Post by: Mekelle Bess
The business world is rapidly changing and growing. So naturally, the digital marketing and social media tools we implement are evolving as well.
When it comes to digital tools for small business, understanding everything and deciding what you need can be overwhelming! It seems everyday there is a new software to learn to be successful.
From starting out and choosing a website/domain host, to choosing accounting software such as Quickbooks or FreshBooks, there is always something new– making decisions tougher to make and software harder to learn.
So, as a small business owner myself I understand how you feel. I’ve been there. Which is one reason why I’m writing this article and posting links to some of the best (in my opinion) small business marketing software and digital marketing tools.
Types of Software Tools:
- Domain/Website Hosting
- Email Hosting
- Content Hosting Tool
- Accounting Software
- Marketing Email Service Provider (ESP)
- Analytics Software
- Social Media Platforms/Posting Software
- Reporting Tools
- Project Management Tools
- CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)
This is an important step to starting a business. Most people will first find your business or brand online. Having a high quality website, that is mobile optimized, is critical to your success.
The second step is making sure that when people try to find you, that your site is up and running and that you have a mobile website that accessible from any mobile device or tablet. There are many choices for website and domain hostings such as WordPress, Go Daddy, Wix, and more. Each one has its own pros and cons.
Personally, we prefer to primarily use Go Daddy Pro. It is an easy way for us to manage our domains, website hosting, Office 365 email accounts, and more in one place. However, it’s important for you to do your research and find out which is right for you!
Email hosting for your small business is another often overlooked part of digital marketing. One thing is for sure… make sure you have a custom branded email address! You don’t want to have people email you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Verisign, 65% of consumers believe that a company branded email is more credible than a free email account such as Gmail or Yahoo. This may seem like a no brainer, but many small businesses we meet are still using non-branded email addresses–killing their credibility!
Content hosting is an interesting topic. Every business creates content! Whether these are images used on social media or blog posts written each month, everyone creates content. There are many ways to host that content from your Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage to DropBox folders online. Most of these hosting services are cloud-based for ease of use and on-the-go availability.
These services are sometimes included with other software purchases. For example, OneDrive comes with Microsoft Office 365 if you use their suite of software products. Each of these hosting providers have different characteristics. We have found that it’s most effective for us to combine some of our software features. We use a project management software that includes content hosting, as well as hosting through our WordPress website for downloadable content from our blog posts. Using a reliable project management software systems will save you a lot of headache when it comes to sharing, commenting on and editing documents and files within your business and even with clients.
Everyones favorite topic… accounting! Sarcasm aside accounting is an important part of any small business. Keeping track of invoices, proposals, and expenses for your own sanity and for your accountant is important to your success. There are many choices when it comes to accounting software.
One of the biggest deciding factors is the compatibility of each software system with your accountant. Some accountants have preferences and many only work with QuickBooks (since it’s one of the original software options). We use FreshBooks at Problem Solver’s. FreshBooks allows us to combine our proposals, estimates, expenses and invoices in one place. It integrates with our CRM and with our accountant (who we actually found through FreshBooks from their list of providers who integrate with their software). We are very happy with FreshBooks and recommend them to other small business owners, especially service-based businesses.
Email Service Provider (ESP)
Email hosting is a web hosting service that allows you to create and host a website from a professional business address. There are a lot of options to choose from, but the key is finding services that offer features you are looking for.
Many email hosting packages will offer features like free domain registration, website building tools and other marketing and SEO features that are helpful when it comes to planning your website and email address. Check out 10 of the best rated email hosting services.
Analytics software usually include report automation and dashboard tools that connect directly to your Google analytics and databases. Choose one that is easy to use, then share and collaborate with your team and clients. Most offer free trials and trainings to make implementation easy.
Social Media Platforms/Posting Software
Organization is a key to successful digital marketing initiatives and management of your social platforms. So, using a social media management software, tool or agency (we can help you!) can be helpful, especially as you get started.
Online reporting tools will help you extract and present data in charts, tables and other visual aids. Reporting tools are usually an application within business software suits and can vary in complexity. Here’s a quick comparison of the leading reporting software/tools: https://www.capterra.com/reporting-software/
Project Management Tools
Project management tools can help you organize timesheets, projects, invoices and more. They help your team see the status of each project and will update daily as team members work on personal task lists. Set deadlines, assign tasks, attach project documents and more using project management tools. We’ve found basecamp to be a user-friendly, easy way to manage our projects, but a lot of our clients also prefer Asana, Scoro, Trello and more.
CRM (Customer Relationship Manager)
A CRM software is designed to help with a broad range of business processes including sales automation, email automation, customer data, sales leads, customer integration, clients and contracts, documents and resources, sales trainings and more. They make it easy to manage business-customer relationships. Hubspot is a leader in the CRM software industry, as well as Freshsales and Pipedrive.
Integrating digital marketing tools and software like these doesn’t have to be complicated. Each of these in their own ways is designed to make your life easier, while growing your business and nurturing your leads.
We often get asked what tools we use at our digital agency. Here’s a link to 18 tools you can use to help with your digital marketing.For more information on integrating digital marketing tools, contact us today!