The best online tools for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Sasanka Meegamaarachchi

Paid Media Manager

Being a small business owner in the middle of a pandemic is a difficult task. With the rapid switch toward working from home and moving the majority of sales efforts online, owners of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) may be overwhelmed with the need to adapt.

Online tools are the best way for an SME owner to take control of the business’s marketing efforts, be organized, and keep the team in sync. With the right solution in place, people are able to collaborate more easily, spend time on what matters most, and foster human connections — no matter where they are and what they do.

Why should you leverage online tools?

For businesses aiming to expand their services and customer base, having an online presence is no longer a good idea. It’s an absolute must-have. There is no better way to mass market your ideas and deliver your message than through digital platforms, given consumers’ connection to smart devices. You can use the resources of online technologies to enhance and smooth out all your online efforts, if you have the correct tools and applications. Here’s how:

  • Online tools consist of data structures that give you access to centralized and definitive data.
  • A digital solution, aka an online tool, provides a space for multiple participants to collaborate and contribute to one project.
  • Geographical locations and time zones will no longer be barriers with the implementation of online tools.
  • They help you increase productivity and efficiency within your team.

We have listed down some of the best resources on the following areas that can help you make your efforts run smoother:

  1. Project Management
  2. Communication
  3. Graphic Designing
  4. Email Marketing
  5. Social Media Management
  6. Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM)

1. Keep Track of Your Team With These Project Management Tools

These tools will help you keep track of your team, increase productivity, and have a balanced workload among the teammates.

Asana

Asana is a tool that small businesses use to keep their teams on track with their goals, projects, and everyday activities.

You have the ability to view all of your projects in calendar, list, or board format, and assign tasks with due dates to numerous stakeholders.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Basic – Free upto 15 users
  • Standard – Starting from USD 10.99
  • Business – Starting from USD 24.99

Trello

Trello, like Asana, allows you to collaborate more effectively by using boards, lists, and cards to visually organize and prioritize team assignments like a pro.

Trello is used by small organizations for a variety of tasks, including product planning, content strategy, and budgeting. Trello can improve the way your small business works and collaborates in a variety of ways.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Basic – Free Plan for individuals and small teams
  • Standard – USD 5 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Premium – USD 10 per user per month (billed annually)

Basecamp

Basecamp is a great project management tool which also helps in running your business, too. Features like Company HQ and Campfire help you make announcements, store employee docs, and socialize. Team spaces give people a way to collaborate on everything that falls outside of project work.

It includes message boards, to-dos, schedules, docs, file storage, real-time group chat, and automatic check-in questions. You can rename them, turn off the ones you don’t need, or integrate with third-party tools like time trackers to tailor things to the project at hand.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Basecamp Business – $99 per month, flat.

2. Make Collaboration Easier And Hassle Free With These Tools

With the ability to send and receive information, ideas and files in real-time, team messaging softwares have emerged as the primary means of small business communication. These tools provide rapid access to information that Emails cannot.

Slack

Slack is a messaging app for business that connects people to the information they need. Slack helps you work in a more connected, flexible, and inclusive way with its ability to file sharing, make voice and video calls, connect with Google Drive, and more.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Basic – Free Plan
  • Pro – USD 6.67 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Business+ – USD 12.50 per user per month (billed annually)

Google Workspace

Google Workspace is one place where you get everything you need to get anything done. You can access all the productivity apps you know like Google Drive, Gmail, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Meets, and many more!

Whether you are working from home, returning to the office or just checking up on your team while you are on a vacation, Google Workspace is the best way to create, communicate, and collaborate.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Business Starter – USD 6 per user per month
  • Business Standard – USD 12 per user per month
  • Business Plus – USD 18 per user per month

3. Explore Your Creativity With These Graphic Designing Tools

Creatives play a big role in your social media content. Hiring a Graphic Designer at the early stages of your business can be a bit of a costly affair.

Canva

Canva is a free graphic design website that can be used to create Facebook posts, Instagram posts, stories, videos, business cards, and many other things.

Canva’s wide array of features and 50,000 rich templates allow you to design and create posts with a very little knowledge in designing. You can even upload your own photos to the templates using a very easy drag and drop interface. It’s like having a basic version of Photoshop that’s free and doesn’t require extensive photo editing knowledge to use.

However, if you still find it difficult to use it, Canva provides free tutorials on its website as well.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Basic – Free
  • Pro – USD 12.99 per month (only upto 5 users)

Adobe Spark

Create social graphics, web pages, and short films using Adobe Spark for web and mobile. You can gain full access to premium templates, Adobe typefaces, and more with Spark, which is available as a solo subscription or as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud account.

