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Six digital marketing tools every small business needs

There are numerous digital marketing tools out there, designed to make it easier for small businesses to make informed decisions about the ways they promote their businesses online.

If you’re after a strong return on your investment, then these digital marketing tools will give you invaluable knowledge for very little time and effort and are definitive essentials for every small business.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite, which has over 16 million users, is a free online tool that lets you keep up to date with numerous social media accounts all in one place. It’s ideal for small businesses and start-ups.

Best known as a social media management tool – and indeed, you can use it to manage up to 10 accounts all in one place – Hootsuite supports Twitter, Facebook, Pages, LinkedIn, WordPress blogs, Instagram and YouTube.

However, the most powerful application of Hootsuite is in organising Twitter more effectively.

Rather than managing the full Twitter home feed, Hootsuite makes it possible to split that feed into individual streams, with each stream containing a specific set of information. You should set up streams for mentions of your brand, replies to your tweets and mentions of your products.

The other pro of Hootsuite is its analytics function, which lets you know how posts have performed and how much engagement they generated.

It is also a hugely valuable digital PR tool. You can set up a stream to search on Twitter for #journorequest or #prrequest, which are hashtags used by journalists to put out requests for information and comments.

By responding to these requests, you can earn your business some free coverage and also new links to your website – which benefits your overall SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy too.

This provides a similar service to ResponseSource, an online tool you can sign up to receive emails from journalists seeking similar requests – though a subscription costs £625 a year plus for this.

Hootsuite Professional is available to try free for 30 days, after which the subscription costs £39 a month for just one user and 10 social profiles.

>See also: How to write a marketing plan

Moz Link Explorer

Moz offers a wide range of digital marketing tools for use by small business owners. Moz Link Explorer is one of those, offering access to backlink data for your website and those of your competitors.

If you’re investing in digital marketing – and specifically SEO – you’ll know how important earning links to your website is in developing your search visibility. With Moz Link Explorer you can see what links your website currently has, and also who is linking to your competitors’ websites – giving you ammunition for new link-building ideas.

This free-of-charge tool searches 41 trillion links, 718 million domains and seven trillion pages on your behalf to find backlinks, anchor text, as well as calculating domain authority and spam score.

SEMrush

SEMrush is a favourite among small business owners who use it to better understand their competitors’ digital marketing activities.

It offers a similar backlink analysis tool to OSE. Beyond that, it also enables you to monitor your own keyword rankings and to research new keywords you might want to target, and to analyse your competitors to see how many visitors they (roughly) get, whether or not they’re paying to advertise, and for what key search terms their websites rank.

You can also compare your business’s website directly against a competitors and SEMrush will give you all the metrics you need to see how you stack up against the other guys. Overall this is a powerful tool that allows you to gain a thorough keyword and competitor analysis – you are allowed up to 10 link queries and 50 rows of data per query for free every month. But for more in depth analysis, you would need the Pro version, which costs $179 (£144) a month plus VAT.

>See also: The marketing mix: What entrepreneurs should know

Answer the Public

This website’s opening screen shows an inquisitive bald gentleman with a fabulous beard! His head is full of knowledge on content ideas for blogs and publications. Want to know what the public is searching about certain products and keywords? This gentleman will tell you exactly that.

Simply input your topic or area of interest and the tool will show you all the questions people ask about it, helping to inspire new keyword targeting ideas or blogging themes for your website.

Answers are split into “why”, “what”, “how”, “where” and “are”. It is very useful and even if you don’t use one of the ideas on the page, it can spark further content thoughts for your next creation.

YouGov Ratings

YouGov is a vox pop service that helps companies question the demographic they want to reach.

However, YouGov Ratings allows you type in a product or industry, TV show or public figure, and you will be shown demographic trends of fans of that search term.

YouGov Ratings uses their plethora of data to identify trends and it can surface these trends for you to help you better understand your audience.

It will show metrics including age range, location, socio-demographic breakdown and lifestyle, such as other products/topics of interest to that audience group. This can help to target content to specific audiences and gain insight into your target market and may reveal demographics you never would have thought of otherwise.

Google Analytics 4

The big one. We couldn’t not mention this tool on a list like this. Nearly every business uses Google Analytics or an alternative to measure the impact of their work. The data it contains is invaluable in proving the value of the investments you’re making and the effects they’re having on your business.

Google Analytics is a tool that basically sits behind your website and gathers data about people who visit. It allows you to track traffic (i.e., how many people have visited your website), demographics such as location, device information (mobile vs desktop), on site behaviours such as how many pages people view per visits and which pages are most popular, how many purchases are being made on your website, and lots more.

Analytics can give you a huge insight into who is using your services and what may be going wrong on your website, empowering you to improve.

However, as of July 1 2023, standard “universal” analytics and Google Analytics 4 will become the de facto Google analytics platform.

Benefits of Google Analytics 4

  • More customisable dashboard
  • Customisable reporting
  • More detailed reporting
  • Better real-time data
  • Track actions people take on your website
  • Better data exporting

Google Analytics 4 can be a bit of head scratch, if you’re used to classic Google Analytics, so why not run both Google analytics platforms in parallel before Google switches off the classic dashboard in July? Take some time to watch how-to videos and tutorials on getting to grips with the new dashboard and reporting features.

3 AI Marketing Tools You Should Be Using

Along with some of the more well-known, traditional marketing tools which we’ve listed here, there’s now also the option to make use of AI marketing tools. While AI can be a bit of a scary term for some sectors, it’s extremely handy as a marketing tool – cutting out a lot of admin and allowing you to focus on what really matters to your business. Here’s three we recommend.

Reply

What is it for?

Reply is a lead gen sales platform that allows you to generate leads via multichannel sequences (with unlimited mailboxes), convert website traffic into booked meetings, or hire AI SDR Agents to do the work for you.

Features

  • B2B contact and customer base
  • Build prospect lists
  • AI-backed multichannel systems
  • Analyse outreach results
  • A/B testing

ManyChat

What is it for?

ManyChat is an AI chat service for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram that allows you to reach customers automatically. Used by over a million businesses, it’s a simple and inexpensive way for small traders to have easy chat marketing and lead generation.

Features

  • Identify interested leads and reengaging without running retargeting ad campaigns
  • Auto respond to messages
  • AI assistant and plug and play templates to build automations
  • Customised marketing chat campaign

Tableau

What is it for?

Tableau offers AI analytics and data visualisation, giving you insights, statistics and predictions about your business finances and engagements.

Features

  • Augmented analytics
  • Forecasting
  • Predictive modelling functions
  • R and Python integrations

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