In other words: what to use if you’re an online business owner who wants to get the best online marketing tools and techniques available.
This post is a kind of a resource pack. However, I didn’t want to turn it into a meaningless link list containing multiple alternatives to one task. Instead, I focused on providing just one (best) tool for each individual part of online business related work.
Mind that some of these tools are premium. Unfortunately, not everything can be done for free, especially if we want to be efficient at it.
Website launch and management
Let’s start with this one as it’s actually something you can do on a very tight budget.
Your first expense as an online business owner is signing up to a web host.
(If you want to get more options depending on your location, feel free to visit my other post – complete guide: web hosting for online business.)
[UPDATE: I no longer recommend HostGator. Find out why here.]
It’s my favorite hosting provider, and by favorite I mean one that I’m actually using (newInternetOrder is hosted at Host Gator). I had some “adventures” with other hosting companies… Adventures involving malware and getting my site banned from Google. Nothing pleasant. Anyway, Host Gator is working great for me. They have some really affordable plans, starting at $3.96 per month. It’s a shared hosting plan, which is more than enough to get a new online business to take off. If you’re a more advanced entrepreneur, you can sign up to VPS hosting plans, or get a dedicated server (both available at Host Gator).
I know that this one’s obvious, but I wanted to include it here to make the message complete.
WordPress is the most popular website management platform.
It is free.
Really don’t want to spend more time talking about WordPress … everyone knows it’s great.
It’s my WordPress theme store of choice. Their themes are beautiful and functional. And unlike other stores, every theme has a different purpose and caters to a different kind of website. That’s why I’m confident you’ll find something interesting there for your online business too.
The standard license is $49 per theme. There’s also the developer license ($79 per theme), and Club Membership subscription where you get access to all themes with no limits.
Market research and monitoring
I should have probably mentioned this earlier because these are the main tools for your business’s growth and development.
One of the most popular market research tools out there. I did an extensive review on it a while ago (before you buy Market Samurai), so feel free to check it out.
The tool offers a number of modules, each optimized to help you with a different area of your business. There are modules for:
- rank tracking,
- keyword research,
- SEO competition analysis,
- domain research,
- monetization setup,
- finding content,
- publishing content,
- web promotion.
Market Samurai is available as a free trial. When the trial is done you get to keep the keyword research module.
If you decide to get the full version, it’s $97 (one-time payment) provided you act within the first week of your trial (after that it’s $149).
SEO is a vital part of every online business’s existence. Even if you’re trying to deny it and think that your business can manage without SEO … well, I can’t.
SEOmoz is the best SEO and social marketing tool available. It gives you reports on your SEO rankings, suggests improvements, and ultimately helps you get your content to the top of search engines.
It offers a range of custom tools that aren’t available anywhere else. Like: Open Site Explorer, Keyword Difficulty, SEOmoz Toolbar, and over 30 beta tools which every PRO member can test.
On top of that, there are training resources, webinars, Q&A forums, advanced online marketing guides, and more.
There’s a 30-day trial available, then the service is $99 per month.
Marketing methods and techniques
Let’s look into some tools that can help you do your marketing work.
One of the top email marketing services out there. The best thing about it is that even if you’re not particularly familiar with email marketing, MailChimp offers a truly exceptional range of tutorials and training. Everything is straightforward and easy to grasp.
Of course, the service itself is ultra functional and you can use it no matter if you have just 4 or 400,000 people on your list. MailChimp can handle it.
There are visual newsletter creators and custom templates you can use to make your messages beautiful.
Finally, there’s a free plan available. So if you’re just starting out with a small list, you don’t need to invest any money.
UAW is a nice piece of article marketing tool. Its main purpose is to make it possible for you to submit your articles to a number of article directories without having to send them all out manually. UAW does this for you.
There’s also spinning functionality included (if you’re into such things) and even the option to order some content written specifically for you (affordable prices).
In the end, UAW can give your link building campaign a head start. There are three subscription models available:
- 1 year – $670.
- 6 months – $335.
- 1 month – $67 (auto-renewing).
For me, MBG was the discovery of the year 2012. It’s a guest blogging community. Which means that you can submit your posts, and then get offers from bloggers willing to publish them.
This speeds up guest blogging a lot. If you’ve ever tried doing guest blogging on a bigger scale then you know that managing all the communication takes massive amounts of time. MBG makes it really really faster.
Also, if you’re interested in guest posts yourself, you can browse the directory and send your own offers.
You can sign up for free, but if you want to submit your guest posts, you’ll have to get the premium package ($30 per month).
Work and time management
The good news is that from now on all the remaining tools on the list are free.
This isn’t the first time I’m listing RTM as a must-have tool.
In theory, RTM is just a to-do list management tool. This, however, is a big understatement. RTM provides a range of features and tweaks that make working with your to-do lists much easier and quicker.
There are also mobile apps which allow you to access your lists on the go (iPhone, iPad, Android).
And don’t tell me that you don’t need a to-do list manager … I’m sure there are plenty of tasks on your plate right now that could use some managing … am I right?
Mind mapping is my secret productivity hack. If it wasn’t for mind maps, I wouldn’t be able to get anything done. No, really.
(If you want to find out more about mind mapping, please visit my tutorial on how to make a mind map.)
Luckily, the best mind mapping tool out there is free and available on all platforms (no mobile apps, though). It’s called FreeMind.
It’s easy to use, plus there’s a lot of keyboard shortcuts, which means that it’s possible to use the tool only operating on your keyboard. This really speeds up everything. And speaking of speed, this tool is ultra-fast, and ultra-light.
This is the final item on this list. That’s because I want to put some additional emphasis on data safety. From my point of view, making sure that your data is always backed up and safe is the most important technical task in your business.
SugarSync is my data synchronization tool of choice. Basically, it’s a lot like Dropbox, only better.
For example, you get 5GB storage right from the get-go, instead of just 2GB. You can raise your free space up to even 32GB through referrals. You can back up any folder on your computer (not just the one called “Dropbox”). You can upload files via email.
But where SugarSync really excels are its mobile apps. There are apps available for: iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Kindle Fire. And these are real apps, ones that actually allow you to create and manage files, not only view them (Dropbox users know what I’m talking about).
Okay, I guess that’s it for the list. There are 11 tools and services here in total. I hope you’ll sign up to some of them and thus make your everyday work easier.
Do you have anything interesting on your own list of online marketing tools and techniques? Feel free to share.