There are so many digital tools and techniques out there to help you run your business more effectively and efficiently. But how do you know where to start? Sue Keogh, from Cambridge digital agency Sookio, explains what should be in your essential digital toolkit.
As a digital agency focusing on content for the web and social media, keeping up with the latest tools is an essential part of what we do. But you don’t have to be working in digital to make the most of the tools out there, and getting handy with the latest software and techniques can really help your business move forward, whatever your sector.
Let’s start with your website, which is still at the heart of a digital business. Nowadays, you need to make sure it’s responsive, which means everything will resize nicely for tablets and mobiles. You may want to build it in a content management system like WordPress, Squarespace or an ecommerce platform like Magento. Don’t forget to add Google Analytics, a free tool which lets you track traffic to your site.
You’ll want to make sure your website integrates nicely with other tools. Like a customer relationship management (CRM) system which will help you keep track of your interactions with your customers. Some businesses just use a spreadsheet, but once you start to grow you might consider using something more hefty. We like Capsule, but you may find Salesforce, InfusionSoft, Magento or SageCRM better suited to the needs of your business.
These larger systems also offer email marketing. Or you can opt for something like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor which offer attractive templates and great database management so you can build up a valuable mailing list.
They also offer speedy reporting tools so you can see immediately who has opened your mailshot and which links they have clicked on. It’s quite exciting, watching the data come in within seconds of the newsletter being sent out (maybe I should get out more).
On the subject of marketing, your customers will expect you to have a presence on social media. But so many people say to us they feel daunted by the whole thing. Which channels to go for and what should you say?
We always suggest focusing on just one or two channels at first while you find your feet, rather than spread yourself too thin. Each platform has an app for your phone so you can update on the go. Perfect for the coffee shop owner who wants to take a picture of their beautiful cupcakes and post to Instagram and Facebook. Or for the B2B professional who finds writing posts for LinkedIn Pulse helps generate new leads.
Once you get into the swing of things you might want to try something like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Buffer, which will allow you to post content at different times, so you’re not tied to your phone 24/7.
Behind the scenes, there is an impressive range of collaborative tools out there. Many businesses I know use applications like Google Drive and Google Docs to organise all their files. You can log in from any browser, anywhere, which is ideal for people who are not always going to be at their desk.
And because it’s Google, you know it’s not going to go bust any time soon (which has happened with some cloud-based tools we’ve worked with over the years).
Then there are the project management tools like Trello, BaseCamp, Harvest and Trigger, which allow you to work collaboratively not just within your team but with clients too. As well as setting milestones and tracking time, these offer a great way to keep people updated on the progress of the project without having to take time out for a formal meeting.
Of course, an essential element of growing your digital business will be your choice of accountancy software. Sage offers a range of options to suit businesses of all shapes and sizes, either for desktop or in the cloud. Keep on top of VAT, payroll, invoices and integrate it with other applications, for example your ecommerce platform.
Which digital tools have you used to grow your business?
Sue Keogh is a Sage Business Expert and founder of Sookio, a digital agency based in Cambridge which specialises in quality content for the web and social media.