Starting a business has been made much easier by the huge number of online tools available. Many are very affordable and mean you can carry out activities that used to require a programmer even if you have no coding skills.
The flip side of this is that the sheer range of tools you could choose from is overwhelming. Read on to find out the top ten tools you’re likely to need, plus some suggestions of products to try.
Email marketing service
This is first in the list because it’s a crucial part of your marketing strategy, whether your business is online or bricks-and-mortar. Why? Because you need to keep in touch with your prospects and customers, and – despite all the hype about social media – email is still the most cost-effective way to do this. The best place to start is to write down what you want to be able to do with your email service, plus your budget, then find a tool that meets this need. Many small businesses start with Mailchimp’s free service but there are great alternatives including Constant Contact, Get Response, ConvertKit and Aweber.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
You need a customer database with your customers’ names, addresses and a record of what they’ve bought and when you’ve had contact with them. This is what a customer relationship management does at its most basic, but it can do much more, including marketing automation. You can begin with an Excel spreadsheet, but you’ll probably want to move on to a tool like Capsule CRM before too long. You could also look at tools like Hubspot.
Organization / project management tools
Need to stay on top of your to do list? Try Todoist, or if your needs are more project management that to do list, try Trello or Asana.
Social media scheduling and analytics tool
There’s no doubt about it, social media can be a huge time-suck. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can help (if used effectively), and they also provide reports on your social media stats, so you can see how many likes, shares and comments your social media posts have achieved.
If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your website, go do it now! It’s almost certainly your best tool for tracking visits and views to your website, as well as where your traffic is coming from.
And speaking of traffic, there are many search engine optimization tools you can use to make sure your content gets seen, such as WordPress plugins Yoast and All in One SEO pack.
Data management platform
Larger businesses that handle a lot of data could well need master data management tools such as Profisee.
Often, these tools will need to ‘speak’ to one another. The good news is that you can set this up using tools such as Zapier and IFTTT (If this, then that).
Accounts and finance tools
It goes without saying that you’ll need to keep on top of your finances. Take a look at Xero, Freshbooks and Wave.
And finally, remote working means that many of us need to share files across long distances. Check out services like Dropbox and Google Drive for this.