Bury St Edmunds marketing and social media expert Kim Morrison offers some essential tools to help you scale your business
December is also known as ‘Write a Business Plan Month’.
As your business grows, you need to scale up. With more tasks, more sales, and more customers, you need all the help you can get.
There are so many different options to choose from but here are some of the tools I’ve found to be the best to help you build your business.
How do you know if your business is growing without tracking metrics? Google Analytics offers more metrics than any business can use. You can create customised reports that tell you exactly what's working and what isn’t. Google Analytics is free, but there are also premium programs you can use if you want more options.
An autoresponder is a sequence of emails that are automatically sent to a specific segment of people on your email list, triggered by a specific event, such as joining your list, browsing behaviour, shopping cart abandonment, downloading a PDF, or buying a product.
You can use your email autoresponder to do more than just manage your list and send emails. Some things you can do include:
- Segmenting your subscribers and send different offers to different groups
- Asking a question or running a survey to get feedback from your list
- Integrating with social media so that you're sending your email subscribers to your social media and your social media followers to your list.
There are some great email autoresponder programs available including MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact and Active Campaign.
Content Management System
As your business grows, you'll have a great deal of content to create – blog posts, landing pages, websites, social media content, and more. A content management system, or CMS, helps you manage all of it. These programs also offer additional tools to help with content marketing. Popular low-cost programs include WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix.
You may want to invest in accounting software to help you balance the books. This is a skill not every business owner has and it gets more complex as your business grows.
An accounting software program can help so that you don't need to hire a full-time accountant. Good accounting programs include FreshBooks, Zoho, and QuickBooks.
Customer Service Automation Tools
With more customers, you'll spend more time on customer service. If you can automate some of the routine tasks, this can help to free you up for more important things.
Examples of these tools include a chat bot on your website or an interactive FAQ. AgileCRM, LiveAgent, HubSpot, and NetSuite are all good CRM programs.
These are marketing tools that help you manage your search engine optimization. They offer features such as insights, keywords, analytics, content management, research, and more, all in one package. Some good SEO tools include MOZ, SEMrush, and Ahrefs.
Project Management Software
If you have a team working with you, project management software can help keep you on track.
This is a program that integrates all of your systems, facilitates communication among team members, helps to set and reach goals, and manages busy schedules. Software programs include Wrike, Asana, Trello, and Zoho Projects.
Social Media Management
For most businesses, social media is an important part of growing and engaging the market. However, it’s a challenge to handle multiple social media profiles at once.
Social media management programs allow you to put everything on one dashboard, and offer additional tools for research, automation, keyword optimisation, and analytics. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer are three of the most popular options.
These tools, along with a comprehensive business growth plan, are what you need to achieve your goals. If you need help with any of these, then do get in touch.
Facebook Rolls Out Watch Party to All Pages and Profiles: Facebook Watch Party is now available to all pages and profiles around the globe. In addition, the company is adding three new features to Watch Party including the ability for pages and groups to schedule a watch party and threaded comments to make it easier for viewers to interact and have conversations within a watch party. Facebook is also rolling out Live Commentating, which allows a host to go live within a watch party, picture-in-picture, to share commentary as videos play.
Facebook Experiments With Watch Together Feature for Messenger: TechCrunch discovered that Facebook is currently developing a new Messenger feature that allows multiple users to simultaneously watch a video together on the platform. This new tool, should it officially roll out, would be a natural extension of the Watch Party feature introduced to groups earlier this year.
Facebook Extends Regulations on Political Ads to UK: Following the launch of Facebook's political ad disclosure tags in the US earlier in the year, The Social Network has now rolled out the same in the UK, while also announcing new exemptions for media outlets who report on political topics.
Instagram Purges Fake Followers, Likes, and Comments: Instagram accounts bloated with fake followers, likes, and comments are about to be deflated. The company announced it will begin removing “inauthentic likes, follows, and comments” from accounts using third-party apps and bots to boost their “popularity.” Instagram is using machine learning tools to identify and clean up after these services.
Instagram Marks Upcoming Profile Changes for Personal and Business Accounts: Instagram alerted users that “over the next several weeks,” they may encounter features such as icons, buttons, and navigation between tabs being rearranged at the top of their profile. The company states that it “hope[s the change] will make profiles easier and cleaner to use.” It also notes that the photos and videos you’ve shared on your grid won’t change.
Instagram Rolls Out Alternative Text Description: Instagram added two new accessibility features to help visually impaired users access the photos and videos shared on the platform. The first is automatic alternative text that uses object recognition technology to give audio descriptions of photos that users come across in Feed, Explore, and Profile. Users can also create their own custom text-based descriptions of their photos that will be read to users when they scroll through or click on the photo.
Instagram Adds Three New Shopping Features: Instagram announced three new features that make it easier to buy and sell products on the platform. These updates include a new Collections feature that lets users privately save links to products in a dedicated Shopping section and shoppable product tags for videos. Instagram is also rolling out a redesigned Shop section for select business profiles that makes it easier to find and buy specific items from a brand. This redesigned section, which allows Instagrammers to see all of a brand’s products in one place, is currently being tested.
LinkedIn Tests Stories Feature: LinkedIn confirmed to TechCrunch that it plans to build Stories for more sets of users, but first it’s launching “Student Voices” just for university students in the U.S. The feature appears atop the LinkedIn home screen and lets students post short videos to their Campus Playlist.
LinkedIn Debuts New Look for Share Box: LinkedIn now lets you select the visibility of posts and links you share. When sharing a post, you can control who can see it by using the dropdown menu below the share box. Click into the share box at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and start typing to see this menu. You can select from these menu options: Public, Public + Twitter, Connections, or one of your groups.
Snapchat Planning to Release Another New Version of Spectacles: The latest news on the Spectacles is that Snap's planning to launch yet another variation of the device, this time with a new design, a stronger, aluminium frame and two cameras. By utilising two cameras, the Snapchat app will be able to overlay AR lenses and create 3D-like photo effects from footage taken by the Spectacles.
Twitter Releases Major Events Calendar for December to Help with Strategic Planning: Twitter has released its latest monthly major events calendar, which highlights all the key dates for social media marketers to keep in mind for their seasonal and thematic content in December.
YouTube Launches YouTube Stories, Limited to Prominent Creators Only: YouTube is beginning to roll out Stories to a wider set of creators, giving them access to the new creation tools that include the ability to decorate the videos with text, stickers, filters and more. The feature is very much inspired by rival social apps like Snapchat and Instagram except that on YouTube Stories disappear after 7 days, not 24 hours.
YouTube to Remove All Video Annotations in January 2019: As of January 15th, 2019, all YouTube video annotations will be de-activated. YouTube video annotations are pop-up click boxes which appear during playback. YouTube discontinued its annotations editor option in May 2017, which meant that users could no longer add them, only delete them.