2015 was a banner year for technology changes, meaning now is the time to refocus on your business strategy for 2016, and the tools that can make achieving your goals easier.
While you probably already have a few tried-and-true channels to market your business — like email marketing and social media — there are a plenty of tools to help you work smarter, not harder, in the New Year.
Because we know one thing about small business owners — you work hard enough.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of digital content, social media, and operational tools to complement your marketing efforts and set you up for a productive 2016.
1. Tool: Feedly, an RSS Feed for curating content
Why is it useful? For those who may have used Google Reader in the past, Feedly is a great RSS Feed alternative for curating content and staying up to date with the most current news, announcements, and mainstream trends applicable for your business.
Once you’ve subscribed to a collection of different publications or blogs, the program automatically refreshes the feed and aggregates their content into a cohesive stream you can look at quickly and share on social.
A second favorite is Pocket, formerly known as ‘Read it Later’, which allows you to save things you read online for later, to read offline on any mobile device or PC.
How can it fit into your strategy? Finding content that your community will find interesting during your busy day can be challenging. Luckily, RSS feeds can help cancel out the distractions that exist in a chaotic Twitter or Facebook feed and focus your attention on the things that are worth sharing. It’s an easy thing to add into your daily routine, and will help you keep up to date with things going on in your industry.
2. Tool: Discover.ly, a free Chrome extension for finding your connections’ social media accounts
Why is it useful? Connect with your email contacts through multiple channels, including social media. Using Discover.ly, you are instantly supplied with links to the social profiles of your email connections on virtually any application — LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Let’s say someone likes your Facebook Page, but you also want to connect on Twitter, Discover.ly can tell you that person’s other social profiles, as well as your mutual connections.
How can it fit into your strategy? In an effort to integrate social media into your marketing strategy, Discover.ly can help you stay in touch with key connections through various channels. You’ll save time searching through social media for the right profile or looking for information about an important connection in the Internet abyss.
3.Tool: Pablo, a Buffer app for designing and sharing images on social media quickly
Why is it useful? Using Buffer’s free collection of images, or uploading your own, you can create an image with your own text or logo — Pablo will then resize it to dimensions that fit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest depending on where you’d like to post. A similar tool we love is Canva, which can do this and help with other similar graphic design needs.
How can it fit into your strategy? The importance of visual marketing can’t be overstated. Just because you don’t have a degree in graphic design doesn’t mean you can’t create a great looking image. When using a program like Pablo or Canva, the templates are primed for you to share on social media — all you have to do is add your text or custom photo and instantly you have created a content asset that you can call your own.
4. Tool: Social Analytics, free Chrome extension for social media content analytics
Why is it useful? Want to know how ‘viral’ a piece of content has gone on social media? Say you read a great article and want to share it from your profile — using Social Analytics you can get a real-time assessment of how popular a page or post is on various social networks. Likewise, you can easily check how one of your own blog posts is performing from a social sharing perspective with one quick look at Social Analytics. If you are interested in taking a deeper dive into your business’ website analytics, use this Google Analytics guide to help get you started.
How can it fit into your strategy? Know ahead of time that you are sharing relevant content that is already growing in popularity, versus guessing whether it will resonate with your audience. Thanks to social media, the amount of content being shared is massive and fast-paced. If you are going to share something, you want it to make an impact.
5. Tool: Intuit QuickBooks Online for managing finance, accounting and taxes
Why is it useful? Earlier this year, Constant Contact announced our integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks online — check it out! Constant Contact for QuickBooks Online automatically imports all of your customers from Intuit into your selected Constant Contact email list, so you’re ready to send your next email campaign. You can also easily segment your marketing to customers versus prospects.
How can it fit into your strategy? Being able to complete a transaction with a new customer is awesome. What’s better is having that customer information show up instantly in your email marketing system so you can send them and other new customers a ‘welcome’ or ‘thank you’ email shortly thereafter. Now, you can!
6. Tool: Basecamp for project management
Why is it useful? Basecamp allows your small business or nonprofit team to collaborate easily by organizing tasks in one centralized location. Another Constant Contact integration to check out, Basecamp automatically syncs critical customer data (like email address, name, opt-outs) between your Constant Contact account and Basecamp.
How can it fit into your strategy? You may be the boss, but what happens when you’re out sick or spending the day carpooling kids to and from school? In favor of a better work-life balance, Basecamp can help you and your team delegate tasks and ensure projects get completed on time though stronger collaboration.
Get more done in 2016.
Balancing business goals with the day-to-day marketing, finance, and operational duties of owning a business can get overwhelming.
Looking towards 2016, now is the time to implement a positive workflow so that you are set up to achieve the highest level of success in the New Year. Use these tools alongside email marketing to start out with your best foot forward!
What tools do you use to stay productive? Share some of your favorites in the comments!