Growing a small business isn’t easy. You have customers to satisfy, employees to pay, and lights to keep on. You’ve heard lots of buzz about inbound marketing, but you can’t justify dishing out a few thousand to get a powerful marketing tool like Hubspot. So where do you begin?
Fortunately there’s a ton of powerful free marketing tools available that are aimed at getting small businesses started with inbound marketing. Why? Many B2B software providers now realize that the small businesses of today are the Fortune 500 companies of tomorrow. If small businesses succeed, we all do.
The list below contains what we believe to be among the best free solutions for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are just getting started. Let’s dive in:
Email can be one of the most valuable ways to nurture leads and to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more. Yet many small businesses and entrepreneurs can’t justify paying another monthly fee when they’re just getting started. Mailchimp solves this problem, offering a best-in-class email solution for up to 2,000 contacts. They’ll even give you pre-made email templates to allow you to send out professionally designed email newsletters almost instantly. Sign up for free here.
2) Hubspot CRM
Your prospects and customers are too important to store in spreadsheets, notepads and memory. Without a clean, organized customer relationship management solution (CRM), it can be far too easy to let people fall through the cracks. With Hubspot’s free CRM you can keep them in one shareable, flexible, searchable database that’s just as good as any paid solution like Salesforce (if not better.)
By integrating the HubSpot CRM with your email and browser you can automatically track every interaction with your prospects and deals. Emailing a new contact? No problem. The Hubspot CRM creates that contact for you and enriches them with information about their company.
We use the Hubspot CRM at Pepperland and couldn’t be happier with how much it’s helped as we’ve begun to grow. Create your free account now.
Sidekick is like the kid brother of the Hubspot CRM. It integrates directly with Gmail or Outlook to store all of your sales emails and customer interactions in the CRM, so you can keep you mind off record keeping and focus on providing value to customers. The tool also notifies you whenever a prospect opens and reads your email. It’s super cool.
Sidekick will also give you a helpful profile on the right-side of your screen such as past contact history, social media content, mutual connections, and more. If you’re using email to prospect or move deals through your sales pipeline, Sidekick is a no-brainer. Here’s a link to give it a try.
WordPress is a free website content management system (CMS) that is used to power nearly 25% of the world’s websites. It’s completely free to use and constantly improving. Aside from the software’s ease of use and zero cost, a large portion of WordPress’s popularity stems from the tens of thousands of free plugins and themes that are available to expand and improve functionality. If you can think of it, there’s probably a plug-in for it.
While you can build world-class, enterprise quality websites using WordPress, it’s core functionality is built around blogging. According to Hubspot’s most recent State of Inbound report, marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. With a stat like that, how could you not take advantage of blogging for your business?
While WordPress software is free to use, you do still need to pay a small fee for hosting. We suggest using GoDaddy for this. Once you’ve set-up hosting, use GoDaddy’s easy one-click installation to get your WordPress instance up and running.
If you’ve set up the four tools we’ve listed so far, you’re just about ready to start taking advantage of inbound marketing. You’ve built a great website and are blogging to grow your audience, you’ve created a weekly newsletter to share blog posts with your subscribers, and you’re tracking all of your leads and sales activities using Sidekick and the Hubspot CRM. There’s just one problem – how do you capture leads and identify who’s engaging with your content?
Enter Leadin. Announced only a few weeks ago at Inbound 2015, Leadin is an incredibly powerful free plugin that allows you to see exactly who, and what people are doing on your website. It even allows you to create simple yet effective forms to capture new subscribers and prompt visitors to download your content; helping you grow your list of contacts every day.
The real power comes from the insights that Leadin gives you. As soon as you’ve captured an email, the plugin will automatically give you information like their location, work history, and company info can give you the context you need to proactively reach out and start a conversation. If I had this tool years ago when I first started blogging, I’d be a wealthy man by now.
Not yet convinced? Leadin integrates with the most popular email tools such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, or AWeber, allowing you to automatically enroll new contacts into your email campaign. If you’re already using one of their forms, there’s no need to replace them – Leadin will do the heavy lifting for you.
Getting started is easy. Just click this link, copy the code or download the plug-in, and off you go!
BONUS: 6) Google My Business
Given the rise of smartphones and Google Maps, it can be mind-boggling to know that only 37% of businesses have created a listing on Google. Every day millions of people search for locations near them – places to eat, to shop, or to go for fun. According to research from Think With Google, businesses that have complete business information online are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers.
If you haven’t created or claimed your listing already, the process is super-easy. Simply visit gybo.com/business, follow the prompts, and you’ll have a completely free listing that can be found by local searchers in no-time.
Start with a plan
Having all the necessary tools to market and sell for your business online is a great thing, especially when they’re free. The important thing to remember though, is that before you execute, you need a plan. Start by simply establishing some goals and asking yourself these questions:
- In order to generate XX dollars in revenue, how many leads will you need to generate?
- How many hours a week can I commit to marketing? (We suggest you start with 10 hours a week)
- What is your process for responding to those leads?
- What makes you unique? How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
- Who is your ideal customer? Create personas to better define this.
- What expertise can you share to provide value to your target audience?
Once you’ve answered these questions and put together the beginnings of a strategy – stay committed. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but if you keep at it and stay consistent, you’ll see enormous value in the long-run.