Knowledge is power for any business owner. This idea forges a line in the sand, separating successful companies and those struggling to eek an even basic existence. It also puts new startup owners behind the 8-ball. Regardless of their education or previous work experience, the creators and founders of the new startups do not have the kind of knowledge other, established owners have. The faster a new boss educates him or herself and gathers knowledge to work with, the greater the chance at success becomes. To help facilitate the obtaining of vital information for a new business, here are 12 tools every startup should know about, starting now.
Knowing how to look at data and analyze it can point a business in the right direction. From improving marketing and the identifying the right target audience improving retention rates, analytics stands as the key. However, the ability to capture the right information often stands as the problem for most business owners. They rely on what the Web building program or service provides, which often is very little. Kissmetrics helps correct that.
Kissmetrics provides very specific analytical data. The tool monitors all visitor activity to a website, starting at the very first time the individual arrives on the page. This includes everything from the length of time a visitor remains on certain pages all the way to where their cursor hovers over. It bookmarks repeat visitors and what pages draw repeat customers back to the page. The software also helps with creating split testing campaigns. Every new business should look into split testing, as it is imperative to not only maintain a current marketing presence but also test the waters with new methods, to see what provides the greatest return. Kissmetrics assists with all of this.
Running a business requires the boss to be a jack-of-all-trades kind of individual. This is especially true when first starting off, as the owner will need to wear multiple department hats, ranging from marketer to sales professional. While many of these jobs become easier as time goes by, developing an artistic eye is not often one of those skills. Artistry is something a person generally has or doesn’t. Well thought out and produced graphic design material instantly grabs the attention of viewers while also providing insightful information. Hiring a full-time graphic designer, or even bringing in a freelancer from time to time, can quickly take over a company’s budget. That is why startup owners looking for assistance in the creation of graphic design should turn to Canva.
Canva is a powerful tool that helps business owners create and customize everything from infographics to newsletters, digital book covers, and invitations. After signing up for the service, the account holder can select from a wide library of customizable features, including everything from images to fonts and produce a professional final product, worthy of even the finest graphic designers including in their portfolio.
With the help of Canva, business startups can help emails pop, easily share information through social media images and do just about anything else they might want a traditional graphic designer to do at a fraction of the price. Canva may not be able to fully replace the eye of a graphic designer, but for small businesses on a budget and in need of quality design material, few other tools can surpass what Canva offers.
Grabbing the attention of visitors and prospective customers is a must for any business. One of the best ways to do this is through video and product demos. According to KPCB, videos account for nearly 75% of all Internet traffic, while over half of Internet users watch at least one video a day. Additionally, landing pages with an included video see an increase in conversion by 80% (KPCB, 2017). The only problem here is most startup businesses don’t have the kind of budget to go out and hire professional videographers and editors to create sharp, snappy video productions. Many who do try to create their own content often end up with less than desirable material. This is where PowToon comes in.
PowToon is a service provider that helps create animated explainer videos in addition to product demos. This is not just a service startups rely on either. Other companies including Google and Starbucks use PowToon in order to create demonstrations of new services. While graphic designers and coders with ample production experience likely will not need to use a service such as this, startup owners with limited to no graphic design knowledge will find PowToon extremely beneficial as an animation created by the service instantly improves the look of a landing page while driving up conversion rates.
At some point in time during the creation of a startup, the business owner will need to connect with an attorney. From drawing up contracts to checking copyright law, working with a business attorney more often than not is part of the process of running a company. However, attorneys are expensive. It may seem like simple paperwork or a small contract write-up, but bringing in a necessary lawyer will end up costing at least a few hundred dollars (if not more). Having legal contracts is necessary to the ownership process though, as it protects a business owner from certain liabilities while also establishing professional relationships with service providers and partners. As a business grows the need for a real attorney increases right along with it. However, it is possible to put off seeing a business attorney early on in the startup process with the help of Shake.
Shake is an online legal service website, designed to give you access to a wide arrange of legal documents for use. Many of these documents are standard documents a business owner will use throughout the course of creating and cultivating their startup. This includes legal documents for signing freelance workers, employees, corporate partners and so on. The website changes out the information to include that of the business owner using the Shake service so it fits their specific needs. All of the documents are legally binding and the website can generate a wide range of docs in a matter of seconds.
Shake provides a few different beneficial services for startup owners. The first is the aforementioned legal document creating service. This service does not require a user to sign up for an account. However, the payment account option, which (as of October 2017), costs $17.95 a month, provides an advice and consultation service. This service reviews all requested documents, so if a business owner has a question regarding a current legal document, they do not need to go out and pay a few hundred dollars an hour to an expensive attorney. They simply need to email the contents to Shake and an on-staff attorney will go through the information. Access to this kind of service is especially beneficial for anyone who has received legal documentation in the past and does not understand the legalese language used within the paperwork.
