Best Internet Marketing Tools For 2016
You know, that guy who pushes a rock up the hill, only to have it keep rolling back down. He’s originally from Greek mythology. But you’ve probably seen him in clipart and various animated images.
Wherever the depiction, it’s clear that this guy, Sisyphus, is wasting his time. He’s literally fighting an uphill battle, one that he can’t win. His struggle is laughable, until we consider how closely it mirrors the situation faced by many online entrepreneurs.
For many online entrepreneurs, the Sisyphus-like struggle comes with respect to marketing. If you’re in this position, you know exactly what we’re talking about. You’ve spent all your strength pushing your business. It’s an immense struggle but you can see the top. And then your efforts, like Sisyphus’s rock, come crashing down. Turns out your marketing didn’t work as effectively as you planned. Looks like it may even have been a waste of time.
Often, you don’t know. So you might try again. And again. And again. Marketing in much the same way. Getting the same results. And feeling ever more frustrated.
If you feel like your efforts at marketing your online business are going nowhere, keep reading. Not only can you succeed, but the solution is actually simpler than you might expect. Often it’s not the approach that’s holding you back. It may in fact be the tools that you’re using for the approach.
To understand the importance of tools, here’s another analogy. Imagine trying to cut down a mighty Sequoia tree…with a butter knife. Use the butter knife and you won’t be yelling “Timber!” any time soon. That’s because the butter knife is not the right tool for the job. Eventually, maybe, the knife will succeed in slicing through enough of the tree to make it fall. But imagine how many Sisyphus-like moments you’ll experience along the way. Not to mention how slow your progress will be.
By contrast, suppose you tried cutting down the same Sequoia using a chainsaw. Barring any technical difficulties, that tree wouldn’t stand a chance. You’d have the Sequoia down in no time because the chainsaw, unlike the butter knife, was the right tool.
The same lesson applies to your internet marketing. Use the right tools and you increase the likelihood that your marketing will be successful. But what exactly are the “right” tools? That can be a challenge to determine, as there are no shortage of choices.
To help you find the right tools for your own business, we’ve put together a “best of” list. Our list features some of the best internet marketing tools for 2016. These tools have been selected based on how well they satisfy common, marketing-related goals of internet entrepreneurs. For each goal, we’ve selected one tool that will allow you to best achieve it. Read on and let us know (in the comments below) your thoughts on the tools here. Feel free to post in the comments as well, if you have a marketing-related goal that we didn’t cover and you want to know the right tool for achieving it.
Goal #1: Get a website (that you can then market)
If you’re just getting started online, your first marketing-related goal will probably be to get a website. A website is essential because it gives you your own platform for running an online business. With your own platform, you’ll have a home for the business. And, more importantly, you’ll have the freedom to run the business on your terms.
Being free means you won’t have to follow the rules set by third parties like Ebay, Etsy, or Teespring. Those sites may lure you in with their existing infrastructures and active user bases. Yet if you want true independence and stability in your business, you’re better off owning your own site. We can help you with this.
For building a site yourself, we recommend SquareSpace. SquareSpace gets our vote over other website building tools like Wix and Weebly. Unlike those guys, SquareSpace’s templates are cleaner and more professional-looking. With no disrespect to Wix and Weebly, their templates are just not as polished as those offered by SquareSpace. You can still build a great site using these two tools, but it’s bound to take you longer. Assuming you need a visually arresting, responsive website right now, without the steep web designer price tag; SquareSpace is your best bet.
Speaking of price tag, you should be aware that unlike Wix and Weebly, SquareSpace doesn’t offer a free option. To launch any kind of website on SquareSpace, you’ll need to get out your credit card. But with plans starting at $8 per month, you won’t exactly go broke from SquareSpace. Instead, you’ll save time and lay a strong foundation from which to market your online venture.
Goal #2: Generate traffic
Ok so you’ve got a website. Maybe you took a break from reading and built one using SquareSpace (as we recommended). Or maybe you already had one to begin with. In either case, your goal now is to get traffic. You want people coming to the site and (hopefully) converting into subscribers or paying customers.
It’s such a simple goal. Yet actually getting the traffic often seems anything but simple. Entrepreneurs can begin to feel like Sisyphus, as their efforts to drive traffic fail to produce any tangible gains.
If you’re hitting a “wall” like this, we recommend buying traffic. Not in the sketchy, black hat sense. But rather, buying traffic using white hat pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. PPC advertising delivers traffic to your site using ads. These ads may appear on search engines, social media, or other online platforms. Wherever they exist, the ads enable anyone who sees them to click and be transported to your website. That means more traffic to your website and one less thing for you to worry about.
You still have to pick a PPC tool to use. And you’ve definitely got options. There’s Google’s PPC behemoth, AdWords. There’s also Facebook ads, an ever-evolving PPC powerhouse. Then you’ve got a variety of “under the radar” PPC players like Bing Ads and LinkedIn ads.
Of all the tools, we recommend one you might not have considered yet, AdRoll. AdRoll is a tool that shows PPC ads through a strategy known as retargeting. With retargeting, people who visit your website are then shown ads for it when they visit other websites. Retargeting thus explains how a website seems to “know” what you like or where you’ve been browsing. It’s not a coincidence. It’s retargeting. And you can do it too, using AdRoll.
