Because of the positive feedback and follow-up questions I received from my last blog post titled, "Free (& Low Cost) Tech Tools for Business", I decided to start 2017 as I ended 2016 by providing you with additional free and low cost tools for your business.
Happy New Year!
Social Media Marketing
Social media websites and apps enable users to create and share content, promote their business and service offerings, and to participate in social networking. Social media marketing is the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites. To effectively grow your business, you need to draw traffic to your website.
Facebook is the most popular website and app of all time. Facebook reported that as of the third quarter of 2016 it had 1.79 billion monthly active users. While Facebook has a large business presence, it has a larger consumer presence making it the number 1 website for use in Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing.
LinkedIn is the most popular business website and app. LinkedIn reported that as of the third quarter of 2016 it had 467 million active users. The Content Marketing Institute reported in 2016 that LinkedIn as the number 1 website for use in Business to Business (B2B) marketing.
Twitter, the very popular micro-blogging service, reported that as of the third quarter of 2016 it had 379 million monthly active users.
YouTube, Pinterest & Instagram are social media platforms used to host and promote video and images. This form of social media marketing is increasing. The Content Marketing Institute reported in 2016 that YouTube is the number 2 website for use in B2C marketing and the number 3 website for use in B2B marketing.
Are you not sure of the effectiveness of social media marketing? Look back at the 2016 US presidential election season. The candidates posted their content in social media more than ever before. That content was then picked up and reported by other organizations and people. Begin to use social media marketing to grow your business.
Having a business email address (e.g. email@example.com) is much more professional than using a free service for your business email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). Google, GoDaddy and other web hosting and internet service providers offer business branded email for about $5 per mailbox. The primary requirement is that you have already registered the website domain that you want to use for your email address. Google and GoDaddy also include up to 30 alias email addresses. With an alias you can create additional email addresses (e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.), and all messages sent to the alias email address will go into your email box. If you want those email message to go into their own email boxes, that will cost an additional $5 each. Google also includes a 15 GB Google Drive, plus their suite of business apps with the one account.
Antivirus software is a must-have for any PC. Without this, you risk losing your data and picture files, personal information, even money from your bank. As per PC World magazine, there are several free products that are well rated. For a Windows PC, consider Avast Free Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus and Panda Free Antivirus. For a Mac, consider these as recommended by c|net Avast Free Mac Security for Mac and Avira Free Antivirus for Mac.
With FreeConferenceCall.com you get unlimited free domestic phone conferencing for up to 1,000 participants. Accounts also include free recording of calls and free video conferencing with up to 1,000 participants. The company makes money by selling other premium business features.
You cannot truly measure the effectiveness of your website and related marketing campaigns without looking as the utilization and performance statistics associated with your website. Understanding those statistics will allow you to improve your website promotions and user engagement. Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Once you open your account, you place a small piece of web programming code in each web page. That code reports the user activity on each page.
The Small Business Administration offers business education and advice without an agenda. On the US Small Business Administration’s website (www.sba.gov) you can find information about writing business plans, tips for starting a business, information about how to finance your business, and more. It’s a wonderful resource for beginning and veteran business owners.
Your local Small Business Development Center, which is sponsored by the SBA, helps small business professionals and entrepreneurs start their businesses through free business education, consulting, and mentoring services. Visit the SBDC website (www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc) to find your local center.
For over 50 years, the non-profit business association SCORE has provided education and mentorship opportunities to help small businesses start up and achieve their growth goals. The SCORE website (www.score.org) provides free online training as well as scheduling of confidential in person mentoring services throughout the country from volunteer entrepreneurs with years of business ownership experience.
Technology does not need to be costly to be effective. They key to using technology, or any tool, to grow your business is to define the challenge you wish to tackle. Then, you can search for and identify the tool, even a free or low cost one, to help you overcome that challenge.