21.5% of small businesses fail within their first year. Some common reasons for failure are poorly planned and executed marketing campaigns, missing important needs of today’s customers, and exceeding budgets.
Small business owners must wear many hats and get a lot done with limited time and money so that their business doesn’t fail due to one of these reasons. As a result, they increasingly rely on technology to manage administrative tasks, grow their customer base, and generate more revenue.
That’s why we’ve rounded up our favorite must-have technologies for small businesses so that you can focus on what really matters—running a thriving business.
We’ll take a look at 5 types of technology tools every small business should be using and also suggest a few options for each technology so that you can opt for a tool that is right for your company.
#1 Customer relationship management (CRM)
Did you know that around 65% of a company’s business comes from repeat customers, and a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%?
Therefore, an effective relationship with your existing customers is critical to your small business, and turning them into customers for life should be one of your priorities. That’s where a CRM solution comes into play.
A CRM tool allows you to store and manage all your customers’ data. You can think of it as a central hub for your customers. Some of the primary benefits of CRM are
- predicting problems and offering solutions faster
- staying in contact with customers by assigning them to different salespeople or sending automatic emails occasionally
- gaining data-driven insights about customers’ behavior and sales performance
- organizing the customers into different segments so that you can design specific marketing campaigns for each
As a result, you improve the overall relationships with your customers. Based on your priorities, you can choose from various CRM options.
For example, Pipedrive is suitable for small businesses seeking a simple CRM solution for lead management. If your priority is customer support, Zendesk is a good option. If team collaboration and automating repetitive tasks are critical to your business, you can consider Monday. Are you looking for a comprehensive CRM platform? Then you can opt for the industry leader Salesforce.
#2 Email marketing automation
The tools using this technology leverage automated workflows to send the right message to the right people. They allow you to set up an autoresponder to market to every new email subscriber and retain existing customers. They should exist in your tool case, mainly if you focus on email marketing for generating leads. You create your content once and send them on auto pilot to new people who join your list.
One of the most important use cases of automated email tools is to convert website visitors into customers. You can segment your new prospects and tune your messages for each segment separately to achieve your business objectives. For example, you can offer more strategic discounts.
Some of the most popular email automation tools for small businesses are Constant Contact, ConvertKit, MailChimp, Sendinblue, and Aweber.
#3 Project management (PM)
You can increase the success of your projects by integrating a PM tool into your workflow. PM tools are not just for big companies. As a small business owner, you’ll also benefit from breaking down multiple tasks into more manageable steps, assigning each task to a different team member, and examining how much time and money each task costs. All thanks to PM software.
A sought-after PM tool for small businesses is Asana. In addition to creating Gantt charts in minutes and tracking your progress on Kanban boards, you can integrate Asana with other popular collaboration and reporting tools such as Microsoft Teams, Salesforce, Slack, Tableau, and Power BI.
Another PM platform is Basecamp, with which you can manage your projects by communicating through message boards, adding to-dos, setting important dates on shared schedules, carrying out group chats, and sharing docs in an organized and structured way.
Trello, Zoho, and Wrike are other small business PM tools worth mentioning.
The research done by Project Management Institute shows that organizations waste 11.4% of all resources due to a lack of effective PM systems. Consider picking a PM tool that works for your business to cut costs.
#4 Cloud-based data storage
Cloud computing is perhaps one of the most beneficial inventions for small businesses because it solves two critical data issues: security aspect and hardware maintenance costs.
Before cloud-based solutions were available, companies were storing their data on in-house servers, which were only accessible via the company’s own network. Cloud storage providers own such hardware in their data centers and allocate necessary server spaces to their clients. Furthermore, contrary to in-house hardware data solutions, you’re not bound to access your data via a local network; you can access them 24/7 if the internet is available.
These advantages enable businesses like yours to benefit from the data centers without any need for massive investments in hardware and security precautions while keeping the ownership over their data.
Many cloud storage options are at your disposal. Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dropbox, OpenDrive, or Box, to name just a few.
#5 Social Media Management
Which business doesn’t need social media presence these days? You can develop your brand, build strong customer relationships, reduce marketing costs, etc.
However, with these huge benefits comes a downside: social media marketing is too time-consuming. That’s why we also recommend small business owners use a social media management tool, like Hootsuite, to save time. Other notable solutions to grow your audience through social media marketing are Buffer, SocialPilot, and SproutSocial.
You can compete against larger competitors in today’s fast-paced world if you use the right technology to your advantage. Take a look at the tools we presented in this article and try them out. They can make or break the success of your business.