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2nd May 2016

12 Tools to Help You Stay in Control of Your Marketing

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Marketing your local business can often feel like a full-time job – and for people running their own business, that’s just not an option. Happily, there are plenty of tools out there to help you stay in control of your marketing, both online and offline, so you can concentrate on building your business and your customer base. Here are some of our favourites.

To help you manage online directories:

Online directories are a great way to improve the visibility of your business online and encourage Google to display your website in search results. But managing your presence on online directories can be very time-consuming; there are thousands of local directories out there, and you may be included on more than you think. Doing this manually can take valuable hours away from your business, so using online tools can help you save a lot of time and stress.

  1. .Moz Local

This paid service from Moz is a great way to stay on top of multiple directories. It lets you add your business details and updates hundreds of online directories for you, saving you a lot of time.

  • Paid-for service
  • Fully automated system for multiple directories
  • Includes access to other helpful online tools
  1. Excel

If you’d prefer to manage your listings by hand, or if you choose to only be on a select few listing sites, keeping track through a spreadsheet can be invaluable. Set up a spreadsheet with each directory site you’re on, add your details and remember to check it every month to see if anything needs updating.

  • Completely free (but time-consuming)
  • Manual system which you control
  • Data is secure on your own system

For more help on online directories, take a look at our article: Six Key Steps to Using Online Business Listings for Marketing

To help you manage email marketing

  1. MailChimp

MailChimp’s easy to use service allows you to send out email marketing which looks great and is optimised for mobile. Plus, it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails each month.

  • Simple, easy-to-use email system
  • Free for small email lists
  • Includes scheduling and tracking information
  1. Campaign Monitor

For more comprehensive measurement tools and if you’re sending to a much bigger contact list, Campaign Monitor (a paid service) is a good choice. It’s as easy to use as MailChimp and both allow you to write, design and schedule emails far in advance.

    • Paid-for email service
    • Huge suite of email measurement tools
    • Good for larger businesses and email lists

For more help on email marketing, take a look at our starter article: Four emails your local business should be sending.

To help you manage social media:

  1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a free service with paid upgrades which lets you monitor lots of different social media channels. You can write and schedule updates for your channels in advance, and track what people are saying about you and your business.

  • Free version supports 3 social media profiles including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn
  • Includes basic measurement tools and scheduling
  • Easy to see what other people are talking about (including hashtags) online
  1. Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck, like Hootsuite, monitors social media – but it’s just focused on Twitter. It’s a completely free service where you can schedule updates and look at what hashtags people are using associated with your business.

  • Completely free service
  • Only supports monitoring and scheduling updates on Twitter
  • Good for starting out and finding out what your customers are talking about
  1. Buffer

Buffer has free and paid options, but it’s just focused on your own social media updates – not other people’s. You can write and schedule updates in advance and one big advantage is that you can schedule updates for Pinterest, so if you’re a lifestyle, health or food business this could be very useful.

  • Free version supports one profile for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn
  • Paid version also includes Pinterest and schedules up to 100 updates
  • Simple to use and ability to schedule updates

To find out more about making the most of social media, take a look at our article: The Two Steps To Choosing The Right Social Media Channels For Your Business

To help you monitor and get updates:

  1. Google Alerts

These are regular emails from Google which you can set up for any subject. Google searches the web for interesting news related to this subject and sends you an email with links in. It’s a great way to discover the latest ideas about your industry from across the world.

  • Simple to set up for daily, weekly or monthly updates
  • Sent straight to your email inbox
  • Useful for finding out breaking news
  1. Pocket

Collecting articles to share with your fans on social media, in your email newsletter or to write about on your business blog can be time-consuming. Pocket is a free service where you ‘collect’ articles to read later – a bit like bookmarking a web page, but you can also read your Pocket articles offline.

  • Clear and easy-to-use bookmarking service
  • Makes articles available to read offline, not just online
  • You can share directly from Pocket to social media

To help you make great visuals:

  1. Canva

Canva is a free service with elements which you can pay for. It gives you templates to make excellent images for nearly all social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and includes lots of free images, icons and fun fonts.

  • Huge range of templates for social media and marketing materials
  • Mainly free with some paid-for elements
  • Can be tricky to use on slower connections or computers
  1. PicMonkey

Like Canva, PicMonkey is a free service to help you design great images for your marketing. PicMonkey is a little bit easier to use if you’re just starting with design, and has a paid-for option which has extra fonts, images and effects.

  • Simpler to use than Canva
  • Plenty of interesting fonts, icons and seasonal images
  • Mainly free with a paid-for upgrade for more options
  1. PiktoChart

If you’re a B2B business or in a service industry, PiktoChart could be really useful. This helps you create charts and reports which are easy to read and look brilliant – without having to hire a graphic designer. There are free and paid services, and over 500 templates to get you started.

  • Excellent for creating reports or infographics (a picture that represents information or data)
  • Easy to use with plenty of templates to start with
  • Best for when you have lots of statistics to share

There’s plenty more tools out there to help you manage your marketing, whether you’re creating images or scheduling social media updates. Next time you’re struggling to sort out your marketing materials, try out some of our suggestions.

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