Access to the Shake website and provided legal documents serves not only as a time saver but as a substantial monetary saver as well. While at some point a business owner should consult with an attorney later on down the road when the company proves successful, Shake offers a service new startup owners should not overlook.
Of all the essential tools every startup owner should know about right now, this is by far the most popular. Despite the chance of most business owners already knowing about it, mentioning the service is necessary simply because how vital it is to business success. No other application or service out there provides the breadth of information Google Analytics for both Mobile and Web offers. Sometimes the information can become a bit overwhelming, but many of the other tools listed in this blog help clarify the insights Google Analytics offers. The free service provides in-depth analysis of visitors to a website. This includes everything from a source location to where links for the page are currently being used. With a proper understanding of the information, a company can mold its entire marketing approach and offer products off the context of the analytical data.
One of the truly beautiful benefits of Google Analytics is its ability to work with any website, regardless of what service a startup used to produce the site. Google Analytics comes in a small code, which is copied and inserted onto the website. Once Google confirms the inclusion of the code it can then begin providing the essential feedback.
Google Analytics easily connects with other Google-based services as well. The insights can be downloaded and shared through Gmail, Google Docs or the cloud storage service Google Drive. Analytics also works exceptionally well with YouTube, an assortment of PPC marketing services and Google Adsense, for businesses looking to bring in additional money through advertisements placed on owned YouTube channels, blogs, and websites. Google more or less runs the Internet as the top two search engines are Google and YouTube (by a long shot), so using the services provided by Google is a must (Telegraph, 2016).
As a business grows, so too does the number of projects it needs to complete on a given timeline. With the constant shifting of moving parts within the company, staying on top of who’s working on what project and what resources are required becomes challenging. Coordinating with team members helps ensure the right people are scheduled and on the job, yet attempting to do this from memory opens up the potential for errors. Basecamp for Project Management is designed to aid in this specific way.
With the help of Basecamp for Project Management, the service comes with a wide range of helpful tools. There is in-application storage, along with data sync services that provide information to all users and team members. A notification feature assists in updating employees on what is going on and shows what kind of additional tasks need finishing.
Using an application such as Basecamp helps cut down the need for meetings, which in turn boosts productivity while keeping all team members up to date, on schedule and on target.
One of the major perks of Basecamp is the ability to try it out for free. The trial offer only lasts for a short time, but it should provide enough insights into whether or not it is a beneficial service for a business as it grows and takes on additional projects.
Keeping customers happy is job number 1 for a business. Happy customers are returning customers who also tell their friends and family members about the service. However, there are times where a customer or prospective client may have an issue or want to get in touch with the business. Early on, these customer emails are few and far between. However, as the startup and sales grow, so too will the number correspondence sent to the business. To help a budding company stay on top of customer support, Freshdesk offers an abundance of support and tracking tools.
Freshdesk offers services that help a company track customer support services. When someone emails the business they are sent a response email while the company receives their message along with a support ticket. This way, the startup knows what order it needs to respond to customers in. Freshdesk helps cut down the stress of dealing with potentially upset clients. It even offers analytical data with insights to what most customers have issues with. This makes it easier to identify potential product problems and make improvements behind the scenes.
Freshdesk doesn’t just stop with providing customer assistance within a company’s website. It assists in providing customer support services throughout the entire business ecosystem. This means if a customer attempts to contact the business through one of the varying social media services, this becomes indexed and the business receives a support ticket and number. Regardless of if this comes in through Facebook, Twitter or another one of the company’s social media accounts, all of this is funnelled and organized together, which in turn makes responding to all questions and concerns far easier than ever before. It also reduces the chance of allowing a customer to fall through the support system’s cracks and never receive a response. Far too many businesses suffer from this problem, which instantly turns that customer away. It may also lead to blowback from negative reviews. Freskdesk helps avoid all of these problems.
Email marketing offers an effective and inexpensive method of reaching hundreds of potential leads, all at the same time. Having an extensive email catalog also allows business owners the ability to send out digital catalogs and newsletters with a few clicks of the mouse. The hardest part of email marketing is not the creation of the content, but instead the collection of emails. MailChimp helps make this a little bit easier.
There are a few great benefits in using MailChimp. For starters, the service helps save and collect email addresses. When properly activated, Mailchimp collects the email address of individuals that buy products from the startup. It also saves emails from those who message the company with questions. If the startup creates a “mailing list” offer where they provide those who sign up for a special discount or service, Mailchimp collects the information here as well.
After assisting in the collection of emails, the service then helps organize and sort the emails. There are times where certain marketing material does not go out to everyone, but instead very specific demographics. Other times a handful of the emails obtained may qualify for special offers and services. MailChimp makes it possible to sift and sort for these purposes.
