There's plenty of marketing software for small businesses out there, but how do you know what products you need, which brands to buy from, and which services are worth the money?
Small business marketing departments tend to be composed of jacks of all trades, running everything from local coupon promotions to the company's website. With so many tasks and responsibilities to juggle, you may need to invest in several software packages to help your team manage your marketing initiatives. As a general rule, the best marketing software for small businesses will fit your budget and help your team keep their heads above water. If you're in the market, here's a handy guide to some of the most useful options available.
Email Marketing Systems
An email marketing system helps your business manage subscriptions and send messages, and automatically handles opt-ins and opt-outs.
MailChimp allows you to have 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails a month on their free plan. However, two things to note are that the templates available in the free version are plain and learning the software (and some basic HTML) can take some time.
Other services, such as Constant Contact, provide robust templates, email list management integration with other software and free classes to help you improve your online marketing.
For business owners who need a serious autoresponder and automated delivery of e-books, podcasts and other downloadable paid or free content, AWeber is the choice of many in the information product arena.
Project management software is a must for small businesses. It enables you to track all aspects of a project from start to finish, manage deadlines and resources, and store project information in one easily accessible system.
Trello offers a Pinterest-style drag-and-drop system of project cards that even novice users will love. It's a simple system that enables you to set deadlines, automatically alert team members when deadlines approach and save project documents in a clearly visible path on the site. Each project gets a card: a visual setup that includes the task, deadlines, details and space to upload supporting documents. Cards can be archived when projects are completed, and you can set up multiple card systems for each project.
Asana is a great tool for larger marketing departments with complex projects moving through the system. The database provides a project space with tasks, subtasks and independent delivery dates that teams can set up to manage the progress of each task. Daily email reminders provide a summary of due dates and tasks for each team member. Asana has a steeper learning curve than Trello, but the site provides plentiful recorded training videos that are great at helping novices learn the site.
Social Media Management
Two of the best social media management tools for small businesses are HootSuite and Buffer. HootSuite enables you to monitor and post to multiple social media sites at once, and a convenient app lets you track activity on your company's social media platforms while on the go. The basic account features message scheduling, real-time analytics and RSS integration with up to 10 social profiles and one user.
Buffer offers a free account but limits you to three social platforms and will only hold 10 posts in the system at any one time. The system offers extensive analytics on your posts, helping you determine when to send them for maximum results.
Marketing departments are both communications powerhouses and business centers with the potential to drive sales, improve customer service and enhance brand reputation. With the right software, you can help set your team and your business up for success.