January 13th, 2014 / Posted by
, Early Stage Startups
, Marketing 101
Marketing Resources: There is Such a Thing as Free Lunch
Free marketing resources any startup leader can utilize
Whoever says there’s no such thing as a free lunch clearly hasn’t explored the world of SaaS-based marketing resources. When just getting ready to push an MVP out to the market, most startups don’t have much extra money to spend on marketing. Luckily, even without much money or marketing expertise on the team, there are useful tools to utilize to set up your marketing and sales infrastructure properly from the start—tools that will keep you organized and save you from wasted time and headaches later on.
Whether you will be using these yourself or working with outside consultants, below are a few free marketing resources to consider.
- Email Marketing: Opting to use an email marketing tool over sending one-off emails from Outlook or Gmail has several advantages, namely: SPAM compliance, tracking, and optimization. In addition to legally needing to give email recipients opt-out functionality, sending emails out of an email marketing tool allows you to track users who’ve received, opened, and clicked on your message, and to keep track of that information over time. You can also test out different messages to different audiences, thereby testing or refining your messaging to customers and prospects. MailChimp offers a special free subscription perfect for early-stage startups. This membership is aimed at startups with less than 2,000 contacts in their mailing list, and it offers up to 12,000 free emails sent. As your startup grows, there are premium (yet still extremely affordable) subscriptions not only available through MailChimp but also through other email marketing services such as ConstantContact.At some point, of course, you will outgrow the basic tools and want to upgrade to a marketing automation tool like Hubspot or Act-On—for additional functionality like in-program landing page creation, behavioral or other list segmentation capabilities, advanced reporting, and more—but most startups can get away with a free tool for their first foray into email marketing.
- CRM System: Many founders will admittedly hold onto their improvised ‘Excel-based CRM’ system far longer than they know they should, citing lack of time or budget to implement a ‘real’ customer relationship management tool. But with free starter packages from companies like Zoho, CRM can start prior to having Salesforce-friendly budgets. Keeping all your prospect and customer data in one place from the start helps keep the leadership team on the same page and saves significant time when formalizing marketing or sales efforts. Zoho’s free package, available for up to three users, provides entrepreneurs virtually all of Zoho’s standard CRM features. Such features include creating contact and account records, assigning tasks and owners, and running basic forecasting and other reports. Zoho’s free subscription is also available an a mobile edition.
- Social Media Management: With most founders dabbling in social media at some point early on, for many it is a task that takes place more ad hoc than a deliberately planned activity. As such, social media posts are generally broadcast whenever the founder catches some free time, not necessarily when the startup’s target audience is most likely to engage. Rather than posting to social networks in real-time, use Hootsuite to manage and schedule your social media more efficiently. Users can utilize HootSuite to plan and organize posts on up to five different social network accounts at once including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages, Foursquare, WordPress, and Mixi. Hootsuite enables users to view streams from numerous social networks and send multiple messages simultaneously.
- Website Feedback: Google Analytics is a free, easy, and must have marketing resource that provides its users statistics to analyze their website’s traffic. Google Analytics helps business owners understand traffic volume to their site, sources of that traffic, pages viewed, and more. Google Analytics does allow for fairly complex site tracking that requires more advanced setup knowledge, but the ‘out of the box’ setup can still provide significant visibility into usage and behaviors on the site.
These marketing resources are a great starting point for any startup, though at some point more advanced tools are needed. For a consultation on the right marketing tools given your startup’s current stage, contact Magnetude Consulting for a complimentary 30 minute discussion.