online-marketing-tools.jpgIt’s 2013! Twenty-thirteen! Think back to how you were in the nineties and try to remember how crazy the year 2013 sounded. Ridiculous! Imagine if someone had shown you an iPad then. You’d have gone crazy. Imagine if you’d been told that most people in 2013 would be using the internet FROM THEIR PHONE!

That’s the relentless march of technology for you. It isn’t going into reverse anytime soon – the 
world has changed and people with it. They no longer search for things, buy things or receive advertising in the way they once did.
If you haven’t got seriously involved with online marketing then you could be setting your business up for obsolescence.
Here are 10 online marketing tools that you or someone in your small business needs to be using if you’re to position yourself for online growth in 2013:
The Google Tools

Google Analytics is the best free web analytics tool bar none. It’s relatively quick and painless to set up and once in place you can see how many visitors your website gets, what pages they look at and interact with, where they came from (search engine, paid ad etc) and even whether they turned into leads/customers.

To be truly 2013-ready you’ll need to set up event tracking and goal tracking in Google Analytics – this will let you track actions that users perform on your site that are of particular interest e.g. filling out a form or clicking on a ‘Buy now’ button.

This will take some expertise to accomplish but once you’ve got it you’ll be able to work out how your customers are finding your website – whether via search, email marketing, social media etc – and better plan your online marketing efforts/deploy your resources.

Running paid ad campaigns through Google Adwords or Microsoft Adcenter is a highly complicated business. Many factors affect how successful your campaigns will be – from ad content through to quality scores. The single most important factor though is your choice of Keywords to target.

But just because it’s complicated doesn’t mean you should give up trying to make it as precise and targeted as possible. The Keywords tool in Adwords will take your guesses at what might be a suitable keyword and suggest options that provide the opportunity to reach a wide audience while keeping costs manageable.

Getting to know this tool inside out will dramatically improve your pay-per-click performance.

To paraphrase Ferris Bueller (again) the online marketing world moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Google reader lets you feed all your RSSs from the top online marketing news and blog sites into one place. That way you can check up on the latest developments in organic search, ecommerce, PPC, social media and mobile on one screen during a single daily coffee break.

And you said you wouldn’t see anything good today. Shame on you.
The Blogging Tools

No longer simply a blogging platform, WordPress is now one of the most popular choices for business websites the world over. Its intuitive, endlessly modifiable interface lets you create new blog posts and pages as easily as composing an email.

The massive variety of plug-ins – user reviewed and supported in help forums – offer anything from easy online form creation (Contact Form 7) through to professional standard SEO tools (Yoast SEO Plugin). The best part – they’re almost always free.

If you’re thinking about creating a new website this year – or switching your old site to a new platform – you could do a lot worse than using WordPress as a content management system.

The indefatigable Cathy Stucker’s thrice-weekly blogging community newsletter links blogger with blogger. The content? Bloggers looking for people to write guest posts for their blog. The rewards? Backlinks to your website and referral traffic from popular sites in relevant industries.

Guest blogging is a free, karmically neutral way to build the authority of your website and increase your traffic. Sign up to Blogger Link Up here.

The Social Media Tools

A one-stop social media dashboard from which you can view and update your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles without endless logging in and out.

The free version allows up to 5 profiles to be added, lets you set up streams to monitor mentions, retweets, likes etc and, best of all, lets you schedule posts to go out at a future time – when you’re busy or can’t be near a device.

A fantastic time saver.

A simple but incredibly useful website, Tweepz lets you search Twitter. Nothing new there you might think, after all, Twitter lets you search Twitter.

But does Twitter let you search the profiles of Twitter users for keywords of relevance to your business so you can identify potential partners, sales prospects and influencers? No. Tweepz does. It also shows you quickly how active those users are and how many followers they have.

The Email Marketing Tools

Mailchimp is the most popular free email marketing tool by far – and for good reason. Without paying a penny you can send up to 12,000 emails per month to a database of up to 2,000 email addresses. You also get the tools for quickly composing emails and managing your databases.

If you want to want to remove MailChimp’s branding from your emails and use an autoresponder then you’ll need to pony up – by by that stage you’ll be so enamoured of MailChimp’s easy to use interface that you should be left with no qualms.

All those spiffy new emails you’ll be sending to existing and prospective customers will need some images to brighten them up. There are over 350,000 images in Stock.xchng that you can use for free (as long as you adhere to the licence agreements).
When you need better looking or less generic images then you can quickly switch to iStockPhoto (part of the same company) and purchase single images for just $1.33.
The Advanced Tool

If you really get into optimising your website for search engines then Majestic SEO has an impressive suite of tools available for non-paying customers. You can check backlinks pointing to your site, your top pages and keywords and even run comparisons with your competitors.

For even more advanced use there are three levels of paid subscription.