Multimedia, such as mobile marketing, live casting and podcasting, photo, video and file sharing, can spread a good word about your company and help build brand awareness in a very unique and powerful way. This particular type of social media also has the ability to go viral quickly. However, your company’s chances of going viral are left more to fate than skill, but that’s no reason to downplay the importance of multimedia to your business. The ability of these technologies to facilitate communication between your small business and employees, your customers and potential customers, is tremendous.
While you’re establishing a web business, you have to be sure that your most important e- business tools are high quality, dependable products and services. However, always be cautious. Free tools can be unreliable or come with hidden catches, like requirements that you display certain advertisements if you use the tool. On the other hand, there are number of very good and reliable tools and resources available on the net that are free. And these can be excellent ways to complement your existing tools at no cost, helping you make your site stickier and more user- friendly, your keywords more effective, besides keeping an eye on your competition and finding potential business partners.
The following tools and resources can be effectively used to give online business extra edge to stay ahead of competition.
- Free link partner evaluation tool.
Alexa provides a free, downloadable toolbar that opens in your web browser whenever you’re online. The Alexa toolbar is one of the most useful tools for online businesses. The most useful feature is a ‘’site info’’ option. When you click on this button, Alexa lays out all the details of the site you’re on, including: the traffic ranking of the site. This is also listed right on the toolbar itself, a list of related links.
- Free market research tool.
When you’re building a successful online business, you’ll probably need to spend hours researching your competitors and your target market and looking for new product ideas. The good news is that there are some nifty free tools available on the Google Toolbar that can make the whole process faster and a lot more productive. The first one is ‘’Google Groups’’ search. This is great for product or market research, as you can search for your keywords within the thousands Google Groups online and find forums relevant to your site. By checking these forums regularly, you’ll get to know what’s important to the people in your target market.
Secondly is ‘’search News’’. This feature lets you find news stories relevant to your website, e-zine or blog within news pages as indexed by Google. It’s great for sparking content ideas or just keeping up with the latest developments in your market or industry. ‘’web directory’’ option on the other hand lets you search Google’s directory for sites that match your search terms. It’s ideal for finding out how many competitors you may have for a new products and seeking potential linking partners. Moreover, ‘’search Froogle’’ let’s online shoppers search for products and compare prices. It displays pictures, prices and links to online stores in the results, and one can use it to quickly research how the pricing of his products or services compares with other offerings across the web. If you have an idea for a new product, Froogle is a great place to check out your potential competitors.
- Free image- reducing tool and free ‘’tool kit’’ trials
NetMechanic is a tool kit resource, offering a number of free trials that are great for easily locating potential problems with your site and repairing them quickly. With this tool, you can address such problems as: HTML code errors, browser display problems, lengthy load times, broken links and site downtime.
- Free HTML editor and HTML tutorials
The software allows you to create and manage a professional-looking website without any knowledge of HTML programming. It includes the following features:
- WYSIWYG editing of pages, meaning you can see what your web page will look like as you’re creating it;
- Integrated file management via FTP, so you can upload your pages to your web host;
- Easy to use interface
- Free tutorials.
- Free keyword selector tool
Using Yahoo! Search Marketing’s keyword Selector tool allows you to easily discover which keywords are frequently searched by web surfers. Type in a term you’d like to target and the tool will give you a list of searches. It will also tell you how many times those terms were searched in Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) can help you optimize your search engine ranking by targeting keywords and phrases that are frequently searched by the online audience.
- Free browser compatibility services
The browser compatibility experts at AnyBrowser offer every tool you’ll need to make your site viewable, as the name suggests, in any browser. The most useful tool is the ‘’siteViewer,’’ which allows you to see your web pages as surfers will see them on multiple browsers. For example, your site may look different in Netscape Navigator than it does in Internet Explorer- images may be broken, tables may shift and so on. With AnyBrowser, you can ensure you meet the needs of every browser.
- Free search tool
1-click Answers is a downloadable search tool available from the Answers.com search engine. It allows you to search multiple information sources and find instant answers containing concise information on the topic you’re searching for. After you’ve downloaded the personal (free) version. You’ll have a search on an item, you’ll get results from some or all of the following resources, depending on your search term like dictionaries and atlases.
- Free content
FreeSticky is good place to find free (or cheap) content for your site, so you can keep your site fresh and interesting for your visitors, while keeping them coming back for more. Find articles, news briefs, headlines, tickers, tips of the day and more. The broad variety of topics range from financial advice to hip hop headlines, travel guides and lottery results. You can also give away free software applications directly from your site, many of which are available for co-branding.
- Free e-mail campaign ROI calculator
Marketing tool Today’s ROI calculator is an easy to use device that allows you to accurately estimate what kind of return on investment you can expect from your upcoming direct mail or e-mail campaigns and promotions. The calculator is a simple tool that acts as an excellent reality check when you’re determining your marketing costs. The most accurate way to operate this tool is to use the response rate you received from your previous mailings to calculate your ROI for future mailings. All you have to do is enter the numbers: the number of mailings you’ll be doing, your total costs, the response rate you expect, the conversion rate you expect, and how much you expect each buyer to spend (that is, the cost of your product or service).
- Free web design tool
Most internet entrepreneurs have very little, if any, web design knowledge. That doesn’t have to be a barrier, however, to creating a professional-looking web site. One of the hardest tasks for someone with no design experience is choosing the colour scheme for your site. Well, this easy-to-use, free tool from ColorMatch 5K allows you to create a complete colour scheme at the click of the button. It also gives you the HTML codes for the colours you choose- every web colour has a code.
- Free site search tools
If your site is more than a few pages and doesn’t have a good internal search tool, you’re probably losing many visitors due to frustrations. SiteLevel can set you up with effective, free search tools for your website. While appeasing your visitors, a site- level search engines also enables you to find out what your users want and need. SiteLevel’s search tools allow you to track what your visitors are searching for and see what they’re finding – or not finding – so you can adapt to their agendas and increase visitor satisfaction and the stickiness of your site. SiteLevel also lets you customize your own search results page to make it suit the look and feel of your site.
- More free marketing tools
Although not everything on this site is e- business related, you’ll find plenty that is so. Probably the most useful section for e-business is the ‘’webmaster’’ section. Here you’ll find the ‘’internet Seer’’ site monitoring tool that provides downtime alerts so that you don’t lose valuable customers. Free site also lists free technical support and online tutorials; free personal management tools; plenty of Java Script resources; free fonts, clipart, graphics, icons, and buttons; plus much, much more. And although you should be wary of freebies that ask for advertising space in return, you might want to bookmark this page. One of the greatest advantages of starting an online business, as opposed to taking the more traditional brick-and –mortar approach, is that costs are much lower. Hosting fees could be your main overhead, but this is nowhere near the rent you’d pay for office space for an offline business. And when it comes to creating and building your website as well as marketing it- you can further reduce your costs by making use of some of the great free tools and resources out there.