It’s a fact that’s true at any stage of building a business - every penny counts. But of course, when your business is a startup, there are probably a great deal fewer pennies to play with.
When you’re pouring all your resources into developing your products or services and recruiting the best talent you can find, marketing can begin to feel like a frivolous expense.
But here’s the truth.
Finding the right marketing strategy is a task you cannot afford to ignore.
There’s no point in having the most incredible, life-changing product at the heart of your business if no one is going to hear about it! You have to put yourself out there if you’re going to attract your ideal customers.
In our last community post, we detailed five awesome growth hacking tips which you should start implementing as soon as possible if you want to see a marked improvement in traffic to your website and higher levels of engagement with your business.
The next level of fast marketing is to start using tools that will further increase your growth hacking efforts. These tools can be expensive, there’s no denying it. Top of the line marketing automation software can set you back anywhere north of an eye-watering £1500 per month.
But it doesn’t have to be an endeavour that breaks the bank.
Fortunately, there are masses of free tools that you can use to begin seriously growth hacking your business; extending your reach and boosting your customer base (and putting a few more pennies in the bank in the process!)
These are seven of our favourites.
Google Analytics should always be your first port of call for free marketing analytics software. It’s an incredibly in-depth service and is generally very intuitive and user-friendly.
Where this tool really shines is in its ability to provide you with insights into your website visitors. You can see real-time visitor tracking which will show you who is actively browsing your website at any given time and will provide detailed reports on which streams are generating your website traffic.
Using this, you can tailor your growth hacking efforts to target the channels that are most profitable for your business.
A further plus is that it integrates with lots of other Google products, like Google Adwords, so you can monitor everything with ease. If you ever get stuck while you’re getting to grips with the software, check out their free video tutorials.
Zapier connects apps and automates your workflow to help you get organised. It can actually tap into the API of more than 200 different web services, meaning that it’s highly likely you’ll find it of value, whatever tools you’re currently using.
You need all the time you can get whilst scaling up your business, so being able to automate some of your more mundane daily tasks can shave valuable minutes off your processes and free them up for bigger-picture thinking.
For example, say you want to upload attachments from your incoming Outlook emails to a particular file in Google Docs. You can set up a ‘Zap’ which will automatically perform the action every 15 minutes.
Your workflows can be as many steps as you like, with qualifying steps in between. For example, once the attachments are in Docs, you can set it up so that you receive Slack message alerts for attachments from a particular sender, but not for others, meaning you can get to attachments from important connections first.
Leadsius is one of, if not the, most affordable pieces of marketing automation software available today. It’s been around for seven years now, so they’re clearly doing something right. They’re very upfront with their pricing and offer feature comparisons on their website, which reassures you of their near unbeatable value.
It’s a great platform for small to medium sized-business to start marketing automation and has a really user-friendly interface, meaning that it’s not too intimidating for marketing newbies.
Naturally, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the marketing automation behemoths like HubSpot (which is excellent), but the basics (and a few ‘nice-to-haves’) are certainly covered. Features include contact management, lead nurturing, direct mail management, ROI tracking and more.
There’s a free demo available on their website if you want to explore before committing to anything.
With more than 400,000 websites currently making use of Sumome’s suite of apps, it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty nifty tool. The fact that it’s free is really just the cherry on the sundae. It works with any kind of website and will function as a plugin on WordPress.
There are too many individual apps to discuss in any detail right now, but our favourites, and the ones we believe will be the most valuable to you during your growth hacking, are Heat Maps, List Builder and Share.
Heat Maps allow you to view the areas on your site that receive the most (and least) clicks from visitors, meaning you’ll be able to identify the ideal locations for calls to action, and detect areas that, for one reason or another, visitors are avoiding.
List Builder is a tool that helps you capture email addresses for your all-important contact list. The customisable pop-up can be set to only show when a visitor is about to leave your website, and has been shown to increase daily email sign ups by as much as 20%.
Share will add social media sharing buttons to the sidebar of your website, meaning that more traffic, and more potential customers, get directed to you. You can customise it to show as many or as few platforms as you like, including an option for direct mailing.
Clicktotweet lets you track the performance of your individual tweets, meaning you can use the data to test the efficacy of your social media campaigns.
Over time, you can identify the most popular content types, hashtags and time of day to tweet, meaning your social marketing efforts will be lean and targeted.
Clicktotweet will also show you a map of where in the world people are clicking on your links. It might be a surprise to see where your potential customers are located, but if they seem to be concentrated in one area, you may want to consider tailoring your marketing approach to better target them.
One of the easiest ways of gathering customer feedback... and bear with us, we know this is revolutionary... is to just ask for it!
Polldaddy is a great tool for building and distributing surveys to your contact list. With 19 different question types and the option to illustrate them with embedded images, videos and maps, the possibilities are endless.
When designing your surveys, try to keep the majority of the questions open-ended. If it’s too closed off, you risk guiding people down a path, and only getting the answers you want to hear. This, of course, makes the whole endeavour pointless. The idea is to gather valuable advice that you can put into action to improve your product, website and marketing strategies.
Keyword.io is one of the simplest tools available for generating long-tail keywords to build your content around. As we’re sure you know, writing insightful, original content is one of the best methods of attracting natural traffic, so it’s essential that your content is properly targeted and optimised to bring in the most qualified potential leads.
It’s incredibly easy to use. You just type in your keyword, select your target location and hit generate. If you sign up to the service with a free account, you can also download the suggested keywords into a text document.
We recommend selecting a few that you feel are the most promising, and gather up your team for a quick brainstorming session. You’ll be amazed at the number of creative content ideas that are generated as a result!
Selecting a few (or all!) of these tools and utilising them in conjunction with our growth hacking tips will speed up and improve the growth of your business in no time.
Incisive Edge is proud to be a Community Partner of TechDay London.