Must Have Online Tools For Small Businesses

13 Must have online tools for small businesses

Starting or running a small business can be quite a lot of work, having to deal with processes, advertising, communicating with clients and still running a business. Thankfully there are some online tools that can help make running a business smoother and more productive. Below is a list of tools every small business must have:


Canva is one of our favourite tools to use. It is a simplified tool for graphic design and can be used to create templates for things such as social media publications, logos, presentations, eBooks, flyers and more. It makes use of a simple UI format, while also providing access to more than a million graphics, vectors, fonts and photographs. It is a perfect tool for print and web media graphics and design.



Trello can be described as a collaborative tool which helps to organise a business’s projects to boards. With Trello, you are able to know what part of the project is being worked on, the individual working on it and the location of an integral file of the project. Think of Trello as a digital post-it board, with all the information everyone associated with a project needs to know.



MailChimp is a web-powered marketing platform which helps you and your business manage and communicate with your customers, clients and other parties. It has been designed to have a clear focus on the best communication practices, wonderfully designed campaigns, as well as commanding data analysis.



WordPress is a content management system, which at its centre is the most seamless and widespread method used to create and own a blog or a website. It is so widespread that more than 34% of the websites live on the internet are powered by WordPress.


Theme Forest

Speaking of WordPress, ThemeForest is a platform that enables users to seamlessly purchase or sell CMS or WordPress themes. Think of it like the digital superstore of themes. You can purchase themes to design your business’s website, making it attractive to visitors and potential customers. It is also a great platform that enables designers to make money by selling their templates and themes.



With the way social media is able to provide a greater reach to customers and influence their decision making, it is no surprise that there are numerous tools to take advantage of that. Hootsuite is one of the best social media management tools. It enables you to schedule posts to any social media platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram and more) from one application. With this tool, you can effectively manage your resources and time while still being active on social media.



Microsoft’s Outlook is the most favoured email system that businesses use to access their emails. Not only is it able to access email, but it is also able to have your business’s contacts, task management and calendar under one tool. It is a great tool for a business to have as it has all the essential communication functionalities that all businesses need to prosper in one tool.



Install WhatsApp on your desktop – WhatsApp is the most used communication application with a registered 1.5 billion users. With that number of users, it is only right that a business taps into that market by using this medium. Considering that it started as a mobile application, it now has a desktop plugin which is perfect for businesses to use.


Free Images

Free Images – when it comes to advertising or marketing a business, with so many things grabbing customers attention, it pays for a business to stand out. And what other way to stand out than visuals, pictures can be a great medium to attract customers to your business. However, there are repercussions for simply downloading an image from the internet and using without approval or a license. Thankfully, businesses can make use of free images to advertise their businesses. Sites like, Pexels, Pixabay and Flickr provide license-free images for anyone to use.


Google Suite

The G Suite has been designed by Google to help small businesses grow in a cost-effective yet quicker manner. G Suite contains applications like Gmail, Calendar, Hangout, Drive, Vault and Google+. These are basically all the programs that a business would need to operate. The only difference is that Google has been able to update them and bring them under one suite and payment plan.


We Transfer

It is a cloud-based service that lets you transfer computer files. There are times when you need to transfer a large file to a staff member in the field WeTransfer comes in. It allows you to send files as large as 2 GB for free. There is also a premium “Plus” option which lets users send around 20GB in one session.



This is one of the most useful apps a business can use. It can be used to exchange and manage business cards, making it the perfect tool for small businesses, entrepreneurs, marketing experts and business developers.



This site is the biggest freelance marketplace, where businesses of all types can outsource particular jobs to expert freelances, leaving them to grow a successful business.

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Skype is a useful chat platform, which even comes with business features. It supports HD video-conferencing for 250 people, in addition to persistent chat and even topic-based discussions that persist even after all of the active have left. Consumer Skype is free, but lacks these functionalities, whereas if you like to use Skype for Business is paid and comes with enterprise support.


With its cloud platform for audio and video conferencing, Zoom is definitely a tool to watch out for in enterprise video communication. It can be used across room systems, mobile devices and desktops, offering easy and effective communication in offices, classrooms, you name it.


How Artificial Intelligence Is Set To Affect Marketing

How Artificial Intelligence is set to affect marketing

More than half of marketers are already using artificial intelligence (AI) in some way or another, with a further 27 per cent planning to in the next two years. That’s according to a recent survey by Salesforce that looked at AI and its implications for marketers in the future.

Now that AI is becoming more commonplace with marketers beginning to gain a more thorough understanding, there will be some huge changes. Among them will be:

Ad targeting and audience segmentation

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in emerging channels is set to become more sophisticated, with applications in ad targeting and audience segmentation growing. In research carried out by eMarketer, it was found that these two areas are already among the most popular ways that the technology is being used.

