As business owners and marketers we’re always looking for new tools and techniques that not only make our jobs easier, but that help our bottom line.
We employ many tools and techniques in our marketing practice at TBMC and over the years we’ve found quite a few that work for us and our clients. Some of these, astonishingly, cost practically zero to implement and as such, all marketers and sales people worth their salt ought to be employing them in their marketing mix. Behold, TBMC’s top five free marketing tools that actually earn money! If you’re not already using them, shame on you.
A raft of web analytics applications have emerged over the years, some paid and some free, but Google Analytics remains one of the best free, and powerful platforms that even web publishing newbies will find easy to use. In case you’re not familiar with analytics – someone’s been living under a rock – it’s a way to gather and organize web traffic data. For example you can track customers that visit your website, see how they navigated there, what pages they land on, how long they browse your site and so on. Understanding your customer’s browsing patterns lends to fine tuning your website, so it functions – and more importantly pulls – in the desired way. If your marketing mix is properly organized, Google Analytics lets you see how the components are working together. Google Analytics goes far beyond your server’s C-panel so it’s a must
WordPress has been somewhat of a revolution in web publishing because of its ease of use and solid support, not to mention it is absolutely free. Indeed most web hosting services provide WordPress as a free bundled tool or it can be downloaded free of charge. It’s boast; anyone can publish a website quickly and easily without having to know any code. Although WordPress’s drag and drop and click and save architecture make it a breeze to use, users with prior coding experience in HTML, php, CSS and so on will definitely be at an advantage. This is somewhat mitigated by the astonishing array of free plug-ins that are constantly being released which give the basic engine more flexibility and customization.
Small business owners, do-it-yourselfers or anyone wanting to dabble in web publishing – whether it’s a full website or blog – will find WordPress a joy to use. The fact that many professional website designers use WordPress attests to its value as a core marketing tool. There is a bit of a learning curve but a mountain of literature both text and videos are readily available to help those starting out. WordPress is a definite must-have for anyone looking to establish a web presence.
Press releases are an incredibly simple and inexpensive way to get publicity for your company, event, product or service. It takes only a few minutes to develop an emailing list of the publications you want to target by visiting their website’s contact page. Then, for those not familiar with press releases simply search the web as there are literally thousands of articles and templates you can follow. Once you’ve got your mailing list and template, churning out press releases is fast and easy.
The key to press releases is relevancy. Depending on your industry and size, media may automatically be interested in your news. When Microsoft or Nvidia launch a new product for example, trade and special interest publications immediately report it. If you are say a small flower shop and you would like to issue a press release announcing your grand opening, chances are your story may be crowded out by other news. In this case try community newspapers or perhaps trade publications that deal specifically with your industry. Otherwise make the event relevant to a greater audience. Consider paying a celebrity to sign autographs at your opening. Or perhaps you can donate a portion of the day’s profits to a major charity and invite a representative from that charity to host a press conference at your event. Timing is also important and slow news days – Monday typically – are the best time to send your press announcements. If planned and written carefully press releases can provide amazing advertising and promotion value, far in excess of other channels.
Word-of-mouth has always been an effective marketing tool and today perhaps more than ever. We’ve seen the proliferation of various review websites, opinions and product reviews are popping up on blogs, likes and shares on social media are extremely popular, and product reviews via videos on You Tube have become ubiquitous. These and other word-of-mouth channels are spreading the message globally – a video that goes viral on the web can garner a million views or more world-wide! For example Nvidia hosts and flies journalists to its product release events, and within hours of the event (sometimes in real time via streaming), articles and videos start to appear all over the web. It is clearly a lot cheaper to host journalists than it is to purchase expensive advertising. Moreover, research has shown that customers trust peer reviews much more than conventional advertising so a glowing review from a blogger or columnist can be more valuable than an expensive advertisement.
Providing samples, connecting with influencers, community support and promoting word-of-mouth should be a part of any modern marketing mix.
Not so much a thing as a philosophy, the key to wringing the most value for your business out of the internet is to adopt optimization best practices. Meta tags, image descriptions, links, social media share buttons, blog articles, proper headings and descriptions, analytics and so on are many of the tools that should be employed in your company’s website. Understanding how all these elements drive traffic to your site and how they help to rank in search engines are of inestimable value. Best of all, with a little work and not too much capital investment, optimizing for the web is one of the best, free ways to earn customers.