You know what’s awesome? Having something that is totally free and can mean the world for your business website and online persona. With just a little time investment, the following tools can pay off in big ways to building credibility, client base, and online image -and best off all they are completely free!
Really… Are You On Social Media, yet?
I mean really. Having a profile is not enough, even sporadic activity is enough to keep your business in the digital age. Posting and re-posting content is a time consuming process, but the payoff comes from the interaction with the community. People are more likely to do business with someone they have a relationship with, and social media for businesses is a way to capitalize on that human quality. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, are all free. Find the tool that works best for your business and use it to generate new leads.
Google+, We Hate to Love You Google combined its “Google Places” feature into the broad embrace of Google+ as an all-encompassing system for identifying your business on Google. Without a Google+ page for your business (unless your business is very well-established) your business will not be fully integrated into Google+ which provides the core functionality to Android phones such as Instant Calling or Directions from Google Maps, Google Voice Search, Google+ Reviews, and even traditional Google Search. That’s right, having a Google+ page does increase your search engine rankings, albeit possible because more users are able to find you due to the tight integration of aforementioned services. Either way, it’s free, and it doesn’t look like Google is going to abandon it any time soon.
Send Online Newsletters with MailChimp
Online newsletters and email blasts can be a real pain to keep up with, (trust us, we know!) and if you are using a clunky system that fights you every step of the way, it makes the process even more challenging. Fortunately, MailChimp is one of those awesome tools that is beautifully designed, the system is extremely easy to use, and it really makes creating and maintaining a newsletter list extremely simple. MailChimp is not just a pretty face with hundreds of beautiful templates, but also has beautiful code and a powerful API under the hood making it the perfect tool to sync with whatever applications your business uses from your website, to your point of sale, to your accounting software. And MailChimp’s adorable mascot “Freddie” makes the service even more fun to use.
Store Your Business In the Cloud
If you don’t have a whole lot of data, you can backup your data, or even store it to share among employees for free using the cloud! Services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, SugarSync, and Google Drive all offer large chunks of storage space and separate apps that allow you to sync the data to the cloud and back to your PC again. I prefer OneDrive due to its integration into the Windows ecosystem and tight integration with Microsoft Office Apps, but each system has its advantages and disadvantages so pick the one that’s right for you. While each service only offers a certain amount of space before you have to pay, you can maximize this space by signing up, or getting friends to signup using referral codes. You can also sign up for multiple services and designate each one as a specific type of file, for example, Google Drive will store all my quotes, while OneDrive will store all my contacts, and Dropbox will be used for client projects, etc.
It’s Always Free to Window Shop Online (With none of the foul looks!)
Your competitors’ websites are the best free tool you can find. If they have an online store, you can go into their website and add products to your cart to compare prices. If they are running a special their website (should) be the first place that it will show up. If they are offering a new product or service you should find it on their website. We’re not advocating copying anybody, but seeing what other businesses are doing well is harmless and can help you to improve in areas you might be lacking in. Best of all, it only takes a bit of time to pull up a competitor. Use your favorite search engine and look for your type of business, it doesn’t even need to be in the same geographic area as you are in to provide helpful feedback.
Run Your Business with ZoHo
While we find this service truly “nickel and dimes you to death” it really does offer a good base for helping run various aspects of your business that cannot be ignored. There are free versions of marketing, sales, helpdesk, and various other programs that operate for free in the cloud and can take care of much of your online persona. Automatically schedule emails to customers, allow them to submit support tickets, integrate live chat into your website, contact forms, surveys, -you name it and they probably have it! The paid versions offer additional features and are fairly price competitive, but you won’t find a better suite of tools for free.
BONUS TIP: It’s Easy to Manage Your Website with WordPress!
Your website itself is your best tool for managing your online persona. With a professional website designed by Starcresc, we make it easy to make a great impression and get users talking about your brand. Utilizing the powerful WordPress system you will be able to make changes to your website easily. Plus, being built on a solid foundation will make it easy to update as the Internet continues to evolve and your business grows and needs to add new features.