Advanced television – a term that encompasses a number of digital features, including interactivity, time shifting and interoperability – will be particularly affected by AI in 2019. Here, marketers will be able to improve one-to-one targeting accuracy at scale.

Proper segmentation and the development of more sophisticated personas is also likely to come about as the result of AI. Presenting the right message to a potential customer at an appropriate time is paramount for converting leads and something the technology will be able to facilitate in.

This will continue to accelerate the move to personalisation and make it truly useful for both parties. The specific needs of customers will be able to be addressed more quickly, which in theory should lead to long-lasting relationships with brands.

More transparency in data insights

Like most digital platforms, martech (marketing technology) is facing calls for greater transparency and artificial intelligence will help to achieve this. As brands and agencies seek more data insights to inform their activity, AI will be leveraged to see how it is used and ensure that the practice follows basic principles.

Artificial Intelligence education

It’s not enough for brands and agencies to have access to more advanced technology; they must also have the expertise to understand it. Employees will need to be educated on the advancements on artificial intelligence in order to make full use of its potential.

Companies must know which type of AI will be the best to use for the job at hand. Everyone wants access to the latest technology, but using it in the wrong way is as useless as not having AI in the first place.

Like most new things, it takes time to come to understand them properly and huge leaps forward in AI methodologies are expected. Among the places where they will be useful will be neural networks, regressions and decision trees.

In turn, the benefit to marketers will be that business needs can be addressed in a more productive manner. Compliance, transparency, cost, goals and timing will all see an impact from the applications of artificial intelligence.


What your small business needs to know about getting ready for GDPR

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Friday May 25th 2018 is set to be one of the most important events affecting businesses this year.

GDPR will change data security and storage rules, giving consumers more rights than ever before over how organisations use their personal information, including their contact details, as well as things like their website URLs.

Businesses need to spend the next few months making sure they know exactly what personal data they have on file, where it is stored and who has access to it, letting their clients and customers know this information and giving them the choice to opt out of having their data stored by the company.

If someone wants to know more about what data you have on them or wants it deleted, your business will be legally required to respond accordingly, or face a significant financial penalty – not to mention potential reputational damage as well.

Basically, GDPR is all about improving data transparency and security and giving more power to the consumer over how their personal information is used.

What if I’ve not started preparing for GDPR yet?

If your business hasn’t started its GDPR preparations yet, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

According to recent research from Mailjet, two-thirds of small firms aren’t yet compliant with GDPR, and will need to spend the next few months preparing. Among new businesses, this figure rose to 91 per cent.

Depending on the nature of your business, the volume of work you’ll need to do in order to get ready for the legislation will vary. Everything from old CVs you’ve got on file to your marketing database and past client information will need to be audited ahead of GDPR’s arrival – even those boxes full of paperwork in the store cupboard that have been lying there for years untouched.

A report from Cleardata found that as many as 66 per cent of small businesses in the UK have no proper document management strategy at present, and could be putting themselves at risk of GDPR-related fines as a result. A total of 17 per cent of survey respondents even admitted to storing old paperwork in a staff member’s garage or shed – a serious data security risk.

As David Bryce, managing director of Cleardata, explained: “This can leave vital and sensitive information open to theft and damage and also make it difficult to find quickly if needed for legal or data compliance purposes.”

Regardless of what your approach to data storage has been in the past, the upcoming arrival of GDPR presents an opportunity to sort through everything and make sure you have the correct permissions for the data you do have on file.

How long will preparing for GDPR take?

Getting ready for GDPR will require investment of time and resources, but it’s important to spend that time now, rather than risk a fine for non-compliance further down the line and to prevent any more time from being wasted.

Research from Senzing predicts that unprepared businesses could end up spending up to 172 hours a month carrying out data searches once the legislation comes in if they aren’t investing time now in bringing their data in line with GDPR.

However, some companies will be required to appoint a data protection officer under the legislation, so they will be the main contact responsible for ensuring compliance, which should help to ease some of the burden on the rest of the organisation and its staff.


How to get mums to invest in your brand

How to get mums to invest in your brand

Millennial mums are a growing section of the global consumer market. According to research carried out by the Internet Advertising Bureau in 2015, 83 per cent of new mums are millennials, which means that brands need to change the way they connect with them – especially as this figure is only set to rise further.

Mums are not an out-of-touch cohort. They are using technology just as much – if not more – than other millennials, so it is vital that brands are speaking to them with their marketing in order to cinch interaction and sales.

What’s more, there has been a significant increase in recent years in so-called ‘mummy bloggers’, who present a great opportunity for brands to benefit from some user-generated content, but also place them under extra pressure, as they know their every move and communication will be scrutinised by these highly influential voices.

