October 9, 2017

11 Digital Tools for Small Businesses

Let's Review 11 Digital Tools for Small Businesses to Prosper Online

Have you heard that 90% of businesses fail within the first year? Well, this isn’t exactly true, it’s more like in the first 10 years. This makes sense though, right? Starting a business is a lot of hard work, especially if it’s your first business. So, what can one do to make their life easier? Well, today we’re going to cover the Top 11 Digital Tools for Small Businesses in this week’s Momentum Monday Marketing Blog.

Well, let’s talk about how businesses can thrive instead of fail using technology! Here are 11 different digital tools I use and suggest as a small business owner and technology enthusiast.

1. Google Suite

Google has a business package where one can not only get an email address, but they can get a majority of their digital assets needed to start a small business digital presence: Gmail, Google Calendar, Domain, Website Builder, Drive (cloud storage), Adwords, Analytics, Google Sheets, Docs, and much much more. This package is a seemingly easy and affordable way to start your digital presence online. Many companies, including my own, prefer to use Google for a variety of digital needs due to the interconnectivity and ease of use. Their packages come with unlimited storage, additional users (for a small fee), data migration, mobile apps, live support, and much more!

    • Pricing
      • $5-$25 month per user
    • Key Takeaway
      • All-in-one digital solutions for getting your business online

2. Google My Business

Ever wonder how to get your business to show up online from people searching on Google and Google Maps? Google My Business (also known as GMB and previously know as Google Places), allows a business to ‘register’ their business online so that people can find your hours, location, phone number and more. This is a great tool to focus on for getting more recognition and customers for those searching for your products and services locally. GMB is making a lot of changes to improve the listings tool by allowing for Posts, Virtual Tours, Messaging, and more. If used and optimized correctly, GMB can drive a lot of new business and phone calls for no cost at all. Do you have a local business and want to know how well it’s performing? Use this free local SEO scan tool to find out.

    • Pricing
      • FREE
    • Key Takeaway
      • Quickest, Easiest & Cheapest marketing option for local service businesses that people use Google to find

3. Google Voice

Are you looking for a free phone number? Well, look no further! Google Voice has been around almost 15 years, but has been mostly underutilized in most regards. G Voice (as it’s also known by), saves business owners a lot of money and headaches. Essentially, you can register your G Voice number and download the app (or not) and have it synced to 6 different phone numbers. The only limitation is that you can only register your phone number that it forwards to one time, meaning you can’t have multiple G Voice numbers going to your same cell phone number.  Not only does the app allow you to place and receive calls, you can also send and receive sms text messages. This application was forgotten about by Google developers for a few years, but just recently had some updates that enabled a new interface and additional features for simultaneous calling. Check out this Google Support article if you’re looking to get started with G Voice for the first time!

    • Pricing
      • FREE
    • Key Takeaway
      • Easy & Free way to have a business number that you can control the calls, messaging and settings from an application.

4. Slack

This might be the most popular Silicon Valley startup and software communication tool. Slack is known and used my millions now across the world to help reduce the clutter of email. This communication platform is a standalone product to help create efficiencies in communication, teamwork, collaboration and workflow. Having started with Slack over 2 years ago, one thing has become apparent, as communication increases with growth and hiring, this platform has proven to be the most reliable innovation for business operations. Growth Hacking is a must in today’s business landscape, and Slack is a tool that allows for just that. Most people have 1 account, but many entrepreneurs quickly realize first hand how this can improve the management of time and employees. This tool is free, and not an end-all solution for business applications, but it saves a lot of time and money. Last but not least, let’s not forget how this product integrates with a lot of other tools and resources such as Zapier, Google, Salesforce, ToDo, Zoom and hundreds more!

    • Pricing
      • FREE to $15/month (Freemium)
    • Key Takeaway
      • Makes team communication so much easier. Replacing the email.

5. CallRail

Phone calls are incredibly important for many small business owners. However, most businesses simply have one phone number they use for everything. This causes issues when running different marketing campaigns and advertising objectives, not to mention the limits a standard phone number can have for connectivity and call flows. Not only does CallRail allow you to choose a local number, you can also have that number provide a variation of lead flow management and reporting. CallRail is more than just call tracking, you can have your phone numbers route to multiple phones simultaneously, while also using whisper messages, automation, synchronization, voiceover, and more. A few favorite features include Call Recording and review, linking of data reporting platforms (Google Analytics), and real-time tracking. This is a pivotal marketing platform for small businesses owners to test and track various marketing tactics such as digital ads, print, billboard, social media, etc!

    • Pricing
      • $30+ per month
    • Key Takeaway
      • Allows for truly advanced marketing tests and call management

6. Tawk.to

Chatbots are the hot topic right now, especially for marketing automation. Although they aren’t necessarily a new feature to add to your website, platforms like Tawk.To can quickly and easily add a level of professionalism to any small business. Both my companies use Tawk.To for a variety of reasons, but mostly to give our potential customers quick real-time answers. This level of customer experience and appreciation goes a long way. With Tawk.To, you can add multiple users who can all chat at once, and even have different levels of access. The platform setup is very quick and easy with basic coding to integrate onto the website. There’s a plethora of features including branding, auto responders, user interface customization, tracking, alerts, email capture and much more! Other than the simple fact that this platform is free, many would have to agree that the mobile app for responding is a massive gamechanger to help managing the communication flow very seemless.

