[2019] 6 free digital tools entrepreneurs use to drive growth

Most entrepreneurs and small businesses have one thing in common. They’ve already invested a huge chunk of money to get their business out of the gate and are now looking for ways to grow without breaking the bank. In an era where 92% of consumer traffic gets captured by businesses being on the first page of results and over 70% of consumers who did a local search visited a local store, having a strong online presence is paramount. And while there are a growing number of online platforms promising exceptional growth, today I handpicked a few of them that I’ve used to help small (and big) companies achieve sustainable growth. The best part? They’re all free – so let’s jump right into it.

Google Analytics – Understand your website and your visitors

All right, let’s start with the go-to of all marketers, which also suits less tech-savvy entrepreneurs. When it comes to web analytics, Google Analytics gives you access to an exhaustive list of data. Most entrepreneurs settle for the basics and high-level data, which is fine in most cases. Right off the bat, Google’s product allows you to identify where your web visitors are coming from, demographics and interests, how your traffic fluctuates, or the most visited pages. Digging a bit more (or  with the help of some experts) you can uncover major data such as what specific Ad or website your audience has used before landing on your website or how many visitors take the desired action on your site (goal conversion). 

Similar Web – Spy on your competitors

Similar Web is a tool I came across this year that I’m obsessed with. To make it clear, I use it every single time I work on a new project for a client. The easiest way to describe it is Similar Web works like Google Analytics but on your competitor’s website. Yes, that’s right – with it you can easily see the traffic of your main competitor’s websites, how they drive users to their site, and their audience interest. How does it help you? If your site were a brick and mortar store, one of your goals would be to have more customers walking into the store. Now, what if you could learn how the other store selling similar products was successful getting more customers, which ads they were running, products that are trending up, and what their customers like about the store. This is essentially what Similar Web allows you to do.

Answer the Public – Speak the same language as your customers

Struggling to drive traffic to your website? This can be part of a ruthless competition or a lack of visibility on search engines. To get more visitors your site needs to be easily searchable. To do so, you need to A) know what your audience is searching online and B) create content that answers their searches. And that’s where Answer the Public comes in handy. In a matter of seconds, it unlocks customer queries on Google based on specific keywords you typed. Your business consists in selling organic baby clothes? Which means that part of your audience is first-time parents, so just by typing “first time mom” you will learn what this segment is searching online. From there, you can create and position your content with the right angle to get in front of your customers.

Hotjar – See how customers use your site and what you need to change

Welcome to the Internet, where privacy tends to fade away. Hotjar, or similar platforms like CrazyEgg or Full Story, gives you another layer of data that Google Analytics cannot deliver. How? By recording live sessions of whoever lands on your site. It’s essentially similar to having you watching over your customer shoulder while they browse your site.

Hotjar also offers heat maps. These are graphic visualizations of data showing the most and least popular elements of any given page. These data can be mouse movement, clicks, and scrolls. They help you understant what needs to be improved on your website by highlighting the elements that users don’t find relevant. One of the most common ways I use Hotjar is whn I write articles. After giving Hotjar enough time to collect data, I can see if an article suffers from a significant drop by looking at the scroll depth. In which case, I would go back and changed the section of my article causing this unengagement. The same approach applies to your homepage or any other page. If you identify a cold section, you should consider removing it or at the very least editing it. 

Unbounce – Get your prospects’ information before they leave

 

This one is not a free tool. So why is this part of the list? Well, because it’s relatively affordable and worth the money spent. Now that we’ve listed some tools to help you get more visitors to your site, the second part of your work is about to start. Once on your website, you need to engage your visitors. It is mostly a mix of good content and design but if your business relies on generating customer inquiries – contact form, online purchase, booking, etc.) you need to convert those visitors. And a great way to do so my friends is by influencing them with triggered messages.

These can take the form of sticky bars or popups with a limited-time offer, exclusive content, or a link to another page. Here’s an example, you run an e-commerce, and you know – because you use Google Analytics and Hotjar – that a significant percentage of your customers leaves your site with items in their shopping cart. What you can do here, is to offer them an incentive if they complete their transaction now so they stay on your site. That way you reduce the abandoned cart rate and give them a second thought before they may leave forever. This method is called second net and helps you retain users on your website.

MailChimp – Keep your prospects and customers engaged with emails

So maybe with the use of popups, you weren’t successful at convincing your customers to complete their transaction. But maybe you were at least able to get their email address. Hey, that’s perfectly fine, trust needs to be earned. 

MailChimp is a free (until you reach 2,000 subscribers) and yet powerful platform to send and automate emails to win prospects back and build a relationship to turn them into loyal customers. It comes with a few templates to help you get started and great options to send one-offs or automatic emails. There are much more robust solutions out there but at this pricing point (you know, $0) it’s hard to find a better platform.

All of these tools can do wonders for small businesses as they help you optimize your online assets and generate revenue. For most of you out there, you should be able to set them up to run simple tasks. Where the magic really happens is when you start digging into it and exploit the full potential of these marketing tools. And friends, that’s where we can help as we’ve been using them for years now. Drop us a line if you need help with any of them or need help, we’d be more than happy to connect :). Until then – see ya.

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