Internet Marketing 101: Free Tools That Can Help Grow Your Small Business

| March 24, 2009 | 3 Comments

by Lisa Peyton

watering-can-gardenDo you own a small business or on-line store and want to expand or optimize your online presence? There are more resources and free tools available than ever before to help you get started. Before tracking down the right tool, it’s essential you define the job at hand.  Marketing your business online typically requires these 3 basic  components:

1) Setting up measurable goals or Key Performance Indicators that impact the bottom line of your business.

2) The ability to accurately track these goals and reporting the results.

3) The ability to meet and exceed your desired results through various online marketing strategies.

Each of these elements presents a unique set of challenges for the small business owner. There are many free or nearly free tools available to help get the job done. Google has become a dominant force in the industry and provides access to high-level tools free of charge. This has encouraged many other companies to follow suit, providing valuable  information and technology at no cost to the end user.  What follows is a break-down of some of the best tools available on the web for Do-It-Yourself marketers and small business owners.

Setting Goals

One of your best resources for setting up KPIs and online campaign  goals is the public library. There are many great books designed to help business owners define measurable goals that will positively impact their business. Here’s a brief list of some titles you may find useful:

The Big Book of KPIs, Eric T. Peterson (http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/about_kpi_book.asp)

Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, Avinash Kaushik (http://www.webanalyticshour.com/)

Actionable Web Analytics, Jason Burby and Shane Atchison (http://www.amazon.com/Actionable-Web-Analytics-Business-Decisions/dp/0470124741)

Tracking Goals

The importance of tracking any online initiative or campaign can’t be underestimated. The good news is that Google has developed industry standard tracking tools that are FREE! Google Analytics has undergone vast improvements over the last few months, making it an acceptable tracking solution even for enterprise-level businesses. That means there’s no question that it can do the job for your small business. Quantitative data or ‘click’ data is just one piece of the tracking puzzle, it’s also important to know the ‘why’ or the motivation behind those that are responding to your online campaign. Luckily, there’s a great free tool for that developed by Avinash Kaushik called 4Q.  It provides an easy solution for collecting information from your website visitors: e.g., why they came to your site, were they able to complete their task and what was their overall impression of their online experience with your brand.

Google Analytics - Comprehensive web analytics tool that provides valuable quantitative data for your website, ecommerce site, and even other online marketing campaigns. http://www.google.com/analytics/

4Q – Survey tool that gives you insight into the voice of your customer while asking relevant questions about why they came to your website. http://4q.iperceptions.com/

Google Call Reporting – Another valuable tool provided to anyone with an AdWords account. Google will provide up to 10 phone numbers that can be implemented on a website in order to track incoming calls from web campaigns. This tool is essential if your business’ primary conversion goal is getting a user to pick up the phone. Even in campaigns where a phone call may be a secondary goal, tracking inbound phone calls from the web can aid a small business in accurately tracking a campaigns ROI. https://adwords.google.com

Meeting Goals

There are multitudes of internet marketing strategies to help expand your online business; everything from PPC or Pay-Per-Click Advertising to Social Media Marketing to Search Engine Optimization. Below are some standard strategies and free tools to help get you started.

Keyword Research - Keywords are the building blocks of any online marketing strategy. It’s essential that your business or product can be found by those people that are already looking for it. Researching the phrases that those users are utilizing is a key component to  ensuring that you are speaking the same language as your customers and providing the relevant content they are looking for. For example, you might be selling oral hygiene products and therefore use the term ‘oral hygiene’ in all of your marketing campaigns.  After spending a few valuable minutes with the tools below, you may discover that the term ‘dental hygiene’ is 38X’s more popular with your online audience and therefore needs to be integrated into your online campaigns. If you continued to solely use the term ‘oral hygiene,’ you would be missing out on thousands of searchers potentially looking for your product.

Google Keyword Tool -https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Google Trendshttp://www.google.com/trends

Free Wordtracker Toolhttp://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/

Search Engine Optimization – Also known as SEO Search Engine Optimization basically constitutes the process of updating your website so it can be competitively indexed in search engines like Google.  In order for internet users to find your site, it needs to be indexed and displayed when a potential customer googles a relevant search term. There are tools that will help you determine what the search engines ‘see’ when they scan your site, comparing your website to competitors and affording you insight into which keywords your competitors are targeting.

Google Webmaster Toolswww.google.com/webmasters/start

Search Engine Spider Simulatorhttp://www.selfseo.com/crawler_simulation.php

SEMRushhttp://www.semrush.com/

SpyFuhttp://www.spyfu.com/

Paid Search (PPC) – With Google dominating the Paid Search landscape, there are dozens of free tools available for users of their advertising platform, AdWords. Even if you never plan on implementing a paid search campaign, I would recommend registering for an AdWords account so you you can access their toolbox. Some of my favorites are listed below.

Google Website Optimizerhttp://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer

Google Ad Plannerhttp://www.google.com/adplanner

Google Traffic Estimatorhttps://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox

Google AdWordshttps://adwords.google.com

Conclusion – Stay Tuned for Part II!

