A few years ago, the term inbound marketing was non existent. In the last couple of years marketing has really evolved compared to how things worked for in the past 3-4 decades or so. These days the key to getting new leads for your small business is to focus more on inbound marketing using the internet. Whether you own a small bicycle store or an ice cream parlour, inbound marketing can be really effective if you are using the right set of tools to track your results. Today I am going to talk about some of the tools that I personally use for an online campaign for some of my clients.
What is Inbound Marketing in the first place?
Inbound marketing can be defined in a lot of ways. In simple terms it refers to the type of marketing that focusses on prospective leads to contact your business rather that you spending money & time to get your word out there. Take a look at my complete guide towards inbound marketing for more details.
Note: I will list each tool below with a brief information about what it does, how it’s effective for your business, pricing information and what part of the inbound process does it solve.
Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing softwares used by hundreds of thousands of businesses. I highly recommend that you get the mailchimp premium subscription depending on the number of customers that are already subscribed to your email list. If you are brand new to email marketing then you get choose their basic plan that supports up to 500 contacts and upgrade as your get more leads.
Email marketing is absolutely essential for any business since it’s the number one source for generating online leads over a given period of time. Mail chimp premium allows you to create automatic sales pipeline for different subscriber lists and track your campaigns with their built in analytics software.
Price: $10+ (depending on number of contacts)
The backbone of inbound marketing is to generate high quality engaging content for your customers. As a matter of fact, you need to spend a lot of time planning your content pipeline in order to attract customers organically as well as to retain them as potential customers. Trello Gold is an amazing web-based content planning software that helps small business plan their daily operations using their innovative virtual boards.
If you are hearing about Trello for the first time then you would be happy to know that their online app is completely free to use. You start by creating a virtual board and a few segments inside it. You can customize the names for the segment as well as create more boards as required. Each task that you plan or assign is displayed in form of an informative card inside the Trello ecosystem. You can move the cards through different segments in order to organize and assign them to different employees.
The Trello Gold plan is a step up from their regular free version. The Gold subscription allows you to attach files unto 250 MB as well as customize the boards with premium themes and your own brand icons. As an added bonus you can upload your own emojis for troll chat. If you have multiple employees who are using Trello then the best solution is to go with their Business Class package for organizations. With the business class package you have greater control as to who sees different boards across your company.
Pricing: Trello Gold ($5 per month), Trello Business Class ($3.95 per user/month)
Sidekick for Business is a sales plugin developed by a leading inbound marketing company called Hubspot. Sidekick for Business also offers a free version with limited features. If you have anything to do with sales then I literally urge you to take a look at Sidekick because I can guarantee that it will blow your mind. Simple yet powerful, this tool works seamlessly with the free Hubspot CRM allowing you to track each and every email and get instant notifications when someone opens it.
If you are using Hubspot CRM alongside Sidekick then you also get their Chrome & Outlook plugin that displays contact information whenever you are sending someone an Email. Every thread is recorded as a log with a particular contact and you can go through all the details through the CRM backend. Now, if you are planning to upgrade from a free Sidekick user to Sidekick for Business then you can make free phone calls using Hubspot’s CRM and store recorded conversation. It also allows you to take notes while speaking to a client or a customer.
With Sidekick for Business you can use an unlimited number of pre-built templates right within Gmail or Outlook. These templates can be configured to generate dynamic content like name and phone number right from your Hubspot CRM. I have been using Sidekick and their CRM for some time and its saving me a lot of time where I need to write the same email over and over again. Finally, the software allows you to view an email performance dashboard where you can measure how well your templates are performing in order to improve the overall sales process.
Pricing: Sidekick & Hubspot CRM (Free), Sidekick for Business ($50 per user/month)
The goal of inbound marketing is extremely simple when you view everything from a broader perspective. Your main focus is to create something valuable so that people who are interested visit your website and convert themselves to potential leads. Your job is to nurture these leads through a sales process in order to convert them to customers. One of the most important element for lead generation (in the online world) is to create highly attractive and relevant landing pages which are optimized for conversion.This is where Leadpages come into the picture.
Leadpages is an all-in-one landing page solution that allows you to create attractive landing pages, track visitors, create popup blocks for your site and most importantly analyze your landing page behaviours.
Creating a landing page that looks clean and offers a higher conversion rate is no easy task. Leadpages has a number of pre-built template built by industry experts where you can customize each and every element to match the look and feel of your own personal brand. Their service also connects with major email marketing provers including Mailchimp allowing you to add all the leads to your email marketing database.
Pricing: $25 – $40 per month. There is also a premium plan for $199 per month if you are interested in joining Leadpages coaching program alongside your subscription to their service.
Effective communication among your employees is one of the key traits for any successful company. The irony is with an improvement in technology it seems we are often overwhelmed with a bunch of emails, messages and notifications every day. This is why I think every small business looking to plan and effectively drive inbound leads should use Slack. Slack is a team collaboration chat application that lets you add tasks, access their app from just about any platform as well as integrate numerous other services that you may have been using already.
