The dream of building a successful business is one shared by many Americans; the nation has always prided itself on its entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity for upward mobility. With the current economy posting healthy numbers (high stock market, low inflation and unemployment rate), now is as good a time as ever to start a business.
Yet starting a business comes with a host of risks, and the failure rate is considerable no matter which field you enter. Tax rates, availability of employees, cost of office space and a number of other variables all have a strong impact on whether a business will be successful. The factors that can help or hurt a young business vary wildly from state to state and city to city, so it’s important to know the location that offers the most advantages for you in order to minimize the many risks associated with building something new from the ground up.
Aweber is one of the go-to email marketing solutions with a rich feature set and a free trial. Set up and automate your newsletters, auto-responder follow-ups, and website sign-up forms. The platform has fine-grained controls to manage and segment your subscribers base from Facebook, WordPress, and Etsy. It offers a ton of templates and lets you track performance, schedule tasks, and analyze your campaign performance. Prices start at $19/month.
Constant Contact starts at $20/month and offers personal coaching and support available via email, chat, by phone, and even in person. The platform features a wealth of highly-customizable templates and social media integration. You can schedule and manage your email marketing and social media campaigns and then analyze their performance. A nifty anti-spam checker will get your emails past all filters while the contact management feature updates your lists of unsubscribers, inactive emails, and bounces automatically.
GetResponse features an intuitive a feature-rich email creator that lets you add photos, save snippets, and view drafts history. Preview your emails to make sure every element renders correctly. Track your campaigns, measure site conversions, segment subscribers, and compare follow-ups with their tracking tools. You can import your contacts from 16 different services and mail clients and directly from your hard drive. Monthly plans start at $15.
MailChimp helps you automate your email marketing top to bottom – with customizable templates, newsletter builder, and Facebook integration, which lets you make connections and spread the word about your newsletter. A/B Split Testing checks your subject lines and message bodies to fine-tune your campaigns while Email Beamer can send your campaign from any mobile email app. A free plan is available.
Campaign Monitor works great for businesses of any size. It features a very competent drag-and-drop email builder, free image hosting, and mobile-ready templates. Top it off with the A/B and spam testing, contacts segmentation and management, social sharing, triggered messaging, and in-depth analytics, and you get all your email marketing needs covered. A free trial is available while their monthly plans start at $9.
ActiveCampaign is a multi-faceted tool heavily geared toward marketers. It combines email marketing tools, marketing automation, and CRM topped with sales automation services. Easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface and a massive library of templates come with a free image hosting, contact management, and A/B testing. We particularly like their real-time analytics. Monthly subscription starts at $23.
Emma offers custom-made editions of its platform to entrepreneurs, business, retailers, franchises, and agencies, as well as universities. Monthly plans kick in at $89, but you get an impressive email editor, automated emails, ability to send unlimited emails, subscriber segmentation, and real-time analytics. Emma integrates several CRM tools, as well as e-commerce, survey, and social media tools.
iContact combines email and social media marketing tools in an intuitive, comprehensive solution built for small businesses. Hundreds of customizable templates, drag-and-drop message editor, and integration of social media let you launch your email marketing and social platforms campaigns and track their performance. iContact offers a 30-day free trial, and their monthly plans start at $14.
Mad Mimi has a slew of impressive designs they continually update so that your campaigns never look generic. Mad Mimi also works with Google Analytics, so you get pretty in-depth analytics complete with stats and link tracking. You will know how many emails were opened, when, and by whom. The platform allows a seamless incorporation of up to 39 social sharing buttons into your emails. Their add-ons let you expand the functionality to include web forms, Facebook Campaigns, and 20 more social tools. You can start for free while the cheapest monthly plan is $10.
MailiGen plans bundle an intuitive drag-and-drop editor, A/B split testing and a smart subject line adviser. The platform boasts of a pretty comprehensive real-time tracking tool and reports, rich social media integration, online survey capabilities, and even RSS-to-email. A 30-day free trial is available, and their payment system is flexible. Monthly plans start at $10.
Vertical Response features an impressive library of 700+ templates and a wealth of email creation tools and customization perks, as well as HMTL editor if you fancy creating your own email newsletter from scratch. You can track opens, clicks, sales, and responses from your dashboard while integrated social sharing icons will surely boost your campaigns. Vertical Response has a free plan for up to 4,000 emails and 300 contacts per month.
