Digital marketing tools have leveled the playing field for small businesses.
This is key because implementing an effective marketing strategy for your small business is essential for growing your company and driving revenue.
Now, your eCommerce business doesn’t need to have a marketing budget of millions of dollars just to compete.
That said, it doesn’t matter how great your product or eCommerce business is if your customers don’t know about it.
Marketing your brand takes time and effort. And while you may realize the importance of building your brand, you also need to work within the reality that there are only 24 hours in the day.
One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing tools is the ability to lighten the workload on you and your employees. This is especially important for start-ups, solopreneurs, and other eCommerce businesses that don’t have the human resources for an in-house marketing team or the budget to outsource marketing efforts.
Digital marketing tools don’t just save your eCommerce business time; they also make your marketing efforts more effective. For example, the Epsilon Email Institute research reported that automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective marketing tools for your small businesses to grow in 2023.
The good news? Many of the tools you’ll find on our list are free or low-cost for small businesses.
Let’s dig in.
What is a Marketing Tool?
Marketing tools help your eCommerce business to carry out specific aspects of your marketing strategy
The types of tools that you will need depend on your marketing goals, the customers you are trying to reach, and other aspects of your marketing plan unique to your business.
Because all businesses approach marketing strategies and tactics differently, every eCommerce business will need its own unique combination of tools to best compete in the market.
The good news is that it is easier than ever to create a successful marketing strategy for your small business. There are more opportunities to increase your brand visibility, reach your target audience, and build your business.
Nearly every aspect of marketing now has digital tools to help you achieve your branding goals.
Some examples of digital tools include:
- Email platforms that automate your communications with your customers
- Automated content platforms to schedule your social media postings weeks or months in advance
- Platforms to track your sales pipeline at every step
- Sites that make designing your marketing materials easy, even if you don’t have any design skills, and
- Platforms that provide you with keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO) tools
Why Do You Need Digital Marketing Tools for Your Business?
If you are not using digital marketing tools for your business, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Digital marketing tools can help your eCommerce business make the most of every dollar in your marketing budget and ensure every hour you spend on marketing is worth your time.
They can also help you monitor and track the results from your marketing efforts so that you can achieve the highest return on your investment.
Some of the key benefits of digital marketing tools include:
- Automating your repetitive tasks
- Collecting data for analysis and campaign optimization, and
- Organizing and planning your marketing activities
- Improving the effectiveness of communications both within your company and with your customers
- Saving time and money
With all the available small business marketing tools, you can now grow your business and outshine your competitors.
What Are the Best Marketing Tools for Small Businesses?
What are the best marketing tools for your small business? The best tools help you save time, save money, or help you achieve your marketing goals more effectively or quickly.
Of course, there is no single correct answer for every small business. However, most companies should start with these basic tools.
Email Marketing Automation Platform
Depending on the size of your email list, your email marketing automation platform may be the best free or low-cost tool in your branding arsenal. Email platforms such as MailChimp and MailerLite are free for your first one to two thousand subscribers and can provide a variety of functions to turn potential customers into buyers, and buyers into evangelists for your brand.
Your free or low-cost email platform can:
- Create personalized and customized campaigns, sending the right emails to the right customers
- Use different images or subject lines to increase your customer engagement
- Segment your email lists based on customer type, geography, engagement level, or a variety of other factors
- Use A/B testing to find the most effective email strategy
- Automate your sales funnel
- Collect feedback on your customers’ experiences
- Improve your sales
- Build loyalty by communicating with your customers
- Send web traffic to your site
- Nurture leads and improve conversions using email magnets
- Provide more value to your customers, and
- Allow you to own your contact lists, rather than to rely on a third party or social media site
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach your customers and build affinity for your brand.
Social Media Scheduler Platform
Nearly every business knows how important social media can be as a tenet of your marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, social media is one aspect of marketing that can easily siphon away your time if you are not strategic in your efforts.
On the flip side, sometimes it can be difficult to fit in social media tasks with all the other activities that must be done when running a business.
For your brand to benefit from social media, it is important to post new content regularly. When companies only post on social media sporadically, they lose followers and potential customer interest.
One of the biggest benefits of a social media scheduler platform is how much time it saves. Scheduling your business’s social media posts allows you the freedom to schedule everything in a single time block, and plan your social media campaigns effectively.
Social media scheduling platforms allow you to:
- Plan your content for weeks to months in advance
- Save time by batching your posts
- Schedule your social media posts to run at times when your customers are most likely to be online
- Pre-schedule campaigns for new product releases for sales in advance so you’re freed up for other marketing activities during launch times or busy sales seasons.
- Manage content for all your various social media platforms, and when appropriate, repost content from one platform to another
- Measure and improve your social media posts to make your campaigns more effective, and
- Maintain brand consistency
Building a strong social media presence for your brand requires a delicate balance between regular postings and engagement with your followers. Social media scheduling platforms save time and keep your brand top of mind for potential customers.