Mums do tend to stick with brands that they know and can trust, however. New research from Saatchi and Saatchi involving Mumsnet users found that mums return to brands such as the National Trust, Lidl, Disney and Warburtons time and time again. But what exactly is it that they like about these companies that you could apply to your own business marketing to secure custom from millennial mums now and in the future?

What mums want from a marketing campaign

Saatchi and Saatchi’s research led to the discovery that precision is the most important factor in a marketing campaign for mums. More than one-third (37.9 per cent) rated this as essential to secure their buy-in. Mums’ primary concerns include the safety and enjoyment of their children, so they need to know they are guaranteed this with evidence of how it can be achieved.

Attentiveness came second in mums’ priority lists, for similar reasons to those listed above, while elasticity was rated as another important factor for brands to demonstrate, with 33.2 per cent viewing this as key. Busy mums typically have many demands to juggle, so they need to know that brands are going to be flexible to connect with and provide them with a solution to meet their individual needs.

Integrity was also highly valued among Mumsnet users, with 26.8 per cent ranking this as essential. One way that brands can demonstrate this value is by explaining their unique brand story on their website. Remember the adverts showing the little boy running through the events of an entire century to buy a loaf of Warburtons bread? This was an example of the brand demonstrating its integrity.

However, Liz Wolstenholme, global planning director at Saatchi and Saatchi, explained to Marketing Week: “This belief you need to have a 150-year heritage isn’t what matters to mum, what matters is that their values are visible.

“Even new brands should be celebrating that story. It’s better to smash that fourth wall than hide away.”

So, how else can your brand speak to the growing band of millennial mums through its digital marketing efforts?

Applying these traits to your digital marketing

If you want your brand to enjoy a similar level of success with mums to the favourites outlined in the Saatchi and Saatchi study, you’ll need to make sure you are incorporating the above traits in every single marketing message that you send out.

Whether you’re updating your website, sending out an email marketing campaign or posting on social media, make sure your communication is clear and to the point with a reassuring undertone to meet mums’ requirement for precision.

You should also take every opportunity possible to demonstrate how your brand can provide a solution to mums or solve a problem that they have to show your ‘sorcery’ abilities, while an element of flexibility from your side should be apparent at all times to signal your ‘elasticity’.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to show off a little. As long as you are explaining all of your product or service’s capabilities, the research found that mums are continually impressed by showmanship from brands, so make the most of this and showcase your brand in the best possible light in all of your digital marketing communications.

© Fast Online Marketing Experts


Online Reputation Management

Why online reputation management is crucial for your business

The internet can enhance or damage your reputation, which means it crucial to have a management plan in place.

You can spend years working hard to build your business from the ground up and put in thousands of hours cultivating a strong brand, only to have your reputation tarnished online by one or two customers that have had bad experiences.

In this modern day, it isn’t only competitors that you need to worry about, as any person with access to the internet can throw mud that sticks. This is where the importance of online reputation management comes in.

What is online reputation management?

This term doesn’t refer to public relations or just monitoring how your brand is discussed on social media. It means controlling what appears when you or a customer enters your company name into a search engine. If your management plan proves to be effective, then the top results will be positive, while the not-so-good content is pushed down to the bottom.

No matter what size your business is or what customer demographic you are trying to attract, there will be people talking about you online. Whether this is tweeting about your latest product, posting a review on Facebook about their experience or leaving a comment on your blog – the internet will be awash with opinions about your brand.

While negative content can be damaging, a positive digital reputation can lead to significant opportunities for your business. This means you should be doing everything possible to make your online image shine.

Where do you start?

The first step is quite simple: put your company’s name into Google and see what pops up. This will help you get a feeling for how well your brand is doing and what action you need to take, if any.

Once you the website has populated the search results, you need to figure out what category your Google rank and online reputation fits under.

What’s your rank?

Concentrating on the first page of results only – as it’s estimated that 93 per cent of users don’t click past this – figure out whether the results negative, positive, completely irrelevant or not about you at all.

Obviously, mostly negative content is the worst-case scenario, as this is how you are represented online. The rise of social media means that just one or two bad reviews, a false accusation or angry comments from former employees can push you into this category. Irrelevant results neither help or hinder your business, as they are either outdated or completely inconsequential. You don’t really want to be in this category, as it does nothing for you.

If your results are about someone or something else, another company or individual’s bad reputation could be tarnishing yours. Positive and relevant results is the best case scenario and means that whenever an existing or potential customer searches for you they find favourable and well-branded content.

