Given the frequency of conversations about social media and marketing, it might seem that everyone should be a card-carrying expert in these approaches. But there may be several online helper apps from third-party sources that you haven’t yet used or taken full advantage of. Here’s a sampling.

Templates Make It Easy

Hire a web developer? Build a web site from scratch? The dark ages are over. You can easily build and maintain a beautiful web site with inexpensive, do-it-yourself templates such as Squarespace, Weebly, Jimdo or Webnode.

The nonprofit Blossoms of Hope used Squarespace to build its new web site. With limited funds and a small staff, the organization, which raises money to support the Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center, found the new Squarespace site to be a game-changer.

Recently independent of the Howard County Office of Tourism, Blossoms of Hope desired to establish its own brand with a year-round presence. Through its new web site, staff members can quickly refresh content, have more community access and better promote fundraising events.

Regularize and Automate Social Media

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Snapchat. Instagram. Periscope.

So many platforms; so little time. Many businesses use what are called “social media management systems” to track and run their channels. Tools such as Hootsuite, Socialoomph and Tweriod allow them to schedule posts on multiple accounts while posting on several platforms.

Posting in advance is a tremendous help to Pacific Wild, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia’s north and central coast.

Pacific Wild set goals to educate the world, raise awareness of its cause and share rich media. The organization has found huge success using Hootsuite’s scheduler function to share photographs and live-streamed videos of the Great Bear LIVE project. In addition, it allows the organization to easily track the effectiveness of its campaigns.

E-Offers, E-Newsletters and Blogs

With 91% of the public checking e-mails daily, this form of marketing seems to be one to take advantage of. According to, “A good e-mail campaign is disciplined, consistent and long term. It’s done every time as promised no matter what the result.”

A 2014 study by Convince & Convert showed that 44% of e-mail recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional e-mail, and folks who buy products marketed by e-mails spend 138% more than those who don’t receive the offers.

Effective newsletters are a great way to build loyalty, connect with consumers and make sales. Your newsletter should provide interesting content and be personable and relevant. Build lists of your consumers and create custom templates for different groups using apps such as MailChimp, Constant Contact or Verticle Response. Track feedback, and make changes to get better responses. Make sure there are simple options for sharing on social media. Newsletters can help grow your following.

Track Coverage Through Social Listening

What are they saying about you? Every business should at the very least monitor its name. Google Alerts, the service that lets you track any keyword/phrase, has been the go-to tool for this for many businesses.

However, relative newcomer If This Then That (IFTTT) is like Google Alerts on steroids.

IFTTT allows users to create simple connections between apps like Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, Twitter and Gmail. It also does the same for home devices like Nest Thermostat and Phillips Hue personal wireless lighting.

Other apps are Icerocket (an Internet search engine providing real-time searches for blogs, Tweets, news and images), Socialmention (social media search engine) and Addictomatic (collects information from all major social and news sites for a given search).

Blogging Beyond Your Domain

It’s well known that blogging is an effective tool to drive engagement and brand recognition. According to UMass Dartmouth Charlton College of Business’s Center for Marketing Research, 34% of Fortune 500 companies have a blog strategy to boost web site traffic and conversions. Another tried and true principle is: “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” Reciprocity is one of the biggest rules of effective marketing.

Having a guest blogger not only can build your subscribers by combining audiences, it allows the chance for a testimony to be posted on your site. Working with special interest blogs can further your credibility.

According to, 70% of people like to get to know organizations through articles. Whether it’s done by your company, a blogger in your niche or a business that you’ve collaborated with, guest blogging can widen your reach and business opportunities.

The persistence not only will help influence your audience, it will help you better compete in today’s digital age.

Kristy Cooper is the marketing manager and coordinating producer for Towne Group, a Columbia-based strategic communications company. She can be reached at [email protected].