The above list of free tools is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great resources for internet marketing. Stay tuned for the second part of this article, where I’ll explore tools for other online marketing strategies such as social media marketing, ecommerce, email campaigns and blogging.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Internet Marketing

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by Lisa Peyton

watering-can-gardenDo you own a small business or on-line store and want to expand or optimize your online presence? There are more resources and free tools available than ever before to help you get started. Before tracking down the right tool, it’s essential you define the job at hand.  Marketing your business online typically requires these 3 basic  components:

1) Setting up measurable goals or Key Performance Indicators that impact the bottom line of your business.

2) The ability to accurately track these goals and reporting the results.

3) The ability to meet and exceed your desired results through various online marketing strategies.

Each of these elements presents a unique set of challenges for the small business owner. There are many free or nearly free tools available to help get the job done. Google has become a dominant force in the industry and provides access to high-level tools free of charge. This has encouraged many other companies to follow suit, providing valuable  information and technology at no cost to the end user.  What follows is a break-down of some of the best tools available on the web for Do-It-Yourself marketers and small business owners.

Setting Goals

One of your best resources for setting up KPIs and online campaign  goals is the public library. There are many great books designed to help business owners define measurable goals that will positively impact their business. Here’s a brief list of some titles you may find useful:

The Big Book of KPIs, Eric T. Peterson (http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/about_kpi_book.asp)

Web Analytics: An Hour a Day, Avinash Kaushik (http://www.webanalyticshour.com/)

Actionable Web Analytics, Jason Burby and Shane Atchison (http://www.amazon.com/Actionable-Web-Analytics-Business-Decisions/dp/0470124741)

Tracking Goals

The importance of tracking any online initiative or campaign can’t be underestimated. The good news is that Google has developed industry standard tracking tools that are FREE! Google Analytics has undergone vast improvements over the last few months, making it an acceptable tracking solution even for enterprise-level businesses. That means there’s no question that it can do the job for your small business. Quantitative data or ‘click’ data is just one piece of the tracking puzzle, it’s also important to know the ‘why’ or the motivation behind those that are responding to your online campaign. Luckily, there’s a great free tool for that developed by Avinash Kaushik called 4Q.  It provides an easy solution for collecting information from your website visitors: e.g., why they came to your site, were they able to complete their task and what was their overall impression of their online experience with your brand.

Google Analytics - Comprehensive web analytics tool that provides valuable quantitative data for your website, ecommerce site, and even other online marketing campaigns. http://www.google.com/analytics/

4Q – Survey tool that gives you insight into the voice of your customer while asking relevant questions about why they came to your website. http://4q.iperceptions.com/

Google Call Reporting – Another valuable tool provided to anyone with an AdWords account. Google will provide up to 10 phone numbers that can be implemented on a website in order to track incoming calls from web campaigns. This tool is essential if your business’ primary conversion goal is getting a user to pick up the phone. Even in campaigns where a phone call may be a secondary goal, tracking inbound phone calls from the web can aid a small business in accurately tracking a campaigns ROI. https://adwords.google.com

Meeting Goals

There are multitudes of internet marketing strategies to help expand your online business; everything from PPC or Pay-Per-Click Advertising to Social Media Marketing to Search Engine Optimization. Below are some standard strategies and free tools to help get you started.

Keyword Research - Keywords are the building blocks of any online marketing strategy. It’s essential that your business or product can be found by those people that are already looking for it. Researching the phrases that those users are utilizing is a key component to  ensuring that you are speaking the same language as your customers and providing the relevant content they are looking for. For example, you might be selling oral hygiene products and therefore use the term ‘oral hygiene’ in all of your marketing campaigns.  After spending a few valuable minutes with the tools below, you may discover that the term ‘dental hygiene’ is 38X’s more popular with your online audience and therefore needs to be integrated into your online campaigns. If you continued to solely use the term ‘oral hygiene,’ you would be missing out on thousands of searchers potentially looking for your product.

Google Keyword Tool -https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Google Trendshttp://www.google.com/trends

Free Wordtracker Toolhttp://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/

Search Engine Optimization – Also known as SEO Search Engine Optimization basically constitutes the process of updating your website so it can be competitively indexed in search engines like Google.  In order for internet users to find your site, it needs to be indexed and displayed when a potential customer googles a relevant search term. There are tools that will help you determine what the search engines ‘see’ when they scan your site, comparing your website to competitors and affording you insight into which keywords your competitors are targeting.

Google Webmaster Toolswww.google.com/webmasters/start

Search Engine Spider Simulatorhttp://www.selfseo.com/crawler_simulation.php

SEMRushhttp://www.semrush.com/

SpyFuhttp://www.spyfu.com/

Paid Search (PPC) – With Google dominating the Paid Search landscape, there are dozens of free tools available for users of their advertising platform, AdWords. Even if you never plan on implementing a paid search campaign, I would recommend registering for an AdWords account so you you can access their toolbox. Some of my favorites are listed below.

Google Website Optimizerhttp://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer

Google Ad Plannerhttp://www.google.com/adplanner

Google Traffic Estimatorhttps://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox

Google AdWordshttps://adwords.google.com

Conclusion – Stay Tuned for Part II!

The above list of free tools is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great resources for internet marketing. Stay tuned for the second part of this article, where I’ll explore tools for other online marketing strategies such as social media marketing, ecommerce, email campaigns and blogging.