Must-Have Tools and Services for Small Business Owners

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By Lucy Reed

Today’s entrepreneur can access a wealth of tools to improve their business on every level, from online customer engagement to the finer details of their business operations. Software tools, as well as physical products, can make your life easier and help you achieve that elusive bottom-line growth. Here are a few of the most impactful free and paid services you can use to draw in more customers, streamline operations, and increase your business profits.

Fine Tune Your Business Marketing

Creating a marketing plan should be one of the very first things you do for your e-commerce business. And thanks to social media sites like Facebook, it’s easier now than ever before to get the word out about your brand. Learn how to use Facebook ads to reach niche audience groups and avoid spending precious ad money marketing to people who wouldn’t be interested in your brand. Knowing how to reach the right audience will help you maximize the return on your marketing investment.

However, don’t let your marketing efforts stop with social media. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels and can be easily automated with tools like MailChimp and Constant Contact. Diversify your marketing plan by using a variety of tools to reach the greatest possible number of interested customers.

Streamline Customer Payments

Besides marketing, customer satisfaction should be one of your top concerns. Providing a stellar customer experience is the best way to set yourself apart from competitors offering similar products and services. Plus, it’s about seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than hold onto an old one.

One way to improve customer satisfaction is to upgrade your payment system. Online stores lose potential revenue when customers abandon their carts. Often, this is due to a negative checkout experience. Ensure your checkout process is seamless on mobile devices and loads quickly — building your store on Shopify is a simple way to accomplish this. If you provide goods and services to your customers in person, an all-in-one point-of-sale retail system is essential. These machines allow you to accept any form of payment and print receipts hassle-free, giving your business that professional edge.

Respond to Your Customers

Another important way to keep your customers happy is to respond to their comments online. Taking time to address negative comments, thank people for their positive remarks, and answer questions shows that you care about your customers and encourages further customer engagement. Use social media monitoring tools, such as these listed by Hubspot, to receive alerts when someone mentions your business online. These tools will also help you stay up to date on what your audience wants so you can optimize your marketing strategies.

Organize Your Business Operations

Taking steps to get more out of your marketing budget and retain loyal customers will positively impact your bottom line. However, you can also increase profits by cutting operating costs. Organize your business operations with the automated help services. For example, Sprout Social recommends using chatbots on your website and social media pages to answer customer questions automatically — this saves you from paying an employee to do this. Similarly, you can schedule social media posts in advance using tools like Hootsuite.

On the business side of things, take advantage of accounting software and invoicing services. If several team members are involved in your small business, project management tools can save you a lot of time on collaborative tasks. Many of these tools allow for instant chatting, document sharing, to-do lists, time tracking, and task assignment. When this happens in one place, you’ll find it easier to organize the workload of your employees and allocate resources where needed.

If there’s one thing that most small business owners have in common, it’s a lack of time. As much as you may want to, don’t try to do everything yourself! Take advantage of modern services to automate and monitor various tasks for you. Not only will these help you save money, but they’ll also give you more time to focus on growing your business. Embracing technology can open up new opportunities you didn’t even know existed!

Lucy Reed has been starting businesses since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college.

Tools stock photo by Aha-Soft/Shutterstock

The post Must-Have Tools and Services for Small Business Owners appeared first on SmallBizDaily.

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