Online software platforms for small business
Introduction to software platforms.
Over the course of our years in business we have seen a range of great software platforms come and go for one reason or another. Lately we went in search of tools that a small business can use for free or very little monetary outlay. Whilst there are a huge range of tools in each area we looked at the ones we have written about in this article are the ones we decided to try out and use.
In this article we will look at Capsule CRM, Campaign Monitor Email Marketing, Asana Task Manager, Slack Messaging App, Zoom Video Conferencing, Setmore Appointment Scheduling and Zapier Integrations Platform.
In your line of work you may want to use some of these tools, you may wish to use all of them. You may even choose to look at some of the alternatives for yourself. For now lets start our journey by looking at some great software.
Capsule is a great CRM it has a bundle of features and integrations that you can utilise to make the platform more suited to your needs. Feature wise Capsule CRM offers contact management, task and calendar application, sales pipeline, customisation and mobile application.
The contact management component of Capsule allows you store individual business contact information, organisation information as well as to create and organise via lists. Each contact can also have their sales history and contact history tracked, documents attached, tasks manager and shared with co-workers. Your contacts have all of the necessary contact information stored but also social media links, custom tags and custom fields. Contacts can be imported from various sources such as outlook, gmail and csv.
The tasks and calendar section of the site allows you to keep track of important meetings, events and milestones. You can also track and log calls and emails. All of these great tracking items will also allow you to manage your sales pipeline.
Personally I think the biggest tool in Capsule’s arsenal is your sales pipeline. From proposal to closing the deal you can track each item as it moves through the pipeline. Access in depth reports for analysis and track useful stats such as conversions and forecasting.
Capsule allows you to customise the platform to suit your needs with items such as custom fields and tags, custom processes and lists and more. You can change the colours and look of your crm to match your company colours.
Finally you can take your full CRM everywhere in your pocket with the Capsule mobile app for iOS and Android. The mobile application will let you access most of the main areas of your CRM from any location. (Mobile data charges may apply, Refer to your telecommunications supplier for more details.)
Capsule CRM is a great efficient product that any small business can use to grow into a larger business. The free plan of Capsule CRM will allow you to have up to 2 users, 10mb of storage and 250 contacts. For $12usd per month per user you can access premium integrations more space and more contacts.
Whilst many swear by some of the competitor platforms, we have found that the Campaign monitor platform is extremely useful for small business owners. Whilst there is no free plan available for Campaign Monitor it is free to use it while you are setting the platform up and plans start from as low as $9aud per month and allows you to send 2500 emails to 500 people.
Campaign Monitor offers a huge array of features for that package price. Features include drag and drop email layouts, email templates, personalised customer journeys, message personalisation, email testing, email tracking and optimisation.
Campaign Monitor also integrates with many third party applications including Shopify, SalesForce, WordPress, Google Analytics, Facebook and much more.
One of the main reasons we liked this platform is the amazing array of support articles available. These articles are not your standard run of the mill tutorials on how to use the platform but cover great topics such as email list building, email laws and regulations, email writing and marketing for mobile devices.
You may have your heart set on another platform but we personally reccomend the campaign monitor platform. If your interested in getting your list going Conceptual Creative are an agency for Campaign Monitor and we will help you get everything set-up. Contact us for more details when your ready to get started with email marketing.
Asana is a standalone platform for task management, project management and conversations. With features such as tasks by project, tasks by user, task deadlines, group communications including messaging.
Asana is a full featured platform however the free platform does have some minor limitations. Premium versions of Asana include private projects, admin controls, task dependencies, custom fields, information search, priority support, additional members and customer success.
Asana integrates with some great third party platforms including Slack, Dropbox, Google Drive and many more…
Asana comes in two main flavours those being free (good enough for most small business owners) and premium for those who need the extra power. Asana as a free platform gives unlimited tasks, projects and conversations for up to 15 team members with basic dashboards.
We really like asana for keeping ourselves organised with task lists and we are sure you will too. Asana offers a mobile app that will help you to keep organised on the road.
Slack is a messaging app for teams who are changing the world. Well that is what the opening line of their website says. Personally we think its a great platform for teams who want to communicate. Slack offers some great features including open group channels, private group channels and direct messaging, drag and drop file sharing and integrations with third party platforms.
Slack is multi platform and works via your webs browser or via mobile applications. By using this platform you can eliminate unnecessary emails and save time.
Slack as a free platform will store and make searchable up to 10k messages, allow up to 10 apps or service integrations, give access to native apps for desktop and mobile and allow up to 5GB of file storage.
For a few dollars a month per user you can have access to much more including increased resources and support options as well as custom user groups and group calls.
There are many alternative applications that are more mainstream than Zoom when it comes to video conferencing. Where zoom differs is that you can have enterprise level video conferencing for free on a basic level and expand and grow plan by plan as required based on your needs.
Zoom offers mobile applications for iOS and Android, HD voice and video, dynamic voice detection, group collaboration and messaging, simple online meetings for individual meetings and group meetings and much more.
The basic plan will let you host a maximum of 50 participants and unlimited number of meetings. Unlimited meeting duration for 1 to 1 meetings or 40 minutes for group meetings.
Video conferencing features on the basic plan include active speaker view, HD voice and video, join by telephone call-in. Web conferencing features include desktop and application sharing, personal room or meeting ID, instant or scheduled meetings and private or group chat.
Zoom gives you a pile of features for free but most of all it is a far more professional look for your business.
If you like us are in the service industry from time to time you might need to utilise scheduling applications. One such application is Setmore and it allows your clients to view available appointment times and book in with you. The Setmore platform comes with a load of features for small business.
Setmore features include appointment bookings, integrations, sms reminders, email reminders, scheduling, reviews, mobile apps, payments, calendar syncing and booking pages. Whilst not all features are available on the standard plan most small business owners wont need the extra features.
The standard plan will set you back absolutely nothing and let you have unlimited appointments and up to 20 staff members , unlimited services and customers. For a low price of $25usd per month your can have a host of extra features including whitelabel and online payments.
One of the main features that most small business owners will love is the integration with Facebook and WordPress allowing you to take appointments on your website and social media. This platform will help you to be organised both from your end and your clients end.
Imagine if you could make multiple web platforms communicate together. Often we are faced with not being able to make applications work together. Zapier fixes that by integrating many third party applications. Whilst not all of the worlds wonderful applications are represented currently 700 applications are with more being added regularly.
On the free forever plan you can build one to one connections in order to automate basic tasks. Premium plans include the ability build workflows, get priority support and more. You can use many integrations with Zapier and do some really great things.
We use this platform to assist with social media automation, data sharing between applications and much more. We believe you will find many great ways to use this platform as we have.
We found that there are literally thousands of software platforms out there that can benefit business. We chose to use seperate platforms for different tasks and then tied them together with a platform such as zapper. This allowed us to choose the best platforms for our needs whilst still having the interactivity between platforms.
You could take our recommendations for platforms or you could look at taking your own journey of discovery. Either way a little experimentation with some of these platforms can only work to increase your productivity.