Sales and Marketing Software for Small Business

Small businesses are constantly looking for new ways to increase their income. One of the most efficient ways to do this is by using modern marketing software. Marketing software platforms provide powerful tools that help generate new leads, deliver effective messages, and measure the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts. The ability to continuously improve beyond what is currently considered standard practice can be a difficult proposition for most small business owners. But it’s not only possible – it’s essential.

You keep hearing about different types of software that can help you market your small business. Many have monthly fees, others have set-up fees and renewal fees. Where do you begin? And which ones are best?

Signs Your Small Business is Ready for Sales and Marketing Software

Jonathan Herrick

  • If you’re a small business owner, chances are you have heard about the surge of sales and marketing software tools designed to help your business be more efficient. Incorporating CRM (Customer Relationship Management), email and marketing automation into one software platform, helps businesses to reach more new customers and drive repeat sales. But maybe you’ve been slow to implement new tools into your business fearing they are overly complex, costly, or far too impersonal.

Fortunately, digital technology has evolved. No longer are sales and marketing automation tools designed just for the Fortune 500. Sales and marketing software is not only affordable and easy to use, but it boosts your sales efficiency. Businesses that use marketing automation for nurturing prospects experience a “451% increase in qualified leads.”  One main reason for the increase in conversions and leads is that sales and marketing automation is far from impersonal: It makes your prospects and customers feel like you care about their individual needs, concerns, and goals.

So, is it the right time to bring sales and marketing software into your business?  Here are five signs that you are ready to jump in.

1. You’re Not Finding Ideal Buyers

While it has always been important for your business to stand out, the digital era has made it more important than ever for you to understand who your best customers are and where they are online. If you try to appeal to everyone, all of the time, then prospective customers may dismiss your business in favor of one that understands their specific needs.

Automation software lets you identify and cater to ideal buyers of your products and services. By monitoring and reporting on the behavior of your website visitors, email responses, and customer purchases, you can begin segmenting prospects and customers more effectively.

Each segment within your contacts has different goals and different ways of meeting those goals. Let’s assume you own a commercial insurance agency and decide to send an offer out to your leads. One prospect, Jane, opens your email but is looking for life insurance for her family. While Steve, a more qualified prospect needs to insure his new office space. He opens your email, clicks on the email link, and also visits your quote page. By determining how each prospect is interacting with your content and online, you can start to deliver the right message to your ideal buyers — like Steve.

Attracting ideal buyers like Steve may also include:

  • Making sure your website has pictures of Steve’s demographic
  • Ensuring that your email campaigns offer resources for his specific problems
  • Creating social media-friendly media content, such as videos and infographics, to help Steve meet his goals.

Ultimately, one of the greatest strengths of sales and marketing software is that it consistently allows you to improve: The more you know about your best customers, the more you can customize an experience to appeal to your ideal buyers.

2. You’re Missing Out On Hot Sales Opportunities

Most salespeople focus their efforts on cold-calling leads and moving them through to a closed sale. The problem is that it’s an inefficient way to grow sales in this modern age. Even for veteran sales members knowing when a sales lead is ready to contact and following up on sales opportunities can be tricky.

Often, the sales team is in the dark about how visitors interact with your website, where prospects fit in the sales process, and which opportunities to spend their valuable time on.

Sales and marketing automation provides real-time sales data right to your fingertips and “Hot” leads to your doorstep. You get valuable insights into which prospects are ready to buy and which ones need a bit more nurturing.

For instance, let’s say you sell tax software and your goal is to get your ideal buyer into a demonstration of your product. A prospective customer, Jill, visits your website and your “Take a live demo” page but doesn’t fill out the form to see your software. Another prospect, Sam, visits your demo page and fills out the contact form to take a live demo. Even though Jill didn’t follow through on taking a demo and may not be ready to convert, she’s most likely interested enough to receive a nurtured email campaign to sustain and build her interest.

When Sam fills out your call to action form, all of this information is automatically sent to your sales team, with the CRM software automatically moving Sam and the hottest leads to the top of the stack. Sales and marketing software helps reduce the amount of sales time you spend with prospects like Jill and makes sure you never miss another “Hot” opportunity like Sam.

3. You Don’t Have Insights into Sales Pipelines and Activities

The goal of your business is to convert more leads into customers and efficiently grow sales. That means your sales and marketing process shouldn’t be left to trusting your gut or only based on feedback from your sales team. To drive better sales and marketing results, you need to know what’s working and what isn’t through real, actionable data.

Sales and marketing software gives your business insights into which lead sources are converting, where opportunities stand in your sales pipeline, and what sales activities your sales team is working on.  The better you can identify bottlenecks in your pipeline or sales and marketing process, the quicker you can adapt and fine-tune your sales and marketing machine.