SendLoop is excellent for small businesses, with wallet-friendly monthly plans starting at $9. You get more than 100 email templates complete with previews, testing, scheduling, and even conversion tracking.
MoonMail is extremely easy to deploy and operate, and it conveniently integrates Shopify and Zapier. You can send 2,000 emails a day for free, get detailed analytics of how your customers interact with your emails, and create custom reports. The editor is powerful while their distributed architecture ensures your emails reach their destination.
Pepo Campaigns has a sleek drag-and-drop editor, a wealth of templates, tools for building reports, analytics, advanced segmentation, and A/B testing. You can use their API to send transaction emails, too. Their free plan allows up to 10,000 emails per month, unlimited contacts, all advanced features, and stats data for 90 days.
MailGet not only integrates with Amazon SES but also with other SMTPs for bulk-sending emails through SMTP routing. The service offers a sleek email template builder, an array of free templates for different niches, and a laundry list of features like subscription forms, email tracking, a lead-capture tool, auto follow-up, email list cleaning, and auto-responders. Monthly plans start at $5.
Sendy is very affordable since you can buy it for a one-time fee of $59 and then pay $1 for every 10,000 emails sent via Amazon SES. It integrates with a wealth of third-party apps like Zapier, WordPress, Joomla, and Magneto. We love their reports and client accounts management, while their list segmentation, auto-responders, subscriber management, and bounce/unsubscribe/complaint handling are superb.
InfusionSoft is an email and marketing automation software with CRM integration for SMBs. It lets you personalize communications based on email interactions – opens, clicks, payment history, or form submissions. You get stats for deep insights into your campaign efficiency – delivered, opened, skipped, or clicked. The platform offers fine-grained marketing reports to evaluate your landing page performance, web form activity, and campaign reach. You’d have to contact their sales team for a custom quote, and then complete a training course to master the software, but it’s well worth the investment.
Hubspot is a comprehensive inbound marketing software that encompasses marketing automation, email marketing, SEO, landing pages, blogging, social media, and even website design. It lets you design your marketing emails without having a designer or IT person on-board. Their email marketing module integrates a laundry list of tools, such as lead generation, email optimizer, list segmentation, A/B testing, features personalization, campaign analytics, scheduled sending, and whatnot. You can start with a free plan while the cheapest Starter pack costs $50/month.
Marketo is a capable contender slated for medium-to-large sized businesses, with the monthly plans starting at $895. The learning curve might be steep, but their support is top-notch while the product is robust and continuously evolving. It’s a fully-fledged suite of tools for marketers and sales teams topped with the native marketplace and a wealth of integrations.
ActOn is an excellent choice if you’re ready for a serious investment since their monthly fees start at $900 (+$500 for onboarding) and upfront annual contract terms. But you get a fully-featured marketing automation platform for three marketers and 50 sales representatives, ability to sent to over 2,500 active contacts, and 30,000 API calls daily. Sales-enablement tools, social listening, adaptive segmentation, webinar program management, website visitor tracking, templates, landing pages – they cover your needs top to bottom.
Pardot monthly plans kick in at $1,000 – one of the most expensive offers for marketing automation. But they have great support while the setup and training are free of charge. Their Standard plan buys you email marketing automation tools, in-depth prospect tracking, lead scoring and grading, lead nurturing, ROI reporting, CRM integration, and landing pages and forms.
Friends+Me is an efficient scheduling and content management platform popular for its focus on Google+. Leverage it to promote your brand through Google’s and enjoy using their sleek bulk scheduler and link shortening tool available in a browser extension, desktop app, and mobile apps.
VidIQ is the go-to promotion tool for YouTubers. It comes in free and paid flavors and bundles an impressive roster of tools. It has a keyword recommendation engine, competitor tracking, trend alerts, and historical analysis of popular videos in your niche. Top it off with the list of best tweets for videos, analysis of top trending videos, tag and title recommendations, as well as suggestions for SEO title and description for your videos and more.
