6 resources to streamline & enhance in-house operations
Before the Internet, the main way brands reached consumers was through advertising in newspapers, magazines, television commercials, billboards and on the radio. While traditional marketing channels are still prevalent, they are not always an option for most businesses because of high costs. Digital marketing is cost effective, easily measurable and can reach a global audience. You should be spending something on either an in-house or an outsourced marketer for your business. If you choose to do it in house, the following marketing tools will save you a lot of time and headaches.
Content Managment System
A Web content management system (WCMS/CMS) is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of Web programming languages or markup languages to create and manage website content with relative ease. Virtually anyone can make and maintain a professional website with the help of a CMS. All you need is a domain name, hosting, a theme and a bit of training. While there are many free themes available on the Internet, purchasing one is recommended, as they offer more customization. There are three main options in the marketplace—WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
Email Marketing Platform
Email marketing is one of the top forms of digital marketing, even though many believe it to be outdated and ineffective. In reality, it is the exact opposite. According to the Direct Marketing Association (thedma.org), email marketing yields an average 4,300 percent return on investment for businesses in the United States. There is no question as to whether email marketing should be part of your business development strategy. You must use an email marketing platform, such as MailChimp, Emma or Constant Contact. Once you have a platform in place, create an email template and import your entire, existing email list. There should be a clear area on your site for your prospects to sign up for your newsletter list, which should be linked with your email marketing platform so that it will automatically add prospects to your list.
Social Media Management
The social media channels your business should use will depend on your customer profile. In order to save time and headaches, create and schedule your social media posts ahead of time. A social media scheduler, such as HootSuite or Buffer, will allow you to schedule your posts days in advance. You should share information that is useful and interesting to your target market, as well as your own content. In order to increase interactions on social media, share photos and videos and post during peak hours.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRM software, such as Salesforce, Infusionsoft and Microsoft Dynamics, houses customer and prospect data like phone numbers, addresses and emails. CRM software also allows for input of other pertinent information like the date of the last phone call, what was discussed last, where the contact was referred from and when someone needs to follow up with them. Studies have shown that CRMs can increase sales by up to 29 percent if used correctly. Your CRM is only as effective as the information put into it, though.
Graphic Creation & Editing
It is important to create and share custom-made graphics on your social media accounts and your website. While Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator offer the most robust system for editing and creating graphics, these programs are very complex and may be too complicated for a beginner. That's where sites like Canva, Picmonkey and Easelly can be useful. Use these sites to create branded graphics, promotional ads, infographics and more.
Free Stock Image Websites
For quality digital marketing, having access to high-quality, high-resolution images is a must. Research free stock image websites, unless you want to spend $200+ per month on subscription fees. Some examples include freeimages.com, Google Search (you must use the advanced search and change the usage rights to commercial) and Flickr (you must use the advanced search and change usage rights as well). Just be careful to thoroughly review the license details of all images you plan to use, as some may require a link back or may not allow any modifications.