Written by: Col Skinner, Digital Strategist & Consultant – Profoundry.co
Over my last year as an independent Digital Consultant I have met a great deal of startup businesses keen to leverage the web for results. Digital Marketing can hold great potential for those wanting to increase exposure, sales or leads. But with so many different channels, platforms, techniques, media formats and service providers in the industry it can be overwhelming.
But do not fear startup owners! There are a vast array of free and paid tools to make your marketing life easier and maximise your time. Below I list what I believe are a 9 of the top digital marketing tools and hacks for startups in 2015:
1. Backlink Analysis – Open Link Profiler (Free)
(Click to Enlarge Image)
Your startup website’s quality is largely determined by the quality of the sites linking to it. Thus, it is extremely important to analyze the backlink profile of your site and identify opportunities for improvement. OpenLinkProfiler.org is as free online tool built by the team at SEOProfiler. This tool lets you input a domain (your own or a competitor’s) and gain a full scrape of all the backlinks pointing to that site plus a breakdown of various related data. For the common startup owner this is great for analysing how your competition are gaining links/PR and what you can benchmark. Or for analysing your own domain and the types of sites currently linking to it. Go and have a play and see what you can find out.
2. Live Chat – ZopIM (Free & Paid)
There is nothing worse than having to stop what you are doing to handle a customer query. With Live Chat you, the startup, can carry on doing your day to day work whilst you wait for a “bing” sound telling you a customer has asked something. Not only is there a ton of customer service benefits to Live Chat but there is no complex wiring or infrastructure required to install chat software. A simply piece of code and a subscription to the right package is usually all that stands in your way. I use ZopIm on my website which provides an additional layer of data to your current tracking and attribution methods. They offer a full-featured 14-day trial of any package and a Free package for one chat agent. Note that a range of other Live Chat platforms are available.
3. Trend Data – Google Trends (Free)
Google Trends (formerly Google Insights) is a super simple tool for budding data geeks. The tool lets you analyse one terms popularity over time or compare several terms side by side. The data is brought in from Google’s search engine and shows you a % of Google web searches to compared to the total number of Google searches during that time. You can filter the results by geographic region, date and search type. You can even look at forecasted data for the next 12 months. This could be very useful for any startup looking to see the potential future viability or historic popularity of a certain product or search term.
4. Keyword Analysis – Google Keyword Planner (Free)
Startups must often decide which key terms to target on their website, ad targeted or offsite content. Similar to Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner lets you input terms and then get a range of data about their usage, competiveness and cost. The tool was originally created for use with Google Adwords so you do have to have a free Adwords account setup to use it. This tool can be great for finding similar or related terms to target. All data can be exported to CSV for those who like to manipulate data in Excel.
5. Social Analysis/Monitoring – Topsy (Free & Paid)
It is important for any startup owner to know what their target audience are doing and saying on social networks. Topsy is a great tool to do just that. It lets you input or filter by specific mediums such as Videos, Photos, Links and Influencers. You can also compare various topics for the number of tweets per day graphed over time There is a paid version but at $12,000 per year, it’s out of my (and no doubt many startup’s) price range. I think you get plenty of valuable info from the Free version alone.
6. Content Analysis – BuzzSumo (Free & Paid)
Content Marketing is one of the lastest weapons in a startups arsenal. By producing high quality targeted content a startup can propel themselves into the limelight and gain considerable traffic / PR. Finding the right topic or angle can be tricky in certain niches or industries. BuzzSumo is a little gem of a tool that lets you type in various topics or keywords and displays the most socially shared related content. This lets you see what type of content to will work best across LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. You can filter the results by Type of content, Date or number of Shares. The Influencers tab on the site lets you find those social movers and shakers to approach and boost your profile. The paid version gives you additional features such as exportable data, reports and API access.
7. Formatting – Metapad (Free)
Several times a day you will subconsciously find yourself manually changing the sentence case or format of document text, ad copy or web content. Use Metapad, a free tool that is Notepad on steroids. Amongst its many other features, Metapad lets you paste in text then instantly change its case to Sentence case, Title Case, lower case or UPPERCASE. Simple and effective.
8. Productivity – Fiverr.com ($5)
In your day to day role as a startup founder/co-founder you always have things that need a quick turnaround without costing the earth or tedious jobs we don’t want to waste our client paid time on. That’s where sites like Fiverr.com comes in. These sites are essentially a directory of people willing to carry out a range of tasks or services for just $5 (£3.19). Startup marketers can utilise this for client website feedback, mini audits/reports, narration, and data entry, to name but a few. There are also a range of folks selling single reports from some of the digital industries top (most expensive) tools. Can be a great way to get a taste without buying the whole pie. A note of caution, try and steer clear of anyone offering you additional website traffic or social followers.
9. Website Analytics – Similar Web (Free & Paid)
Now don’t get me wrong, every digital marketer worth his salt knows that Google Analytics is the best source / tool for true website traffic data. But where you don’t have it installed (you should) or you are wanting to look into a competitors website, SimilarWeb could be a good basic alternative. The site lets you input a website into the search bar and then displays various top level stats about that particular sites. Everything from estimated monthly visits to where your traffic is coming from around the world. The paid version releases more detailed information for those that can afford it.
Please take all of this data with a pinch of salt. Although some of it looks very exact they are estimations.Activate Social Media: