This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.

When you’re a small business owner, you’re expected to keep a lot of different operations up and running without fail.

Things like customer service, inventory control and marketing absolutely cannot be overlooked — they’re the heart and soul of your business. Luckily, there’s a lot of great software out there that can help you keep your marketing efforts running smoothly and improve your process from start to finish.

This series will highlight eight of our favorites, including:

WordPress. If you’ve never owned a website or simply need something easy to maintain with a simple shopping cart and a blog, WordPress is your go-to remedy. You can choose to host your WordPress site at WordPress.com and have access to limited tools or self-host using the same software and have a larger choice of thousands of plug-ins and themes. It’s a powerful platform that can be made to do almost anything you can imagine when you’re ready.

Visual Website Optimizer. Once your site is up and running, you’re going to want to figure out how to make it do even better. You can get enormous improvement in lead generation and sales simply by tweaking elements of your site. This is where A/B testing comes in. For example, you might have some products that aren’t performing as well as you expected. By using A/B testing with different descriptions, you can finely tune that product until it’s flying off the shelves. Tools like Visual Website Optimizer make A/B testing a breeze and provide ample data so you can decide for yourself which version of that description is getting the best results.

Buffer. Like HootSuite, Buffer is a powerful social media management tool that can help you shave hours off the time you spend on social media marketing. You can connect accounts from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, schedule posts, see how your posts are performing and add outside RSS feeds to help you cultivate better shareable content. It’s like a one-stop master control panel for all your small business social media needs.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Although keywords should never be the only focus of your content marketing plan, you need to know what keywords are important for your company to show up in the right searches. Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a free tool that will let you see keywords that are related to your search, how often those keywords are being searched and how much competition there is for each particular search term.

Armed with this much knowledge, you can choose to use keywords that perform better or have less competition, depending on your marketing needs. Readability should always be your primary focus, but when it comes down to choosing between using the phrase “evergreen shrubs” (14,800 average monthly searches) and “evergreen plants” (5,400 average monthly searches), it’s clear which one can drive a lot more traffic.

These are just a start of the list of marketing tools you need to have in place right now — after all, they’ll save you time, give you more information and help you improve your business marketing with very little effort. As your phones start ringing off the hook, don’t forget to hire an answering service to help you keep on top of the new business opportunities coming your way. In part two of this series, we’ll explore even more great tools for small business marketing.