Running a small business is hard enough without the extra hassle of staying ahead of the curve. If you’re struggling to juggle your time and bogged down in day-to-day routine tasks, don’t worry. There’s help out there…and you don’t have to be a tech-savvy nerd to use it. You just have to find the tools made for everyday business people who don’t have time to become experts in everything.
Easy Marketing Tools to Boost Your Business
Marketing is a challenge for every small business. You hear a lot about “Big Data,” but what’s a small business person supposed to do with that? To use data (big or small) you first need to collect it. And to do that, you need a tool to create landing pages. That’s the page at the end of a “click here” where you ask for personal details in exchange for a free offer, contest entry, newsletter, or other goodie. Most websites just ask for email, but if you’re a business that serves a local area, you might also want to ask for their zip code. Most people will give that up; it’s not too personal.
The landing page generator I like best is LeadPages. It’s easy to use, intuitive, full-featured, and reasonably cheap. You can learn to use it for free before making a decision, and there are templates for lots of different kinds of landing pages.
Once you’ve collected the data, what to do with it? Upload your spankin’ new customer list to an email program like MailChimp, and you can send out an email to everyone in your local area to invite them to drop by for free coffee or a special loyalty discount or reward. Online businesses can offer discounts, an informational ebook, or a gift card. Your offer should depend on your product and appeal to your audience. Mailchimp is a great tool because it helps you craft a more attractive email and segment your list so you only send offers to people who will really want to see them.
Understanding your data will help you better understand what your customers want and need. And that leads to much smarter targeting. DataHero presents your data in a visual display with simple charts and graphs, making it easy to grasp. Using its drag-and-drop analysis tools, you won’t have to pore over confusing data to coax the information you need from an overwhelming information dump, and you don’t need any special knowledge to make sense of it all. DataHero also integrates with many other tools you’re probably using, including MailChimp. Putting your customer data to work just doesn’t get any easier.
Simplify Your Money
Is there anything more tedious (or more necessary) than accounting? How much time do you spend dealing with invoices and billing? My favorite online accounting program is Freshbooks. It has all kinds of features for invoicing, expense tracking, and employee time tracking, and it’s comparatively cheap.
Freshbooks also integrates with another hassle-saving program, Xpenser. If you’re one of those people (like me) who have nightmares around tax time, Xpenser will make your life so much easier. Just use your smartphone to keep track of time, expenses, and receipts. Credit card transactions are even easier. They are imported automatically, categorized, and entered on your expense sheet. All your expenses in one easily searchable place…and no paper. Generate a report or send it to your accounting software with a click. Even from your phone. How’s ‘doing your expense accounting during your morning commute’ for a timesaver?
Build Social Media
Social media is a tremendous gift to small businesses that know how to use it to best advantage, but it can also suck up a lot of time if you’re not careful. Hootsuite is probably the most popular social media management program available. It lets you share posts across a number of channels at once, so you can write one post and send it to three or more social media sites. Plus, you can schedule posts for later, check your dashboard for messages and queries, and respond all from the same page. And since prices start at free for three channels, Hootsuite fits even the tightest small business budget.
Hey, we’re all trying to cram more time into every day, but it’s just not happening. The best we can do is find efficient tools that help us do what we have to do faster and easier, right? The more we can automate the tedious routine stuff, the quicker we can get back to making the cupcakes. Or whatever it is that makes your small business profitable.
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