Getting your Small Business to become a household name in today’s competitive market can be quite the challenge. Where do you start? How do you build your audience? And once you have a noticeable audience, how do you build a strong campaign not only to acquire new customers but also to retain them?
At Blue Edge Business Solutions, we have built a list of tools that will make your life easier and get your small business off the ground in record time.
Template Easy to Build Websites
Wix: Wix.com gives its subscribers the tools to build a website from templates. There are an abundance of templates available for many business categories. Wix allows you to create the perfect website precise to your ideas ranging from a wedding registry to a more complex e-commerce business. Users have the option to host the site for free and use a domain with a wix prefix or pay a few dollars monthly to connect your customized domain. There are many widgets available to customize your website and stand out from competitors. Wix carries a rating of 4.8 stars on websitebuilderexpert.com.
Squarespace: Much like Wix, Squarespace is a website that allows the members to build a free website using their online tools. Squarespace was founded in 2004 and carries a 4.4 star rating on websitebuilderexpert.com. Squarespace gives its members the ability to change templates at any time without losing the content, this is a feature that isn’t available with Wix; however, Squarespace carries only about 40 templates compared to Wix’s 500+. The Squarespace technical support team vows to respond to all emails within 1 hour, which is very impressive.
Monthly cost- both websites carry a pretty similar pricing structure.
Social Media Management Tools
Crowdfire: Crowdfire is a website and mobile app that allows you to connect your Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest, and Instagram accounts under one application allowing for convenience and ease of access. The app analyzes your accounts, allows you to enter information about your industry and then gets right to work, with this service you can setup an autoresponder on Twitter to welcome all of your new followers to your clan. Crowdfire gives you “prescriptions” each day which are recommendations on profiles you should follow, unfollow, like, and retweet. The service understands your objective and sets you up to expand your reach and following, we’ve found this to be most useful for Twitter as Instagram and Facebook severely restrict automated use.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite allows you to manage all of your social media from one place and follow streams for certain keywords of interest to your small business. It’s definitely a time saving app that allows you to post across several platforms without having to log on to each. Hootsuite also provides several tools for collaboration among your team. The app is free but the paid version which allows more features is available for a small monthly cost. Overall a good service that can get you some extra leads by monitoring your stream.
With Hootsuite you also receive free (but relevant) articles recommendations to post as “fillers” in between your posts.
Buffer: Like Hootsuite, Buffer offers social media management tools across different platforms which makes it easy to manage all of your accounts from one place. There is an option for a free version which allows for up to 10 schedule posts per month, more features are available with paid versions that range from $10/month for single users to $399/month for large enterprises.
Like Hootsuite, Buffer offers an auto schedule feature to post your content during the best times for social media release.
The “Pablo” version of Buffer offer an image creation service to enhance your posts.
Business Listings and Webmaster Tools
Google Search Console: You have your brand new website nice and ready, now what? Google offers a free webmaster service which allows you to submit sitemaps and “fetch as Google” to crawl your website faster and make it available for Google searches.
But one of the great things about Google Search console is the data it provides which gives users a clear breakdown of Keywords, Click through Rate, Impressions, and Position, this is information that can help you monitor your website’s success and opportunities.
Google Business: This is a MUST HAVE for any business, Google Places for Business is a place where customers can find your phone number, website, address, and leave reviews. It’s extremely important to engage your customers that leave reviews as Google will use the information listed in this directory as a factor for ranking of your website and Business page. Its super easy to setup and usually takes a few days while you wait for the verification process to be complete (usually done by mail or phone).
Bing Business: The process to verify your Business listing with Bing is almost identical to Google’s even though Bing is not the search engine of choice for many users, we still recommend registering your business through this platform.
Schema.org: Want rich cards, bread crumbs, or structured data for your site? Schema.org makes that easy. One great future of Schema is that you can list your social profiles on your Google business page by installing the right code on your site. Schema makes that easy.
Ripl: Ripl is a mobile app to help you create “live” designs for your social media posts, the service is free; however it limits you to the amount of designs you can edit. Most of the pictures provide some type motion design to grab the attention of your consumers. Great concept app but we found it a little limited.
Canva: This is a great resource for those that want to create quick and easy designs for their social media posts. Canva automatically changes the size of the images to make them social media platform friendly. All versions (free and paid) provide access to over 30,000 High Definition images with a commercial license, the images can be edited to include your logo, caption, and make additional edits to best fit your needs. Keep in mind the free version only allows 2 downloads per month, while the paid plan of $9.99/month allows unlimited downloads!
Design Pickle: Design pickle offer unlimited web design services with unlimited edits for only $370/month, the service begins with a 14 day free trial to give you taste of their work. They call themselves your personal web designer and currently have a 9.1/10 NPS rating. There is a portfolio available on their website to give you an idea of their work. If you have a need for lots of designing, we definitely recommend checking out their services as $370/month for unlimited web design work is very hard to beat nowadays.
Customer Relationship Management
Zoho: This is a great CRM tool that offers a lot more than just lead management and follow up, Zoho can help you build surveys for your customers, customized campaigns, projects, and store documents, this is a relatives inexpensive CRM tools that increase your team’s productivity and really kick your small business in high gear.
Sales Force: This CRM tool offers a ton of services but at a cost. Sales Force has been the industry standard for many years and a staple of many large organizations. Most of their services are cloud based and easily accessible by all of your team members regardless where they are. If you’re considering investing in a strong CRM tool, Sales Force is the one for you.
Fiverr: This is an open market for anything in the realm of digital services, the prices start at only $5 per gig but from experience it can be a hit or miss, with Fiverr you can buy “gigs” which range from writing, web design, and SEO to Green screen video production. Unfortunately, if you aren’t happy with the work you receive, getting a refund isn’t simple. With Fiverr you pay for your services upfront but your investment will be in the $5 range for most services.
Freedcamp.com is a website that offers free collaboration amongst your team. This is a site where you can begin threads for discussion, upload files and share ideas. Freedcamp allows you to designate tasks, monitor output, and stay involved with the status of incomplete projects. This site resembles basecamp in many ways, but as the name states, it does not cost you a penny. If you or any of your team members work remotely, this is a great service.