Between payroll and payments and service and social media, there's a lot that goes into running a small business. Often, however, local small business owners are waist deep in simply keeping their doors open, their floors clean and their customers happy that being able to manage anything else seems like a bonus - including a digital presence. This is a mistake.
Online, the digital doors still need to be open (a website needs to be up and running at all times), the floors still need to be cleaned (through a flawless user experience) and customers still need to be tended to (by understanding who they are and how to best serve them) because people are accessing brands online more than ever before.
So while accounting software like FreshBooks and point-of-sale systems like those offered from ShopKeep or Shopify are important to the everyday local merchant, this big list of software (the term used loosely) to run a small business focuses on the digital business only. Noticeably absent will be Google's suite of small business tools, but more information can be found at, "6 Awesome Google Tools for Small Businesses."
Every social media manager has their favorite scheduling tool, but Sprout Social is one of the most popular. Its recent string of updates makes it one worth considering, as it not only identifies social influencers within a company's message stream (color coded by the number of Twitter followers), but also provides users the ability to assign tasks to different team members. For example, if a person is requesting more information about a product or service, the Sprout Social user can create a task to ensure that person is followed up with immediately (if a high priority is set). Beyond these additional features, the core of Sprout Social is being able to monitor brand mentions, schedule out social media posts (on LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook) and respond to comments left on a company's profiles (on the aforementioned networks as well as Instagram). Whether it's Sprout Social or another social tool like Hootsuite, social media software is a must-have for every small business today.
A longtime partner for small businesses, Constant Contact is easy to use to send out newsletters that inform customers and potential customers of new items, popular sellers, limited-time sales, company blogs and more. Constant Contact offers customizable templates, drag-and-drop editing, automation features and more.
Customers are increasingly looking to help themselves, especially online. Offering customers a self-service option in the form of popular questions (and answers) and live chat is one way to improve retention and move customers through to conversion. AnswerDash is a very affordable option to do so if a site doesn't have that many visitors a month.
While Wix is most well-known for its drag-and-drop website builder, it also offers domains and an app marketplace that can extend a website's functionality such as vCita to allow users to schedule appointments online. vCita and Wix also partner to give small business access to customer relationship management tools like to organize, search and edit client information and social data, as well as mark clients for follow-up, request payment or schedule appointments.
One surefire way to increase average order values is by offering customers a way to "complete their looks" or provide other personalized recommendations like, "customers who bought this also bought that." These are some of the most simple ways to add personalization to a retail website, and Strands Retail is one provider of this service.
A top hosting provider, 1&1 also offers a suite of small business tools, including its My Website which helps small businesses build and optimize a website. Some of 1&1's new optimization features include helping small businesses get better (and more accurate) listings on more than 55 online directories, as well as improved content optimization (the interface projects the current SEO status in a graphic so users can improve their content for visibility).
A social media management tool like mentioned above won't do a business any good if their social posts are optimized for engagement. Pagemodo is a free (with premium options) service that enables users to create graphics to use for social posting. While users can post from Pagemodo, the graphics can also be downloaded and then uploaded to a tool like SproutSocial. The benefit of using Pagemodo is that social posts with images outperform text-based posts. What's more, users can also create social cover photos, ads and other social items to optimize clicks and likes.
Competitive research is crucial for the success of a small business and this is especially true online. SEMrush can help companies see who their competitors are in both organic and paid search, as well as see which common keywords competitors are using in ads, keyword difficulty, rank tracking, ad copies and more. SEMrush is worth the price of admission for those small businesses serious about competing on the search engines.
As the Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine and President of Website Services, Peter has established himself as a prominent figure in the digital marketing industry. With a wealth of experience and knowledge, Peter has been a driving force in shaping the landscape of digital marketing. His leadership in creating innovative and targeted marketing campaigns has helped numerous businesses achieve their revenue growth goals. Under his direction, Website Magazine has become a trusted source of information and insights for digital marketers worldwide. As President of Website Services, Peter oversees a team of talented professionals who specialize in SEO/SEM, email marketing, social media, and digital advertising. Through his hands-on approach, he ensures that his team delivers exceptional results to their clients. With a passion for digital marketing, Peter is committed to staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies, making him a sought-after thought leader in the field.