Here's a short list of some of the web tools that help keep me on the right track when it comes to planning and executing my daily business activities!
None of these links are sponsored and everything listed is something that I have tried and tested personally!
The ones I pay for
Keeping on top of social media is a must for any business, however it can often turn into a real chore, especially if you are the only one contributing content!
Buffer, alongside Hootsuite, has become one of the main tools that people use to schedule their social media. I recommend the former over the latter simply because I personally found it much easier to use.
Having used the free version of Buffer for quite a while (this gives you up to 10 scheduled tweets) I recently decided to switch over to the paid version, which is around $10 a month for up to 15 connected feeds.
This has allowed me to really streamline my social media planning, as I can now sit down every Monday morning and plan out my content for the week ahead, instead of doing it as and when!
Squarespace my platform of choice when it comes to creating websites and you can see it in action simply by looking around this website!
Squarespace is an extremely elegant and intuitive content management system (CMS) which allows individuals and businesses to create and maintain websites, online stores and blogs. Basically this is a one-stop-shop for anyone who wants a functional and good looking website, at a pretty decent price!
The thing I love about Squarespace is that it is extremely simple. If you have literally no knowledge of html or websites in general, I still would bet good money that you will be able to create something decent on here.
The pricing is very reasonable in my opinion, starting at $8 a month for a personal website and $18 for a professional one. The main difference between the two is that with the professional account, you get unlimited pages (rather than 20) and can sell up to 25 products (as opposed to one).
This isn't specifically a business tool, however I feel it's worth including, as I use it daily whilst working. There's nothing like whacking on your "cheer me up" playlist when you're having a crappy day.
The main difference between paid and free spotify is that the paid version is advert free, which means that you won't get any unwanted intrusions to your listening time, because who wants their Beyonce playlist interrupted?!
For £9.99 a month, I can stream an unlimited number of tracks and save your playlists to listen offline. This last feature is especially useful if you want to listen to music whilst out for a run, or on your daily commute.
FREE (some have paid upgrades)
This is a great tool for anyone who wants to conduct a customer survey or a small piece of market research.
Survey monkey allows you to create a custom survey and provides you with a unique URL to embed in your website or send to your ideal recipients!
The free version allows you to ask up to 10 questions and receive data from 100 recipients, which is perfect for initial research into a business idea or to gather a small amount of customer feedback on your business.
With the free version, you are still able to analyse the data you get back and look at individual responses.
We have all heard about the benefits of email marketing, however some people don't know where to start or how to implement it!
MailChimp is an email marketing service which allows you to create email campaigns using easy templates, build you subscriber list and analyzes the results of your email marketing campaigns (open rates, click-through rate, unsubcribers etc.)
Another really useful feature is the sign up forms, which can be embedded onto your website and social media pages. These help you to collect subscribers and can be directly attached to lists, meaning you can separate the people who have subscribed on your Facebook page from those who subscribed on your website, therefore enabling you to target campaigns to specific groups!
If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free! This is perfect for a new start up or small business, as it allows you to start building you subscriber list for no cost! You can then move onto the paid plans once you have built up decent subscriber numbers.
This is something which is a must have for anyone with a website, whether it's a personal blog or massive e-commerce operation!
Google Analytics gives you all the information you need on who is visiting your site, when they are visiting, where are they coming from and how they are using it. It is free to use, however can be slightly tricky to install, as you usually have to place a bit of code into every webpage you want to track.
If anything, my main criticism is that there is too much data for a beginner to handle and the interface can be quite confusing.
The main things to look at in the beginning are the unique visitor numbers, referring sites and average time on page.
This is a great starting point for looking at how many people are visiting your site (as opposed to page views, which can be slightly misleading), where your traffic is coming from (Facebook, Twitter, direct search results etc.) and how much of your website are they looking at (do they just leave after getting to your homepage.)
You can use this information to help develop your website and marketing strategies. Thus enabling you to focus on the channels which lead to website visits, develop better calls to action and reallywork out which types of content get the most views!
Boomerang for gmail
Boomerang is an insanely useful Gmail plug in which allows you to schedule emails to be sent later, get read receipts and return emails back to your inbox after a certain period of time. It also reminds you if you don’t hear back from someone, which is a great way of keeping on top of leads and following up.
I mainly use Boomerang to help manage my inbox, as it has massively helped me develop a process for dealing with inbound messages. Because let's face it, there is nothing more satisfying than having an empty inbox at the end of the day! The send later function has proved to be especially useful, as I can work outside of office hours, yet appear only to respond within them.
In terms of pricing, there is a free 30 day trail which lets you test out all the features and after that, you can simply stay on the basic plan. This gives you 10 message credits a month, with all the features listed above. There is a very reasonable $4.99 personal option, which might be worth considering if you get real value from it!