If there was a technological tool that could help your business run more smoothly, you’d want to know about it, right? A productive and successful business is like a well-oiled machine in that sense. We need certain tools and procedures implemented in order to keep ourselves ahead of the game. Everything can turn into complete chaos if you or your team commit certain common business blunders.
Luckily, in today’s world, there are many valuable digital tools that help entrepreneurs with many of the necessary tasks for business. Whether you need help with tracking your finances, communicating effectively with clients, upholding an image of professionalism or delivering top customer service, there are a variety of tools and digital apps that are extremely helpful. It’s the use of these tools that will help you stand out from your competition. Here are 10 of the top digital tools that will help make your company run more efficiently, be more profitable and appear more professional:
Today, most communication is done through online messaging. You and your team will communicate with potential partners, vendors and customers via email or online chats much more often than communication via voice calls or in-person meetings. One of the problems with this is the potential for you or someone on your team to accidentally make embarrassing spelling or grammatical errors. Errors like these make you look unprofessional and amateur. You can combat this problem by using the free web tool Grammarly. When installed, this handy tool checks over anything that is typed on your computer or device. Even expert writers with fantastic grammar still use this tool to ensure they don’t miss a typo when they’re in a rush.
2. Unsplash Images
Effective imagery and graphics are key when it comes to having a great online presence. Fantastic and memorable photos are definitely an asset to any business, since a picture is worth 1,000 words and all that. While some companies elect to invest a portion of their advertising and marketing budget in pricey stock images from subscriptions services such as Shutterstock, there are plenty of opportunities to get free or low-cost images for your website and email marketing campaigns. A great place to find quality stock images for free is Unsplash, which has a large selection of high-resolution images for business use. Not only are the hi-res stock images on Unsplash free to use, they also don’t require image credits.
Your regular communication with your clients, stakeholders and customers is an integral component of a successful business model. If you plan to send out mass emails, you’ll need a tool like Mailchimp. Mailchimp lets you use fun colors, includes your logo and creates a professional-looking e-mail. This tool also lets you set up automated email messaging services which helps with customer retention, customer acquisition, increased website traffic and increased revenue.
Boomerang for Gmail is a useful tool that allows you to schedule e-mails to be sent to particularly important clients. This means that instead of composing your reply to that VIP and hitting the “send” button, you can instead decide when you want them to receive it before you press “send”. So, if you’re replying to an e-mail at 3:00 AM and you’d prefer that your client receive that e-mail during regular business hours, you can schedule it to be sent at 9:00 AM. I used to hate replying to e-mails at 3:00 AM because it looks a bit unprofessional, so I would remind myself to reply in the morning. What happened, of course, was that I’d forget to reply in the morning. Boomerang solved that problem and more. I can now also write an e-mail pitching a prospective partner, and have that e-mail be sent at a specific time of day. Usually, I’ll pick a time that I know they’ll be at their desk, and schedule my e-mail to be sent then. When it comes to e-mailed pitches, the timing should be regarded as very strategic.
Cost: Free for 10 scheduled messages per month, or $5 per month for unlimited message credits
Making phone calls to your long distance contacts used to cost a pretty penny. Now, with Voice Over Internet Protocol apps (known as VOIP) you can easily spread the news far and wide inexpensively. MagicJack, founded by telecom guru Don Burns, helps you manage these important calls and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your company’s monthly phone bill. Even though we tend to communicate predominantly via e-mail, it’s important to build rapport via more personal phone conversations from time to time, which is why I recommend MagicJack.
Cost: $5 per month
6. Google Analytics
For most businesses in today’s digital world, their website is the most valuable communication tool in their marketing arsenal. Publishing a website is the obvious first step in creating a meaningful online presence. You’ve also got to work to maximize the impact of your website. The best way to do this is through analyzing your website traffic and keyword search engine results. With Google Analytics, you get access to this information and more. Every successful entrepreneur or business owner needs to be looking at their google analytics on a regular basis.
SEMrush is a fantastic SEO (search engine optimization) tool that does your keyword research, tracks the keyword strategy used by your competition, runs an SEO audit of your blog, looks for backlinking opportunities and lots more. You see, your keyword strategy is an integral part of effective content marketing plans. Keywords are how your customers will find you. SEMrush helps you by identifying the keyword phrases that are likely to get you the most search traffic. This way, you know which keywords to focus on when you invest in content marketing, and you know which keywords should be the anchor text to your backlinks. If you aren’t using a tool like SEMRush, you might not be aware of keywords that people are searching for in order to find a website like yours. It’s a must for anyone looking to optimize their website, up their website traffic and bring in more customers.
Cost: $99 per month
Sidekick is an app that tells you when someone has read your e-mail. It even tells you where they opened your e-mail (what city they’re in) and it tells you how many times they opened your e-mail. It’s useful for entrepreneurs or business owners who pitch prospective clients or partners, because we usually want to know if they’ve seen our pitch or not. If we can see that they’ve read it but haven’t replied, we can wait about a week and follow up. If a week goes by and it remains unread, we can try another method of contact.
Cost: Free to use, but if you use it a lot they may start to charge you $10 per month
Most business owners know that their ability to deliver customer service can determine much of their company’s success. Having a skilled and knowledgeable team is one aspect of good customer service, but you can also take advantage of some online tools to take your customer service to the next level. With Clickdesk, you get the ability to conduct online and video chats with your customers. This way, you can increase customer satisfaction in an effortless and time-saving way.
Cost: $14.99 per month for unlimited chats
10. QuickBooks Online
Besides effective marketing and customer service, your company’s financials are also essential to bringing your organization success. You can get an easy way to track spending and invoicing through QuickBooks Online. Unlike software that is primarily assigned to specific computers, this online solution allows your team to access financial information from anywhere that has an internet connection.
Cost: $5 per month – $15 per month depending on your requirements
Running a business can be stressful, but today there are a plethora of savvy tools to make things easier for yourself and give yourself the edge over the competition. Use these digital tools and apps to help manage your business (and your life) and get the headway you’ve been wanting.