So many small businesses start out with the idea of being the owner’s express ticket out of the rat race. The dream is late morning starts and afternoons off, free from the constraints of the nine to five.
Too often, leaving the nine to five ends up working five to nine as the list of tasks stretches beyond the horizon. The truth for many business owners is that running your own show makes the ‘rat race’ look like a walk in the park. This is because well as doing what you do, you now have to take care of sales, marketing, invoicing and all the other parts of running a business you never even knew about.
If you truly want to be that business owner who has time up their sleeve, you have to get savvy about the way you do things. It’s all about working smarter instead of harder, with software and automated systems that take care of the grunt work for you.
Take a look at some of small business tools which can give you hours back in your day
InfusionSoft is my preferred marketing automation platform. With it, you basically have a sales and marketing operative in your corner, 24/7. This platform lets you:
- Organise your clients and prospects with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system
- Keep in touch and follow up with automated email marketing
- Take care of social marketing
- Gain insights with lead scoring
- Sell online using e-commerce shopping carts
- View, manage and report on all sales and marketing activity
The idea with InfusionSoft is to get organised, grow sales and save time. There are hundreds of options within the system to help you create segments, send personalised messages and keep an eye on your business progress. The pricing depends on the size and nature of your business so you need only sign up for the features your business requires.
We have all spent a few minutes filling out those quizzes on Facebook telling us which city we should be living in, which job we should have and which character on Lord of the Rings we are most like (I’m Gandolf, of course).
People like quizzes because they are interactive and on a psychological level they play to their self-interest and desire to define themselves.
LeadQuizzes has tapped into this by creating a quiz creation platform for small business. This clever software helps you generate a quiz with a few simple steps. You can share your quiz as a lead magnet on your website, post it as a Facebook ad or email it to your customers with the help of your automated email marketing system.
You can also be more clever and ask your clients for their email address before you share their results with them.
[LeadQuizzes: You choose the questions, you set the results]
Quizzes work because they are a bit of fun and are a great way to engage with your audience. Again, the amount of money you spend on sharing quizzes with your leads and clients will depend on the size of your business.
Would famous author Ernest Hemingway turn in his grave if he knew his name was now synonymous with basic text editing? At least it keeps him relevant.
If writing is not your forte, Hemingway is your free online editor. Simply draft a piece of text then copy and paste it into the website. The program will give you a score and you can make changes based on its suggestions. It highlights which of your sentences are a little too long and the ones which go on forever. Hemingway also gives you hints about where you can be more succinct and points out superfluous adverbs.
You don’t have to get a perfect score but you can definitely improve your writing with the help of this web-based app.
[7 out of 10… not bad!]
If you have a website and don’t use analytics, well there’s almost no point having a website!
Free to use, Google Analytics gives you a world of information about your users and their habits. You can find out where they live (by country), how long they spend on your site and which pages are visited the most.
Use Analytics to check out which websites your traffic is coming from and even what age the bulk of your users are. The system can also provide insights into how many of your users come to you via a hand-held device and who uses a desktop computer, which is good to know if you are considering a website upgrade.
Every single piece of information from Google Analytics can be used to define your target audience and improve your strategy. For example, if you notice you are popular with a specific age bracket, you can refine your content and your product to better suit the needs of this demographic. If visitors aren’t spending a lot of time on your site, this may be evidence that you need to update the copy or functionality.
To start using Google Analytics, you need a small piece of code added to your website. Your developer can help you with this then you can set up the account from there.
Enter your web address into this tool from Hubspot and get an idea of whether you need to improve your load times, your responsiveness (e.g. whether your site needs to look better on mobile), your search engine performance and/or your security.
All the elements in Website Grader are important to provide a quality user experience, enhance your discoverability and keep your users’ information safe.
[This writer’s website gets a good score across the board]
The good news is that if you get a poor score you can take it to your web developer or marketing team and let them know specifically what you need improved on. The security certificate in particular is an easy fix with a small upgrade.
HotJar takes Google Analytics and raises the bar, giving you even more details about the way users visit and interact with your website.
You can see a visual representation of which links users are clicking on most via a heat map. Find the biggest opportunities for improvement by identifying on which page and at which step most visitors are leaving your site.
[Get to know what your customers are thinking with Hot Jar]
HotJar also allows you to gain user feedback by adding simple surveys and polls which appear when a user clicks to leave your site. This software can be easily incorporated with a number of website platforms including WordPress, Weebly, Drupal and Shopify.
For absolute pennies, or even for free, you can use Canva and become an instant graphics expert. Design promotional graphics, letterheads, brochures, newsletter graphics and so much more with a simple click and drag interface.
[Create graphics like this in minutes]
Canva images look professional and can be created in a matter of minutes from thousands of templates, icons, fonts and free graphics.
Open Site Explorer (Moz)
In the confusing world of search engines, Moz can help shed some light on the quality of your website.
The platform’s Open Site Explorer can give you an idea (out of 100) of how likely your site is to rank well on search engines and gives you the data you need to work on link building for your site (link building is getting other sites to link to your website).
[Find out more about the competition’s linking domains]
The more external sources send traffic to your website, the more Google and other search engines believe it to be reputable so OSE can really come in handy.
Once you have explored the ins and outs of how your site is performing, the sneaky trick is to start analysing your competitors. Take a look at their ranking and where they are getting traffic from and you can start to come up with strategies to overtake them. Yes, it’s a little sneaky but you can guarantee they will be doing the same to you once you rise up the ranks of the Google results pages.
Once upon a time, lifting the ‘hood’ of a website meant looking at a confusing tangle of code.
WordPress changes all this with an easy to use page and blog post interface. Once you have had the help of a developer to build your (mobile responsive, secure) site, you should be able to make small changes and post new content with ease.
WordPress is also able to integrate with plugins, functions and features that allow you to post advertisements and sell to your users. Compared to other DIY programs like Weebly and Wix, it offers great flexibility and you can add in bespoke elements as needed.
WordPress offers plugins to help you maximise SEO and generally speaking is easy to get the hang of using.
You don’t have to use every single one of these tools but you may be able to make the most of some to optimise your business marketing and performance.
Confused about where to start with marketing and online tools? Get in touch and let’s streamline your business.