Image Design Platform
Effective graphic design boosts your brand’s image and helps build your company’s name recognition.
Strong visuals are highly effective at grabbing your audience’s attention and can help you stand out against your competition.
Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have the budget to employ a full-time graphic designer or constantly hire freelancers for every marketing objective.
Image design platforms, such as Canva and Visme, allow your business to create customized marketing materials using a wide variety of pre-design templates.
Image design platforms can help your business:
- Build your brand’s visual identity
- Create professional marketing materials without any design experience
- Allow multiple employees to work together on a single project
- Improve the readability and the effectiveness of marketing materials with dense copy
- Tell your brand story, and
- Create a cohesive look for all of your company’s marketing materials
In addition, your business can utilize templates to easily create branded marketing materials such as:
- Social media posts, including TikTok videos and Instagram stories
- White papers
- eBook covers
Many image design platforms are free or low cost and offer a robust variety of features to help you simplify creating your marketing materials.
Communication and Organization Platforms
Communications and organization platforms facilitate both internal and external messaging, project management, file sharing, and customer communications.
These important tools are so much more than simply instant messaging and video conferencing. They help businesses meet goals by making it easy to reach team members across communication channels and help businesses complete projects on time.
This is especially important now, as many eCommerce businesses utilize a primarily remote workforce. Flexible communication and organization platforms help to set your team up for success.
Communication and organization platforms can help your business to:
- Facilitate internal communications between employees across the country or the world
- Manage customer communications, including support tickets and live chat
- Analyze communication trends to find areas for improvement
- Organize project management, including product launches, sales efforts, and marketing campaigns
- Manage project timelines and deadlines
- Help team members to collaborate on the same file or project
- Utilize videoconferencing with both team members and others outside the company, and
- Make your team feel more cohesive, no matter where or when they work
Implement an IMS to gain greater inventory control, and less costly mis-ships.
How Do You Measure the Success of Your Marketing Tools?
As with anything in your business, it is important to measure the success of your various marketing tools. One of the most effective ways to measure success is by return on investment.
Depending on the tool you’re measuring, you’ll need to consider your goals for using that tool in the first place.
If your goal in using the tool is to save time, for example, when using a tool that automates repetitive tasks, you should measure your time expenditure in completing that task before and after using the tool.
Other metrics you may use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing tools include:
- Increased sales or revenue
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Fewer missed deadlines
- Increased engagement with your marketing materials
- New and returning traffic to your website
- Increased social media engagement or followers/subscribers
- Overall site traffic, and
- Other marketing objectives that are important to your business
Marketing-wise, one of the most effective strategies you can employ is to continually measure your results.
This knowledge allows your business to double down on marketing strategies that are proving to be most effective, and reevaluate the tools that are not pulling their weight in your marketing plan.
If you are not regularly monitoring the effectiveness of the tools you use, it is impossible to determine what is working and what is not.
Do Marketing Tools Really Matter?
Do marketing tools really matter? Let’s consider.
Does increasing your company’s revenue matter? Does reaching new customers matter? Does saving time and money matter? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then marketing tools really do matter.
That said, with literally thousands of digital marketing options to choose from, it can be challenging to find the most effective tools for your business. To help, we’ve compiled this guide to the most effective marketing tools for 2023 to help you to grow your small business.
The Best Marketing Tools for Small Business
Here’s a list of some of the most effective marketing tools for your small business.
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is free software that provides you with valuable and instant insights into the customers and potential customers visiting your website and how they engage with your content.
Google Analytics works best when you utilize the Google Search Console as well. This is another free marketing tool provided by Google that helps you identify problems on your website and optimize it to increase traffic.
Google Analytics can tell you:
- How many visitors you have to your site during any time period you choose
- The keywords visitors are using in Google to find your website
- The demographics and interests of your visitors
- The most popular pages on your website
- How long users spend on your website, and
- Where your site visitors are coming from, including ads, social media, organic search, or referrals from other websites.
This valuable information can help you improve your marketing strategies, plan your content, increase your traffic, and improve your website engagement.
In addition to Google Search Console, Google Analytics seamlessly integrates into Google’s other free software tools.
Of course, the information that Google Analytics provides is only valuable if you understand what it means. Fortunately, Google offers several free courses through their Analytics Academy to help you learn about Google’s data and analytics tools to help you grow your business.
No matter the size of your business, email marketing offers one of the highest ROIs and should be a major part of your overall marketing strategy. In fact, it is estimated that every dollar you spend on email marketing will net a return of $36. It’s unlikely you’ll find a higher return on your investment from any other form of marketing.
