Digital marketing, social selling, search engine optimization, financial management, and analytics reporting can be complex and time-consuming in 2019. It’s hard to keep everything organized and optimized, especially if you are a solopreneur or a lean startup that’s just getting going.
Luckily there are plenty of great free or affordable programs out there that can help you improve your business performance. When used correctly these programs will save you time, money, and frustration while increasing revenue. These apps, subscriptions and software programs can be life-savers. Here are some of the most effective apps and SaaS programs to help your company in 2019 and beyond:
Founded by SEO and digital marketing expert Neil Patel, CrazyEgg is a nifty tool that lets you track where visitors are scrolling and interacting.
It’s based on a heatmap, scroll map, and overlay report insights. Combined with other analytics tools, it provides invaluable information that can help optimize your website and improve conversions.
Survey Anyplace improves your data collection by improving your surveys. Most surveys today overlook the respondent’s experience, which is why they produce low response rates. Our survey maker creates modern-looking surveys that engage respondents, are easy to answer, and use cutting-edge mobile features – just like your audience! They offer fun, mobile, interactive quizzes and surveys which will help to get a better sense of your users.
If you’re still using archaic programs like word processors or email for everything, you really need to address the efficiency of your note handling. Evernote allows you to clip text and images from online or other documents, tag them to facilitate easy searches and embed images, audio or video files. It’s a great resource for assembling, interrogating and recalling information without having to trawl through dozens or even hundreds of disparate documents. The business version includes administrator controls and unlimited storage space for uploads.
Think of every digital interaction of your day in 2019, and every piece of information you come into contact with as someone handing you their business card. Chances are, you’ll want to put that card away somewhere for your perusal later. Pocket is a means to do exactly that, while affording you similar search and recall protocols as Evernote with the added bonus of being able to search and retrieve everything you store offline.
Never has an app been more aptly named. Wunderlist is essentially a high concept to-do list, that enables you to create task lists and disseminate them among your workforce. Lists sync automatically so everyone on the team can see when a task has been completed. But that’s not all. You can delegate tasks to different users, allocate sub-tasks, add notes, set deadlines and even schedule reminders for different users. The basic version is free while the business version is a very reasonable price per user per month.
The go-to project management tool for a variety of users, Basecamp is favored for its simple interface and intuitive controls. If you can use any social media platform, using this is a breeze! You can invite collaborators, attach files of all kinds, create checklists and even chat within project groups. You can also create workflow calendars and track your project’s progress to ensure productivity among collaborators. For simple projects and small teams, it’s the perfect solution although it may lack the flexibility and density of information required for some projects. Basecamp also charges by the project not the user.
Trello combines Basecamp’s intuitive design with a much more visual drag-and-drop interface. It presents the user with a series of lists and different tasks are represented as cards which can be moved from list to list or moved around depending on their completion status. As with Basecamp, you can attach all sorts of files and assign task cards to different users. Team members can also chat with each other within a specific card. At a low rate per month, it’s pretty easy on the wallet making it essential for small and new businesses.
While we favor the visual layout of Trello, it’s not for everybody. Some people work better with checklists and a text-based interface and these people will certainly get a lot out of Asana. Asana’s USP is its compatibility with a wide range of other essential tools such as Evernote, Google Drive, Slack, MailChimp, ZenDesk and even WordPress. Asana’s basic version is free and accommodates up to 15 users making it ideal for budget-conscious entrepreneurs and smaller enterprises.
Streak is a fantastic CRM tool, that has been created for Gmail users. It is one of the simplest CRM systems and is completely safe to use. It will allow you to track messages and to send your clients marketing emails efficiently and quickly.
If you are a real estate agent, investor, contractor, or property manager then Keyper could be right up your alley. Keyper is a fantastic new technology that allows real estate agents to stay on top of all the endless bundles of keys you have to keep organized on a daily basis. The Keyper Systems is an electronic key management system that allows agents to track and organize all their keys and any copies given to clients. It provides a fantastic solution to the age-old issues of lost keys for agents, which offers peace of mind that costs are reduced and time is not wasted with constantly trying to locate misplaced keys.
