Editor’s roundup of marketing tool recommendations for small businesses based on cost, ease-of-use and best return on investment
With so many marketing tools to choose from, sometimes getting a referral from a friend or colleague can be very helpful to select the best options for your business… particularly from another small business owner that has first-hand experience successfully using the marketing tool.
So consider this list my best recommendations based on personal first-hand experience on SBMarketingTools.com. I’ll tell you what tools I am using now, or have used in the past, and why I think it’s a smart pick for small businesses.
For distribution of press releases I think that PRWeb is a really good choice. I have been using them for my marketing client, SureShade, for several years now. I like that they have specific categories for industry releases (so I can segment for my client) and that our releases are showcased within a relevant industry group. Your releases are also in a good mix of larger companies and smaller companies.
Their tools to set up a press release for distribution are super easy to use – you can upload numerous photos with captions, have a quote call out, link to your website (with preview) and add links within the body of the release. There are multiple regional and industry options you can select for distribution, and you can set it up to post directly to your social media accounts.
They just introduced a new $99 basic release package, in addition to standard packages with more bells and whistles that are still very reasonable. Set up an account with PR Web to check them out (use this referral link to save 10% on your first release with PRWeb).
Domains and Web Hosting
If you are setting up a website with WordPress you need to buy a custom domain and set up web hosting. My pick for domain name registrations is GoDaddy simply because of ease-of-use and familiarity with how to use their domain manager tool. I don’t use their hosting because it’s usually recommended to keep your domain name registrations and web hosting with separate companies (in case you ever run into a problem with your hosting company you can always easily redirect the domain with the register).
For web hosting I use HostGator web hosting and I could not be happier with their service. The few times I ran into technical issues with transferring sites they fixed it up superfast. If you have multiple sites they have a very affordable plan for unlimited domains. The combo works really well for me because I can pop up a new website very quickly and affordably (like a special event micro-site I am working on now).
For email marketing programs I use several different services for different reasons. For my SureShade client, we use iContact email marketing for our monthly newsletter and quarterly dealer/builder update. The pricing is reasonable, but we chose them mainly because of their ease-of-use and design customization capabilities (and it paid off because we won an industry award for best digital newsletter in 2011!)
For my own sites – SBMarketingTools.com and MarineMarketingTools.com – I chose to use MailChimp because I think their free pricing structure for a monthly newsletter with a smaller (yet growing!) database of contacts. The pricing and functionality of email marketing services is so similar it may come down to just picking the one that seems the easiest for you to use.
If you are looking to start an email newsletter (which every business should regardless of industry), then I recommend you sign up for free trials of at least two different services to compare them. A good list of email services is available in our email marketing tools directory.
Many people are familiar with the power of plugins with WordPress, but the problem is that many of the free plugins are limited in functionality. Or, if you don’t use WordPress you are limited to web widgets available through your website builder. Recently I discovered Powr Website Tools/Apps and use several on my websites – they work on WordPress or ANY kind of website. Their contact forms are WAY more customizable than other standard forms (with things like conditional fields) and they have a ton of options to choose from… like social media feeds, media galleries, product comparison grids, reviews, etc. They have both free and paid versions that start as low as $1.99/month – small price to pay for some powerful website functionality.
These are the main picks for my favorite small business marketing tools, and I hope you find this helpful when choosing marketing tools for your business! You can also check out our full directory of marketing tools to find other resources for growing your small business.
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