Running marketing for a startup comes with its own unique challenges, not the least of which is maintaining a tight budget while attempting to drive a daily influx of new leads. Even fully-funded startups would be wise not to invest too much in an expensive, agency-designed website or a powerful marketing automation solution. There are many affordable tools out there that offer the same basic features you would expect from the giants of the industry, without the additional bells and whistles that a startup might not be ready for. Here are a few in my toolkit:
Whether you love it or hate it, you can't deny that any marketer can get a professional looking and highly-functioning website up and running at virtually no cost with WordPress. With thousands of customizable design themes available for around $30-$50 and a nearly unlimited supply of plugins that add additional functionality, a self-hosted WordPress site is built on an SEO-friendly blogging platform that can give potential customers and investors a positive first impression.
Cost: Free (pay hosting + domain registration)
Sales CRM: Nutshell
Nutshell is an affordable alternative to Salesforce with some powerful features that might surprise you. Any veteran sales rep or account manager will feel right at home in their interface, with the ability to track their activities in terms of lead follow-up, mange their pipeline and forecast projected sales. Marketers can track their lead growth and compare the effectiveness of channels through the reporting dashboard.
Lead Capture: Wufoo
Wufoo, which was acquired by SurveyMonkey in 2011, is a light-weight and affordable HTML form builder that makes getting started in lead capture a cinch. The service comes with free design templates, analytics and integrates with Nutshell for easy lead import. Users can specify confirmation messages, 'thank you' pages and auto-response emails.
Cost: starting at $15/month (base plan is free)
For sending out marketing emails and other company communications, it's hard to beat MailChimp, one of the premier SaaS darlings of our time. Within minutes of setting up an account, you can get started creating beautiful HTML emails, build lists via their form builder or importer, and track your campaign progress through rich analytics.
Cost: starting at $10/month
Productivity/Collaboration: Google Apps for Business
In lieu of investing in multiple Microsoft Office licenses, Google Apps is an elegant, cloud-based solution for internal email and project collaboration. Gmail deftly replaces Outlook, while Calendar, Drive and Docs can keep your team all on the same page.
Cost: starting at $5/user/month
All in all, a startup marketer could drive a healthy inbound marketing campaign structure utilizing this toolkit. What other affordable SaaS products have you used that create value for startup marketers? Let me know in the comments!