Startup Resources Are Everywhere.
Startups don’t have a lot of money to waste, so they have to get a little creative. It can be hard to succeed in your industry when it feels like everyone else has a more sophisticated, and expensive tool set than you. But, don’t underestimate the free and inexpensive startup resources available on the web!
There are limitless online tools that can help streamline your business’ day-to-day processes and give you a leg up in your industry. Matrix Marketing uses its fair share of small business tools, so we decided to put together a list of the tools that we think are most useful for small businesses.
Our favorite Startup Resources:
With a 90% discount for seed stage startups, HubSpot offers one of the best marketing automation systems for pennies on the dollar. You can use HubSpot's marketing tools for pipeline management, generate more - and higher quality - leads, and close deals faster.
Have you ever seen a little chat window open up on our website? That’s powered by Olark, a great tool you can use to invite visitors to your website to engage with you! Olark allows you to understand whose visiting your website, and how they’re reacting to it. Using Olark is a great way to open a simple and easy stream of communication between you and your audience. Let your website’s visitors know you’re there to help. You can try it free here.
Here’s the situation: your copywriter just gave you two great headlines for your new landing page, and you aren’t sure which one you like more. Then you realize it isn’t about you, it’s about which headline is more persuasive to your customers. So you load up the two different headlines in Visual Website Optimizer, and launch a test on the landing page with real, live customers so you can figure out which headline sells. Learn more >>>
Google Analytics not only lets you measure sales and conversions, but also gives you fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back. Google analytics can provide valuable data to help you identify new markets for your product and examine customer interaction with your website.
Insusionsoft is an all-in-one sales and marketing software built for small business. It includes CRM, e-commerce, social media and email marketing—into a single, powerful system that automatically converts leads into new customers and grows sales from existing ones. Click here to find out more.
PayPal is a great way to collect and send money. It’s known worldwide, many people have their own accounts, and you can still charge for your products using PayPal even if your customers don’t have an account. PayPal charges a small percentage of each transaction but is free to set-up and use otherwise.
Boomerang is a free plugin for Firefox and Chrome that allows you to create a schedule of when you want your emails sent out. The plugin also helps you to organize a crowded inbox by marking important messages that can be archived, and then returned to your inbox at a specified date that they are needed.
Remember the good old days of emailing yourself a file? They would get lost or your logging in everywhere. Now, those days are long gone thanks to Dropbox, a place on the web where you can store all your photos, docs, and videos. You can access them anywhere you have an Internet connection and share them easily. Run out of free space? Refer a friend and they’ll give you more! Learn more>>>
To have a website you need a domain name and a “host” to store your site’s information and make it available for viewing 24/7. Bluehost is reliable, easy to use, and an affordable option. From the business owner to the individual who desires full functionality on a small budget, Bluehost provides your complete web hosting solution.
Google Vocie is software that enables you to make unlimited free calls to other Google Vocie users via computer, tablet or smartphone. It also has very cheap per-minute and subscription prices for calls to landlines and cell phone lines around the world. Since we have team members distributed across the globe, Google Vocie lets us get in touch easier than dealing with international calling rates.
UberConference is a great tool for holding conference calls. We do a weekly 10-minute call with the entire team. Sometimes you don’t want to show your face on Hangout at 8am in the morning, so UberConference lets everyone call in from wherever they are, enter a password for our specific conference call, and check in. It’s free for up to 5 people on a conference call.
Wrike is an online project management platform for making work fast, easy and efficient in co-located and distributed teams. It's flexibility enables multi-functional teams to collaborate and get things done successfully in one place. Schedule, prioritize, discuss and track progress in real time — all with a few mouse clicks. You can use Wrike for free with up to 5 people on your team.
Yoast’s SEO for WordPress Plugin helps you ensure that your blog is optimized for SEO by presenting specific content on your website in a way that search engines want to read it. It really saves us time and the headaches associated with SEO for so many websites and pages. We love its flexibility and how well it works with the Genesis Framework. There are free and premium plugins available.
Mautic is the first ever open source and completely free marketing platform. They allow you to digitally track visitors, prospects, and customers through the buying cycle. Mautic automates the marketing process so you can focus on nurturing leads and making sales.
Our local customers love Main Street Hub. It responds to all reviews about your business on Yelp and Google+ Local. They then take it a step further by engaging with your community on Facebook and Twitter, and managing your local marketing on Foursquare.
Matrix Marketing Group’s growth has been thanks in part to two things: social media and social media automation. Sprout Social rises above the other social media automation tools by providing a user-friendly interface and easily digestible data so we can see what’s working and what’s falling flat. You can even get a free 30-day trial.
Hootsuite is the most popular social media automation tool on the market. Hootsuite lets you manage various social media networks all in one dashboard and helps to streamline social media approach for your various channels. If your audience is on a social channel then Hootsuite has you covered.
Buffer is a free social media management tool geared towards automatically sharing your queued up social posts throughout the day. It makes sure you're never over saturating anyone’s Twitter or Facebook feed with too many updates. Add any article, picture or video you come across on the web to your Buffer queue. The paid plan gives you unlimited posts in your queue plus more users to manage it.