Experience management tools are a must-have for any business that has returning customers. Basically, customer experience management software is able to manage every aspect of your employees’ interactions with customers. It can analyze data to work which member of staff is best placed to take a particular call, show customer data on the screen for faster interactions and a whole host of other stuff besides. It really is worth checking out if you want to guarantee customer satisfaction every time.
Using software like AskNicely, which emails customers for a satisfaction rating is a great way to gauge how well your customer service is working so that you can identify areas for improvement and put them into practice quickly.
There are numerous software solutions, like Typeform, which help businesses to create forms that are short, easy to use and optimized for mobile device users. These are great for boosting customer satisfaction in 2019 because they make it a lot more convenient for them to fill in forms when they need help and support or when they want to offer constructive feedback.
It’s not really surprising in this internet age we’re living in, that almost half of all Americans would prefer to speak to customer services via live chat. A lot of people don’t like talking to customer service staff via telephone, and they certainly don’t like being put on hold, so by installing live chat software like Zendesk on your websites, you will immediately see a greater level of customer satisfaction.
It’s fair to say that customers like to feel that they’re valued by the businesses they hand their hard earned money over to. It’s easy to show appreciation to your customers in a brick and mortar store, where you or your staff can thank them personally, but not quite so easy to do the same when you operate online, or at least it wasn’t until now. Thanks to Lucidpress, you can now very easily send your customers a personalized thank you card, which they will appreciate and which will make them think more favorably about their interaction with your company.
If your business is big on social media, then Nimble is a great way to integrate with your clients’ social media profiles. It gleans data from their social profiles and syncs with them meaning that you don’t have to update. In fact, there’s virtually no need for any sort of data entry with Nimble. It even integrates with Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook and Hootsuite. The more you use it, the more it learns about you and prioritizes your relationships.
Insightly offers two apps for the price of one. It’s a great CRM that also features some excellent project management tools, making it a great integrated solution for small businesses looking to double up on their efficiency. Users can categorize their contacts using tags as well as integrating social network profiles just like in Nimble. It’s also a great tool for lead management, allowing you to macro manage your sales funnel and assign team members to various leads at various points in their pipeline.
GreenRope is a web-based CRM (customer relationship management) and marketing platform with custom website and landing page creation as well as content management. It facilitates a range of marketing tasks including email campaigns, drip campaigns, social media, direct marketing, and lead nurturing. You can track the effectiveness of your email campaigns beyond first click to see who is reading, following through, or unsubscribing. Web tracking features also show you the details of your potential customers’ behaviors, and keep you updated to the minute on the way clients are interacting with your brand.
GreenRope is an affordable alternative to Keap (also a good platform) with a rare emphasis on simplicity that makes it an ideal platform for organizing small business marketing initiatives. There is tiered package pricing with free trials so you can see which version works best for your business with no risk.
HubSpot is a free CRM platform with a comprehensive set of bells and whistles. It has all of your digital marketing necessities like automatic tracking of customer activity across email, calls, website, and social media pages. HubSpot allows for a focus on social media with features like bulk social media posting. Its reporting capabilities are more intuitive than many other analytics tools, with metrics and data that are easy to track. It is both a flexible and organized solution for engaging with customers and tracking each aspect of your sales pipeline. And did we mention it’s free? They also offer free HubSpot Academy Certification courses.
For startups that really want to home in on email marketing initiatives, MailChimp is a helpful email marketing software that integrates well with other tools like WordPress and HubSpot. The UI is intuitive and simple to use, making it easy to create email content and manage lists. Some email service providers limit the number of emails you can send at once to prevent spam, but MailChimp is designed to accommodate bulk mailing to an unlimited number of recipients. Its analytics capabilities allow you to know your reach and monitor customer engagement without having to switch to a new platform. MailChimp is designed more for marketing emails than transaction-based emails, meaning it’s more ideal for content like newsletters and promotions sent in bulk, as opposed to messages prompted by user actions.
