When building a direct selling business, you typically face four main obstacles: creating content, building a following, tracking customer prospects and interactions, and creating positive customer interactions. You might wonder what the solution is. Your first step will be to find a tool that will help you to organize your ideas, purpose, and business activities. Then you must create content around those ideas and promote it. Let’s take a look at some of the tools which help you manage content and customers.
Content and customer relationship management in one
Cost: $200 per month + Deposit / $800 a month + Deposit
Hubspot is a content marketing platform that can host your website or blog, deliver email marketing, and create leads with leadscoring. It is an all-in-one platform. They even have their own programming language. You will need a small amount of support from Hubspot to get started. For this reason the minimum price is $600 to get started and $200 a month after that. They also have a pro version which costs $3,000 to start and $800 a month. These prices have decreased dramatically since I began using their platform in 2010. In my opinion this is a great value considering all the functions that work together in Hubspot.
Hubspot is the most affordable platform that combines content management and customer relationship management in one simple tool. You can see from the screenshots below that it has a very useful set of reporting for top level metrics, page modification usage, and analytical reporting. In recent years Hubspot has become a leader in promoting the idea of content marketing to generate customer acquisition at the small business level.
Customer relationship management
Solution: Business Process Management (BPM)
Kanbanchi is available as a Google Chrome App.
Cost: Free / $19 a month / $39 a month
Solution: Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Your contacts may already live inside your Gmail account. Do you want more insight into the status of the leads that email you? Try Streak for Gmail to organize your retail customer leads and business opportunity leads. You can even add your downline organization. Should you choose to add email tracking (for $19 a month), you can also have some insight to how your intended leads interact with your emails. A $39 a month plan includes more reporting, tasks, and call logs. The tool lets users highlight items that would be great content ideas.
Cost: $12 per month
Solution: Business Process Management (BPM)
To avoid spinning your wheels and start moving your customers and prospects through the development cycle you may want to use a tool like Pipedrive to manage your contacts, projects, and more. You might also use a tool such as this one to help your team organize marketing and sales goals to grow their respective businesses.
You can build your business with natural SEO traffic from Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Your expectation should be that it takes months to start to get attention from the search engines if you do not write for other websites and send links back to each of your new pages. Google, in particular, is very temperamental and may boost and lower your rankings based on hundreds of factors. It is important not to get distressed easily over ranking changes. It is better to follow the “build it then continues building” strategy of online marketing.
Price: $0 / $12 per month / $29 per month / $49 per month / $99 per month
Insightly contains several features that are helpful to someone growing their business including, a mobile app business card scanner, email marketing, email templates, and integration to Mailchimp, Google Calendar, or Microsoft Calendar help you to organize your business.
Content management systems
WordPress is the world’s largest content management system (CMS). It started out as a platform exclusively for blogging but has grown and advanced significantly over the years. Today, over 40% of sites using CMS’s are using WordPress. Also, over 60 million websites are using WordPress which shows just how popular it is. WordPress offers many advantages to those looking to create a website or a blog, including the following:
Easy to Install – Many web hosting companies (including Bluehost) offer automatic installation of WordPress sites, which means you can have a new site up and running in well under five minutes. Even with manual installation, you can create a new site in less than an hour.
Customizable – WordPress has many more free plug-ins, free themes, and other integration applications available than any other CMS. This is largely because it is the most popular, so the designers of these items almost always create them for WordPress. You can also create a blog with WordPress.
Free – WordPress is free to install and use for anyone who wants it. There are thousands of free plug-ins and themes available to choose from. Also, there are paid premium themes and plug-ins, which some people will want to use, but they are not required, especially not for beginners.
Community Support – With millions of people using WordPress, there are a lot of people out there to help you through any problems you may have. Several websites are set up by users offering free support to other WordPress website owners. If you have some time, you can check out their support forum where contributors can help you within minutes. Awesome, right?
By adding a few plugins to your self-hosted WordPress you can create your customer side of your CMS.
Another choice for content and customer management is the website platform, Drupal. Drupal keeps your website design separate from the content so that when you update one thing on one page it affects all other pages. It is highly scalable and requires no html knowledge to manage the site or the look and feel. Some very well-known sites have used Drupal in the past including, the onion, lime.com, and the grateful dead website. Each item of content in Drupal is called a node. Similar to WordPress you can define custom content types such as blog posts, news story, forum post, tutorials, etc.
Drupal Training: https://www.udemy.com/courses/search/?q=drupal&src=ukw&lang=en
Some of Drupals best features include user role management, custom page titles and meta tags, and PHP templates for changing themes of sites. Drupal is an open source content management platform powering millions of websites and applications. It’s built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world.
Drupal is the second most popular content management system available today. It is a fully open source program, which many people prefer, especially those who are more technically minded.
The Drupal platform is extremely powerful, and is less resource intensive than that of WordPress. Drupal can be set up for anything from a simple blog to a content portal used by large corporations. Some of the most significant benefits to Drupal include the following:
Technically Advanced – Drupal is the most technically advanced of these three content management systems. It doesn’t use nearly as many system resources as WordPress, so people won’t have to worry about upgrading to a more expensive hosting option as quickly.
Improved Performance – Drupal pages typically load more quickly, and have faster response times than those made with WordPress or Joomla. Of course, as you add plug-ins and make other changes, this can quickly change.
Customizable – Drupal is easy to customize with many different plug-ins, themes and other configurable options. For those with sufficient programming knowledge, it is possible to edit even the root files of the program, making it the most flexible of the three content management systems.
Free – You can download the Drupal software for free, and install it on your hosting server. There is no option to have a website hosted on Drupal servers, however, so you will need a web hosting available to run the site. You’ll also need your domain name, which typically costs some money.
Recommendations: Use with email marketing platform like Mailchimp. Here is a link to the integration information between the two services. https://connect.mailchimp.com/integrations/landing-pages-by-leadpages
We have spoken of LeadPages before in the discussion about A/B testing. We should look at LeadPages again as a customer content manager. If you have specific content for a specific customer, LeadPages can help you to convert them into your community better and faster. For example, if you are targeting tips for young mothers, videos for teens struggling with a specific problem, and 50+ men who are looking for additional retirement income, then you can use LeadPages to target each customer segment and deliver specified marketing ideas to each. This is an easy way to manage your content and link from your website to each marketing endeavor.
The LeadPages platform is very easy to use. You create the landing page and the form, the resulting page, and the offer. The one drawback is the cost to maintain and host a lead page. It is most often used in coordination with advertising. Prices start at $25 a month and go as high as $199 a month (paid annually). However when you weigh the cost of hiring a programmer at $75-$150 an hour you may get better results by using this platform. If you want to integrate LeadPages into your Hubspot, Marketo, or Salesforce database, you can do that with the highest package.
This platform is best utilized when you have an offer such as a free report or webinar offer to your target audience.
LeadPages.net made some major updates in 2015, and they can be seen in the announcement post they made earlier this year. Due to the rise of mobile platform usage and reduction of email open rates, they have added a mobile short code add-in that lets people opt-in to your mobile marketing. You can also send two short SMS text messages and split test your messages.
In conclusion, your needs will determine which of the tools we have mentioned here may help you grow your business. One thing is for sure, without tools you will have a hard time seeing your opportunities to grow and connecting with your audience. Continue seeking more leads online to target the following that will support you and your direct sales online.