Digital marketing tools are extremely important for every business, from the Fortune 500 company to the Small Business. However, having an online strategy, as well as working knowledge of digital marketing tools, is also extremely important to mom-and-pop businesses, and independent shop owners, trying to compete with both the big box stores and massive online retailers.
The basic definition of digital marketing is “the targeted, measurable, and interactive marketing of products or services using digital technologies to reach and convert leads into customers.” As a business owner, you want to be able promote your brand, build customer loyalty, and increase sales.
This can be done easily with a well developed and thought out digital strategy, using multiple digital marketing techniques, with the Internet as a central promotional venue. Moreover, digital marketing gives companies the ability to determine quickly which parts of their strategy work, and which do not, in real time
I say “with the Internet as central” because digital marketing also includes mobile, television, and radio. For example, every week I received a text message with a special offer from Redbox. This is a form of digital marketing.
Some would argue that a text message is far more likely to be read than an email. Imagine how powerful it would be sending a text message to hundreds or thousands of “special customers” that there will be a Customer Appreciation Day, Flash Sale, or some other event.
I believe, in this article, I have created a solid list of digital marketing tools that fit most, if not all companies regardless of size, and that can be easily scaled to your own goals and growth. This post provides some different types of digital marketing tools, and also gives examples of the top notch providers. Of course, this list is by no means complete or all inclusive. There are digital marking tools available from hundreds of service providers.
The importance of digital marketing cannot be undersold or overstated. Successful companies must create a virtual space that is creative, genuine, and visually engaging to interact with customers, create connections with industry influencers, and to tell the story of their brand.
Organic Social Media
Organic Social Media is the natural growth of fans and followers across your various Social Media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, and others. It also includes the unpaid reach and the engagement with your content: likes, shares, replies, comments.
HootSuite — Hootsuite is a social media management tool for brand management. Their dashboard supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, and many other Social Networks.
Hootsuite empowers one to build and engage audiences, execute multiple campaigns, collaboration in teams, and measurement of social media performance. Moreover, features can be added as needed, and growth demands, enabling the ability to promote your brand, help customers, and more.
Some of the key features of Hootsuite include
- Managing up to 100 social networks
- Launching campaigns across multiple channels
- Schedule messages in advance to make campaign planning more manageable
- Measure social media performance
- Demonstrate ROI with Enhanced Analytics Reports
Buffer — Buffer is a social media network management application, designed to provide users the means to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and others. The app includes default timeslots, based on times when social media users are most active. However, Buffer does allow its users to change or remove these settings.
Buffer is much lighter than Hootsuite, but still very powerful. The free version of the application allows a maximum limit of 10 posts, per social network, to be scheduled at any given time. It also limits management to one social media account per social media website.
Buffer reporting provides information on the number of clicks, retweets, likes, favorites, mentions and potential views for each post, based on the number of feeds that single feed shows up on,
Tweepi — Twitter is often a tough nut to crack, especially for small businesses, local mom-and-pop companies, independent businesses, and entrepreneurs. Tweepi is an application that allows you manage who you Follow, which is important in attracting Followers for yourself.
The app enables one to find and follow users based interest, full name, company name, location, or other criteria. It will also help you analyze and filter out users based on activity and sociability.
Notable key features include
- Discover and follow relevant Twitter users
- Quickly identify users not follow back
- Identify user that you are no following back
- Cleanup inactive users
- Force undesirable users to unfollow your account
Paid Social Media
Social Media are not just about organically reaching and engaging with your clients and customers. They are an effective digital marketing tool because you advertising to large groups of targeted, active users. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have a tremendous amount of personal data that allows you to specifically target your specific customer demographic. This makes paid advertising, of social network sites an excellent digital marketing tool.
Facebook Ads — Facebook is an incredibly efficient way to reach customers, based on their age, interests, and location. You are able propel sales by reaching people interested in your business directly on their phones, tablets, and computers.
- Boost posts to reach more people
- Target ads to your audience by location, age, gender, interests and more
- Reach customers you already know in a safe, secure and privacy-safe way
- Remarket to past visitors of your website, and remind them of your business
Twitter Ads — Twitter can be an effective digital marketing tool, driving additional potential customers to your website. Twitter ads provide you with the ability to propel your existing community of followers to your site or target entirely new potential customers.
- Promoted Accounts — Ads that enable you to quickly gain relevant followers
- Website Cards — Promote your website by adding an image, related content and a strong call to action button (such as “buy now”) to your Tweet
- Conversion Tracking — Measure what happens after users see your ads on Twitter
- Promoted Tweets — Use targeting options to connect with the right audience
- Lead Generation Cards — Enable users the ability to share their contact information directly.
