As an online entrepreneur, your business is as good as your tools. In this post, we share the 9 must-have online business tools that will help you level up your game.
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We humans are a resourceful bunch.
When COVID-19 forced businesses across the globe to close their doors, many entrepreneurs and business owners brainstormed for new ways to pivot.
Are you finding yourself in this similar spot lately? If so, you might be wondering how you can adapt to running your business fully online.
In this guide, I’m going to introduce you to the tools you need to quickly grow your business in the new normal. But rather than sharing a list of 100+ platforms that overwhelm you, I decided to focus on just these nine types of tools with a few suggestions in between.
Let’s find you the tools you need to grow your business in today’s online world!
Business Tools For Marketing And Sales
Are you engaging with your target audience in every step of the way? In this first section, we’ll look at the different marketing and sales tools that help you to grab their attention and keep them coming back for more.
1. Graphic Design
These days, anyone can be a graphic designer as long as they have the right tools.
With just a bit of know-how in font pairing and alignment, you can create… well, just about anything:
- Social media content that engages with your audience (e.g. Instagram stories)
- Concept visuals to break down complex strategies and ideas (e.g. infographics, graphs, charts)
- Lead magnets and sales enablement content to attract leads and sales (e.g. checklists, case studies)
PhotoScape X: A free photo editor for Mac and Windows 10 users. Photoscape X is a great tool for basic editing needs: Cropping, resizing, and adding filters and effects.
Crello: A drag-and-drop graphic design editor loaded with 30,000 pre-made templates in 50+ formats.
Crello is an extremely intuitive tool, which makes it ideal for beginners. With just a few clicks, you can whip up a design that looks like it’s created by a pro.
You can even add animations.
Crello also offers instant access to 100 million HD stock photos and free access to 500,000+ premium images. That’s right, you no longer need to pay for expensive stock photos when you’re a Crello user!
Get the Crello lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $49.
2. Social Media
There’s so much more to social media than viral memes.
Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are playgrounds of business opportunities. With the right approach, there’s no reason why you can’t use them to drum up the hype around your business.
It can be a pain to frequently post on and manage these multiple social media channels. Luckily, these social media scheduling tools make it easy-peasy.
Buffer: A popular social media scheduling tool that automatically posts on different channels at your preferred times. Use it with Pablo by Buffer to create simple images (e.g. quotes over a background).
Source: Pablo by Buffer
For complex images — say, you want to insert icons in pictures — stick to Crello. Then upload on Buffer and schedule it.
HootSuite: A social media marketing dashboard that does more than scheduling content to your favorite channels. It also offers extensive team management features, making it a great fit if you have multiple marketers maintaining your social media channels.
Tip: What else can you post on social media besides blog posts and behind-the-scenes of your work? Two words: Customer testimonials.
These customer reviews are so effective that they can generate approximately 62% more revenue per site visitor.
If you’re just getting started in collecting customer testimonials, check out VideoPeel. It’s a platform that collects, manages, and shares video reviews from satisfied customers.
All you have to do is send customers a link to record their video testimonials and sit back and wait for their glowing reviews.
There’s nothing more powerful than a customer sharing about the ROI of your work. You can even use these videos in your social media marketing campaign to boost conversions.
Just be sure to ask for their permission in your policies and agreements — which VideoPeel conveniently provides.
Get the VideoPeel lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $69.
3. Email Marketing
Don’t let the spam emails in your inbox fool you — email is still very much one of the most used and cost-effective marketing channels.
In fact, email marketers who swear by it, get an ROI of approximately $44 for every $1 spent.
The benefits of email marketing roll on. With the right email autoresponder, you can:
- Nurture email subscribers with valuable emails on autopilot
- Promote your latest content and attract more views (e.g. blog post, podcast appearance)
- Attract sales for an upcoming service (e.g. announce limited spots for a six-week online workshop)
What email marketing business tools should you use to amp up your email game? Let’s explore your options:
MailChimp: An email autoresponder turned marketing tool. With MailChimp, you can easily send automated emails and integrate with over 200 tools. MailChimp is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a broader range of integrations in an all-in-one marketing platform.
