Ecommerce

Filling Your Toolbox: 5 Essential Web Applications for Building Your Online Business

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Managing a business online is hard work and has the potential to be extremely confusing, especially for new start-ups. While there are hundreds of helpful and cool apps to aid in your operations, we’ve put together a list of 5 web tools we think are essential to get you started when constructing and managing your business.

MailChimp
What is is?

This powerful tool can be used to manage all your email marketing activities – create signup forms to match your branding, share news and product updates with existing subscribers, send event invitations and track company newsletters, and integrate with your social media accounts.

Why Should I Use it?
  • It’s free up to 2,000 subscribers, so it’s perfect for new businesses. You can also upgrade to more premium packages which are capable of handling much larger volumes of mail (it can cater to over 50,000 subscribers)

  • It has a handy analytical element which allows you to view simple, easy to understand reports on your email marketing performance, which can be used to better understand your subscribers and improve your campaigns.

  •  It makes email easy: customisable templates make sending professional-looking, branded emails possible without the need to code them yourself.

Favourite Features
  • Multi-user accounts – this lets you to add whomever you want to the admin list, and allows you to give them as much or as little access as you want

  • Segmentation – identify and categorize your subscribers by when the signed up, where they are located, their activity and more. Great for targeting those who are most likely to want to hear from you.

  • Mobile app – manage your email activity even when you’re not at a computer with MailChimp’s app, which is available on both Android and iOS.

Crazy Egg
What is is?

This is one of the most visually interesting and aesthetically pleasing tools, but that doesn’t make it any less intelligent. This analytical tool is used to identify where your website visitors spend the most time in your site – including where they scroll, hover and click.

Why Should I Use it?
  • Pinpointing where your visitors spend the most and least time on your site determines what works well, and what you should focus on improving in order to maximise conversion rates. You can also compare performance before and after changes are made, which is great for establishing what has and has not been successful.

  • You can connect clicks with types of traffic, so you know what your best referral paths are; view the percentage of visitors clicking on something; and correlate traffic sources to behaviour.

  • It has a free trial version, so you can try before you buy, and there are a range of price plans available to suit every wallet, starting at less than £10 a month.

Favourite Features

Heatmap allows you to understand your visitors behaviour by looking at patterns and identifying “hotspots” – areas which get the most attention on your page. This helps decipher where to focus design improvements, and the best places to position “clickables”.

  • Scrollmap is useful for distinguishing where visitors’ attention wanes by showing how far users scroll before leaving the site. This is handy for discerning which content you should prioritise in order to improve conversions.

  • Confetti (pictured) is great for segmenting your visitors by referral sources, search engine, time etc.

Cyfe
What is is?

A one-stop-shop for all your business’s performance information and statistics, this all-in-one business dashboard includes analytical tools to monitor the activity of multiple departments.

Why Should I Use it?
  • It can save you a lot of time, and is great for viewing all your most crucial business statistics in one place, on one web app, using handy dashboards for each element of your business: Startup, Clients, Finance, Marketing, Social Media, Sales, Project Management and IT.

Favourite Features
  • Dashboards. I know we’ve already mentioned this, but they really are great – they eliminate the need to run multiple web apps as they cover most of your bases. Why use one app to manage your social media, and another to manage your finances when you can do both in one place?

  • Widgets enable you to integrate a huge amount of other web apps, including MailChimp, WordPress, Zendesk, and most social media sites so you can use them. Some are pre-built, so you don’t need to add them yourself.

  • Customisability in terms of both which data sources you want to access, and in terms of creativity – use branding in your reports, and choose from a variety of background and dashboard designs.

Basecamp
What is is?

From developing a marketing campaign to changing the doorknobs at the office, Basecamp is the go-to app for project management. It works for anyone, providing they have a web browser smartphone (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t have either these days? Even my Gran uses the internet – granted, she uses IE, but I’m sure we can forgive her for that).

Why Should I Use it?
  • Managing a team is often chaotic, but with everyone using Basecamp, you can allow the group to work more cohesively as all your contact is managed by one app. It has number of different tools built in, which reduces the number of apps you need to run. Some of the features include a calendar, team message board, file uploader (which supports PDF, Zip folders and more); and shared documents (so everyone can add and edit)

Favourite Features
  • Daily recap allows you to keep track of what you’ve completed that day, and share it with your teammates. Alternative option: TeamSnippets

  • Colour coding is useful to delegate and categorize tasks.

  • The checklist function is great for keeping on top of what still needs to be done, and for ticking off what has been completed. Alternative option: Wunderlist.

Buffer
What is is?

An app for managing and analysing your social media posts. Queue and schedule Tweets, for example, then see how many people have reTweeted, favourited, clicked on links etc.

Why Should I Use it?
  • It makes your social media activity much more convenient to manage. While it allows you to schedule posts (for when you’re out of the office, or to mark a special occasion – for whatever reason), it also lets you to update in real-time, and then see how well the post has performed. This can help deduce which content works best for your company, assess when your followers are most attentive, and dripfeed your content so that you don’t use all your best stuff at once, or run the risk of over-promoting. The result is a much more consistent social media presence.

Favourite Features
  • The suggestions feature recommends content related to your historic posts, which can be a massive time-saver if you’re too busy to think of something witty or research interesting articles.

  • Its upgrade to much more in-depth statistical analysis costs, but it might well be worth it if social media is something your company puts a lot of focus on.

  • It allows you to update multiple social networking sites, either at the same time, or individually – you can use the analytical tool to figure out what times work best on what sites.

These are the 5 tools we think are essential. What are your favourite web apps? Drop us a comment and let us know!

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Written by Jodie Pride

Latest posts by Jodie Pride (see all)

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