Improved sales data will also help you to forecast monthly sales more accurately and measure sales performance so you can increase your ability to exceed your sales goals.

4. You Need to Grow Revenue with Existing Customers

A great way to grow sales for your small business is to market to your existing customers. After all, repeat customers spend on average 20% more than new customers. Whether it’s an up-sell (finding ways to increase sales through existing products), a cross-sell (selling a new product to an existing customer that drives revenue) or a referral, there are several ways to gain more revenue from your customer base.

If you’re struggling, like most businesses, to get more repeat sales and keep customers, sales and marketing software may be the answer.

Using online behaviors such as webpage visits and purchase data within your sales and marketing software, you can better target customers’ specific needs based on what interests them and then nurture them with personalized emails until they are ready to purchase. Automatic campaigns can also be set up to reach out to customers on important events such as birthdays, contract renewals, or even to request a review or referral for your business.

5. No Central Place for Information

If your sales and marketing process consists of sticky notes and a series of Excel or Google spreadsheets, it’s probably time to step up your game with an all-in-one sales and marketing system. Standalone tools such as Outlook or Gmail are fine if you only have a handful of customers. But, as you grow and build new connections, it becomes impossible for you or your team to know who has been contacted – when and by whom – making it difficult to build those close, profitable relationships with your contacts.

Other issues can arise when hosting customer information in multiple silos. For instance, one of your sales reps may end up reaching out to try to sell to a hot lead, only to find out that this “hot lead” is already using your product. This is a “lose/lose” scenario because your sales team not only wasted time trying to sell to someone who is already a customer but left the customer wondering if your company even cares about having his business at all.

With CRM and marketing tools in one spot, you get a better picture of the entire customer lifecycle and can improve communications with your prospects and customers every step of the way. All of your team members have instant access to detailed customer records at the click of a button, making sure that nobody’s time ends up wasted.

With all of your data in one place, your entire business stays on the same page. Customers receive email nurturing campaigns that are unique and distinct from what those on your prospecting lists receive. This ends up being a” win/win” scenario. Your sales team avoids embarrassing flubs, improves efficiency, and prospective and existing customers get the warm, fuzzy feeling that you value your relationship with them.

Incorporating sales and marketing software into your business can help you reach new customers and drive repeat sales. With an improved process and all your data in one place, you’ll have your finger on the pulse of the marketing efforts that are driving sales and gaining real-time insights into the needs of every prospect and customer.

What Are Marketing Tools?

Marketing tools are designed to automate repetitive processes, tasks, minimize human errors, manage complexity, build strong customer relationship, maximize effort, and brings your brand to the spotlight.

An effective marketing tool should help you achieve either or all of these:

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If you desire to be more efficient and productive, then, these marketing tools should be an integral part of your business.

Since you can’t watch over your shoulders and that of your competitors, manually, these marketing tools do that for you.

Marketing tools cut across diverse markets. For example:

  • Website analytics tools
  • Social media management tools
  • Conversion rate and funnel analytics tools
  • SEO tools
  • Marketing automation tools,
  • Email marketing tools

…And so on.

In this in-depth article, I want to show you 23 of such powerful marketing tools that you can use to power your lead generation, customer retention, customer service, sales management, and at the end of the day, boost your business revenue.

1. Charlie App

Charlie is an attractive marketing tool that helps you create a positive impression when meeting people (especially for the first time).

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A positive first impression is critical to winning over that customer or closing a deal.

In a recent article on Harvard Business Review, by Dorie Clark…

“People may have built up a certain, inaccurate impression of you – you can’t expect to overturn that thinking with subtle gestures, you need a bolder strategy to force them to re-evaluate what they thought they knew about you.”

Truly, you need to work hard to overcome a bad first impression.

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If you’re a social person or your job involves meeting with customers and clients, whether online or physically, Charlie App will help you establish a stronger relationship with customers.

You should know that a relationship with your customers is almost everything in business. It can make or mar your strategy.

Charlie scours through 100s of credible sources and automatically emails you a one‐pager on every potential customer/client you’re going to meet with before you see them. Isn’t it powerful?

This marketing tool (let’s call it an app) does this by capturing customers’ biodata, email addresses, phone numbers for follow-up and getting them acquainted with your brand.

Charlie has gone far to introduce personalization in its marketing campaign. This is a campaign where attention is given to customers on-one-one instead of the group.

It’s a simple but effective way to answer people’s questions and comments quickly. 53% of customers want a response to their tweet within 1hr.

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Don’t make your customers or social media fans perceive you as an unserious marketer, who doesn’t care about them. Use personalization to drive user engagement on social media and during meetups.

2. Oktopost

We’ve all been there – accidentally wishing to make more impact through social media. Yes, we know how powerful social media is, but it seems as though we’re lost.

If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Oktopost is that social marketing tool you should give a shot.