Constant Contact has always been a big rival with MailChimp for being the brand name in email marketing. It’s been around for a lot longer than any other provider and was the industry leader for a long time until other companies caught up. It’s still a huge company and it’s a great option if Facebook is a big part of your online marketing strategy. Constant Contact has an email option that is designed so users can easily share your newsletter on Facebook. Other providers do have features similar to this but they’re not as focused on that feature as Constant Contact. The big plus with this company is the support. They provide you with plenty of guidance when it comes to growing your subscriber list or best industry practices. If you run into issues you can easily get help, and if you have trouble learning the interface at all there are many resources available to help you find the answers you need. Constant Contact can also be considered the most social media-friendly and has all of the major features of the others noted. If your digital marketing involves Hootsuite, and you focus your efforts on gaining traction on various social media platforms, then this is a great email marketing tool for you.
The big difference with GetResponse is that it’s suited to users who want to complete their newsletter with a landing page or who are offering webinars. If your reason for sending out newsletters is that your business hosts webinars and you’re engaging your users each month then this company is ideal. Within the interface you manage your newsletters with this service also has a tonne of extras specifically for webinars. They have really targeted that market and have features like autoresponders, email reminders, email marketing automation and 1-click logins that make the whole experience easier for you and for your users. Their landing page templates may also appeal to companies who do monthly offerings or sales and need a unique page of content to send the user to. MailChimp is a great service, but if you’re looking for something that offers more services directed at webinars and that allows you to create a custom landing page, then sending users to from your newsletter then this is a better option.
AWeber is an extremely popular option and recommended by many professional marketing companies. It gives you five plans to choose from and a long list of features such as unlimited email marketing campaigns, follow-ups, lists and Auto Responders. Many people believe their Auto Responder platform is superior to other companies, allowing businesses to automate the process of delivering personalized emails to customers on a schedule. GetResponse and AWeber offer similar core features. With AWeber, you pay a monthly fee starting at around $20 based on your list size, allowing you to send out as many campaigns as you wish per month.
While lesser known then Mailchimp and Constant Contact, iContact is still a solid choice (and sometimes more affordable) for your email marketing needs. It has a comprehensive selection of tools, user-friendly interface, and customer service options that will help you with your email campaigns.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive marketing automation platform ideal for business to business application – and don’t mind paying for premium features – you may want to check out Marketo reviews. Like other platforms of its kind, Marketo provides email marketing, SEO, lead nurturing, landing pages, analytics, website personalization, automated social engagement and more. Lead scoring allows you to make sure parties showing an interest in your product receive follow-up communication and guidance as needed. Marketo supports sales goals like product launches and cross-selling + upselling strategies.
An email marketing platform comparable to MailChimp, SendGrid uses cloud-based, secure deliverability. Unlike MailChimp, the focus is more on transactional messages than marketing, meaning this platform is ideal for following up with user actions – whether the user is merely stopping by your website, requires an account notification, or has just purchased a product. If you’re looking to send cold email campaigns, you may prefer an alternative platform, but SendGrid is ideal for companies that want to automate client-branded white label emails relating to transactions and notifications.
It is important that you provide the same message across all elements of the marketing mix. However, sometimes this can be hard with so many social media accounts. Therefore, Buffer allows you to juggle all your platforms by posting to multiple sites at the most optimum time. You can either schedule posts yourself or use Buffer’s powerful algorithms to determine the best time for social media traffic.
Another social media management app, Hootsuite can monitor conversations and post to multiple social media sites. However, what Hootsuite does better than other similar apps is its analytics. The app encourages customer engagement and allows you to track your stats and analyze the progress of your social media presence. You can truly understand what content is providing the best results and what is resonating with your customers. With Hootsuite’s Campaigns App, you can also manage contests and sweepstakes that you are hosting across Instagram and Twitter. They also offer a low priced ($200) Hootsuite Social Media Marketing Certification Course with a certificate that doesn’t expire.