    • Pricing
      • Freemium
    • Key Takeaway
      • Allows for businesses to help their customers with questions in real time

7. MixMax

MixMax is another digital growth hacking platform that’s been a lifesaver for my businesses. Email marketing and automation has been around for years, but this product has taken things to a new level. This application can be installed for free and syncs very well within your Gmail. Business owners would need to install the chrome extension and grant access to MixMax to have control and access to your Google email account. Once installed, the setup is pretty easy with putting together a lot of the cool features such as autoresponders and email templates. This software has come a long way as it’s launched amazingly advanced features such as Salesforce integration, marketing automation, scheduling and branding. My favorite thing about MixMax is how much time it’s saved me over the years. If a new user gets a lot of other people to sign up then they can even get this for free, instead of paying $10/month or more. Yes, there has been some bugs and interface issues, but they have been cleaned up time and again.

    • Pricing
      • FREE to $10+ per month (Freemium)
    • Key Takeaway
      • Saves A LOT of time with templates, automation and more

8. ScreenCast O Matic

Incase you haven’t noticed, this video blog was actually made using Screencast-O-Matic. I’ve been using this platform for roughly two years and it’s served me well. There’s a Free option or a Paid option (and that’s only $18 per year with Pro). I upgraded to Pro so that I can get unlimited videos, unlimited recording, and full integrations. Yes, Screencast-O-Matic integrates with Google Drive (where I save most of my videos) and YouTube, or you can just save the raw Mp4 video. Similar to other business owners, I find that this video helps me communicate better with my team, and with potential clients. When I need to show someone on my team how to do something, this software enables me to record my screen and save the file. Think about how helpful this can be having your own internal arsenal of video How Tos, especially when onboarding new employees. Video is the future, and also the present, in my mind. It goes a long way being able to put a face to a name and create content quickly and easily!

    • Pricing
      • FREE to $18 per year (Freemium)
    • Key Takeaway
      • Free and easy content creation and communication platform that’s perfect for pitching and how to’s.

9. Calendly

Scheduling a meeting has never been easier. Not only does MixMax help with scheduling meetings, but Calendly is an even better option that puts the other party in control. Calendly quickly and easily integrates with your calendar, as well as Gmail, Slack, and Salesforce. Having this integration allows the platform to verify your schedule and block off different increments of time people can schedule time with you. As a business owner, your time is extremely valuable, and your days are unpredictable. Going back and forth emailing about times to meet can be a disaster, so I usually block off 15-minute blocks that people can meet with me. This is also helpful if you have a service business as you can have people schedule times for a service or something you are providing them. The best part of all of this is that it’s free. Users can also quickly and easily upgrade to pro versions that allow for more block options, customization, additional users, reporting and more. On our website you can see that on the Momentum page about me it integrates into your page so that people can book directly online with a click of a button.

    • Pricing
      • FREE to $12 per month (Freemium)
    • Key Takeaway
      • Puts the other person in control of meetings and saves time for all parties

10. Square

Most small business owners have heard of Square if they are in a B2C transaction industry. If you haven’t, then let me tell you why I like it, and why it’s a robust platform to consider. So Square is actually a transaction software platform that allows you to take orders and process transactions online or in person. This is a very popular application for Coffee shops, boutiques, repair shops, and more. Not only can you set this up as a point of sale with a built-in register, but you can also send invoices, customize your products/services, track employee timecards, customize reporting, and even implement marketing. Some new Square features include payroll, e-commerce online stores, marketing automation and options for capital. My favorite aspects of Square include the easy to use interface, the in-depth reporting, employee tracking, and customizations. This is a great company with a fearless CEO that cares about growing the businesses that use their software because they get paid off of transactions (charge 2.75% of card swipes).

    • Pricing
      • 2.75% card transaction fees
    • Key Takeaway
      • All-in-one POS and Processing Solutions for small business

11. QuickBooks

Tracking your finances and accounting is pivotal for every business, no matter what the size. Yet, this is something that’s often overlooked when running a small business. Cash and capital is king, and making sure you’re profitable should be the biggest concern. However, small business owners have to wear so many hats with marketing, management, operations, and all the other headaches and hassles of day to day ownership. On top of that, let’s not forget how expensive it can be to have a dedicated accountant, that of which can cost thousands of dollars per year. One of my favorite things about QuickBooks is how easy it is to use and understand. They have thousands of resources and how to’s and breakdowns on the platform. Accounting can be hard and boring, but QB makes it easy and effortless. The price is very well worth it too as you can get plans from $5-$50 per month. That low cost is going to save a lot of money long term. QuickBooks has a beautiful UX/UI, along with applications for smartphones and tablets. Some of the top features include time and travel tracking, managing inventory, sending invoices, customized reporting, and managing payroll. The top things I use this software for is for expense automation, travel tracking, and reporting. This is a must have for small businesses and sole proprietors.

    • Pricing
      • $5-$50 per month
    • Key Takeaway
    • Makes accounting easy, while saving time and money

That rounds out the Top 11 Digital Tools for Small Businesses. If you agree or disagree, please share your opinion. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to starting or running a small business, but I can tell you first hand that these applications have really helped me grow my companies over 6000% in two years since moving to Philly. If you have any suggestions to other tools or platforms please comment below! I would love to expand upon this list to really showcase the best opportunities and options for all small business owners.

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“My name is Mac and I used to work for Google. Now I help small businesses grow online and rank higher on Google”