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Essential Small-Business Tools For Marketing Your Business

Arizona Financial Staff

Getting your business name out in front of the right eyes and building brand awareness with customers is more important than ever – especially in an age when digital marketing reigns supreme. Note: pricing was accurate at time of publishing but may have changed.

Social Media

Having a social media presence is essential for building brand awareness and helps build trust with your audience. These apps can help you manage your social media and make you nothing short of a Twitter wizard, Instagram influencer, or email expert.

TweetDeck is the premier in-house scheduling platform for everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) microblogging platform. It’s a fantastic app for businesses with multiple Twitter accounts, letting you browse both dashboards without having to manually sign in and out again. This allows you to interact and engage with potential clientele from a variety of brand voices. It’s easy to use, offers a clean interface, and is a godsend for scheduling tweets in advance. And it’s free.


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Sprout Social is a robust, cross-platform social media management tool that lets you post about your brand on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram simultaneously. Couple that with data insights and you can see when, where, and with whom your content is resonating best. It’s not a free service (a professional account will run you $149), but it’s worth every penny.

Buffer is similar to Sprout in how it allows cross-platform posting and analytics, but it offers a dynamic team management option that lets you bring on fellow employees to help with the posting. It’s good for businesses that are starting to build their social media and communications teams and that need a tool that accommodates everyone. Small-business plans are cheaper, too, at $99 a month.

Lately employs artificial intelligence to assist with content rollout across social media platforms, giving it a leg up on similar services. Couple that with its ability to automate posting, and all you’ll have to do is draft some tweets. The robots take care of the rest. It’s $129 for a professional membership, but it’s definitely one of the more dynamic social media platforms on the market.

Mailchimp is an excellent tool of email campaign experts and podcast listeners everywhere, and it’s fantastic for conducting A/B testing and getting a handle on what message is resonating and with whom. It prides itself on providing reports that let its users get better and smarter with each campaign so you can continue to reach the right demographic. You can use it for free for up to 2,000 subscribers, but it’s $10 a month for unlimited.

Instasize takes Instagram’s already impressive photo editing tools and ratchets it up to 11, allowing users to edit and crop their images to look their best in-app. With Instagram’s preference for a 1:1 aspect ratio when viewed on a smartphone, Instasize is a great free tool for making your images pop and stand out on a platform already laden with photos of dogs and food. It’ll cost you a low $4.99 a month.

ProtonMail is perfect for the more … careful among us, offering encrypted email services and data storage. Let’s see the hackers try to get into those emails. A professional account is $80 annually.

 
Web Design

Once you’ve got your small business up and running, you’ll need a sleek exterior to attract the right clients and partners. You could hire a web designer (which can cost a lot of money) or you can stay frugal with these urbane site designing platforms.

Wix is a popular, easy-to-use site for designing your webpage, offering video hosting, webstore hosting, and beautiful templates. Plus, when you sign up to host, you get one year of free domain name hosting and use of the Wix logo maker, all for less than $20 a month (or $25, if you have a webstore).

Squarespace excels in template offerings, with some of the sleekest designs in the business. It lets you tweak your website in ways Wix doesn’t, offering a fully customizable experience. However, it requires a bit more technical know-how. It’s $18 a month for premium, and $26 for e-commerce options.

WordPress is an attractive option if you want your site to have more of a blog feel, perfect for businesses that want to show the world how their development process is proceeding. Its premium option is $8 a month and is perfect for folks who want a basic, content-driven site for their small enterprise.

Graphics

A picture is worth a thousand words. A five-second video running at 60 frames per second is therefore worth 300,000 words. Get the right photos and movies on your website to make a lasting impression, with the help of these tools.

iStock has one of the larger databases of royalty-free stock images on the web, which makes finding the perfect picture a cinch. It has scaled pricing to accommodate your needs, with 10 photos a month setting you back $70 for a one-year subscription.

Flickr offers free photo hosting and a wide range of images with Creative Commons licenses, many of which you can use for commercial purposes, provided you attribute the author. It’s good if you want to host your business’s images externally, thus cutting down on data usage on your website while still getting access to user-uploaded files the site over.

Wave Video is a simple browser tool for making eye-catching videos, offering stock footage and music for easy content creation. You can export your videos in aspect ratios suited for all social media platforms. A Pro account costs $16.50 a month, making it much cheaper than most professional video-editing platforms.

Lumen5 is an effective tool for businesses who want to publish a lot of video across different social media platforms. Its built in Artificial Intelligence autogenerates visuals to fit your script, cutting down the amount of time it takes to source photos and b-roll. Lumen5 can also create automatic videos from web links and offers a large library of stock photos and clips. A basic account runs $29 a month.

Snappa is a graphic design platform for creating engaging images, complete with text overlay and photo editing. Its in-house templates are diverse, and a great option for making quick and dirty designs suited for social media. A premium account costs $10.

Your turn: Tell us about your favorite tools for small business in the comments below.