As a tool for PPC, AdRoll gets our vote for two specific reasons. First, there’s the fact that it’s not nearly as mainstream as say, AdWords or Facebook ads. By being a bit “alternative”, AdRoll gives you a potential advantage over your competitors who only know the big name channels. This “alternative” status also makes it easier to contact AdRoll’s team if/when you encounter any difficulty running ads.
Then there’s the fact that AdRoll’s retargeting ads actually work. The ads work devastatingly well because they are NOT based on assumptions about which interests (Facebook ads) or keywords (AdWords) people are using. Instead, as we’ve noted, AdRoll’s ads appear based on people’s behavior – namely, visiting your website. So if you’ve got even a few people visiting your website, AdRoll makes an excellent tool for driving these people back to the site to convert. (**If not, consider using a “cold” traffic tool like AdWords to drive basic traffic and then refine it into converting customers with AdRoll)
Additionally, it’s worth noting that while AdRoll can be considered “alternative”, it’s hardly small. AdRoll’s reach extends across Twitter, Facebook and millions of other websites. This reach adds to its effectiveness and makes AdRoll a tool that should definitely be in your internet marketing arsenal.
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Goal #3: Find influencers to promote your content
To the “purists” reading this post, our first two marketing tools may not have felt like “tools”. The reason is that SquareSpace and AdRoll are often described as “platforms” rather than “tools”. Yet if a tool is something used to achieve a goal, then we stand by our word-choice in goals #1 and #2.
Not to worry, though. For this third goal, we’ll be discussing a something that is clearly a “tool” and not a “platform”. The tool under discussion here is BuzzSumo.
BuzzSumo is our pick when it comes to tools that will help you find influencers to promote your content. That’s a bit of a mouth-full, so let’s break down what we’re getting at. In essence, we’re endorsing BuzzSumo because it allows you to find people who are well-connected and influential online (i.e. “influencers”). Once you find these people, you can then contact them for help promoting your blog post or other content.
This strategy can pay off handsomely, for example, if you get the help of an influencer who has several thousand Twitter followers. Having an influencer like this tweet a link to your blog post or website will provide you with much-needed attention and traffic.
Before any of that, though, you need to find the influencers. And BuzzSumo will help you do that. The tool lets you enter any keyword or website link, for a look at who has covered it on their website. Of everyone in the results, you’ll be able to sort the true influencers based on metrics like how many Twitter followers they have and how often their content is shared. Powerful insights to be sure, and a great help to you in marketing your content.
Goal #4: Scrape contact information
Sometimes you’ve got to get your hands “dirty” in order to successfully market your online business. If the customers and the deals aren’t coming, you may have to go out and find them yourself. We’re talking about prospecting, in decidedly “cold” ways. Cold emailing. Cold calling. And if you’re really daring, going door-to-door, absolutely cold.
Again, we’re not suggesting you always have to resort to cold prospecting. But sometimes it is necessary. And when that time comes, you’ll need to get the right information in order to contact people. You can’t be sending cold emails, for example, with email addresses that don’t work. The same is true with cold calling and door-to-door meetings. In all of these cases, you need correct contact information. At least if you want to succeed, and not waste time in the process.
To obtain the information you need, we recommend using ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo is a tool that provides the names, positions, and contact information of millions of business owners. ZoomInfo’s staff might refer to their product as a “database” rather than a “tool”, but again we’re not going to play the semantics game. What matters is that ZoomInfo delivers. Not only does it give you contact information with a high degree of accuracy, but you can also dig deep into companies themselves.
Digging with ZoomInfo, you can sort companies by stats like location, revenue, and industry. You can also dig for individual people, searching based on job titles like “CEO” or “founder”. Admittedly, many online businesses are going to have more of a B2C focus than B2B. Yet in order to get customers, it’s often necessary to form partnerships with established players in a market. We saw this in the last section when discussing online influencers. The point persists now in thinking about influential businesses who can help your own to succeed. If you need to reach those businesses, there’s no better tool than ZoomInfo.
Goal #5: Create engaging visual content
If you’re going to get influencers or other businesses to promote your content, you need content worth promoting. One of the best ways to do this is through images. Engaging images can spice up a blog post or serve as strong standalone content. As proof of this, just consider these findings from blog OkDork. The blog found that “having at least one image in your post leads to more Facebook shares”. There’s also the fact that, according to Buffer, “sixty-three percent of social media is made up of images.” So images are a must in any content you create.
To get the right images, we recommend using Snappa. Snappa is a web-based tool that makes it effortless to create images. Unlike many of it’s competitors, Snappa is specifically designed to create images for marketing. Using it, you can create perfect images to use in Facebook ads, display ads, and blog posts. These aren’t the only types of images you can create with Snappa, of course. It’s just that this marketing focus is a definite distinction between Snappa and other image editors out there.
You’ll also appreciate that Snappa really is easy to use. Being “easy to use” is a selling point that gets thrown around to the point of cliche these days. Snappa, though, makes good on its promise. Simply click on the type of graphic you aim to create. Then choose from stunning pre-existing image templates, or if you’re feeling inspired, create your own. We can’t stress enough how easy this is to do. So do yourself a favour and be sure to check out Snappa for any of your design needs.
Want more tools for marketing your online business? Check out our DIY ranking course and learn how to be top of Google in 2016. And be sure, as well, to continue the conversation in the comments below.