Have you ever wondered what your customers are saying about you? Well, Mention can help keep you in the loop. The app searches through social media, forums, and blogs, to track what is being said about your brand in real time so that you can react immediately. It also looks through these sources to identify what is being said about your competition so that you can stay on top.
Everyone in your company should be a brand ambassador. You should be using a top-down approach to harness your culture and be sure that it is spread to your customers. Therefore, Everyone Social allows everyone in your company to share the same message. Through the app, you can get your company’s content to everyone in your organization so that they can share it on their own personal social media accounts.
Sometimes we run out of things to say, so it’s important to share relevant content from other news or media sources. SoAmpli uses its algorithms to determine what content is most useful to your business. It combs through the Internet and uses customer listening tools to find the most relevant content for your followers so that you can keep them engaged with your brand.
SocialOomph is an affordable social media and content scheduling platform your Facebook, Twitter, Blog, and LinkedIn accounts.
It offers a plethora of additional options including link shortening, tracking, purging tweets or inbox, email features, integration with other platforms, and many other automated intelligent actions. There are various free features and many that require a small biweekly or monthly subscription fee.
Sales management gamification software, such as Agile CRM, ramps up competition among sales executives with side-by-side comparisons of individuals’ performance, deals won, deals lost, deals in pipeline, number of calls made in a day-week-month, revenue generated and a lot more. This develops a healthy competition driving you to prioritize work without any supervision. Plus, research shows that employees who have autonomy over their schedules work harder.
With Zoho, the KPIs that you feed into your system to track the performance of your team can be customized or put into pre-built templates for better management. This tool will also report on team capabilities by showcasing exactly where your team excels and where they need more training.
Sales Cloud by Salesforce gives you a long list of features ranging from contact management to sales forecasting and email integration. Sales Cloud handles your sales team issues about how to sell smarter with Salesforce.
WordPress is perhaps one of the most popular tools for the creation, and management of websites today. A number of enterprise-level organizations have also utilized this software to create content to be discovered as well. So how exactly can you use WordPress for business? WordPress can help you manage content for your website (it is a content management system after all). Furthermore, many use WordPress for business blogging to help improve SEO. Anyone within the realm of marketing can agree that blogging is still a powerful mechanism for drawing organic traffic to your site.
WordPress can also be utilized to create an eCommerce site. It is inherently easier and more cost-effective to reach consumers online, especially those who run small product businesses. With a multitude of free themes and plugins (namely “WooCommerce”), you can be minutes away from creating a WooCommerce eCommerce site and harnessing the power of WordPress for business.
In addition to its extensive list of other applications, many have contributed to WordPress through creating plugins that can improve content SEO for your business. One of the most popular SEO tools that can be used with WordPress is Yoast. Yoast is an SEO plugin that assists you in optimizing articles to assure maximum reach through an intelligent keyword and “readability” algorithm. Not only will it alert you of keyword optimization, but also where you can improve run-on sentences, stop-words, and even the meta description.
For SEO tracking purposes overall I’d definitely pick SEMrush as one of the best SEO rank tracking tools for marketers. SEMrush includes a wide variety of features for website audits, social media monitoring, rank tracking, backlink auditing, competitive analysis, link building, keyword research, on-page SEO suggestions, and paid vs organic search analysis. It has an incredibly comprehensive offering for a reasonable price to help optimize your websites and track your competitors in detail. I’ve been successfully using SEMrush for years so I find it easier to use than some of the other options available.
Google Search Console
Google Analytics is always a valuable resource but I always like to also check out the versatile tool Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools). It allows webmasters and bloggers to check on the indexing status of web pages, keywords, search impressions, click-through-rate, and ranking for keywords. It also allows you to quickly and easily submit sitemaps or submit individual pages to index. You can also check to see if there are any crawling or indexing errors or pages that aren’t mobile friendly. There are countless other features but it’s a great free and user-friendly tool for website developers or bloggers of all levels.