Tube Toolbox is a comprehensive desktop software that automates your YouTube marketing tasks bypassing the limits imposed by YouTube itself. It helps you automate targeted messages as well as manage your user base and videos. It contacts your audience and sends out your “share video” and “subscribe to channel” suggestions. You can export/import user lists, sync contacts, subscribers, favorites, playlists across accounts and manage multiple groups of users and videos.
TubeBuddy is a useful Chrome extension that helps you manage your YouTube channel – promote, optimize, and generate actionable reports and in-depth analytics to boost your channel’s SEO. It automatically fetches video tags, for which you’re ranking well, and suggests the ones you should be leveraging. Highlights include opportunity finder, video A/B tests, best practice audit, and professional captions.
TweetDeck is Twitter’s native app for managing your multiple Twitter accounts. Track, organize and schedule your tweets, engage with your audience – it’s free and ideal if your primary focus is on Twitter.
SocialOomph is a freemium social media manager that lets you bulk-upload updates to your Twitter and Facebook and schedule their random distribution across platforms. Its free plan is great if you are just getting started while its paid options are pretty capable. You can identify top influencers in your niche, follow relevant accounts, automate recurring updates and drip feed posting.
SocialRank is an easy way to identify, manage and organize your Twitter and Instagram followers. You can connect multiple accounts, view full follower profiles, sort and filter your followers as well as launch campaigns and even benchmark competitors and measure performance of co-branded partnerships.
Followerwonk offers Twitter analytics that allows you to optimize your marketing campaigns on Twitter for best social growth. Know your followers and top influencers in your niche, their locations, interests, who they follow, and how to best engage them.
Audiense, formerly SocialBro, is an enterprise-level management tool for Twitter that lets you find influencers, connect with them, identify the right tweets and the right times to post them, as well as automate publishing and DM campaigns. Bulk-follow and un-follow, as well as create your custom social media dashboard to see the stats you need most.
MeetEdgar is a virtual social media assistant great for post re-cycling, so that you can reach a broader audience, increase traffic and get the most out of your content. It analyzes audience engagement to publish when your posts are most likely to get responses – automatically, without your interference. You can segment types of content for different audiences and launch independent targeting campaigns.
IFTTT stands for If This Then That, which is a free resource that helps you automate a virtually unlimited number of processes. All you need is a "recipe" or "applet" that automates a user-defined response to a specific condition. IFTTT works great for social media management because you can automate things like profile image syncing across your social media platforms, and tweet your Instagram photos. More elaborate recipes let you automate re-tweeting relevant or positive tweets and respond via DM to tweets with negative feedback.
DrumUp is an effective tool for discovering new content suggestions to populate your timeline. It always suggests intelligent and fresh news relevant to your niche. It lets you create custom content feeds on top of the recommended articles, as well as schedule posts and invite your employees to share brand content.
TweetChat works great when you need to engage actively via Twitter conversations and across multiple Twitter accounts. You can filter Twitter chats by hashtag, and add your hashtag to all your tweets, so you don’t have to do it manually.
ManageFlitter helps you grow your business on Twitter by finding relevant influencers, connect and engage them, schedule and post your Tweets at optimal times for different time zones, and manage multiple Twitter accounts from a streamlined dashboard. The platform offers fantastic analytics tools complete with graphs and insights on how to increase your campaign’s ROI.
TweetReach measures the impact of your tweets on social media discussions. It helps you identify your top influential followers so that you know whom to target when sharing and promoting your posts.
Bit.ly is often underestimated and viewed as just an URL shortener, but it lets you send shortened links to most of your social accounts and plug your Bit.ly API into other Twitter apps to track your links and get stats on how they perform.
Social Bearing is explicitly geared for Twitter timelines and posts. You can search by a handle, location, followers as well as see who’s tweeting about your brand, sort tweets by reach, language, engagements, view top influencers, and hashtags. It features analytics, reports, charts, and graphs – all customizable and free. You can also tweet photo walls and analyze tweet sentiments as well as generate maps of geo-located tweets.
Click to Tweet is excellent if you’re only getting started – it’s a free and lightweight tool that helps you share, promote and track your posts on Twitter. It’s not bare-bones despite being free – you can view reports of click activity for all links embedded in your tweets complete with locations of people who click. The app also suggests accounts you should follow, so you’ll be increasing your audience based on smart suggestions.
