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4 Online Tools Every Startup Must Start With

By: Megan Totka



In the startup world, it’s all about bootstrapping your way to success. In years past, you might not have had access to all of the tools bigger businesses used, due to those resources being cost-prohibitive. Now plenty of tools, apps, and software are geared toward small businesses. The best part? They’re inexpensive or, in some cases, completely free.

The wonderful thing about email marketing is not just that it’s one of the best mechanisms to stay connected with existing customers—it also doesn’t have to cost a thing. Many small business email marketing platforms offer low-cost services, but MailChimp stands out in that it’s free if you’ve got fewer than 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 or fewer emails a month.
The “Forever Free” plan is effective for most solopreneurs and early-stage startups, and provides ample reporting on open and click-through rates. Plans with advanced features and more robust reporting start at $10 a month.
Another necessity for startups is software for Customer Relationship Management, also known as CRM. Again, you’ve got many options to keep track of customer information through the sales cycle. Insightly is unique in that it also offers free project management software built into its CRM platform. Why project management? When you consider all of the to-dos connected with a single lead, you want to make sure nothing—like that promo price or critical follow-up call—slips through the cracks.
Insightly’s product is free for up to three users, storing up to 2,500 contacts. More robust packages begin at $29 a month.
Starting with social media can be daunting, especially if you’re juggling Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ profiles for your startup. Using a social media management platform like Hootsuite cuts your time spent updating profiles in half, and helps you monitor what’s being said about your brand.
Not only can you schedule and post updates on multiple social profiles in one place, you can also track analytics on who’s clicking or sharing which updates. You can manage up to five profiles with a free account, and you can add additional team members and profiles starting at $8.99 per month.
Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-manage website or want to add a blog to your existing site, WordPress is the go-to tool. Its simple content management solution makes it easy to update text, add photos, and install plugins to track web traffic, clicks, and more.
WordPress is free, and you can purchase customizable templates from various designers by searching “wordpress theme” on Google.
More Options Abound
Hundreds, if not thousands, of other tools are available online to help you grow your startup. Begin with the free ones, and then decide which are worth paying for. If the freebies suffice for your needs, you’ve no reason to invest money unnecessarily!
This article was co-authored by Susan Payton, the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and contributes to several sites, including ChamberofCommerce.com, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
Published: August 5, 2013

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Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for ChamberofCommerce.com, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.

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