Essential Start-Up Tools – Advice From A Digital Marketer
Life as a start-up is generally pretty tough. You’re likely to be still working a full-time job trying to build your business in your spare time. Not to mention that you’re probably trying to do it all with very little budget.
But the good news is that there is some relief out there in the way of online tools and services. Solutions that will help you do more in less time and with less money.
Here’s a broad snapshot of ten essential tools I believe your startup should utilise if you’re to make a fist of your online marketing.
Your potential customers are researching you online before they’re even thinking about making contact. It’s quite literally the front-line for your business (Google too). So, don’t let them down. Don’t let a poor web host provider let you down.
We’ve used several providers, from the cheap and nasty through to the premium. But we knew we had found the right one when we realised months had gone by and we hadn’t dealt with any client’s hosting-related issues.
We use WP Engine for our own site and those of dozens of our clients.
There’s never an issue and even if there was, their customer service is outstanding.
They’re also one of the fastest hosts, they’re secure and you can restore to your daily backups in less than a minute. Enough said.
Don’t use a @gmail.com email address for your business. It’s not professional.
For a few dollars a month you can sign up for Google Apps and get access to their suite of tools. Firstly, you want to use your own business domain as your email address, but get it hosted by Google. No more email hosting issues! It also gives you access to a whole range of free Gmail extensions.
Then you can also start using Google Docs, Sheets, Calendars and more. They’re all based in the cloud, which means you can share them with your partners. Stop updating, saving and emailing your docs.
This is a robust solution that is going to provide most small startups with more than enough data to start tracking the performance of their individual campaigns and their site overall.
It’s free and is super-easy to implement.
One of the smartest things a startup can do is to build an email list. You will own that list and can continue to contact those people to provide them with value (so they remain subscribed). On the flip side, you don’t own your community on Facebook or Instagram. This is rented land. If you want to get all your messages to your audience on those platforms, you’ll have to pay.
Sumo is a suite of tools that will make building your email list so much easier. It allows you to add click-activated popups, hello-bars, side widgets, exit-intent popups and so much more.
We’ve tried heaps of alternatives, but Sumo is our favourite.
Great imagery keeps visitors on your site longer and converts them more often. It helps you get more social engagement. Great imagery might also mean the difference between your Facebook Ads campaign performing well or not.
And whether you have graphic design skills or not – I can make a very strong case for Canva. It can make the poorest of creatives look very, very good. It can also save good designers a great deal of time.
If you’re publishing your own blog, you need to have a content promotion strategy. Whether you’ve defined it or not, you will have one. The problem is, if you’re like most people, that strategy generally begins and ends with you sharing it on your own social media profiles. It must be more than that. Quuu Promote is our second step.
For a fee, you can submit your new post to Quuu and it will be shared across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn by hundreds (or potentially thousands) of other online users with similar interests to your content.
As a startup, you want to automate anything you can to free up time. Both Autopilot and Zapier do amazing things for us and our clients.
Zapier can connect your online forms with a Google Sheet and populate entries that anyone with access to the sheet can see live. No more exporting form entries and uploading, over and over.
Autopilot can encourage your site visitors to leave an email. It will then send them a series of emails over a journey to help nurture each web visitor to a sale.
But these are just two examples. More often than not, it’s our imagination that holds us back, not tools.
I have commented recently that positive online reviews are pound for pound the single best online marketing tactic at the moment. So, you should start encouraging your customers to leave you good online reviews.
Making this process a lot easier is Get Five Stars. Simply set up your email templates, upload your customer list and wait for the responses.
There’s some key features of Get Five Stars that you should get excited about. It asks for feedback first. Only if the feedback is positive will the customer get an email requesting a review. You don’t want to be encouraging negative online reviews that’s for sure! Get Five Stars also allows you to embed all your reviews on a web page and then marks then up with Schema. This encourages Google to display those click-enticing gold stars you see in search results.
There’s good reasons to get your business started with professional accounting software. First, you don’t want to be sending invoices in Excel or Google Sheets. That’s a little ugly and unprofessional. Secondly, as a startup you don’t have time to be bootlegging your accounting and invoicing. So, get onto a solution such as Quickbooks.
This might sound trivial, but having an ugly email signature is unprofessional. Wisestamp is a paid solution, but it comes with templates to choose from and you can be set up in minutes. You can add calls to action including your social media profiles as well. Send an email and make your startup look like a fully-fledged corporate unicorn from day one.
We’re huge fans of AppSumo, which is the Groupon for online nerds (like me) who love all these tools. Now you can get Briefcase by AppSumo and get access to over 35 different tools for one monthly subscription.
This can be a game-changer for startups!
NOTE: Whilst we do have affiliate relationships with a few of our recommended tools, it is simply because we love them that much!