Oktopost is great for B2B marketers. If you choose a social media tool that’s designed for B2C marketing, your results will be mediocre. Trust me, the plan, approach, and features you need are different.

Lee Odden, founder of Top Rank Blog shows the distinction when he said that, “B2B marketers who are goals focused, strategic in planning and action are more effective.”

Oktopost is a B2B social media marketing tool designed to help you power your social campaigns and drive hungry buyers. It enables you to schedule your best posts to multiple social profiles, from a single dashboard.

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Stay informed about social media, study the detailed reports on clicks, conversions, and other engagements for each of your posts.

You can also use Oktopost to determine quality content to share with your audience – and keep them engaged all the time. As you already know, magical things happen when customers derive value for your content and get their questions answered.

An earlier case study by Gallup revealed to us that customer engagement boost sales and average revenue per user.

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Truly, it’s difficult to manually determine which type of content your audience prefers you post on social media. But with Oktopost it’s simple. The tool finds relevant conversations and leads you into them naturally.

3. WordPress

If WordPress sounds strange to you, then you’re probably new to blogging, digital marketing, or you’ve been hiding under the Old Harry Rocks in England.

WordPress is a simple and powerful content management system (CMS).

It’s a publishing software used mostly by bloggers, authors, digital companies, and content marketers to create and publish content and build a robust website.

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These days, starting a business is damn simple. Because you don’t need to have programming skills or hire a professional programmer to build a website for you.

With this free and helpful WordPress software, you can design a website within 20 minutes. There are tens of thousands of free themes and plugins to make your website as professional and dynamic as you want.

The beauty of WordPress is that most authority news channels live on it. For example, Mashable, CNN, Techcrunch, and more than 60 million other sites started on WordPress – and I don’t see them switching to Joomla or Typepad anytime soon.

WordPress themes are popular too. 51% of marketers are now using WordPress themes to power their blogs.

No matter what you’re looking for in a website, I can assure you that WordPress is powerful enough to support it.

Even if you operate a brick-and-mortar business, you can always build a website and use it to attract motivated customers on the web.

4. Crowdfire App

Launched in February 2010, Crowdfire is a social media engagement app for Twitter and Instagram. It’s great for managing user accounts. It’s built to generate automated answers to questions often asked by your fans, especially on Twitter.

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If you get Crowdfire, you’ll never be intimidated by your Twitter and Instagram accounts irrespective of the number of followers.

Email Monday confirmed that getting a 70% conversion rate is a result of using marketing automation tools like Crowdfire.

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You can collect useful data and insights about inactive users and those about to unsubscribe. You can clean up those that ain’t converting and ignite a fire inside the inactive ones.

5. Medium

Medium is a community of ardent readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas they’re passionate about.

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Typically, Medium is a tool used by authors, publishers, bloggers, and writers.

Hey, these professionals don’t think alike. More importantly, the goal of a blogger is quite different from an author.

For example, a blogger is looking to build an audience via his blog, whereas an author may not even have a blog. He was to get on the bestseller list.

Does that make sense?

Primarily, you can use Medium to amplify your content: reach hundreds and even thousands of people, republish your old posts and garner more social shares.

Medium is very good and helpful for beginners and intermediate writers.

You’ll benefit from the ready-made audience, and this will show in the number of views your first post will generate.

People can subscribe to get updates when you publish a new post on Medium. You’ll agree with me that this is another viable way to put email marketing to good use.

Don’t you think so?

6. Wistia

While no two video streaming sites are created equal, the goal and motivation behind using one often are.

If you have an awesome video to share, I’m sure that your mind will go to YouTube,  right?

Yes, YouTube is powerful, great, attractive… it deserves all the accolades.

But, YouTube hasn’t dominated visual streamings online. If you aren’t concerned much about views as you’re with conversions, then Wistia is a video marketing tool to rely on.

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If you want your audience to spend more time engaging with your video content, then, you have to use Wistia. Because, it has so many controls, features, and welcoming ads which I’m sure your audience will enjoy.

Would you like to know how your videos are engaging your customers? Wistia provides clearer analytics and serves you the right video metrics on a platter.

Video content remains one of the most effective ways to engage prospects.

Hubspot stated that 87% of marketers today use videos in their marketing campaigns.

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In the past, creating a marketing video was difficult. But today, you can create professional videos at an affordable rate. It’s no longer about the cost of purchasing video production equipment, but the expertise.

7. Buffer

I know a few brands that have built thriving businesses, though they didn’t have a Facebook fan page, Twitter account or participate in any form of a social campaign.

As you’d expect, the journey from $0 in profit to $100,000 per year was a hard nut to crack.

Come on, don’t shy away from social media. Millions of active users are waiting for you on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and the like. Social media can play a key role in your customer service.

Jayson DeMers highlighted the 7 reasons why you should use social media as your customer service portal.

