Small business owner? Need some free tools to help build your business?
When it comes to marketing your business as a small business owner, you can often face fees that you hadn’t originally anticipated. In this new world of digital marketing, it is important to have a digital presence, but tight budgets can sometimes seem an obstacle.
How do you get around this?
The simple answer is using free software. This may trigger alarm bells for you, as in the past free usually meant poor quality. This is no longer the case with a lot of the latest software available to you.
However, there is still some software that is free that just doesn’t quite get the seal of approval.
To help you out we have compiled our top 5 free tools to build your business that will take you from creating a website, designing graphics, collecting data and keeping in touch with customers.
All of this will help you market your business, grow your business and increase sales.
When it comes to website design you may have already heard of WordPress. There are 2 versions of this though, there is the .com version and the .org. Depending on what you need from WordPress, will result in the outcome of what one you require, however, we recommend using the .org version of WordPress.
WordPress is an open source platform that allows you to create a website or blog with tons of design options using their library or templates. On top of this, you can add a whole host of powerful plugins to boost and customise your website.
WordPress is used by 32% of the web, which just goes to show how powerful and trusted it can be. It is SEO friendly, responsive so looks great on any device, secure and fast.
We do recommend though that you consider a dedicated WordPress hosting service to match your site, and if you install any templates, ensure it is compatible with any plugins you may want (some can go out of date and break your site).
Do you have an E-commerce store? A superb plugin for you to use is Woocommerce which has been designed specifically for WordPress and will help you sell anything.
WordPress is great if you want a professional, modern website that is feature packed and it is one of the reasons why we build our websites using this software. However, if you’re looking for a bespoke website that can really stand out using WordPress then get in contact with us to find out how we can help.
Have you heard the expression “content marketing is king” before? It’s true, great content will help your business grow and keep your audience coming back for more. So having great looking designs across all your platforms is key. However, we are not all designers who have access to Abode full suite, nor can we all afford consistent design work, either freelanced or internal staff.
This is where Canva comes in. Canva has been around for about 6 years now and has helped thousands of people create stunning content with a simple drag and drop platform.
Canva has a huge amount of templates ready for you, so you don’t need to worry about the exact dimensions you need. It ranges from Facebook posts to Youtube thumbnails, to A4 letters, business cards, menus, gift certificates and more.
When you have selected your option, you are greeted with an option like the one above. On the left, you have a ton of free templates, most of which are seasonal as well, or you can find some more premium options that cost $1 each. It’s just a case of dragging and dropping what you like, clicking the bit you want to edit, editing it and then saving it. It really is that simple.
Canva also has a brand option, so you can save your brand colours, logo, fonts etc. to have them on hand when you need them. Also if you don’t like the images they have to offer, you can simply upload your own and drag and drop that into the design as well.
If you’re unsure on how to create some of these stunning designs, then Canva also has a design school that gives you video tutorials to help create visually appealing designs to wow your customers with.
So you have your website, you have your cool looking designs, now to publish your content to your social media pages. You can use each platforms publishing features, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Needing to upload to each one individually though can be time-consuming, so you will find it much easier to use a social media management platform to schedule multiple posts, reply to comments and gain valuable statistics about the performance of each channel.
That’s exactly what Hootsuite has to offer. Hootsuite has been used by thousands of businesses around the world and is still highly regarded as one of the best free social media management platforms available.
Hootsuite has a number of different plans to help you manage your social media pages, ranging from the free plan to their biggest enterprise plan.
With the Hootsuite free plan, you can connect 3 social media profiles, 2 RSS feeds to help find content, schedule up to 30 posts at any one time and integrate a number of free applications.
Hootsuite has some great features to help you manage your social media these include:
- Post scheduling
- Content curation
- Social monitoring
- Team management
- Social security
On top of a feature-packed platform, Hootsuite also offers free social media courses to help you develop your social media skills and build an effective social media presence.
Once you have marketed your business out to the big wide world, now is the time to start collecting leads and data.
This can be useful in a number of different ways for different business types. For example, if you’re an agency or freelancer, you will want a way to collect possible leads to contact. It could be that you want to understand your audience more and create a demographic survey. Or you may just want a way to increase engagement on your social media pages by offering a quiz.
A tool that can do all of this which is easy to use for both yourself and for your audience is Typeform.
Typeform is incredibly easy to use and makes data collection simple. They have a number of different pre-made templates to help you collect the data you need, from Facebook lead generation, sponsorship forms, social quiz, funny polls, employee engagement surveys and more.
What we like about Typeform is you can also integrate a number of 3rd party applications such as MailChimp, Google Sheets, Trello and Hubspot to name a few.
This helps to collect data that little bit easier and faster. Their designs are modern and great to look at, with a sleek, fluid operation of the forms.
Here at MODE Digital Marketing, we use Typeforms as well to help generate new leads and create engaging content for our audience, and so far we have loved every aspect of this software.
Still one of the most powerful and cost-effective marketing strategies you can have is your email marketing campaigns.
Keeping your customers up to date with the latest news, products, and promotions will keep them informed, engaged and coming back for more.
So having a platform that can not only send your emails but also collect email address and supercharge your E-commerce efforts is a must. Ask anyone which platform this should be and you will more than likely get the answer MailChimp.
MailChimp has been around for some time now, starting in 2001, so they know a thing or two about what it takes to market a company via email effectively.
Over recent times MailChimp has really packed out its features to help businesses grow, and one such set of features that we really like is their E-commerce automation. Once integrated with your website, you can send abandoned basket emails, order confirmation emails, welcome emails, and product recommendations. That’s a big deal when you want to optimise your online store to work harder and generate more sales.
MailChimp offers an easy to use, drag and drop email builder option including options to build landing pages, signup forms, and social media ads.
They have a free package which has more than enough features for your small business, but if you need more features then the next step up starts from $10 a month which is still manageable with a small budget. They have a useful pricing calculator to help determine exactly what you need and what price it will be.
With all of these great free tools to help build your business, we thought of one more bonus tool that can help as well.
Unless you have a photography business, chances are you are going to need to rely on stock images to use on your website, social media pages, and email campaigns. Now unless you want to pay for options like Shutterstock (which for the number of images and videos you can get is still value for money) you will need a place to get them for free.
Unfortunately, just using Google images and downloading what you find can land you in hot water due to copyright laws if you’re not careful, so ideally you will want royalty free images.
One such place to source these images is Pixabay.
Pixabay is a great website to source royalty-free images, but not just that, you can also find illustrations, vector files, and videos to use in your projects.
There is over 1.6 million to hand, all of which are high quality and ready to download.
You can then use these images on your website or upload them to Canva as mentioned before to create some stunning social media posts. You could even use them to “jazz up” your email campaigns.