AdWords is Google’s own advertising program, allowing businesses to pay to appear in search results, network websites, and YouTube videos. AdWords is the world’s largest digital advertising platform over Facebook but it can be a little expensive, especially if you’re not an AdWords expert. You only pay if a customer actually clicks on your ad (or sees a thousand impressions), so your budget should translate into leads. There is plenty of expertise online to guide you if you need assistance. And you can consult a Google Adwords consultant for help on your strategy and finding the right keywords to target.
Another necessity for company organization is assuring proper cloud storage for business. Having the ability to both access and sync files with every member of your team regardless of location is invaluable to project management. Introducing NextCloud, the lesser known of major cloud storage platforms. Although, the most popular when it comes to open source cloud software. NextCloud can be used as cloud storage for business as well as personal, every-day use. If you’ve ever used platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive, you will find yourself more than comfortable with NextCloud’s simple user interface. Users of NextCloud also have access to a free file sync client which will automatically sync files into your NextCloud server.
The more a business grows, the more detrimental it becomes to keep on top of project management. It can be easy to lose track of a particular project, or miscommunicate changes with your team. This is where Redmine comes in. Redmine is an all-in-one project management tool with built-in issue tracking, gantt charts, version control, and many other features any business can benefit from. Additionally, you can assign users, groups, and roles to easily navigate through specific tasks and their respective assigned individuals. A comprehensive project management tool will help your small business coordinate tasks and reach completion goals quicker.
First off, what exactly is a VPN? VPNs were initially developed to allow for secure remote access to business applications and resources. A VPN allows for a private network to be extended across a public network. This allows for end-users to transfer and receive data while keeping their own information (like their IP address) completely masked. Setting up a business VPN can be tricky for newcomers (hence why the IT guy is typically the one to properly configure everything), albeit there are simpler options to host a cloud VPS as an OpenVPN access server.
A business VPN will ultimately give you the power to keep company and employee data secure. This is especially true (and most commonly used) when on remote public networks. For example, if sensitive documents need to be accessed while you’re at Starbucks, the network will be accessed as if your laptop is connected to the private network and therefore, masked and secured.
With brand evangelist Guy Kawasaki on board with Canva and leader Melanie Perkins, you know it’s going to be a great website! You can create custom dimensions up to 5000 x 5000 pixels but they offer dozens of templates based on social media image specifications, flyers, eBook covers, banner ads, and so much more. Add backgrounds, use exact HTML color codes (which you can find on other free websites), upload images, resize, layer, add text, and enjoy several other features. Save and download your files in seconds as standard or compressed JPG or PDF’s. You can even share your images with the world or keep them private. And yes, they do have high-quality stock images you can pay for, as well as a Canva For Business paid memberships. Thank you to founder and CEO Melanie Perkins for creating this simple and effective graphic design program.
Online Image Editor
A great quick and dependable site for converting images to PNG, making backgrounds transparent with a single click, and creating GIF’s. It also offers a plethora of other image editing features like borders, cropping, re-sizing, round corners, masks, merging, sharpening, and various text tools. Plenty of fun options here but some simple business applications as well.
Fotoflexer offers a wide variety of options to build and customize your images from scratch. More advanced features like distortions, retouching and laying help to set this apart from other free online platforms. You can also edit images from Photobucket, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and other existing websites. I have had it slow down or freeze on me on occasion (it doesn’t save automatically) but overall it can be pretty effective. And I do love the variety of unique fonts that they offer which can’t be found on most other free online image editors. While it’s less unique and useful than it used to be, it still deserves consideration in 2019 if you are on a bootstrapped budget.
This is an effective, quick, and free site for converting images of all types to and from JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, SVG, TIFF, and many others. And images are just the tip of the iceberg on this versatile site that takes care of all your needs from Audio, Video, Powerpoint, Excel, Word, and pretty much anything else you can think of. The only downside is the high number of ads displayed that can slow down the site a little bit.