Bringing in the professionals

As with most things in life, there is someone out there that can do a professional job for you. Wading through search results can be time-consuming and, sometimes, disheartening if you keep coming across negative content. A firm that specialises in this field will have an army of engineers working for them to fix or enhance your online reputation. An expert will be able to make sure that what you want customer’s to see dominates your online profile, rather than it being list among negative or irrelevant content.

If you need help with online reputation management, please get in touch with our team today for further informationa and advise.

© Fast Online Marketing Experts

Customer experience mapping is key to your digital strategy

Customer experience mapping is key to your digital strategy

So you’ve decided to put together your digital marketing strategy, but do you know how to use customer experience mapping to improve it?

Customer experience mapping, commonly known as cx mapping, is the process of plotting your customer’s entire journey. This doesn’t just span from when your business starts engaging with them, but from before they even recognise that they have a need for your product or service.

By creating a customer experience map for this journey, you can then recognise at which stages of this journey your digital marketing strategy can have the biggest impact.

First of all, you want to make sure that you understand how best to conduct customer experience mapping. You want to gain an understanding of the process before you start to think about it in relation to your business, to make certain that you’re doing it right. You’ll find a number of online tools that can help you with this.

Once you’re confident that you understand how best to conduct your customer journey mapping exercise, it’s time to get started.

You’ll want to get a number of people involved in the process, to ensure you’re gaining insight from various areas of the business. You might, for example, have representatives from your marketing, sales, account management and senior management teams. This means that you can draw insight from as many areas as possible, which should make the map most accurate.

The customer experience mapping process can take some time, because after mapping the journey, you need to recognise how the person might feel at each stage of their journey, as well as the people and objects that are involved and might be affecting their experience.

It’s once you’ve completed all of these aspects that you can really look at where the impact can be made. You need to be critical and recognise key triggers within the journey that might be having a negative impact, or where the customer might have a specific need.

Now, you can look at ways you can change this, or processes you can implement that can change that specific experience into a more positive one.

For example, if someone is looking at holidays, they would likely do their research and then take time offline to contemplate their options. It’s at this point that a lot of potential customers will be lost, because they might not come back to finalise the process.

So what can you do at this point to change that experience? Well, you could look at retargeting through social media, or data collection at an earlier stage so that you can send a follow-up email.

Of course this is just one example, but do you get the idea?

Now that you understand the customer, their needs at certain times and the process they are going through, you should be able to better tailor your marketing and even sales efforts to direct more people to a conversion.

Discover more tips here.


Use mobile to your advantage

Use mobile to your advantage

Mobile isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is one that many businesses are only recently beginning to get on board with.

A surge in the increase of mobile marketing was seen in 2015, when Google changed its algorithm to include mobile optimisation within its ranking, a change that was named “Mobilegeddon” by many. This means that any website that didn’t have its website optimised for mobile devices would be penalised. Read more

This wasn’t a problem for many businesses, and for some it was the prompt they needed to upgrade their website. However, some didn’t make the necessary changes, and as such their websites will have dropped dramatically in Google’s rankings.

In fact, the search engine has announced that this month the algorithm will update again to increase the importance of having a mobile page, and sites that are not mobile-friendly will rank even lower than before.

Even despite this, businesses should now be on board with mobile marketing, and will see great benefits from having a strategy in place to manage this. In 2014, mobile usage overtook desktop, so you need to be sure that your strategies reflect this.

Apps are now a popular addition for many businesses, particularly those selling goods. An app gives you a platform not only to sell your goods, but to offer exclusive discounts to customers and send them notifications to encourage interaction.

In fact, many retailers are now taking advantage of geo-targeting, where push notifications are sent to people’s mobile devices when their GPS enters a certain area.

The next step for businesses is expected to be the introduction of chatbots, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

At last month’s F8 developer conference he laid out the social platform’s ten-year roadmap, which had chatbots at the forefront of its plans. Even more brands seem to be adopting this new era of “conversational commerce”, a term created by Uber’s Chris Messina, so “you should be able to message a business in the same way you’d message a friend”, Mr Zuckerberg stated.

However, if your businesses has yet to grasp the basics of mobile marketing, then you should start there. Make sure that your entire website is mobile-optimised, and get your social media up to scratch.

Social media is now as imperative as the internet itself, infiltrating the everyday lives of people across all generations, and millions of people across the globe.

Rather than just making a profile and getting started, you need to make sure that you have a social media strategy in place.

Do some research and see what your competitors are doing. See where your target audience is online and the type of content they’re most engaging with. From there you can start to look for gaps in the market and emerging trends that you can incorporate into your own strategy.

Mobile is a powerful tool, so try to stay up to date with the latest trends and use it to your advantage. If you do it right, you could get really great results.

© Fast Online Marketing Experts