RiteTag lets you leverage the power of hashtags. It suggests hashtags for texts and images and groups hashtags for you. If you like the platform, RiteKit offers a slew of scheduling, publishing and promoting tools for professional marketers.
Hashtagify is a robust search engine for Twitter, which lets you search for trending hashtags relevant for your audience. It can, for instance, tell you the top hashtags related to your brand, event, or industry. Its Hashtags Lab keeps you up-to-date with current trends so that you can quickly jump in on a trending topic.
Tailwind lets marketers, agencies, and brands focus on Pinterest. If you’re looking to analyze trends and schedule your pins or sync them with your Instagram, Tailwind has you covered. It also connects to Canva, so you can craft your custom images and pin them to your Pinterest board without unnecessary extra clicks. You can do it via Tailwind’s simple drag-and-drop dashboard or Tailwind’s Chrome extension.
SocialRank helps you identify and organize your Instagram followers, view full follower profiles, sort and filter your contacts, and manage your Pinterest campaigns. Pro plans allow you to benchmark competitors and measure your partnerships’ performance.
Foursixty makes your Instagram “shoppable” by integrating links to product pages into your photos. If you embed your Instagram feed directly into your store, your customers will be able to add products to their carts without leaving your gallery. Likewise, if you integrate curated Instagram feeds for products onto the respective product pages, your customers will see suggested items and more of your products get visibility from one page.
Pablo from Buffer is an image-creation tool for campaigns that heavily rely on Instagram, Pinterest and all things visual. It works great if you want to combine text with images, and it bundles a massive library of free photos, and format presets for all your social media accounts. You can share your creations on your Pinterest directly from Pablo.
Buffer’s Instagram module lets you create reminders to post on Instagram. When it’s time to post, you get a mobile notification on your phone that loads a photo you defined into your Instagram app complete with the text. You can also measure your posts’ performance and track how your followers engage with your content.
Sendible connects to Pinterest, YouTube, and a wealth of other social networks and recycles your posts automatically so that you get the most out of your content. You can also schedule posts, measure your campaign’s ROI and engage with your audience directly from the app.
Later, formerly Latergramme, is an Instagram scheduling platform available via browser and mobile apps. You can explore and add hashtags, share content, organize your posts through a neat calendar and preview your feed before publishing. Later makes visualizing your strategy very easy, so give it a go.
Iconosquare is an impressive analytics solution dedicated to measuring, tracking, and improving your Instagram campaign performance. Track followers, likes, location of your followers, their level of social media influence and more. Identify your top influencers and find more ways to broaden your outreach, compare your performance to that of your competitors and get valuable insight into your industry landscape.
TagsForLikes rules hashtags and hashtags are a key to Instagram. The app curates popular Instagram hashtags and compartmentalizes them into categories and sub-categories, and makes bulk-adding them to your images a no-hassle copy-paste deal.
Pagemodo helps you create your Facebook presence from scratch and grow your reach and audience. Its tools include cover photo creator, welcome tab designer, editor for posts to make things look snazzy and professional. You can create custom tabs, contests, and coupons you can spread via Facebook.
Canva is by far one of the most accessible tools to craft engaging, web-optimized graphics with images and text – one of the most impactful formats on Facebook. Create your featured images, menus, CVs and compelling posts in a simple drag-and-drop dashboard complete with customizable fonts and colors.
DrumUp is an efficient tool for your marketing campaign management that lets you increase your audience through recurring posts and hashtag recommendations. It enables you to curate content feeds on the go through its capable mobile apps and browser extensions. You can post, schedule, track and measure because DrumUp’s analytics tools are superb.
LikeAlyzer is a no-frills analytic tool that generates a breakdown of stats and insights for any Facebook page you want. It might not look like much, but try it and see the value it offers at no cost. It’s perfect if you’re looking to evaluate your Facebook page performance, or that of your competition in publishing rates, average number of likes, total likes per each publication, and rates at which you are growing and engaging your audience.