At a minimum, your email marketing platform should enable you to:
- Capture customer emails,
- Segment and manage your lists,
- Create automated marketing funnels,
- Send emails on a schedule or using an autoresponder, and
- Analyze your customers’ engagement with your email communications
MailChimp is one of the best choices for small businesses to start email marketing. Their basic service is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers and offers both functionality and ease of use.
Among the many features MailChimp offers with its free and paid plans are:
- The ability to segment and personalize your email communications
- Landing page and form builders
- Audience and predictive insights
- Personalized recommendations to help your business grow
- Website traffic tracking
- Drip campaign design
- More than 250 app integrations, and
- Pre-made templates and drag-and-drop features make creating emails easy
MailChimp automates your emails and makes designing your campaign simple.
Hootsuite provides your business with a central management platform for all of your social media channels. This allows you to schedule your posts months in advance and pre-plan your campaigns at your convenience.
Hootsuite’s robust dashboard provides advanced reporting tools so that you can track the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. The dashboard also gives you the ability to stay on top of feedback and mentions of your brand and manage your responses to customers and followers.
HootSuite can also identify key hashtags most relevant to your business, and social media influencers for targeting and potential partnerships.
BuzzSumo is one of the most effective content marketing tools because it shows you trending content across social media based on topics currently being searched. Not only that, it tells you what content is resonating with your target audience. This saves you both time and money by helping you to avoid content misfires.
This allows you to tailor your content specifically to the hot topics in your marketplace that your target audience on social media is already discussing.
BuzzSumo also allows you to stay on top of your competitor’s social media activities and analyze their postings.
In addition to content research, BuzzSumo offers a wide variety of digital marketing tools, including:
- Keyword research
- Social media feeds based on topic
- Connecting your business with influencers in your marketplace
- Content analysis, and
- Brand monitoring tools
SEO is a fundamental component of online marketing. For your site or store to be found in search engine rankings, your content must contain relevant keywords that have a good chance of ranking in search engine results.
Highly advanced keyword marketing tools can be quite expensive, but KWfinder offers affordable and useful insights ideal for small businesses.
Using the platform is simple. After you enter a keyword related to your business, KWfinder returns hundreds of keyword suggestions including, search volume data, keyword trends, and a ranking difficulty score for each keyword to help you decide whether or not it is worth pursuing in your content strategy
HubSpot is a turnkey marketing software solution that enables your small business to:
- Combine your different marketing channels
- Optimize your site for more traffic
- Increase your conversion rate
- Improve your ROI
It is cloud-based software to manage your marketing, lead management, sales, and customer service. HubSpot is a robust CRM software that provides all the features a small business needs to grow and increase conversion rates.
HubSpot includes optimized templates to create your landing pages and convert your visitors into buyers.
- Live chat
- Content optimization tools
- Email templates
- Marketing automation
- Lead management
- Social media management
- Email tracking
- User action events
Small businesses can use their basic package for free, however, business owners should note that their complete content management platform is only available in the paid version.
Canva helps your small business to create high-quality visuals to attract customers and improve engagement. It offers a free and paid subscription plan to help your business create images, emails, and social media posts, including videos.
Canva is so popular with small businesses because of how easy it is to use and the wide variety of marketing materials you can create in just minutes.
Canva has a large image library and free templates for almost any marketing materials your business might need, including:
- Social media posts and graphics
- Marketing posters and flyers
- Business cards, and
Its drag-and-drop functionality means you don’t need to have any graphic design experience to create stunning marketing materials for your business.
Slack is a highly effective digital marketing tool to communicate with your team. It is both simple to share data and easy to search messages. This is why Slack is one of the most popular collaboration platforms.
It helps you stay organized and focused with both central spaces (channels) and project or team-specific channels.
One feature that makes Slack so useful for small businesses is that it integrates well with many project management, sales, productivity, and developer tools, including:
- Google Drive
- Office 365
- Notion, and more
Slack’s functionality and ease of use make it a fantastic marketing tool to stay on top of your business.
Effective inventory management is critical to the success of any small business.
SkuVault centralizes your small business’s product information giving your company quick and easy access to your inventory, supply chain, pricing, and more.
In addition, SkuVault provides powerful reporting, allowing you to gain valuable insights into your business, including sales transaction and history reports. SkuVault can also help you to reduce your inventory carrying costs and reduce mis-ships by almost 50%.
- Real-time inventory management and tracking
- Unlimited integrations with the rest of your tech stack, including marketplaces, online store platforms, and shipping solutions including Amazon, Walmart, and Etsy
- US-based customer support and multiple training options
- Barcode scanning and Quality Control checkpoints
- And more!
Effectively managing your small business inventory saves you money, improves customer satisfaction, and helps to sustain the growth of your small business over time.
Implementing an effective marketing plan is essential for increasing revenue and growing your small business.
Many of the tools we’ve recommended are free or low-cost for small businesses but are just as robust as more expensive tools.
Using digital marketing tools strategically can make your marketing efforts more effective, and save your business both time and money.