As an administrator you have full control as to who can join or view a conversation and you can even create tags in order to better manage your day to day workflow.
Pricing: Free Plan + Premium Starts at $6.67 per month
Crazy Egg is one of the most innovative website tracking tool out there on the market. Once you setup and integrate Crazy Egg with your website you can track how website visitors are viewing your pages using extremely detailed heat maps. You can use the data you collect from these heat maps into planning your future pages for more engagement and ultimately to generate more leads for your business.
Pricing: Starts at $9 a month for up to 10000 website visitors.
A big part of what drives traffic to your website or blog these days has to do with Social Media. More and more companies are adopting towards an active social media strategy. The problem with being everywhere on Social Media is that there are too many accounts and too many logins if you want to publish that new offer for your customers.
During the early days of social media I almost logged into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other websites over 30 times a day just to publish my new blog post. This is where Hootsuite comes in and saves you a ton of time by allowing you to centralize your publication system under their unified platform. All you need to do is connect your Facebook Page, Twitter profile etc. into your main Hootsuite account and start managing your social media strategy within their ecosystem.
You can even schedule posts for later, manage and track multiple feeds, track conversions, traffic and much more using Hootsuite. Another cool feature you will find with their software is the ability use their custom URL shorter. You can try their free plan allowing you to manage unto 3 social profile and later upgrade to the professional package.
Pricing: Free & Professional ($9.99 per month)
Snip.ly is one of the coolest things that got a lot of notoriety lately. Snip.ly allows you to share any link with your audience that features a custom message on top with a call to action button. The concept is extremely simple but effective in generating new leads and conversions to your website. There is a free plan as well for you to try and the bar can be customized with your own custom text, logo etc. to suite your branding. You can even track your clicks using Snip.ly’s built in analytics system.
Pricing: Free for 1000 clicks a month, pro ($29 per month for 5000 clicks), other plans and pricing depending on the number of clicks.
The LeadIn WordPress plugin is a must have for an inbound marketer using WordPress to power their website. The plugin is bought to you by the makers of Hubspot and it’s absolutely free to use. Once you install the plugin, it automatically tracks all the forms installed on your website and creates a back end CMS of all your visitors. LeadIn also notifies you when a visitors visits a particular page and based on their given information it finds other revenant content for a particular lead.
The plugin might sound complicated but I personally tried it on one of my client’s website and it works without a hassle. LeadIn also allows you to feature a floating opt-in form on specific pages which is quite handy in case you are not using a paid option solution for your visitors.
Researching and targeting the right keywords to generate relevant organic visitors to your website is still one of the backbones of inbound marketing. Keyword ranking is getting tougher with each algorithm update and you as a marketer need to focus on a lot of factors before deciding the keywords to target. One tool that allows you to keep your focus on effective keyword research with useful statistics is SEMRush. If I start talking about SEMRush in detail then I can literally continue forever. To put things in simple perspective, it’s one of the most effective keyword research and competition analysis tool out there.
You can try their tool for free and upgrade to unlock all the features for SEMRush. Each keyword displays it’s own page showing volume, SERP results, average CPC and current samples of Adwords advertisement. When researching about your competitors you can view the type of keywords they are bidding on, how your competitors are generating backlinks, organic search rankings and much more. SEMRush is like a hidden weapon that every inbound marketer should use.
Pricing: Starts at $60 per month
An effective way to to reach out a lot of potential customers is to host a webinar and provide something valuable to your attendees. Hosting a webinar requires a lot of planning, not to mention the technical expertise of handling everything. Go To Webinar is the most popular webinar hosting platform used by a lot of businesses throughout the internet. Their comprehensive solution allows you to integrate with Mailchimp and other email marketing platform and share a notification to your subscribers before the event begins. There are advanced features like taking a question from the attendees as well as record the whole thing so that you can reference it later.
I used their platform to test with multiple webcams, sound recorders and it works without a hassle. The only drawback with GoToWebinar that I can think of is that users have to download the application and launch it in order to join and participate in the meeting. Pricing depends on the number of attendees.
Pricing: Starts At $99 per month (100 attendees)
Wrapping Up The Inbound Ecosystem
If you managed to read through the entire list of tools for your inbound success then this is where I wrap things up with my own thoughts. Inbound Marketing needs all the tools mentioned above to work cohesively with each other. This not only saves you a great deal of time but you also automate much of the process which is vital for your company’s growth. The best thing about all the tools (most of them at least) mentioned above is that they provide you with insightful analytical data that is key in making major marketing decisions for your company. This is something that you simply can’t get from outbound marketing. Using the data from all your customers will help you narrow down the improvements that you need to implement in order to attract new customers to you business.
If you feel like I missed a tool that should have been mentioned in my list, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.