Traditional wisdom says to never, ever cheap out on marketing. While we know it’s tempting, we stick by that wisdom. Don’t cut corners on marketing, especially when things are tough. That said, we aren’t afraid to embrace free or nearly-free marketing tools at our disposal. The most important of these enable you to measure the results of your marketing efforts.
In recognition of Entrepreneurs Day, here are some free or nearly-free tools to help with marketing and to measure the benefits of your marketing efforts.
The first tool we recommend won’t cost you any money, only just a little time. A shocking number of companies fail to embrace – or even understand – the very basic elements of marketing and the tracking of marketing effectiveness.
Knowing your KPIs is the very first step. These key market indicators are easy enough to figure out. They’re basically your goals. What do you want to drive and measure?
- Driving brand awareness? Measure website traffic, video views, social media views and likes, downloads, and more.
- Driving engagement? Measure social media comments and spinoff threads, tweets and shares, forwards, etc.
- Potential sales and reach? How many people receive and open your marketing emails? Conversely, how many unsubscribe?
- Sales? This one is most obvious and easy to track, but there are questions about where sales come from. What are your online versus brick-and-mortar sales and how does that comparison correspond to each area of your marketing efforts?
- Everything else: What other metrics are most important for you to track?
Vitally, behind all of this, you need to make tracking your marketing efforts and their effectiveness a priority. That data doesn’t just showing you what marketing tools work, but also what the market wants and how it changes. Remember, once upon a time, people clicked on popup ads.
It’s important to know not only how many clicks your site gets, but from where and how long they stay. Here are the criteria you should monitor:
- Unique visitors
- Page views (This is the total number of pages on your site a visitor hits during his interaction with your site.)
- Search engine traffic (This is the amount of traffic being referred to your site through search engines. If you are underperforming in Google and Bing searches, you should consider optimizing your site to generate more traffic.)
- Conversion rate (This is how many people sign up for a newsletter or make some other longer-term connection.)
- Inbound links (This is the number of external links to your site.)
- Bounce rate (This is basically a measure of how long a visitor spends on your page. If they hit the home page and then leave without visiting any other pages, you may have a content problem.)
Probably the best way to track all this is through Google Analytics. It’s free and easy to use once you’ve reached a certain point on the learning curve. It can easily breakdown site traffic and other data points week by week.
IAW Members: Star12 offers a great beginners course on how to use Google Analytics. This on demand webinar is available for free to IAW Innovator and Influencer Members through Star12 benefits and will unlock the secret to Google Analytics and make your website super effective.
Analytics don’t have to be scary. Sign up for this one hour webinar and learn how you can make your data work for you.
Measuring Bang Per Buck
Analyzing return on investment in marketing is something of a dark art, an occult science. It’s not as easy as dollars spent per sale made. That said, Atlanta-based SalesFusion allows you to track your marketing’s contribution to revenue, your pipeline growth and acceleration, your conversion rates, your cost per lead and cost per opportunity, and provides general brand awareness. SalesFusion offers loads of other options, such as help with email campaigns, SEO auditing, URL configuration, and more. Unfortunately, after an initial free demo it costs a minimum of $700 monthly. Still, it’s a pretty powerful tool.
Finding the right content isn’t always about what you find interesting. Sometimes it’s about finding what the algorithms find interesting. Coschedule has a headline analyzer and other tools that are intended to help you write snappy content. Starting at $60 a month, it seems like a good investment.
Likewise, Buzzsumo looks for topics performing well. If you have content addressing some of these topics, or can work some of the topics into your content, you may see a traffic boost. HARO does something similar with PR opportunities for journalists.
- Hootsuite is one of the more popular marketing tools out there. It can deliver your content to your social media accounts and help track reactions. The free plan allows for two social media accounts and 30 scheduled messages for one user. A $29 monthly plan offers 10 social media profiles. More advanced plans can be customized to your needs.
- Buffer is much the same as Hootsuite but it’s always a good idea to see what fits your style and needs best. Buffer’s pricing goes from free to $19 a month, and up from there.
Generating mass emails can be a great way to reach your audience. The good news is that companies like MailChimp and Zapier can help you both create and manage email lists as well as track who opens your email and who clicks through to your content. You can also see who unsubscribes.