workflows. That means less busy work and more time to focus on what matters most.

 

Buffer

With so many social platforms out there, how do you keep up? We love Buffer for its super clean and simple interface – no bells and whistles here. Hook up your social accounts and manage them all in one place. Sure there are many other contenders out there, but if the goal is to simplify scheduling posts then Buffer is the way to go. Their basic analytics are great to start out, and their algorithms scan your audience and past post performance to recommend optimal posting times – one less thing to worry about. Their free plan allows you to connect up to 3 social accounts and queue up to 10 posts per account. Upgraded plans start from around $10/month.

 

Aiva Labs

As dedicated marketers, we believe in testing, iterating and optimizing every detail for conversions. Everything from popup forms, landing pages and micro sites to promotions, outreach and full-blown campaigns – you name it. We love Aiva Labs because they make our lives easier by helping streamline the conversion optimization process. Their campaign builder allows you to target, test and optimize specific content on your website based on user behavior. You can also tailor the experience over different devices using customizable templates without knowing a single line of code. Though a fresh player on the field, we’re confident to back them up through our own experience and have even partnered with Aiva to do our part in getting the word out. The basic account is entirely free and accessible to everyone. Through our partnership we’ve also been able to offer our marketing savvy clients and followers a free trial of the pro account to get the most from the platform.

 

Google Analytics

We believe that whatever can be measured, can grow. That’s why tracking and analyzing data is so important for digital marketing and business growth. This is where working smarter, not harder comes into play. First off, make sure to add the tracking code snippet to your site to begin collecting data, then worry about fine tuning later. We swear by Google Analytics and it can be set up to measure a whole array of of on-site activity to give you insights into your website and campaign performance. For instance, let’s say you notice a spike in traffic during a specific period – what caused it? Was it from a social campaign, email outreach, media mention, referral link or an off-site event? Google Analytics will give you the tools to find the answers to what’s working and what’s not. The key is to then to double-down on what’s working to produce the greatest result.

 

Curious to learn more?

Let’s connect!

Cheers,
Kei Matsuyama
Chief Growth Officer @digitalrush

 

How to Sell to Millennials? (Hint: Serve, Don’t Sell)

You know and we know that millennials are still a hot commodity. The problem? They know it. And everyone else knows it. And we’re all treating them as just that — a hot target to sell to. With so much competition vying for their attention, where do you even start? We had a quick huddle to pull main high level points together to help get you in the right frame of mind. To us, that’s the best place to start.

1) Do NOT sell first
Take it from us, millennials are first to see through any cheesy advertising or marketing ploy. Focus on providing valuable, relevant and engaging content upfront. Win over their hearts and minds and tickle their sense of humor. Let your branded content work for you, then you’ll discover the actual “sell” can be quite effortless.

2) Jump on the “right” social media
Social media platforms are not created equal. The “right” platform means showing up where your audience lives. If that’s millennials, jump on Instagram to start and gain access to over 700M active monthly users with 59% between the ages of 18-29. But don’t forget about Snapchat! 45% of users are between the ages of 18-24 on this platform. Of course, make sure to craft a solid strategy before jumping in to avoid wasting precious time.

social media statistics

3) Be mobile ready
If you aren’t mobile friendly, forget it with these guys. Millennials live in a world of tap and swipe. Make sure your site is responsive and optimized to create a positive user experience. Clunky user interfaces, bad design or poor loading times are a big no-no. Don’t fall prey to the left swipe!

4) Offer fast solutions
Want? Click. Bought. Millennials are used to instant gratification. That’s great, but are you able to keep up? Keep this in mind at every touchpoint. Your content should be short and catch the viewer’s interest. Any offer should be immediately accessible and sharable. Don’t miss out on opportunities simply because you weren’t ready.

5) Develop core values
While it might sound lofty, millennials connect with core values of a brand that resonate with theirs. Avoid a product-first mindset. Define what your business stands for. Focus on value and impact in the larger picture. By focusing on core values there’s power to make an emotional connection. It’s the emotional impact that can make the difference between a one-time customer and a loyal advocate that spreads the word online.

6) Leverage social proof
Ratings, reviews and testimonials are everything. Ever wonder why influencers are so big these days? Social proof helps build trust and credibility at a single glance. You can shout from the rooftops about your business, but the best way to get heard is through your happy customers. Your current customers and advocates are by far the strongest asset and a powerful promotional tool for your business so don’t be afraid to ask for their support!

7) Get them involved
Millennials don’t take sitting back and being sold to. The brands they follow are the ones that provide experiences that they can feel a part of. Nurture a sense of community and belonging. Create new ways for them to participate through providing an open forum. Launch user-generated content campaigns and invite your audience to join. You’d be surprised what you’ll discover.

Curious to learn more?

Let’s connect!

Cheers,
Kei Matsuyama
Chief Growth Officer @digitalrush

man with megaphone

6 Ways to Stand Out on Social Media

You knew it was high time to get social. Your social accounts went up, you started curating and posting content. So where’s all the action at?

1) Pick the “Right” Platform

Know your audience. This will give you insight not only into where they hang online, but also into what types of content, solutions or offers resonate. Show up where your audience lives and actively listen to the conversations. Then you’ll be ready to join in and start adding real value to the community.

2) Be Real

Humanize your communications. Spammy communications get you nowhere fast. When have you responded to an automated or standardized message? Likely never. And your audience is no different. Identify and make a unique personal connection in your outreach. Speak one-to-one, even when addressing your audience. Don’t be afraid to share your personal story or learnings from mistakes. Be real. Be personal. Authenticity always resonates.

3) Turn On the Creativity

Be unique, bold and engaging. No one stands out from blending in. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If everyone in your space is following a boring status quo, how much flexibility do you have to challenge it? Being creative can also mean being resourceful. For instance, you may have older content lying around that could be revamped or repurposed. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, think about fresh ways to utilize your existing resources in a new context.

4) Be Camera Ready

Experiment with different forms of media. And if you haven’t jumped on video yet, there’s never been a better time to practice than now. You don’t need an entire camera crew to get started. And remember, it’s never perfect when you start. Get the gears turning and publish to get feedback, not validation

5) Make a Brand Promise

Claim a promise you can keep. It’s more than a catchy tagline or slogan. Your brand promise is the foundation of your brand. It’s a benefit to your audience that delivers unique value and sets you apart from the competition. Every business and every individual has a brand – are you in control of yours?

6) Be Consistent & Persistent

Deliver, deliver, deliver. Continually show up and follow through on your promise. Developing authority in your space doesn’t happen overnight. Others may drop out, but your persistence to go the extra mile will push you far ahead of the crowd.

Curious to learn more?

Let’s connect!

Cheers,
Kei Matsuyama
Chief Growth Officer @digitalrush