Flodesk: This email marketing tool is an upcoming favorite thanks to its user interface and stunning templates. Flodesk is best for creating beautifully designed emails if you have limited design skills.
SendFox: A simple, zero-fuss, and beginner-friendly email platform that sends unlimited scheduled emails quickly.
Whether it’s sending a welcome sequence or lead magnet emails, SendFox will help you quickly get it done.
Get the SendFox lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $49.
Tip: Want more subscribers? Include an email field in your website contact form or promote your email newsletter in your email signature. Here are 59 more ways to 2X your email list.
4. Customer Support
33% of Americans will consider switching companies if they have a poor experience.
Ouch, just this stat alone tells us that we should never neglect customer service.
Besides setting up a customer support team from scratch and providing them the necessary training, you’ll also want to invest in the right customer support tools. That way, you’ll be able to eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline all conversations from one place.
Here are some suggestions.
Freshdesk: An omnichannel, bots, and self-service customer service tool that streamlines all customer conversations (e.g. email, live chat) in one place.
8×8 Video Interaction (formerly Wavecell): A no-download mobile-friendly tool that lets customers start a live video chat with support agents. Go with this if you’re looking to provide clients a virtual walk-through of complex project briefs.
Re:plain: A no-download live chat software that receives and sends messages directly to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram.
With Re:plain, you can even host live face-to-face video calls for customers requiring visual demonstration.
Get the Re:plain lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $49.
Your website is more than a digital web home. It’s also a lead machine that attracts great clients.
Take it from Michal Eisikowitz. The freelance copywriter consistently books new projects three months in advance thanks to her brilliant website.
Source: Michal Eisikowitz
True, you can set up an agency or your freelance business without a website (sometimes social media is enough to get the ball rolling), but a website boasts advantages that you can’t ignore:
- It boosts credibility and shows you’re a pro. Imagine you’re comparing two agencies. Both boast the same track record and rates. But one has a website, the other only a Facebook Page. Which agency will paint a credible image?
- It raises your online presence. When you optimize your website for a high-intent keyword, your site shows up on the first page of Google and attracts more eyeballs to your work.
Don’t know which website builders to pick? Here are our top recommendations.
Strikingly: A website builder for beginners that comes with pre-made templates. No coding skill is required. Strikingly is best for freelancers and agencies that want to build websites quickly.
Shopify: Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms out there with more than one million active stores today. If you run an online store and need a solution to quickly add and manage the various SKUs in your inventory list, then Shopify is a good solution to go with.
Shopify is popular for its library of apps that you can easily plug in to meet your various business needs (here’s how you pick the best ones). There are apps to power up your marketing campaign, handle shipping, track accounts, capture backups, handle customer support, and so on. This makes it one of the easier tools for businesses of all sizes.
WordPress: A powerful website builder with an equally powerful content management system. If you’re looking to build complex, professional websites, and you know your way around basic coding, this is it.
WordPress also offers a vast collection of plugins to beef up security, optimize SEO, and more. Whatever you need, they got it.
Tip: Need a hand to find the right tools to make the most out of WordPress? Check out AppSumo’s WordPress Tools.
We’ve got everything you need to customize your social media buttons, design emails inside WordPress, rebrand your website, and so much more.
Business Tools For Finances
Are you keeping track of your unpaid invoices? Great finance tools make invoicing and bookkeeping a breeze while saving you time and unnecessary effort. In this second section, we’ll dig deeper to see which tools suit you best.
6. Payments & Bookkeeping
It’s no understatement: We really hate these mundane tasks.
But that’s still no excuse to brush them aside and call it a day.
Freelancer, agency owner, or entrepreneur, we all need to put in the time to send invoices and maintain our books. How else will we get paid and grow our business? 🙂
Besides, invoicing and bookkeeping aren’t that difficult! The following tools are living proof.
Freshbooks: An all-in-one cloud-based invoicing and accounting software. It’s easy to send invoices, track time for your billing, and manage expenses on one platform.
TransferWise: An online money transfer service that lets you send money abroad at the lowest possible cost. Fees are always upfront, and making transfers is easy. Take that, PayPal.
Fiskl: A financial managing tool for freelancers and small businesses without accounting departments.
