MARKETING TIPS #5: Make your life easier with free apps and cloud collaboration tools

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats, juggling marketing and finances with sales and operations. Make your life easier with the right apps, either free or low cost.

William Buist from xTen suggests checking out Evernote for business cards and HootSuite for social media management.

Entrepreneur Taimur Khan recommends productivity app Skylightit.com – which can keep all your emails and documents in one place and make billing for your time quicker and easier.

Starting and running a small business has never been cheap or easy, and these apps make the process a bit simpler and more affordable. Accounting (Xero, Freshbooks, Sage) CRM (Capsule, Nimble) Marketing automation (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, etc), Documents, Presentations etc. (Office365, Google Apps) Mobile video chats (Hangouts, Facetime, Skype) mean that no matter where clients, consultants or suppliers are located you can collaborate and talk in real time, all from your smart phone.

Planning what you use and why, who else needs access and when, are key strategic questions. 2015 is the year these tools really deliver directly to your bottom line.

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MARKETING TIPS #4: Use mobile payment for more secure transactions

With Apple finally introducing its long-awaited Apple Pay to the UK in 2015 it’s likely we’ll see a lot of changes, 2015 may even be the year of the digital wallet.

Customers are increasingly wary about using their credit cards and are seeking safer solutions. Plus, for small businesses, paying a per-use-fee for every credit card transaction can take a real cut out of the bottom line. Apple Pay, and other payment solutions that will follow, will disrupt the payment markets. Why? Because encrypted digital wallets are the solution. Digital wallets authorize payments for a specific amount and are available anywhere, thanks to smartphones. Plus, mobile payments allow in-the-field employees to complete sales on the spot.

2015 means changing and expanding the payment options your customers have, so that you can work their way.

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MARKETING TIPS #3: Improve website calls-to-action

SEO has been one of the hottest, must-do marketing tactics for any small business over the last few years. However, according to William Buist of xTen, great SEO can only take your website so far. Making it to the top of Google’s organic search list, or generating traffic with ads, won’t do your business any good if visitors don’t actually convert into customers. When it comes to improving your call-to-action, most businesses don’t need a dramatic overhaul; it could be as simple as tweaking the size, colour and location of your Call To Action (CTA) button or slightly altering your messaging.

Look at your click-through rates (CTR), bounce rates and page views to determine where in the sales process potential customers are leaving your website. Do you rank highly in Google search results but have a low conversion of visitors to customers?

Can customers find the information they need? Do they start to buy but not complete? Do you have subscribers but no conversations or engagement? Improving your calls to action is the first step to addressing these problems and converting more prospects into customers.

It’s not something you can leave – you need to measure and test, and change seeking always to improve and learn from what happens. Having a clear strategy for what to test and taking the actions to do it matter.

See also Marketing Tips #1 Implement a Strategic Content Marketing Plan and #2 Revamp your Social Media Strategy

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