In my own opinion, there is no effective marketing today, without social media.

Buffer was initially a simple app for scheduling Twitter posts, but it’s become a more powerful tool that helps you save time managing your social media.

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You don’t have to be there physically to keep your social media users engaged.

Buffer will act as your representative, while you make out time for other pressing and urgent matters that will impact your revenue.

Buffer app works tirelessly at the backend to engage your audience. You can schedule as many posts as possible.

You see, as your customers get busy with your brand on social networks, they’ll feel excited about your product.

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This engagement strategy enables you to nurture your leads without coming off offensive or pushy, which is exactly what you need to build loyalty with customers.

8. Hotjar

If you are looking for a website optimization tool, search no more. Hotjar is the all-in-one analytics and feedback tool.

Understanding your web and mobile visitor is critical. Nick Leech listed the 5 proven ways to understand website visitors. One of such is by conducting a Five Second Test.

The test is easy. You could do it manually with your friends and family.

Better yet, enter your URL into fivesecondtest.com, and let other people will carry out a test on your site for free. To make it win/win, you should return the favor and do a few five-second tests of other people’s websites as well.

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The Heuristic test (where you involve your colleagues) is effective too. But the easiest way to pinpoint how visitors are interacting with your website is by using a heat map and recording tool.

Hotjar is a powerful and easy marketing tool that shows you how your web and mobile site visitors are interacting with your website. You can use the tool to find the hottest opportunities to optimize for conversions.

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As a smart marketer, you need to know what’s trending on your landing page.

From capturing users’ behaviors with Hotjar, you will get insights into what they truly care about.

9. Simply Measured

Are you tied down by big data?

Simply Measured believes that social marketing should be simplified, and not tied overwhelming with all the data. Ideally, the social data should drive your marketing.

Simply Measured provides easy social media analytics and measurement solutions for small and mid-size companies.

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Who are your Twitter followers and what do they care about?

Use the measurement platform by Simply Measured to fuel your social campaigns and gain deep insights at your fingertips.

Simply Measured is provides Facebook analytics, Twitter analytics, and more. You also get to know how healthy your Instagram fans are and what’s trending on your Facebook fan page.

Yes, being sensitive to what is trending in your social media accounts guarantees that you acquire customers from these networks, especially Facebook.

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Simply Measured rich features enable you to compare your Facebook fan page with your competitors – to know their weaknesses and strengths. Give it a shot today.

13. Google Trends

Google Trends is a solution that shows the graphical representation of how a particular keyword or topic is trending in the US or globally.

It’s a free Google service for topic analytics. It’s very helpful in market research and web surfing behavior tracking.

For example, let’s see what’s trending right now around the world.

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With these tools, you can know what the world is thinking about your product and services.

You need Google Trend.

For example, if you’re a small business consultant and want to know how popular the market is, all you’ve to do is input the keyword into the Google Trends search box and search it.

Sadly, from the graph below, you can see that the demand for “small business consultants” is constantly going down. It’s now left for you to decide whether to move on or quit.

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14. Blog Topic Generator

Do you know what your next blog post topic is?

How do you craft the headline? Truth is, the headline is the most important element of your content. According to Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline.

If you’re stuck right now and don’t know what to write about, you’re not alone. You can use HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator.

To get started, simply enter your keywords into the blank spaces. Then click on the “Give Me Blog Topics.”

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Next, the tool gives you a Week of Blog Topics:

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Note: These topics are analyzed based on the keywords. The chances of going viral if you promote your content is high. You can see how clear the headlines are.

Moz confirmed that clear headlines with numbers are preferred by users.

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15. Content Idea Generator

Portent’s Content Idea Generator functions in a similar way as HubSpot’s blog topic generator.

The tool generates trending and irresistible blog post titles, so you don’t have to. Simply enter your keyword in the space provided and click on the white arrow.

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Next, the tool gives you an idea for a blog post. It may not be grammatically correct, hence, you need to tweak it.

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Content Idea Generator is your content creation guide when you’re looking to get more content out there – but don’t have the time to always write headlines from scratch.

When inputting your keywords, avoid CAPITALIZATION. Else, the tool will return headlines that don’t read well.

Moz confirmed that using Sentence Case in headlines converts 64 % while ALL CAPS convert at 21%.

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It’s ironic, but despite knowing how powerful content is in today’s digital marketplace, so many marketers have a hard time creating compelling content.

Creating a successful content marketing strategy is almost difficult, without making room for content creation and distribution. Let this tool guide you.

Conclusion

As a small business owner, there are a lot of things on your mind – Marketing, advertising, finding new customers, and managing employees. With so many tasks to handle, it becomes difficult to find time for website development and maintenance. A great website is key to the success of any company. It helps you in reaching out to people or customers all over the world. You can improve your brand awareness and increase online sales with the help of website design and internet marketing services.

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