Businesses today spend millions of dollars behind complicated ERP programs, multi-layered software systems and mind boggling technology tools that are barely used by the intended teams for the intended purposes.
Business management tools do not have to be expensive by default. The job of business management tools is to make life easier for the user in a corporate set-up. As long as they fulfill that basic role, the fact that they are free or cheap ought to be immaterial.
The mindset that if it is expensive, it must be good; is something we need to get rid of in a hurry. Some of the most popular software available today is actually completely free. Google Analytics, anyone?
I’ll give you a quick peek at my top picks of free or extremely cost effective apps and tools that businesses ought to switch to; right away.
Website Design And Development – Wix – Free to Inexpensive
No business these days can do without a website. Building a website does not imply dropping tens of thousands of dollars in web design and development fees. With easy to use tools like Wix now anyone can build their own website. Wix has a huge repository of free professionally designed templates to suit any type of business, mobile friendly design,free web hosting, a range of free apps that can be plugged into the website to make it more feature rich, a free shopping cart option, a drag and drop editor that allows even a novice to turn designer and the option to upgrade to a paid service at your leisure.
The paid service offers a range of add-on benefits starting from $8 per month to $24.90 per month.
Multi-Channel ERP System – Agiliron – Inexpensive
We all know the challenges that an average business operating on one platform faces. Now multiply that with 3 to 4 different platforms where the business operates and your troubles mount exponentially.
Agiliron is a one-stop ERP tool for businesses that operate on multiple platforms – offline, online, mobile, phone sales, catalog sales and more.
It consists of different modules that manage each aspect of your business – from lead capturing and management to order management, vendor management and inventory management. It helps you to set up and maintain your e-commerce platform, manage your product catalog, price your products and end to end marketing management. It is also versatile enough to handle financial data and accounts management, invoicing and QuickBooks integration, data analytics and business intelligence and finally offer top class customer service to the end user.
Agiliron offers great bang for your buck with a huge range of services available at surprisingly affordable rates. It is a paid tool, with plans starting from $49 per month and capping off at $199 per month for a top of the line, enterprise level plan.
SEO Analytics – Moz– Free to Inexpensive
A respected voice in the Search industry, Moz offers a range of free and paid tools that can truly turbocharge your SEO and content marketing efforts. The free tools include the MozBarwhich is a toolbar that you download into your browser which will track key SEO analytics, allow you to create custom searches on Google, track social media metrics for the big 3- Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Open Site Explorerallows you to compare the quality of your backlinks with those of your competitors. Check for key anchor text, best performing pages and more.
Paid options include the Moz On-page Grader that tests your on-page SEO and recommends improvements. It also carries out automated weekly site audits to keep your SEO in ship-shape.
Website Optimization –CrazyEgg– Inexpensive
Every digital marketer tracks the traffic, clicks and conversions on their websites. But it is more useful to know WHAT elements of the webpage drew the most eyeballs, clicks and conversions. It also tells you the sources of these visits and clicks (Facebook, Twitter, geographical locations) as well as their time of visit. CrazyEgg is a visual tool that tells you exactly that in the form of heatmaps, scroll maps, confetti overlays and more.
These maps of each webpage allow marketers a deep dive into every element that helps the website. Based on the insights from these maps, one can redesign webpages for maximum conversions, redo the page length based on scrolling patterns, move around call to action buttons and so much more.
Besides a free trial period, this is a paid service that starts at $39 per month and gets more expensive based on the number of pages analyzed, the types of reports chosen, the frequency of reports etc.
CRM –Zoho – Free to Inexpensive
Zoho integrates the customer journey from customer acquisition to customer care in one comprehensive simple to use solution. It captures leads on your website, manages individual customer profiles, ties in site behavior and purchase data with social media data to give you a 360 degree view of the customer. It allows you to forecast sales by telling you the exact position of each lead in your sales funnel.
It integrates with a variety of other apps, tools and software to allow you to integrate it seamlessly with your business processes. Integrate your Zoho platform with Gmail, QuickBooks, Twitter, Constant Contact, MS Office and more to make CRM a part of the integrated operations of the company.
A basic free plan allows you to start using Zoho right away with t amaximum of 3 users. For larger teams, you can upgrade to paid plans that start at $12 per user per month for a standard plan to $35 per user per month for the fully loaded enterprise edition plan.
Decision making Auto TriggerTool – If This Then That – Free
Most of us would like to set up clear cause and effect relationships in our business, but struggle with the actual implementation. We still rely on people and manual processes and these are two elements that are not 100% fail-safe.
Switch to an automated decision making system which carries your cause and effect relationships built into it and triggers the desired actions based on the cause and effect relationships that you have programmed into it. In simple words, IFTTT performs a very logical yet highly useful function – “If this event happens, Then That Action will be triggered.”
For example, a customer browses through your website, adds items in their shopping cart, but leaves without completing the purchase. With a tool like If This Then That, you can send out messages to the user instantly on their cell phones with a one-time use coupon code to complete the purchase.
What is your take on the apps listed above? What cost saving apps do you prefer in your business? Share your thoughts and spread the love!
Hiral Rana works with E2M – a digital marketing agency. She is head over heels in love with SEO and social media marketing. She wants to play an intrinsic role in the evolution of digital marketing by exploring its wealth of possibilities and opportunities. A music lover and an adventure seeker, you can connect with her on Twitter and Google+