Five Useful Digital Tools For Small Businesses 22 Oct 2019
If you are running a small business, it is likely that more and more of your work will be digitally based.
And if, like me, you have to operate on a tight budget because you are a small business, knowing which tools are useful and effective is really handy.
Here are five digital tools for small businesses which ItsLello recommends that you should look into. From social media scheduling to basic graphic design. Search engine optimisation management to writing tools. Not to mention all-important web statistics, each of these tools will help you to run your business on a day-to-day basis.
Number one in my list of five useful digital tools for small businesses is Buffer. This multi-channel social media publisher allows you to plan and publish content for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. All actioned from one simple dashboard.
- The free plan allows you to manage three social media accounts; thereafter, to run four or more requires an upgrade to the Pro Plan which gives you access to up eight social accounts including Pinterest. You have to try the Pro Plan to get access to the free plan and downgrade at the end of its seven-day free Pro trial.
- You can schedule posts for each social account registered on Buffer.
- Tailor your posts to work effectively for each separate social network e.g. shorter post for Twitter, longer post for Facebook.
- And you have an optional calendar view where you can view all your scheduled content at one go.
- It has a shared team inbox facility from which you can reply to all your social messages and interactions rather than having to hop onto each channel in turn.
- And offers a combined dashboard view for Facebook and Instagram analytics
Personally, I find this tool simpler to use than Hootsuite. And it’s a massive time saver. I can schedule a whole week’s worth of posts in one go, taking away that nagging need to hop back into social media to post on a daily basis.
Number two in my list of five useful digital tools for small businesses is Canva.
I love Canva. It allows me to create beautiful pieces of design through an easy-to-use drag and drop set up. And means I don’t always have to resort to using a graphic design service which saves me money.
Facebook posts, Instagram images, posters, flyers, presentations, cards, A4 documents and much, much more. My children have started to use it for homework too!
There’s a free version and a pro version. The free one is good enough for beginners. with stacks of resources. The Pro version ($9.95 pm) gives you access to over 4million photos and elements, stacks of fonts, image resizing and the tools to create animations and gifs.
Snippet Optimisation Tool From SEO Mofo
Number three in my list of five useful digital tools for small businesses is the Snippet Optimisation Tool from SEO Mofo. Small, not particularly perfectly formed design-wise but very very useful.
Designed to allow content publishers to create page titles and meta descriptions which are eye-catching and fit for purpose. SEO Mofo’s Snippet Optimisation Tool is handy if you’re using a CMS which does not automatically tell you if your SEO page title and meta descriptions are too long. If they are too long, you will see your Google listings end with the dreaded blue dots…
Why is this important? Well, currently your SEO title should not be more than 70 characters, including spaces and your meta description no more than 156. There are the parameters set by Google right now (they may well change). And if you go outside these, your listings look less professional and are potentially less effective.
This Snippet Optimisation Tool mimics Google’s search engine results so you can see exactly how your content will look. WordPress has a great plugin called Yoast which does this for you. But if you’re using tools such as Umbraco, Joomla, SquareSpace, Kajabi or Weebly, this tool will prove invaluable. And it is free.
Number four in my list of five useful digital tools for small businesses is Grammarly. A worth-its-weight-in-gold addition to your digital desktop if you spend any time writing – web copy, blogs, emails, documents, social media. Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant that will help you to improve your writing and keep mistakes to a minimum.
It should put an end to typos in marketing collateral, apostrophes in the wrong places and wrongly capitalised words. And make you a better writer.
You simply download the appropriate browser extension e.g. for Safari or Chrome and it will automatically offer corrections to both spellings and grammar as you write away. There is also a web-based editor, a Microsoft Office add-in, a desktop interface and mobile keyboards.
The basic tool is free and I find this invaluable and use it every time I write. You can also subscribe to the premium version which checks for readability, style, plagiarism and offers suggestions on how to improve your vocabulary.
It also sends you regular reports to keep you on your toes. This is, for me, an indispensable tool.
Last but not least on my list of five useful digital tools for small businesses is Google’s free web analytics tool, Google Analytics.
When I start working with new clients, two initial questions I ask are:
- Do you have a website?
- Do you use Google Analytics?
And you would be amazed how many businesses do not track the performance of their website or understand whether it is a help or a hinderance.
Google Analytics is one of the market leaders in analysing the activity and performance of your website. It is easy to use, once you understand web jargon, and it is free. If you are running a website for your business, you need to understand how well and how effectively it is working.
Track your website traffic, advertising return on investment (ROI), video, social networking sites and more. It isn’t 100% accurate but it is good enough to allow you to make sensible business decisions based on good data. It will help you to understand how your website is supporting your business and whether you are getting good value for money.
Here’s a flavour of what Google Analytics can tell you:
- how many visitors does your site receive by the day, week, month, year?
- what’s the proportion of repeat visitors and how often do they return to your site?
- where are your visitors coming from? Social media? Search engines? Referrals?
- Demographic information – age, country, gender?
- Which are your most popular pages?
- How long do visitors spend browsing your site?
- what devices are they using to visit your site? Mobile? Tablet? Desktop?
It is easy to set up: set up an account and it will automatically generate the code you need. If you use an agency to manage your site, they can add this to your site’s code; if you use a tool such as Weebly or Squarespace, you can add it to the appropriate fields.
To summarise: if you run a business which uses a website to pull in customers or followers, then this free tool is a no-brainer – you should be using it.
Running a small business is a lesson in juggling plates! And finding applications and tools that can help you do so smartly, especially if you are running a digital shop window, is so useful.
I use each of these five useful digital tools for small businesses on a daily basis to help me manage my work.
Any questions, then do contact me here at ItsLello – I’d be more than happy to help.