Small PDF is another great converter website tool that allows you to convert various files to images, vice versa, or pull individual images from a large PDF file. Also helpful to split PDF’s or merge them together. Quick and dependable with only 1 ad you have to deal with per page.
When I Work
Shift scheduling can be difficult and time-consuming if you are in the customer service industry, and done wrong it can cause many problems. Your employees may have families, other jobs, and do to the unsociable hours of shift work, have other things they need to spend their time on. When I Work is a free app that is used to make this easier. All of your employees can say when they can and cannot work, meaning all of this information is in one place. Covering shifts and requesting holidays is also all done on the app. Simple, but genius, this is a must for many businesses as it can save you a lot of time with trying to schedule shifts and get them covered.
Many businesses require appointments or classes to be booked and paid for, and there is of course software out there to make this simple, and you can find them at Calendar Spots. This software can all be used by employees, staff, and receptionists to book appointments or classes. It also has features such as waiting lists, payment tracking and easy management tools too. If you run a gym, or a beauty salon, this kind of software can be really useful to streamline your business. This way you, and your employees time, can be better spent, ensuring your business runs smoothly and efficiently.
Google Docs might seem can obvious choice, but can utilized many different ways, for many different professions. It can be used for any kind of collaborative writing projects used by students or professionals. It also allows you to track the changes made and allows others to edit the work. If you want to avoid a long paper trail and keep everyone up to date on documents for the office, or next publication for your website, this is ideal. You do need an internet connection in order for it to work, but this shouldn’t be a problem in this day and age.
If you lose all your online files, appointments, projects, client information or any kind of documents concerning your business, this could potentially be fatal. Manually backing up your files is an option, but realistically this will get done a lot less. This is why online backup services like Mozy are so useful and becoming increasingly essential to modern businesses. It saves whatever you need saving, and does so in real time or even while you are sleeping. No one expects disastrous events that mean you need to access backed up files, but backing up online definitely has a distinct advantage compared to manually backing up files.
Communicating in small or large company can be challenging, particularly when the projects you are talking about are constantly changing. Slack is an app service that enables employees to talk about work and projects, in an efficient way. This means employees don’t always need to be present to know information, and the conversations can be archived and searched for, for extra efficiency. It works alongside other apps for graphs, charts or creative pieces that can be shared and commented on by everyone. Social media is often an inconvenient and inefficient way for employees to communicate and share projects, so software such as this can be really useful. This improves workflow, communication, and ultimately means creating and finishing projects can be done faster and with less stress for everyone.
Managing the books can be a worrisome and time-consuming task, but there is software that can put all this information in one place, to save you some peace of mind. Quickbooks is an accounting app that stories and calculates all the facts and figure to do with your business. You can: connect your accountant, track any mileage you have, calculate VAT and run the payroll for your employees. Having all this information in one place, and being able to edit settings from your phone, saves you some time and lets you know how your accounts are looking.
Freshbooks is also another viable option and alternative to Quickbooks, which could be beneficial for small businesses or even simple bookkeeping. Freshbooks also utilizes a cloud-based system.
This is something to think about for larger businesses or expanding ones. There is lots of software to help you manage hiring externally and internally from your company. BambooHR is one of many software programs out there that enable to see the CVs of all of your staff and an employee database and records. This enables you to hire internally in an efficient way, and see who is right for the job. This HR and payroll software also enables you to access data that is concerned with external hiring practices. It allows you to compare and contrast job openings, which get the most applicants and know your applicant to hire ratio. The Applicant Tracking System is great for hiring, reaching the right candidates, and viewing which applicants are good to hire internally.
Double Up Productivity For Your Digital Team In 2019
Using some of the software programs and apps mentioned above can take your business to the next level and keep it growing in 2019 and beyond. There are countless other amazing online tools, programs, and apps that can help benefit your business. If you have a suggestion for a very helpful marketing, social media, CRM, finance, scheduling, or HR tool then please Contact Bootstrap Business and I may be able to add it to this list.