The free version gives you access to all three segments of the tool and a selection of templates, and the ability to upload your own images as well.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Starter Plan – Free
  • Individual – USD 9.99 per month
  • Team – USD 19.90 per month

4. Automate Your Email Marketing Campaigns And Save Your Precious Time

Email Marketing is still and will be an effective way of acquiring and retaining customers. A study done by inc using 1,200 respondents showed that more than 70% out of the Millenials in that group have said that they prefer a business to communicate with them via email.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a marketing tool that allows you to manage your mailing lists, build custom email templates, and automate your complete marketing campaigns all in one place. It also offers analytical features that allows you to measure the progress of your email campaigns. 

The ability of hassle-free campaign designing and launching, custom template designing, email automation, geo targeting for localized campaigns, and customer journey mapping are some of the best features of Mailchimp platform. 

Pricing Plans Available 

  • Basic – Free
  • Essentials – USD 9.99 per month
  • Standard – USD 14.99 per month

Convertkit

ConvertKit is relatively a new product, and while it lacks some of the features that other more well-known email marketing software providers provide, it still provides everything small businesses and professional bloggers need to run email marketing campaigns. This platform’s usability is enhanced by features such as automation, labeling, and delivering a series of course emails.

You can create as many forms, landing pages, automation rules, and autoresponders as you want with ConvertKit.

Pricing Plans Available 

  • Basic – Free
  • Creator – Starting at USD 9 per month
  • Creator Pro – Starting at USD 29 per month

Sendinblue

Sendinblue is an effective email software for SMEs mainly because of its features and low price point. Email marketing automation, transactional emails, drag and drop email editor, email templates, etc are some of the features that Sendinblu consists of. 

Pricing Plans Available 

  • Basic – Free
  • Lite – Starting at USD 25 per month
  • Premium – Starting at USD 65 per month

5. Manage All Your Social Media Accounts In One Place

Posting your content online isn’t enough anymore. Constant engagement with the customers and responding to them in a timely manner play an important part as well. Constantly monitoring around 3-4 accounts, replying to customer inquiries, posting content and running ads, while running a business is definitely taxing.

Having one platform where you can deal with all of these at a glance is time saving and convenient.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is probably the biggest social media management platform out there with more than 15 million users. It’s an all-in-one platform that allows you to curate and schedule content, measure your social ROI, run social media ads, and more.

It lets you monitor multiple accounts, connect with over 35 social networks, and bulk schedule social media posts at once.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Professional – USD 19 per month (1 user)
  • Team – USD 99 per month (3 users)
  • Business – USD 599 per month (5 users)

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is one of the only platforms which provides a CRM platform along with the other necessary services such as social listening, publishing, engagement, and analytics. Each tool helps you understand, reach and engage your customers, and measure your performance as well.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Standard – USD 89 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Professional – USD 149 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Advanced – USD 249 per user per month (billed annually)

Facebook Creator Studio

Facebook’s free Creator Studio dashboard allows social media marketers and content creators to manage their Facebook Pages and Instagram profiles for free.
It combines social media analytics, scheduling, and community administration into one tool. It also aids qualifying accounts in monetizing their content and managing influencer-brand partnerships.

This tool can only be used for Facebook and Instagram.

Pricing Plans Available – Free

6. Form Long Lasting Relationships With Your Customers Using CRMs

The goal of a CRM is simple — grow your relationships to grow your business. A CRM will give you a clear overview of your customers. Your history with them, the status of their order, any outstanding order issues, and more.

Today’s customer might not inquire through only one channel. They will first raise their issue/inquiry on Instagram and then email or call you to resolve it in private. CRM platforms let you manage this issue across channels without losing track.

Hubspot CRM Tool

Hubspot CRM Tool is a holistic platform with all the tools you need to grow and organize better. It includes marketing software to grow traffic and generate leads, sales software to close more deals faster, customer service software to provide first-class support, content management software to build a powerful website that converts, and operations software to sync your apps, clean customer data, and automate processes.

Pricing Plans Available – Free

Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM offers everything a small business needs in terms of a CRM including leads, deals, and contact management, tasks and events, multichannel marketing, integrations to other Zoho apps, and more.

Pricing Plans Available

  • Standard – USD 14 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Professional – USD 23 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Enterprise – USD 40 per user per month (billed annually)
  • Ultimate – USD 52 per user per month (billed annually)

There you have it! The online tools that we believe can help you and your business. If you need help with identifying what tools you can use for your business, our experts at Surge Global are ready to help. Schedule a call today, for free!

Sasanka Meegamaarachchi

Paid Media Manager
Sasanka Meegamaarachchi is a Paid Media Manager at Surge Global. Despite his background as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Sasanka switched careers and entered the digital marketing field, sharpening his skills in data analytics ever since. He is also an avid follower of Formula 1 and basketball.

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