A good blog has to have high-quality images. However, if we paid a stock photo company for one photo per blog post, we’d be looking at a hefty monthly bill. Instead of shelling out that dough, we use Flickr to keep the company from infringing on any copyright laws (yes, those are real and they DO get prosecuted). Flickr’s advanced search lets you easily find and download photos that photographers have allowed for use on your blog, or even commercial use — for free!
Need to pump up your Photoshop tools? Looking for a fresh set of icons? You’ll be surprised what a difference those guys can make. GraphicRiver is a designer’s dream marketplace where you can buy all that plus royalty-free stock graphics, vectors, illustrations and layered backgrounds.
There are tons of tools out there to help you analyze your performance on different social media channels. Likealzer is one of the best tools to use for your company’s Facebook page. Just enter your Facebook URL and see who is interacting with your page and how effective your layout is.
We use the Genesis Framework as the foundation for all of our custom designed WordPress themes. It provides a great starting point for building themes and gives you more flexibility and control than your average WordPress theme. It helps our coding whiz create quality production themes and cuts programming time in half. The tool requires a one-time payment of $60, but with that comes ample support from the Genesis team in implementing the Genesis Framework.
Have you ever attended one of our webinars? If so, you know we use EasyWebinar for all of our web conferencing needs. It makes screen-sharing with big groups easy and allows for quick and convenient registration. EasyWebinar handles all registration, login and reminders. It even has a useful question and answer feature where conference members can indicate they'd like to participate in the discussion. While alternatives like GoToWebinar might be more robust, EasyWebinar takes some slight tweeking to begin, but then it's ready to rock and roll at a quarter of the price.
When it comes to choosing a platform for your website, one of the biggest things to look for is available support and the community behind it. Rainmaker outshines every other option and before we upgraded to the HubSpot COS was our low cost option for years. There are tons free and paid themes to choose from, just keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for your domain name and website hosting. Can't beat it. If you're looking to create a well synced marketing machine, they also offer an all-in-one marketing automation system.
TopCoder connects clients with talented coders through an effective crowdsourcing model. The company breaks up coding projects into separate pieces and designs competitions around them for coders to compete in. TopCoder is valuable and cost effective outsourcing tool for your company’s programming needs.
Perfect your writing style with the Hemingway editor. Hemingway is a website that allows you to edit your writing to avoid wordy or confusing sentences. Just go to the site and copy and paste your content directly in. The editor will then highlight sentences that are confusing or poorly worded and score your writing attempt. Hemingway provides a simple, free way to make sure that you are a producing, clean, concise, and bold content at all times.
Write witty and inventive content with this free content idea generator. Simply write a keyword for your content idea into the site’s search engine and watch as the tool comes up with a title a content idea for you to expand upon. This idea generator tool allows you to keep refreshing your search if you’re not a fan of your first content idea combination.
Visual content is much more likely to engage your audience and encourage them to interact with your content, but good visuals can be hard to come by and difficult to design. Luckily, Pablo does most of the work for you. The design tool allows you to choose from its inventory of stock images or download your own photo. Then, you can overlay text, logos, and captions on your image and quickly have a shareable piece of content.
Another useful tool for companies that need some help in the graphic design department, Canva allows you to create professional grade graphics for your company to share. The free tool has offers multiple templates for infographics, presentations, visual content, and more. Canva allows you to design your visuals like a professional without spending any money.
MailChimp is a must have if you want your company to succeed in the world of email marketing. The platform allows you to create various types of email-marketing campaigns using templates and then sends them to a subscribed customer base. Customers can opt in or out of email campaigns. Mailchimp works on a freemium design. Users can sign up for a basic package, or subscribe to one of MailChimp’s paid packages. What's the best part? If you have under 12,000 monthly emails to send it's free.
Evernote is a note-taking tool that allows you to organize various forms of notes across multiple devices. You can take pictures of notes that you need to save or write directly into the app. You can also share your notes with others after they are written and search for past notes based on keywords with the helpful search bar. Evernote operates on a freemium design, pricing ranges from free to $120 a year for the business grade package.
Buzzsumo is the perfect tool for content research. Search a keyword to measure audience engagement with previous content on that topic that has been posted. In addition, Buzzsumo is a great tool for analyzing your own company’s web performance and analyzing high performing content on your competition’s webpages and social channels. More extensive engagement with Buzzsumo costs a monthly fee, but Buzzsumo’s high quality data analysis features make the tool a valuable investment.
Crazyegg is an app that provides you with various eye-tracking tools in order to analyze your websites performance. The app has four different tools: Scroll map, Heat map, Confetti, and Overlay. Each tool will show you a different aspect of your user’s experience with your website. For example, Heat map provides visual data in the form of color changes overlaid on your web page in order to show the most popular areas to click on your webpage. Crazyegg starts off at $9 a month with more expansive packages offering more features. The app offers a thirty-day free trial, so try it out now to see if it’s the right fit for you!.
That’s all for now!
Of course, there are new and exciting business tools coming onto the scene every day. Did I miss one of your favorite startup resources? Are there tools others should know about? Or do you think one of my favorite tools is just lame? Let me know in the comments below.