7 Go-to Tools for Small Business Marketing

7 Go-to Tools for Small Business Marketing

7 Go-to Tools for Small Business Marketing

7 Go-to Tools for Small Business Marketing
As a society, we are living through unprecedented times, to say the least. It’s not “business as usual.” In fact, we’re not even in the vicinity of “business as usual.” Ironically though, this business slow-down is a really good time to amp up your marketing efforts—whether that’s simply making some tweaks or diving in if you hadn’t previously.
To help small businesses with their marketing efforts, below are my go-to marketing tools that I’ve used over the years. I’ve picked my seven (7) favorite tools covering the following categories:

  • Design
  • Collaboration & Team Communication
  • Video Calls
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Management
  • Website Development
  • Website Analytics

Design: Canva

Canva is a design tool that makes creating any kind of design element (web design, social media, print, etc.) easy. To me, Canva is a design tool for those who don’t know Photoshop (I’m not judging. I’m in that category, too.). Canva is great especially for small businesses where design budgets are small or non-existent.
Optimized for mobile, Canva makes design easy for amateurs with its visually appealing drag-and-drop features. You can create banners, social posts, logos, charts, graphs, and your own presentations with custom fonts. With millions of images, icons, elements and backgrounds in its library, access to them all is right at your fingertips.
Tip: During this COVID-19 crisis, Canva launched a video element, so be sure to check that out!
Price: Plans start free, $12.95 per month for teams, or custom pricing for enterprise.
Local Option: If you find yourself needing more help or prefer to use a local professional, be sure to reach out to members who can provide a vast array of design services!

Team Collaboration & Team Communication: Slack

Chat, messaging, file sharing, and more. Slack is a collaborative messaging tool ideal for small teams, which makes it perfect for small businesses. With much of the business world working from home, Slack brings the team together, so remote teams stay productive no matter your work location.

Slack runs “#channels” which can be separated by topic so that conversations are organized.

Tip: You can integrate Google Drive and Zoom into Slack so you can access them without having to switch tools. Once you’ve integrated those tools, check out these quick Slack productivity tricks.
Price: Tiered pricing, plans range from free to $12.50 per month

Video Calling: Zoom

The best video conferencing software should provide businesses with a convenient and reliable way to manage remote meetings. During these stay-at-home times, we’ve all been Zooming, so it should come as no surprise that Zoom is on my list.
Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing solutions out there, having seen its user base explode over the last several weeks. It’s a conferencing style that I can’t see going away when we return to the office, so make sure you get comfortable using the platform. While greater popularity led to “Zoom bombing” from unwanted meeting attendees, Zoom addressed those security concerns with updates.
Tip: I love that with Zoom you can upload a customized background. Here at the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, we created a branded background (see below, right) that gives us a polished, professional look using Zoom calls. This is especially important for those working in “make-shift” home office locations. We’ve even had webinar speakers use our background thereby creating brand consistency across all speakers.


You can also simply create a background with your professional head shot for when you don't want to be on video, but still have a photo presence.

Price: Zoom has a free plan that’s surprisingly feature rich and three paid plans for businesses. The free plan supports 40-minute meetings with up to 100 participants, and unlimited one-on-one meetings.

Email Marketing: Constant Contact, VerticalResponse & MailChimp

Every business needs a way to email its target audience.
There are many software tools available that offer the email basics including the ability to capture emails, manage your lists, send out email automatically or on a schedule, and analyze engagement. Constant Contact, MailChimp, and VerticalResponse all offer the same service, so it’s a matter of preference.
Over the years, I’ve worked in all three and have learned firsthand that they each have their unique benefits and drawbacks. Since all tools are very similar, the tipping point in your decision might be specific to your business.
  • Integration: Which email tool you choose might depend on whether or not you need it to integrate with another business tool. Here at the Chamber, we use ConstantContact because it seamlessly integrates with our Chamber database system. That made our decision an easy one.
  • Cost: If you are just venturing into the email arena, or are a small business with a limited budget, then VerticalResponse and MailChimp might be the better options—these solutions remain free until your distribution list hits 2,000 subscribers. VerticalResponse also offers a pay-as-you go option (which I love) meaning you only pay for what you send out. This is a great option for small businesses that don’t do a lot of email, or are just starting and aren’t (yet) doing higher volume emails. Below see a comparison breakdown for MailChimp and ConstantContact doen by a third party.
Tip: Constant Contact and Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce are working together to help you become a better marketer! Sign up for ConstantContact using this link and get 25% off even if you are already a member.
Price: Tiered pricing is offered by all services typically starting with free options until lists hit 2,000 contact.

Social Media Management: Hootsuite

Easily manage all your social media and get results with Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool that allows you to keep your social presence active 24/7 by scheduling your social media posts at once, across your social accounts. This freedom makes you more efficient allowing you to focus social engagement rather than posting cadence. 
With HootSuite, I don’t have to jump back-and-forth from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn and back to post content. All of the social engagement functions operate within the system dashboard, so no switching. Easy-peezy.
Tip: Scheduling posts is great, but don’t schedule out too far in advance. Plus, plan to occasionally review upcoming scheduled posts to ensure they’re still relevant.
Price: Tiered pricing starting at $29 per month and goes up to $599+ per month for enterprise

Website Development: Weebly

Weebly is a comprehensive and easy-to-use website-building solution that also has powerful added eCommerce capabilities. It’s similar to Shopify, a dedicated eCommerce platform, but Shopify, as its name implies, plays better in the retail space. In my opinion, for small businesses and entrepreneurs, Weebly is the better option.
Weebly’s drag-and-drop features makes adding elements (titles, body text, images, buttons, etc.) simple. It offers professional-looking templates, an intuitive dashboard and good e-commerce features to help you create a professional website. Weebly does charge extra to use the e-commerce options and has limited customer service options.
Tip: Quickly build a landing page or a microsite. Here at the Aurora Regional Chamber, we needed the flexibility to quickly push out COVID-19 updates since our current website is due for an overhaul (look for future updates regarding a fresh, new look with added functionality). In the interim, we set up a COVID-19 microsite using Weebly. It started out as a landing page and grew into a microsite. I think you’ll agree that our “Weebly work-around” works.

Reference: If your website needs are more complex than Weebly or needs to integrate with specific tools relevant to your business, we have a host of talented website shops catering to the Aurora region. Be sure to visit our Member Director for marketing and web development companies and then check out their work.
Price: Free account with paid subscriptions ranging from $8 – $38 a month.

Website Analytics: Google Analytics

The gold standard in website analytics, Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that allows you to track and analyze customer data. It's simple to use, but it's also powerful and highly customizable.
To get started you need a simple javascript snippet from Google added to your website. From there, accessing Google Analytics’ vast insights and traffic reports is great for any business looking to analyze website traffic (overall site visitors, visitors to a specific page, duration, number of page views per visit, location of visitors, etc.)
Price: The standard version of Google Analytics is completely free to use. A Google account is the only requirement to sign up and use the product. Google offers a premium product Google Analytics 360 (previously Google Analytics Premium), but this is expensive and not needed for small businesses.
What Tools are Right for You?
The answer to that question really depends on your business, your needs, and your comfort level. Many of these tools are free (read GREAT for small business!), so either sign up or trial them for a week or a month depending on the tool. Explore their functionality to see how one or several of these tools can help you amplify your brand today, so that you are ready to hit the ground running when we all open back up for business.