AdEspresso is a free report that rates your current Facebook Ads campaign and generates an appealing report that helps you understand the key metrics and how you can improve your performance. You will know how much you’re spending, what you’re getting for your money, what your competition is doing better, and what is the industry benchmark. The report also compares and identifies what components contribute the most to your campaign’s success – device type, location, gender, age, and other factors.
Facebook Power Editor is slated for professional marketers and agencies with a large number of Facebook advertising campaigns. It bundles advanced options you won’t find in Ads Manager. You can create, edit, optimize, and manage your ads, campaigns, page posts in bulk and across multiple accounts and pages. You can tune your bidding, and set advanced objectives. You can even create custom audiences based on known purchase history or include users that are similar to your customers. Partner categories audiences are crafted based on data from Datalogix, Epsilon, and Acxiom.
Share from SumoMe is a free social sharing plugin that shows how many clicks your pages are getting, and which pages get shared. The plugin is easy-to-use and comes with other useful tweaks like SumoMe’s content scrolling analysis tools and Heat Maps.
NetworkedBlogs is a great time-saver that automatically shares your new blog posts to Facebook and Twitter, so you don’t have to do it manually.
Polldaddy helps you create polls and surveys optimized for your brand, budget, and goals. We love its Facebook integration because it allows you to set up and promote polls anywhere you want, be it on your Facebook page, or other social media accounts, and keep all answers in a centralized dashboard.
Facebook Timeline Contest from Agora lets you create captivating sweepstakes, photo contests, and quizzes. It’s ideal if you’re looking to launch short-term engagements and increase your fan base.
ShortStack is a contest app with in-depth analytics. Contests are great for growing your followers base quickly when done right. So ShortStack analyzes your contests for engagement metrics and identifies which contests work best for your target audience.
TabSite lets you manage promotions and custom apps on your Facebook Page. It makes it easy to operate contests, coupons, deals, and embed email sign-up forms into your Page.
Post Planner lets you automate content scheduling through a very competent dashboard, and the great news is it comes embedded in Facebook, so you don’t need a third-party tool here. It lets you see viral posts trending on Facebook for your industry so that you can track your content and that of your competitors. The platform has free tutorials and training.
Ecwid is a must-have e-commerce tool for Facebook as it integrates a shopping cart into your Page. You can mirror it on other websites at the same time.
SumAll is an impressive collection of analytics tools available for free. Track your business goals and measure your progress with daily/weekly metrics, automate content creation and publishing, segment your audience – all for zero dollars.
Having trouble coming up with catchy headlines? Try CoSchedule’s headline analyzer and EMV’s like-titled app for ideas. While CoSchedule’s app simply scores your title, EMV’s app evaluates its emotional value, so you can increase its appeal to broad audiences.
Facebook Insights is a powerful tool if you want to track your user interaction with your Page. You can see active users, know the best times and the best days of the week to post, what type of content is most likely to engage your audience and discover who’s talking about you. It helps you identify what investments convert best and how your fans find you – via organic searches, viral searches or paid ones.
SEMrush is geared toward digital marketing professionals since it comes jam-packed with SEO tools, paid traffic management platform, social media management, content management and even PR. For a comprehensive solution, it begins with a rather affordable $99 monthly plan.
Socialbakers captures data across your social platforms and analyzes it to provide you custom benchmarking reports, competition analysis, data segmentation by brand, country, and more. Its comprehensive analytics suite allows you to assess what you’re doing right, and where there’s room to grow.
Awario does an excellent job of watching your online presence, be it your website or social media. It keeps track of your users’ comments, brand mentions, keyword mentions – in real time. It identifies which keywords produce the most engagements, and which conversations require your immediate attention as well as your key influencers. You can also compare your users’ response to different campaigns across your social media accounts.
Simply Measured is a comprehensive social media reporting platform that connects your Google Analytics so you can see information about how people that come from social sites interact with your website. You can analyze your competitors, conversions, and compare your channels across social networks.
Social Metrics Pro is a WordPress plugin that lets you track your social engagement across other social media platforms. It provides in-depth analytics and reports to help you assess your performance, identify social sites you can leverage to spread your content, and track posts and pages on your WordPress site so that you know how well your sales pages perform.
Social Clout lets you optimize the ROI of your social media investments and make sure you’re targeting your content efficiently. It works through social listening and comparative analysis of your competitors and highlighting the most engaging and converting content for specific demographic groups.
