- business social media posts
- social media scheduling and
- customer relationship management (CRM) software
- email marketing tools
- online grammar checking and spell checking
- receiving credit card payments
- two-step verification services using time-based one-time passwords (Authenticator App)
- integrating different applications to create automations or to sync data between two different apps
- password managers
CRMsThere are so many CRMs out there. I’m sure I could write several blog posts about them alone. I’m not planning to, though! Many CRMs target specific industries – for example, personal trainers, health, and so on. So, what’s a CRM? It’s an approach of managing a business’s interaction with leads and clients. Their purpose is to drive sales growth by making it easier to manage leads and focus on client retention. It also allows you to have all details and interactions with clients in the one place. For my business, I use Dubsado. Those who know me know how much I love both automation and Dubsado. Dubsado has great automation features which allows me to be more productive as a result. I can automate workflows, capturing leads, onboarding, invoicing, to name a few. One example of an automation I use is when leads ask me for proposals. I create my proposals in Dubsado and email to a lead. That lead can select a package in that proposal along with any add-ons I’ve included in that proposal. Once that lead goes to the next screen, they’re taken to my agreement for them to review and electronically sign. The screen after that is my invoice, which leads can pay by credit card or electronic funds transfer (EFT). Dubsado also keeps all my templates in the one spot. The templates are easy to customise to specific leads and clients. Templates include agreements and sub-agreements, emails, proposals and questionnaires. For clients that utilise my hourly rate services, I can track my time in Dubsado. That time can then be directly applied to their invoice. Other advantages of Dubsado include being able to have clients (and myself!) sign my agreement online without any additional software. I can create attractive looking proposals based on packages I have created in Dubsado. Invoicing and payment processing is easy in Dubsado. Dubsado also has a very useful scheduler (like Calendly). This can be embedded onto a website or emailed to leads and clients. As I have iCal linked to Dubsado, any scheduled calls booked through the scheduler are automatically added to my iCal. Dubsado integrates well with other tools such as:
- Stripe and Square Payments (discussed further below)
- Zapier (also discussed further below)
Email marketing toolsTwo of the most well-known email marketing tools are MailChimp and ActiveCampaign. Both platforms aim to help businesses create personalised email marketing campaigns. I used MailChimp when I started my business, as it has a free option for up to 2,000 contacts. It was easy to link to my website so that my blog posts were automatically emailed to my subscribers. At the time, I already had experience using MailChimp, so it wasn’t something I had to learn to use. I recently made the transition over to ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign is a subscription-based email marketing platform with a lot of punch!
MailChimpMailChimp is quite often one of the first email marketing platforms that people mention. Maybe their monkey logo makes it easier for people to remember them! MailChimp offer a freemium plan that allows you to send up 10,000 emails a month to 2,000 subscribers. The freemium plan is great for new and small businesses. Keep in mind that you don’t have access to all available features on MailChimp’s freemium plan. Pros of MailChimp include:
- Good reporting: you get everything you need to know. You can see how many times a campaign is opened by a subscriber and when someone unsubscribes. You get notified of any bounced back emails. MailChimp also has geo-tracking and integrates with Google Analytics
- Good freemium plan: being able to send 10,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers is quite a bit!
- Great editable templates: MailChimp has a lot of templates that are editable and very easy to use. It’s a drag and drop system
- Although the freemium plan is great, their paid plans do get a bit steep
- On the freemium plan, you can only have one audience list. If you wish to have more than one list, you’ll need to go onto a paid plan
- If you’re on a paid plan and you have one subscriber on more than one audience list, then that subscriber is counted twice. That is to say, if you are paying for 3,000 subscribers, that one subscriber that’s on two lists takes up two of that 3,000. This can add up if you have more than one subscriber on more than one audience list. I think this is cheeky of MailChimp!
- MailChimp does have some autoresponders, but it’s not very advanced.
ActiveCampaignActiveCampaign doesn’t have a monkey logo. But it does kick MailChimp’s monkey butt when it comes to automation. ActiveCampaign is known for having the best automations of any email marketing platform. You can create as many automations as you need and they can be based on a variety of conditions. What do I mean by conditions? A condition maybe whether or not a subscriber has opened a campaign you have sent or whether a subscriber has clicked through to your website. Advantages of ActiveCampaign include:
- Very powerful and easy to use marketing automations
- Thorough reporting including tracking
- Great deliverability. ActiveCampaign is one of the best tools in getting emails delivered
- Free migration from another email marketing platform