When small business owners are in the process of expanding their business, they need to know which apps are best for advertising on social media. Social media has become one of the most popular advertising platforms. Through social media advertising, you can directly target specific groups at a low cost.
Many small business owners have conflicted feelings about marketing. They know they need to be doing it, but all the different types of marketing and approaches to marketing can make it overwhelming. And then there’s the price. Small business owners are a frugal lot. They have to be. And marketing can be expensive. Marketing mistakes are even more expensive.
The combination of being short on time and money is tough. But there’s yet another layer to the problem. It’s the classic friction small business owners face between the work of running their business versus the work they went into business to do. Pizza guys want to make pizza – not run Google Ads campaigns. Florists want to arrange flowers – not master email marketing.
Apps will save you time and money
Fortunately, we live in a world with apps. And many small business owners have figured out that they can save themselves a nice chunk of time by using them. That’s what the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council discovered when they ran the survey for their report, “Saving Time and Money With Mobile Apps”.
According to that report, “78 percent of these small business owners believe that their company’s use of mobile apps saves time for the owner. Every week, these small business owners estimate that they save an average of 5.6 hours (a median of 4.0 hours) due to their firm’s use of mobile apps.”
4-5 hours! That’s half a day each week. That’s a huge win for a time-pressed small business owner. To help you free up half a day in your week, we assembled a shortlist of essential digital marketing tools for small business owners. These cover all the basic marketing tasks, with one or two added in for marketing outsourcing and marketing project management.
Best Apps for Small Businesses
Like it or not, social media has become the bedrock publicity tool of small businesses worldwide. But sharing on social media can be a time-consuming chore. Buffer’s integration with social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn lets you access accounts from a single place to automatically schedule the content you want to share — at specific times and intervals and in whatever way you want. You can set customized messages to hit followers at the same time or stagger and refine content to appeal to different audiences. Depending on business size, you can choose the free plan, or the paid pro or small business plan for $150 or $1,000 per year, respectively.
Do you know all those long code-like text links? Get rid of them with Bitly. The app lets you shorten and brand your links to increase clicks while also tracking who clicks what and when. View channel data, discover social metrics, understand when and where your audience is most engaged — all from one dashboard. Connect your social networks for easy sharing through Bitly across social, SMS, display, and other channels. The app lets you collect insights on your performance and optimize your efforts to fit your audience’s needs. Bitly Enterprise users can also get more data out of their account by switching between groups and managing user permissions, all from their phones.
With web marketing, graphics is often the name of the game, and a great illustration, prototype, or infographic can generate a huge amount of interest in your company. Canva facilitates the creation of any kind of visual graphic art you want, all on your phone, while the app lets you post your images to social media platforms. It features a full editor, Instagram story maker, video maker, video editor, logo maker, poster maker, book creator, and mood board creator. Crank out everything from social media cover images to logos and banners for Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
This app is specifically targeted to business owners to manage their Yelp pages. Yelp has become a universal small business barometer, fielding millions of queries each month, and hosting business reviews with rankings that are continually being updated. There’s power in those stars. With the Yelp for Business app, you can adjust your business profile, view your business rating in real-time, track visitor engagement and customer leads, read reviews and respond to customer questions publicly or privately, manage business photos, view reports on ad clicks, and report reviews and messages.
Are your ears burning yet? They should be whenever anyone has something to say about your company online. Mention lets you monitor your online rep so you can get the most up-to-date information about your business or your competitors. Mention alerts you each time someone says something about your company and lets you respond to questions, counter negative comments, and show customer appreciation. Create alerts around your company name, brand, competitors, and online mentions. The app is also useful for gathering statistics and collaborating with your team. Not only can you monitor mentions in real-time, but you can also use the app’s “anti-noise” technology, sentiment analysis, and priority inbox to filter out irrelevant material and concentrate on using social media to respond appropriately to meaningful feedback. You can also retweet a positive mention or share articles on Facebook. Various levels of free and paid plans are available.
Buy 12 get one free: It’s the oldest marketing trick in the book to get people coming back for your product or service — whether it’s a free pizza or a free fidget spinner — because everyone loves something for free. With participating vendors, Clover propels the old-fashioned wallet punch card into digital format and works great for saving points to earn cashback rewards. It’s much easier to track than a fragile card in the wallet that can get lost or destroyed. Clover helps customers keep track of how many items they buy to get that free thing. When your customer checks in to one of your spots, Clover lets you track their purchase.
The GetResponse mobile app works in conjunction with the GetResponse email marketing platform while you’re on the go. It lets you manage your email marketing campaigns, collect leads, and keep up to date on your stats. You can create and send emails, manage your list, follow up on the results of your most recent email promotion, view a dashboard with stats, and analyze click-through ratios. The app lets you view individual emails in an autoresponder series, as well as past emails.
Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) lets you port files among PCs, tablets, and smartphones. The standard package comes with 30 GB of online storage per user with options to upgrade to unlimited. And it allows you to create docs, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and more.
- Offers a popular set of intelligent business apps
- Stops the need to use different apps for basic business functions
- Provides professional and ad-free business email experience.
Price: Plans start as low as $6 per user per month.
If you sell and ship products online, you need a time-saving e-commerce solution to streamline your shipping. Cloud-based ShipStation is simple to use and allows you to process online orders, get order alerts, print shipping labels, track shipments, and more.
- Works with most e-commerce platforms, including WooCommerce and Shopify
- Streamline the order processing system to fit your business’s needs
- Create custom shipping labels that show off your brand
Price: Plans start at $9 per month
Stop guessing what your customers want, and ask them yourself. With SurveyMonkey, you can create surveys to measure user engagement and get anonymous customer feedback on your products, pricing, website, and any unmet needs of your target market. Build simple or more complex surveys, and find tips on the SurveyMonkey website about question types and how to word them. Survey creation is collaborative, and results and reports can be viewed by different team members without sharing login information.
- Create surveys from a template and brand with your own business colors and logos
- Review survey results as they come in from any device
- Send your surveys out into the world via your website, email, social media accounts, and more
Price: Freemium, with advanced packages starting at $32 per month (there are discounts for students and educators)
This cloud accounting software will make your invoicing (and more!) quick and simple. With FreshBooks, you can create and personalize invoices, and set up automatic billing. You can also track business expenses — and create a minute-by-minute record of how you spend your time for a real eye-opening accounting of your productivity.
- Accessible from any and all of your screens
- Accept credit cards on your mobile device
- Converts estimates into invoices
Price: $15/month for five clients; Free Invoice Template downloads
Dropbox Business is a cloud computing app that allows you to sync files and folders across various platforms. The mobile app gives you access to all your files on the go and offers plans for really small businesses — we’re talking just three users.
- Offers cloud storage of all important files
- Prevents lost files
- Provides flexible storage plans
Price: Starts at $12.50/month for 3+ users
DocuSign allows you to easily collect signatures online or via a mobile device. This is the perfect tool for collecting necessary information from clients and remote employees.
- Offers rapid app development
- Stops inconvenience of collecting signatures in person
- Provides powerful integrations with Salesforce, Google, Microsoft, and more
Price: Starts at $10/month
Polaris Office is a good mobile alternative to Apple’s iWork suite or Microsoft’s Office Suite for spreadsheets and docs. It allows you to read and edit docs via the mobile app.
- Offers outstanding compatibility to view and edit all documents
- Stops increase on costs related to purchasing an office suite
- Provides mobile and desktop access
Price: Pro plans start at $5/month
SOS Online Backup automatically backs up your files online and provides military-grade encryption.
- Offers secure online backup
- Stops loss of files
- Provides 100%privacy
Price: Starting at $4.99/month
Cloud Computing apps truly are the way of the future when it comes to making sure your team has secure access to the right information.
GetResponse Social Ads Creator
With our Social Ads Creator, you can create and share engaging promotional posts for any occasion – quickly and easily. Cut through the clutter and reach more people with easy-to-edit videos, animated slideshows, and photo collages. You can easily showcase the products you sell on Etsy, creating promo videos and banners in the easiest way possible. And if you don’t have a photographer on board in your small business, don’t worry – you can browse the Unsplash gallery in-app.
Boost your brand presence on social media with posts that get more followers, shares, and sales. Customize a template, publish it on your social profiles, and track your engagement. No design or marketing experience is needed!
Why add Fiverr to this list? Because it’s a great way to get small, simple marketing tasks done for very affordable prices – like $20-30 for a logo nice enough to use. Once you’ve found three or four Fiverr pros who can help you with routine, repeating tasks like
- designing an ebook cover
- converting an epic blog post into a SlideShare
- writing a few product descriptions
- editing a video
then you can outsource that work without worry. Given how short on time most small business owners are, that’s quite a deal.
One of the most frequently used marketing tactics for a local business is a loyalty program. Usually, these are fulfilled with business card-sized punch cards. The way they work is every time you go to the sandwich shop, or the nail salon, or the coffee shop, you get your card punched. When your card is all punched up, you get a free sandwich or free coffee, or you get your nails done for free.
Perka takes that tried and true model and makes it digital. They do seem to still be ironing out some quirks with the app, but this is something to try if your business has a punch card program.
Digital marketing is far from being cheap, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. With the help of some free apps for advertising on social media, you can boost your business exposure to new customers at no cost.