Tagboard helps marketers gather unique intel on their audience from conversations built around hashtags. The platform gives you a snapshot of sentiment around your topics. That way, you can see where you generate the most engagements, and if you are prioritizing the social networks that provide the most significant amount of involvement. You can also respond to comments without leaving the dashboard.
Google Analytics is a self-evident item on this list. It’s indispensable for measuring and analyzing your website traffic and some types of social media metrics. You can leverage it to measure the value of traffic from social platforms, and see if it converts.
HeadTalker is a crowdspeaking tool, which allows you to create and launch crowdspeaking campaigns and spread your links via people who do not follow your social media accounts. Your aim is to reach your supporter goal before your campaign’s end date, after which your link will be shared on social media profiles of all your supporters automatically.
Thunderclap is another crowdspeaking platform that lets its users “donate” their social reach to help spread the messages they believe matter. It’s an excellent way to boost your landing page traffic. Craft your message, set your deadline, recruit supporters, and get your message published by influencers you wouldn’t have reached otherwise.
Crowdfire connects and analyzes your social media accounts, blogs, and website. Then it monitors your activity and figures out how you can grow. It sets personalized goals and daily tasks in a conversation-style setup and lets you schedule posts and automate other tasks.
Edgar recycles and rotates your posts across your social media accounts so that you never have gaps or too much of lookalike posts. It does it in a smart, creative way mixing categories, automating post creation and scheduling. It’s an excellent time saver.
Post Planner is an engagement app for your social media available in several flavors for individual users, startups, and enterprises. It focuses on three key aspects: finding top content, planning the perfect publishing calendar, and posting to gain an optimal conversion. It curates content suggestions and helps you build content-category-based schedule.
Snip.ly lets you add call-to-action buttons to every link and post you share via social media sites and blogs. Customize your button, add it to any page and engage more followers. When your followers click on your link, they will see the content with your call-to-action inside. The tool also monitors your users’ engagement with your links and keeps track of clicks, conversions, and ROI.
Likeable Local, aka Likeable Hub, provides businesses with thousands of content ideas, as well as helps generate leads and referrals. Its goal is to amplify your social media reach, measure your growth, manage your reputation, ad campaigns, analytics and reporting, strategy consulting, and more. It starts at $299 per month.
BuzzSumo helps you find the hottest trending topics and popular search terms for your niche. It makes it easy to pinpoint your best performing content across categories. Better yet, it lets you identify the top influencers in your niche and see what content they share so that you can target them and leverage their audience.
In terms of growing your reach and amplifying your user base, think broad and go beyond your typical Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn-YouTube pack. Expand your presence to discussion sites, where you can be an expert in your field, make meaningful comments in other people’s threads, get likes, and up your reputation. As a result, your brand gets better visibility. The trick is to sound savvy – not promotional. Be active and avoid spamming your audience. Consider it a free alternative to expensive B2B influencer marketing. Discussion sites might be tricky to master, but when you do, you’ll love the traffic!
Inbound.org helps you stay up-to-date on topics of your interest so that you always have a list of relevant content to share on your social profiles. Create your personal feed with the best ideas and know what the top influencers in your niche are discussing.
Traackr is all about B2B influencer marketing - building your long-lasting relationships with people your users trust. Multi-national brands love Traackr’s comprehensive dashboard, so if you are ready for a substantial investment in your influencer network, check it out.
BuzzStream helps you build buzz around your brand or topic and expand your followers base. Research your top influencers, improve and manage your relationships, and reach people that will help you grow. The platform discovers the contact information of the most influential prospects and suggests which ones you should prioritize.
Outbrain helps you reach new audiences by recommending your content on established media outlets like ESPN, People, and CNN. They offer solutions to SMBs and large companies alike.
Taboola is another paid content promotion platform that works with top publishers such as USA Today, The Weather Channel, NBC, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Mail Online, and others. They have customized solutions for mobile and desktop-friendly content, so if you’re ready to boost your brand through advertising, consider Taboola.
Zemanta is a great native digital advertising (or sponsored content) platform that helps brands expand their visibility. It sports a sleek dashboard, where you can buy and tweak every aspect of your digital native media.
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