LinkedIn Ads — LinkedIn is excellent for B2B, and provides you the world’s largest audience of active, influential professionals. LinkedIn’s unique targeting ensures ads are seen by decision-makers.
Content is the driving force of digital marketing, which is why your business needs to start creating their own to share. Typical forms of content creation include websites, blogging, photography, videography, online commentary, social media accounts, and digital media.
WordPress — WordPress is web software used to easily create aa attractive website or blog. The best part is it is free and open-source, which means it is free to use, copy,and change in any way.
WordPress comes with a long list of standard features, but there are literally tens of thousands of plugins that extend what WordPress does, so the actual functionality is almost without limit.
- Themes — Allow users to change the look and functionality of a WordPress website, without affecting the content or health of the website.
- Plugins — Allow users to extend the features and customize the functionality of a website or blog. There are over 39,000 plugins available
- Mobile — Native apps allow users to add content from almost any mobile device
Canva — Canva is an online graphic design platform that uses drag-and-drop feature and professional layouts to design beautiful graphics. Canva can create unique images or to polish up existing photos.
- Images — Millions of stock images, vectors, and illustrations available
- Filters — Use preset filters of advanced editing tools
- Icons & Designs — Thousands of elements available to be added to design
- Fonts — Access to hundreds of of fonts, ready to use.
Animoto — Animoto is a cloud-based video creation service that can produce video from photos or video clips, and can add music into video slideshows.
Animoto automatically creates beautifully orchestrated, completely unique videos from your photos, video clips and music. It takes a little trial and error to get right, but adds surprisingly professional touch.
A few of the key features include
- Style flexibility — Choose from video templates or design your own style.
- Easy to share — Share videos over email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, your website, and more.
- Licensed music — Select from an extensive library of commercially licensed music.
- Call to action — Viewers are directed to your website at the end of the video.
In technical terms, content curation is “the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest.” In practice, it is the sharing of news, blog posts, photos and more, created by others, and that you believe your fans and followers will find valuable. As a digital marketing technique, roughly 80% of social media content should be curated.
Pocket — Pocket is a management tool for keeping lists of articles and videos for later. Pocket can be installed on many browsers, and you can also download the app on your smartphone for cross-platform usage. Additionally, Pocket integrates with over 500 other apps for easy saving and reference.
Feedly — Feedly is a news aggregator for use with various browsers and mobile devices. Not only does Feedly arrange content you on into easy-to-read collections, but you can also share content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more, including scheduling posts with Hootsuite or Buffer.
Curata — Curata is business-grade content curation software, intended as a content marketing solution. This is for the advanced user. Not only does Curata help you find hundreds of thousands of content sources, it also learns and dynamically adapts to your preferences.
The publishing and promotion features, of Curata, allow you to repurpose curated content to a blog, social networks, newsletters, or automated marketing platforms, using customized schedules, templates and publishing rules.
Search Engine Optimization
As a digital marketing tool, SEO is paramount. It is the process of affecting the position and visibility of a website in unpaid search results. This is the organic traffic to your website, which is naturally occurring, and earned solely based on the quality of content and site design.
Yoast SEO — Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that offers everything you need to optimize your site, and includes a built-in content analysis function for better content writing, and optimization of titles and descriptions for Google.
SEO Book — SEO Book provides a long list of both free and paid SEO tools to SEO professionals and DIY webmasters. The site offers everything from keyword suggestions to the ability to check what your website looks like to search engine spiders.
Moz — Moz Pro helps with the SEO best practices, including tracking rankings, tracking link building efforts, and appraising content marketing campaigns.
Moz Local can assist a business in improving local SEO. All one needs to do is enter your business’s location information and Moz goes to work getting you listed.
Even More Digital Marketing Tools
What I have shared above are the five digital marketing tools every business, marketer, and entrepreneur should be employing at a minimum, with several examples of service providers. These digital marketing tools work for everyone.
Additional digital marking techniques include
- Email Marketing — Best practices would be opt-in email, when the recipient of the advertisement has consented to receive it.
- Programmatic Advertising — Automated media purchase to tailor messages to a specific individual, at a specific moment, and in a specific context
- Video Hosting — Services that allow one to upload and share personal, business or royalty-free videos for others to watch
- Website Analytics — Measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of optimizing web usage.
- Customer Service — Online services for clients and customers to reach out to brands with inquiries and complaints.
- Affiliate Marketing — Performance-based marketing where a business pays a percentage of a sale to those advocating their products or services.
Your digital marketing, like most things, may not require every tool in the toolbox. The needs of your business are going to determine which which digital marketing tools are used, and which are not. Always try to pick the right digital marketing tool for the job.