When Davpack first went online in the late 1990s, internet trading was in its infancy and those taking their first steps in the field had to plough their own furrow, with little in the way of experience and advice to call on. Fifteen years later, the internet is part and parcel of our everyday lives, and budding entrepreneurs have a wealth of knowledge to which they can turn to help develop their ideas into successful businesses.
Inevitably with such a wide choice of sites to choose from, some are going to be better than other; so which are likely to actually teach you useful and practical stuff that you can apply to your own business? Here are some of our favourites:
Blogging is no longer just about telling the world what you had for breakfast. Done properly, it’s a key digital marketing tool, and here you’ll find all the advice you need to help you use it effectively, come up with ideas, interact with other bloggers and even turn a profit!
This is literally a melting-pot of ideas, experience and knowledge, where business owners from around the world share tips, advice, pointers and lessons learned. The site is neatly divided into sections, so whether you need help with finance, marketing, sales or technology, you can soon find the help you need when you need it.
If you want take your digital marketing to the next level, then everything you need to know can be found here. There is, of course, an interesting blog well worth keeping an eye on that anyone can dip in and read, but the real value is to be found in the best practice guides, reports, data, learning packs, and access to expert help available to subscribers only.
Business 2 Marketing is an online community that’s all about ‘thought leadership’. With more than 4000 expert contributors, it’s a great place to pick up hints, advice and experiences from the front line, while strong coverage of industry news and trends ensures users get a balanced view of the current business landscape.
Another site you need to pay for in order to fully benefit, but, like Econsultancy, the rewards are more than worth the financial commitment. Digital marketers are accustomed to measuring their own website statistics; what KISSmetrics does is analyse the behaviour of your customers when they visit your website. Founder Neil Patel’s aim was to help online businesses recreate the ‘warm and fuzzy’ personal experience customers enjoy in a small retail store; the result should be greater customer retention and more sales.
Jeff’s combination of social media tips and online marketing advice earned him 11th place on Forbes’ list of the ‘Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers’ in 2013. The basic aim of his blog is to help you become more visible on search engines by optimising your personal and business brands, creating great multimedia content and building large and engaged social networks.
With a mission statement of ‘Small business success…delivered daily’, Small Business Trends aims to be the place to go to for information, breaking news and advice on matters of key importance to small businesses. Packed with informative and engaging blogs on everything from the latest technology and marketing and social media tips to financial management and employment trends, with the added bonus of a cartoons section!
You don’t just have to learn from your own mistakes, because now you can also learn from the mistakes of others; more importantly, you can also learn from their successes and take advantage of an extended network. This lively community and forum for small businesses and entrepreneurs allows you to share insights, ask questions, tell war stories, pass on contacts and find new ways to promote your business in cahoots with thousands of others in exactly the same position.
Chris’ blog focuses on what he calls the ‘personal business revolution’; so, although he gives advice on such areas as marketing, sales and service, the whole thing is designed to encourage and develop an understanding of how to connect better with people, how to create worthwhile and valuable media, and how to build other important points of contact in the digital world.
Marcus Sheridan is a great site to check out for the best advice on inbound and content marketing. He also gives expert tips and training on making the most of HubSpot, one of the strongest and most dynamic inbound marketing tools available. Talking of which…
HubSpot develops user-friendly marketing software which helps companies attract leads and, even better, convert them into customers. But even if you don’t think that’s for you, you certainly can’t afford to miss their superb blog, All Inbound Marketing, All the Time, which is a mecca for all you need to know on the subject.
These guys reckon that they’ve got upwards of 625,000 people taking advantage of their no-nonsense, cut-the-crap approach to marketing. They also go beyond the social media and content marketing that most sites restrict themselves to, with parts of their site dedicated to more rarely discussed, but no less important, topics such as graphic design, pricing, career management and non-profit marketing.
Their mission is to help you negotiate your way through the ever-changing social media jungle, and to help you, they’ve put together blogs, reviews, case studies and advice from some of the world’s leading practitioners in the field. With more than 220,000 email subscribers and over 800,000 monthly readers, the advice is clearly of enough value to have attracted considerable interest and attention.
If your basic goal is to become more visible in search engines, then all you need to know is contained here. Up to date SEO advice and theory, good social media practice, being smart with your PPC plans – this is essential stuff if you want potential customers to find you without breaking the bank.
Follow the advice of all the above sites and you’ll be doing okay. But when you want to do that final bit of fine tuning that will put you above all those other smart marketers you’re competing with for those coveted top slots on Google results pages, then Moz is the place to go. Analytics tools examine each and every page and rank your performance with your chosen keywords – and then tell you what you need to do to make them even better.
Good marketing is all about increasing sales, developing new leads, and attracting higher customer loyalty. Michael Brenner has taken 20 years of experience working for some of the biggest names in the US and created an environment where business leaders can discover how content marketing, lead generation, search marketing, digital media and social media strategies are the future.
With a motto of ‘The Capitalist Tool’, Forbes is a leading source for reliable business news and financial information. Perhaps best known to many for its rich lists, it also – and more pertinently – covers finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics, alongside related subjects such as technology, communications, science, and law.
Stacks of small business ideas, information, inspiration, and practical advice to help you start and grow your business. Much more than just another marketing site, this also has comprehensive sections on innovation, HR, ethics, leadership and company culture.
The key word here is ‘strategy’, something too many businesses fail to devise before plunging headfirst into marketing themselves. The meat on the bone is a great set of actionable digital marketing advice that doesn’t just help you optimise your marketing, but assists with the planning and management of your campaigns as well.
“You’re in marketing for one reason: Grow. Grow your company, reputation, customers, impact, profits. Grow yourself. This is a community that will help. It will stretch your mind, connect you to fascinating people, and provide some fun along the way. I am so glad you’re here.” Mark Schaefer
These are just a few of our favourites. We’ve learned a lot from them and been able to apply much of that to our own business – we hope you find them just as useful!
Are there any of your favourite haunts in our list, or maybe there are others you’ve come across that you’d like to recommend? Why not leave a comment and let us know?
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