B-to-B Insights: 5 Free, Fantastic Web Marketing Tools
B-to-B companies are notoriously cheap, so here are 5 free web marketing tools and services that can improve your online marketing know-how and creative efforts.
Google University to Master Web Metrics
You need to know what's happening on your website. Learn basic and advanced web marketing metrics at GU: Google University. (If you're not using the free Google Analytics service, stop reading now, slap yourself a couple times, collect yourself, then sign up at GoogleAnalytics.com.)
After you've signed up, click "Education" for free online courses on Analytics and AdWords that prepare you for Google's Individual Qualification test. The test costs $50 if you care to take it, but the learning is free and invaluable.
KompoZer to Design Your Own Emails
If you're using an email service provider's online design tools and templates, you're either remarkably patient or have no design sense at all. (Do these companies really think their templates are any good, or is this some twisted joke?)
Kick up your email design with KompoZer, the free, easy-to-use, WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") web-authoring tool. It's far superior to your service provider's online tools, even approaching Adobe's DreamWeaver in functionality.
Online email design tools are painfully slow. KompoZer lets you design offline, saving your time, nerves and co-workers' ears from all of your yelling and swearing. Once your email's designed, simply cut and paste the HTML code into your service provider's online tool. As with most design programs, you'll still have to resize your images in a picture editor. Visit KompoZer.net to download.
SurveryMonkey to Engage Your Customers
The holy grail of marketing is to know what your customers think. You can get inside their heads with an online survey tool called SurveyMonkey. Sign up for the free version or buy its more advanced functions at SurveyMonkey.com.
You may eventually need the advanced version, but first try the free service, which allows you to create an unlimited number of surveys you can email to customers or post on your website. The free service limits you to 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. However, if you're new to surveying, these limitations aren't necessarily bad and can help focus your survey strategy and analysis techniques.
Free Movie Tools to Put You In Pictures
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a moving picture is worth 10,000. Short, online video is a powerful tool in B-to-B marketing. You may not know it, but if you're using Windows or Mac operating systems, you already have decent video editing software on your computer that will allow you to show the benefits of your products in action. (You can also download Windows Movie Maker for free at download.cnet.com.)
Using any home digital video camera, you can shoot and now edit an effective video to complement your website's product presentations. Creating video for professional use was once an expensive proposition. For better or worse, the advent of YouTube has lowered expectations. If your lighting is even and audio clear, you can create an effective online video.
As a rule of thumb, keep videos short. For beginners, less than a minute is best. If you're going over two minutes, your name better be Francis Ford Coppola. Don't let an individual scene run longer than 10 seconds.
Woopra: The Next Frontier?
Woopra is a new web analytics service that has both a free and paid version. Among its many functions is a real-time snapshot of your website's activity down to the customer level. Watching this stuff is like drinking Absinthe: over-consumption can drive you crazy. However, control your latent obsessive-compulsive tendencies and you'll find Woopra's graphic interface with your website's traffic history very helpful. It's literally a snapshot of your daily traffic in a calendar format. You can even engage customers in live chat for some one-to-one marketing research. Where Woopra will take us is yet to be determined, but hitching the ride at Woopra.com is free.
Do you have a favorite free web marketing tool? Email me your picks at HAGUEdirect@yahoo.com. I'll share readers' favorites in a future column.
George Hague is principal at HAGUEdirect, a B-to-B consulting firm (HAGUEdirect@yahoo.com).
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.