As the number of people using the internet grows steadily, as cell phones and tablets become more affordable, eCommerce has definitely become the norm. With 91% of adults in America owning mobile phones, physical stores are no longer needed as we can buy anything online with our mobile devices. Websites, once a novelty of the super niche, or the mega conglomerate international companies, are now essential for business.
There are many web based tools out there to help businesses run things smoothly online. It used to be that a business had to go to great expense; buying a server that could handle the flow of customers, hiring web designers to create a website that was user friendly, to promoting that website on TV and various other media. These days there are tools that handle everything, and if done right, social media can be a cheap way to make your site a household name. Here’s a list of a few important web tools that help you run your business:
Web Design and Hosting
It used to be that you needed to hire a team of professionals to build your website, and you needed a server in house to maintain the flow of customer traffic to your site. These days there are tools that can help you build a website yourself, with no coding experience needed. Good web design tools will enable you to tweak your site pretty much however you want it. If you want things to be super specific though, not to worry. There are plenty of ways to learn coding online for free.
The vast majority of webhosts have themes and tools that can help you build your site. For businesses looking to monetize their site, it is especially important to be able to have a powerful host that not only can handle customer flow into the site, but also be able to provide security site-wide.
A few webhost tools include:
- WordPress – 9% of all websites worldwide run on WordPress. Has a nearly endless supply of tweaks, themes and extensions so you can customize your site to your heart’s content.
- Squarespace – has an easy to use interface that has a “drag and drop” approach to design. Squarespace is fully customizable just like WordPress, with various themes and add-ons that make your site function however you’d like.
- YourMembership – a one stop shop for businesses, Your Membership software helps you monitor and interact with your customers and provides analytics based on spending and other trends. They also provide web hosting as well as a web design tool focused on helping you attract customers.
Social Media Management
Social media has always been a game changer when it comes to doing business online. Recently social media activity has even been showing up in search results, giving businesses even greater incentive to cultivate a social media presence. Businesses are able to reach more people than ever with a properly managed social media profile. People often contact businesses through social media to voice concerns or ask questions. In fact, 42% of Americans expect a response within an hour to complaints. It is important to be on top of communications that might negatively affect your business.
Getting a social media following has the added benefit of encouraging return customers. People like deals, so those who follow you are most likely to jump on opportunities when you present them with deals. Here are a few tools to help get the most out of your social media accounts:
- SocialClout – analyzes your social media presence and gives suggestions on how to improve. Analyzes keywords, demographics and data from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to let you know what people are talking about that’s relevant to you.
- Edgar – you can create a posting schedule for your social media accounts that also can give you suggestions on what to post and where. You can always be on top of the latest buzz!
- Mention – monitors web content in real-time that makes mentions of you and your brand. You can keep tabs on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. You can also connect it to Buffer. Use it to share and assign tasks to your team.
- ly – a link shortener that tracks people that use the link, gathering data like where they’re accessing it, the demographic as well as social media shares.
Communication is key to running a business smoothly. Keeping on top of deadlines and letting your team know of changes that need to be made, assigning tasks, all are a part of a business’s communication. There are quite a few apps out there that help people convey information, the best of which are loaded with features and enable syncing across multiple platforms.
Every business needs good communication, as being in the loop is essential. Keeping on top of client calls and updated meeting times, is essential to make a business run smoothly. Here’s a list of some communication apps that are available:
- Slack – has many features including file sharing and Google Drive and Google Hangout integration. Slack also supports group conversations, and even has an app that can be downloaded for iOS and Android that will enable you to keep in touch 24/7.
- Campfire – has lots of add-ons that can be used to customize your communications for specific needs. There are various security features such as password-protected group chats, and users can use it with other networks.
- Redbooth – mainly a task tracking/productivity application, Redbooth also has a chat function. It enables you to assign tasks and organize meetings and deadlines; it even connects to a webcam.
- OfficeChat – is a versatile communications app that is compatible on iOS, Android and Windows. It enables group conversations and file sharing. You can also buy plans that allow you to add more features.
Information Management & Security
Database and file management is important to keeping sensitive information secure and available to those who need it. There are many file management web tools to choose from that have a wide variety of functions, to keep your business running, you can really keep your sensitive files how you need.
Some file management web tools:
- BackupAssist – a cloud based file backup and recovery service which provides encrypted security protocols. BackupAssist also has SQL server and Hyper-V protection and many other options to keep data safe.
- Thinkfree – a file locker that emphasizes cloud based access to files, to enable work on any internet accessible device. Thinkfree also allows you to share documents with your team, where they can have various levels of access, from read only to edit permissions and the ability to post to blogs.
- JustCloud – uses a program to automatically back up files to the cloud from your computer so you can access them anytime. There are also apps available to allow you to sync between devices.
- Hightail – allows you to send files of up to 10 GB and features advanced security features so you can control who sees them. Share project folders with colleagues and customers alike and decide who can edit. Hightail offers unlimited storage space and has mobile syncing through an app.
These are just a few of the tools out there that can help your business run smoothly. There are thousands to choose from and one of them is sure to fit your needs.