If you’re not tech savvy, deciding what technology you really need for your business can be a troublesome task. It can be hard to sift through all the options out there to decide if any individual piece of software will increase your sales or slowly drain your wallet.
Although every small business is different, there are a few essential pieces of tech everyone needs, no matter what industry you’re in or how many employees you have. These tech tools will not only help your business grow, but grow with your business — because you want to set yourself up for future success when you pick a piece of software, not just a temporary sales increase. We’ll also cover some basic criteria to keep in mind when selecting software.
3 essential tech tools your small business needs
1. A website
Building a website can be really intimidating, but you don’t need to hire a developer or pay up the wazoo for a decent website. You can use a website service like SquareSpace or Wix to host and create your website.
Eventually, you’ll probably want to start blogging and sharing content, but in the beginning, it’s okay if your website is a single page with relevant info, and some lead capture forms that we’ll talk about more below. If you use a website service, you can even choose from pre-made templates so that your website looks good and ready to go in minutes.
You might be wondering if a social media page is a replacement for a website. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good one. If your entire online presence is on social media, you’ve effectively surrendered control of your brand to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. At any time, these platforms could decide to change their algorithms, start charging you for your page, or remove your account without notice. In addition, you most likely won't appear in organic search results, missing out on a huge opportunity to gain visibility among your target audience.
2. A CRM
Not only can social media not be your only online presence, but it also cannot be the only way you reach your audience. Social platforms can make changes that hurt your ability to talk to your customers and leads, so if you want to guarantee continued contact and build relationships with your followers, you need to collect emails and phone numbers, not just handles.
You can start collecting contact info in a spreadsheet, but you'll soon notice that this method of storing customer can quickly get messy and hard to update.
Instead, you might want to consider a CRM (that’s short for contact relationship manager) to store all of your customer data in one place, including notes, emails, documents, sales, follow up reminders, and your calendar. Plus, you can integrate your CRM with your other business tools for a complete and accurate view of your customer data across all platforms. The more data you have in one place, the more powerful and helpful any individual piece of software will be.
3. An email marketing platform
Sometimes, established businesses don’t collect email addresses on their website. Don’t be like these businesses! Every company should have an email capture, even if they don’t have a plan for those emails yet. Email remains the best marketing channel for your small business, and you can even start doing it for free with tools like Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign.
What’s more: aside from using an email capture on your website, you can integrate your email marketing and CRM data. By using your CRM and marketing data combined, you can easily segment your contacts to send more targeted emails, see who is receiving which emails aside your other CRM activity, and track which campaigns produce the most sales.
When choosing software for your small business, make sure to thoroughly research vendors online and compare their features and pricing to choose the best fit for you. If you're having trouble deciding, check out our app comparisons to help you choose the best tools for your business.
In addition, it's important to take note of security practices (particularly if you have industry requirements). It's your responsibility to ensure your company's data, as well as your customer data, safe and secure online. You should also follow password-keeping best practices on your end (don’t share your passwords with anyone, use a new password for every website, and use a secure password keeper).
For many businesses, customer service is essential when choosing a software vendor. Are they reachable? Are they actually helpful? Do you enjoy working with them? If you can’t work with the support team, you’ll have a hard time getting help (or canceling your service) down the line, and that's a dealbreaker for many companies.