Fiskl enables you to send quotes and invoices and track expenses on your mobile and desktop.
Want to import details from a receipt? Just take a picture using your mobile and Fiskl will upload and prefill it for you.
Get the Fiskl one-year deal on AppSumo today for $149.
Business Tools For Workflow
What tools do you need to work effectively with a team? In this last section, we’ll look at the video meeting platforms, file hosting services, and project management tools you can use to create a smooth workflow.
7. Video Communication
When Clutch surveyed 365 U.S. workers across the country, they discovered that 66% work from home.
No surprise, the widespread number of people working from home this year is raising the demand for video meeting tools.
Looking for a reliable online meeting tool to host your team meetings? Here are our current favorites.
8×8: An online meeting tool great for one-on-one and group meetings with internal and external folks. 8×8’s free plan offers unlimited meetings and unlimited duration with up to 50 participants.
eyeson: A video meeting tool that doesn’t require any setup or installation. This is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a low-bandwidth, high-quality tool to run audio calls and video conferences.
Get the eyeson lifetime deal on AppSumo for $69.
Tip: Appoint a moderator or team leader to run your video meetings, so you can make sure everyone sticks to the agenda and gets a chance to contribute.
Are you wondering about the steps involved in working effectively with different teams in light of the pandemic?
We wrote a guide on cross-functional collaboration to help you with that. By the time you finish reading it, you’ll learn how to work with your teammates and execute a project successfully.
8. File Storage
Any entrepreneur who has sent a large file over email went through this at some point of their life:
Annoying, isn’t it?
This is where file storage tools come in handy. These tools store your essential files on the cloud, enabling you to access them and share with everyone else anytime and anywhere.
Here are some recommendations.
Dropbox: A popular cloud storage tool that allows you to upload and transfer files to the cloud and share them with users.
G Suite: A suite of tools developed by Google (Think: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, etc.). At only $6/month, you get tons of features plus 30 GB of cloud storage. G Suite is ideal for both freelancers and agencies looking for a budget-friendly option.
SuiteDash: An all-in-one cloud-based platform for collaboration. On top of uploading file sizes over a gigabyte, you can also create unique portals for clients, share status updates, send invoices, schedule meetings, and so much more on one single sweet platform.
SuiteDash is best for freelancers and agencies who work with multiple clients and want to provide a seamless customer experience.
Get the SuiteDash lifetime deal on AppSumo today for $79.
Tip: Whether or not you invest in a file storage tool, it’s good practice to automate your client onboarding process.
I did this using Gmail — here’s how it works.
First, pre-write your email.
Next, click the menu bar on the top right corner.
Click Templates > Save draft as template > Save as a new template.
Enter a name for your template.
The next time you onboard a new client, simply open a new email and click the menu bar.
Click Templates and insert the new template. That’s it!
Spend the next 30 minutes pre-writing your emails, and I guarantee it’s going to save you loads of time in the future.
9. Project Management
Freelancers and agency owners will agree: Projects are overwhelming.
Whether you’re writing articles, designing a website, or developing an SEO strategy, it’s hard to keep track of all the deliverables.
Imagine how complicated it becomes when you’re juggling multiple projects at one go.
While spreadsheets are cool and all, they fail to accommodate the needs of a growing business. Lucky for you, there are plenty of project management tools out there that help you create a streamlined process.
Need to keep track of the latest status of a project? Want to share feedback with all project stakeholders but don’t want to shuffle between different apps? You’ll want to check out these tools:
Coda: An all-in-one building blocks tool that brings documents, spreadsheets, and workflow apps together in one place. This is a great option for folks in product and inventory management.
Agiled: Agiled offers comprehensive project management.
You can manage projects and collaborate with your team and clients on the projects. You can share files, discuss the project with the team and clients. Create Gantt Charts, invoices, and timesheets for the projects.
Get the Agiled one-year deal on AppSumo today for $249.
Invest In Business Tools Today
Think it’s impossible to run a business online? Think again.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur working remote or an agency owner setting up a home office for the first time, you know the tools needed to take you to greater heights.
Now it’s time for you to invest in these essential business tools and get to work.
If you have a question regarding our tools on AppSumo, sound it in the comments below. We’ll stand by to help you.