The digital marketing landscape is changing. While traditional channels like SEO and PPC still offer incredible value, today’s business owner must consider all available options.
If your marketing budget allows, you can invest in a mix of platforms that cover all of the basics. But if money is tight, you might have to choose between two evils: either pay for a standalone email marketing tool or rely on the free version of a basic web server/blogging platform.
The Dangers of a Standalone E-mail Marketing Tool
A standalone e-mail marketing tool is fine if what you’re looking for is just a simple e-mail marketing solution. If you have very little budget and/or you want something that’s super-easy to use, these tools are perfect.
The problem is that most standalone e-mail marketing tools are only one-size-fits-all. They were built to sell to brands and not as a tool for micro-businesses. So while they might have all the features you need, they also have a lot of hidden costs that you might not know about.
For example, if you want to use MailChimp, you’ll need to create a new account and follow a few simple steps to get started. But if you want to use Campaigner, you’ll need to have a team of experts on hand to help you set things up correctly. Otherwise, you could end up with something that’s less than perfect.
The Dangers of a Free Blogging Platform
A free blogging platform makes everything easy. You just need to install WordPress and start writing. Then, when you have enough content, you can turn it into a professional-looking blog. Or, you can just keep it as a personal blog.
The problem with this option is that, for the most part, free blogging platforms are designed for personal use. So, if you want to use it for commercial purposes, you’ll need to install a paid version of WordPress. Doing so won’t cost you anything. But, again, you’ll need an expert to help you set things up correctly.
Choosing a marketing platform is a lot more complicated than it seems. It requires a lot of research and consideration of your particular circumstances. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for marketing advice and tips, try out our list of the best digital marketing platforms below.
Top 3 Best-Value Digital Marketing Platforms
The following three platforms offer fantastic value for the price. While there are paid versions of each of them that offer more features, these three offer everything you need to grow your business successfully.
WordPress is the world’s #1 content management system (CMS). It was originally designed for blogging, but it’s so much more than that. For instance, you can use it to create a business website with a professional-looking layout in less than 10 minutes. And, best of all, it’s absolutely free!
The reason this platform is so popular is because it’s incredibly flexible and, quite literally, user-friendly. For instance, if you have a minimal understanding of HTML and CSS, you’ll have no trouble building a functional website using WordPress. It’s also remarkably SEO-friendly. Many top SEOs and content strategists credit WordPress for the rise of content marketing as a whole.
Shopify is a little bit like Shopbop.com or Urban Outfitters.com. It’s a marketplace where you can find and purchase unique items. While you can use it to create a simple e-commerce store, it can also help you set up your own fashion blog or a luxury e-commerce store.
You can create and sell your own products, like fashion or lifestyle accessories, with Shopify. Plus, you can integrate your store with the Shopify app, which makes it super-easy for consumers to find what they want and make purchases from your website.
Squarespace is arguably the most popular of the three platforms mentioned above. It’s a robust CMS that allows you to create a fully functional website in less than 10 minutes. Plus, it’s integrated with HubSpot, which makes it even easier to pull all of your marketing and sales together under one roof.
Whether you have a luxury goods store or a fashion blog, Squarespace can help you create a stylish website containing all of the essential features you need to begin your online marketing journey successfully.
Value versus Appearance
The above three platforms all offer incredible value for the price, but there’s a massive difference in the appearance of the websites they create. While WordPress and Shopify are beautifully laid out and feature strong design elements, Squarespace’s minimalist approach focuses on the content.
The takeaway from the above is that when choosing a marketing platform, you should look for value, not appearance. The former will make up for the latter eventually, anyway. So don’t get too caught up in design trends when choosing a platform. Instead, focus on providing excellent value for your business and customers. If you can do that successfully, all of those trendy looks will follow.
Above all else, make sure that the platform you choose is fully GDPR-compliant. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect in May 2018 and will radically change the way we think about data protection. You can’t run a successful business if you don’t have the data you need to make informed decisions. So be sure to check what provisions the platform you choose makes for data protection before you start using it.