Some of the more recent Mailchimp updates also include the ability to design attention-grabbing, professional emails with embedded visuals and text that lead back to landing pages or the company’s website. With all the beneficial features associated with Mailchimp, it stands as one of the 12 tools startups should know about right now.
Maintaining a constant presence on social media is an important step to building a following and connecting with potential customers and current clients. With many required posts, a startup needs to put up on a weekly basis, constantly coming up with new ideas for attention generating content can prove challenging. Staying up with current affairs and posting trending or relevant material to social media can help with staying fresh and connected with what’s important to followers. Outside of this, the constant need for fresh ideas is a fulltime job. One of which a startup likely does not have the money to pay for. Thankfully, Portent provides a content idea generator that offers many useful tools, all of which are helpful in coming up with brand new ideas for current and future content.
The Content idea generator through Portent is as simple as it comes. The website itself has a search bar, similar to that found on Google. A user then types in a subject (the more specific the better) and presses enter. Directly above the input space, a recommended content idea appears.
The recommended idea comes with a variety of helpful tips. Not only does a user receive the individual recommendation, but an exact wording for the idea appears as well. Each word within the phrase is specially designed to boost search engine optimization and draw interest. The website provides an exact reasoning for each word and how it boosts traffic to the subject.
None of the other 11 tools listed here are as basic as Portent’s Content Idea Generator. However, this is what makes it so beneficial. There are times when coming up with a new blog post, video concept or social media idea where nothing comes to mind, even with a fast-approaching deadline. Portent’s Content Idea Generator helps alleviate writer’s block and provide the user with instant subjects to work off.
10. Stock Snap.io
Just about every great website is built off stock photography. These stock images can also go into the production of digital slideshows, posters and an assortment of advertisements. However, as startups are usually strapped for cash, paying for stock photography isn’t always in the cards. Now, there are all sorts of different stock photo services out there, some of which charge a monthly subscription fee while others charge per image downloaded (and the higher the resolution the more the download costs). Even for the lower priced subscriptions and downloads, these stock services can add up, which is what makes Stock Snap.io so helpful.
The beauty in Stock Snap.io is everything offered on the website is free of charge. Despite the free price tag, the photographs are still of a high, professional caliber as those who share their photographs with the service make money off of advertisements placed on the page. For startups looking to build marketing material and websites with the aid of professional photographs that come free of charge, there are few other available websites and services out there capable of competing with Stock Snap.io
Visuals are often far easier to understand than a mountain of text. A startup owner should take advantage of analytical data, but from time to time deciphering this information isn’t straightforward. Hotjar looks to make understanding website analytics easier than ever before as it uses visual heat maps to present the tool’s findings.
Standard website analytics highlight a particular page visitors spend more time on. However, analytics often does not go further than this, which leaves the data incomplete. While knowing what pages and products attract customers, what exactly on the page attracts the eye or draws them in? This is what Hotjar helps with.
The heat maps created by Hotjar indicates what areas of a page visitors interact with. It shows what buttons and links on a page visitors are clicking on. It even shows what areas of the page shoppers are looking at more frequently (such as if there is an area of the page people are frequently scrolling down and stopping on). This kind of information illustrates not only what the most popular content on a particular page is, but it may also outline why customers are not following through with a purchase. Perhaps they are not finding the shopping cart button or something on the page is actually taking them away from the website itself (a misplaced advertisement or link to social media account may direct a visitor’s attention and take them away from the startup’s website).
Gone are the days where a business could rely on simply having a website. Creating a website should still stand as the foundation of a strong Internet presence, but expanding out to social media platforms is a must as well. These services make it possible to connect with customers, identify new consumers and perform varying levels of market research and advertising, often while spending less than other marketing avenues. However, with so many varying social media services and the need to remain present on each, most startup owners simply do not have the kind of time to actively post, comment, like and share content on the services. For business owners, Buffer is a tool that completely changes the time requirements of these social media sites.
Buffer offers users an assortment of social media management tools and features. For starters, the software provides users with a schedule feature so they can set up a specific publishing timetable where Buffer posts content to any and all social media services on behalf of the user. Now, there are plenty of other scheduled publishing tools out there. However, Buffer goes beyond all of this and provides analytical data regarding post activities, what posts are the most popular, what times see the greatest level of interactions, what posts draw the most attention and what social media services offer the greatest return on investment for the startup.
With the provided analytical data, a startup owner can alter his or her social media approach in order to better fit the company’s key demographic and when these customers are more likely to interact with posts. Analytics is not just for the company site but instead should cover every outreach method the business utilizes.
The more information a business owner has access to, the better off they are at formulating plans to take the company to the next level. From establishing a strong marketing foothold to identifying different key demographics, all of this comes down to data. While each company, owner, and industry vary – often significantly – the need for data remains. These 12 tools help new businesses start out on the right foot. By taking advantage of the services these tools provide, formulating an appropriate business plan and taking a firm grasp of market share should be right around the corner.