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Interactive Marketing Tools for Small Business

Interactive Marketing Tools for Small Business

In this post we will talk about interactive marketing tools for small businesses. And will also discuss interactive content benefits and which platforms you must use to create and publish your own content.

In traditional marketing, advertising and promotional activities flow in only one direction. The usual approach is to design an ad, publish it and wait for the results. This is a one-way message towards to the consumers that they can accept or reject.

But with the advent of internet, there are many tools that small businesses can use to ask for feedback, track customers, and tailor product offers to the consumer’s interest.

 

What is interactive marketing?

Interactive marketing is a marketing practice that centers on customer actions. These actions trigger certain marketing initiatives from the business’ side and is opposite to a passive consumption of your messages from the customer.

The key fact about interactive marketing is the ability to offer the customer certain options and then build strategies based on those actions. When a customer provides feedback or gives personal information about precise situations, marketers can collect that information and use it to channel their advertising efforts.

This implies a two-way communication between the consumer and the brand. And both the customer and the company will get better results in the end.

 

What are interactive marketing benefits?

1-Interactive content adds value to the customer. As nowadays consumers are exposed to a big number of online ads and promotions, it gets difficult to grab their attention.

2-Interactive content increases engagement through surveys, calculators, chatbots, quizzes and email. This type of content makes a close relation between the prospect and the brand.

3-This marketing strategy also helps to bring more traffic to your website or social media account. This is because this type of content is usually shared on social media by the prospect.

4-Interactive content helps to generate leads. If the prospect filled a quiz and he is eager to know the results, there is a high chance that he gives an email address in return.

5-Interactive content reduces bouncing rates, taking the consumer a step ahead to a closer and trusted relationship with your brand.

 

Interactive marketing examples:

Contests and Giveaways:

This form of engagement is a well-known way to grab your target audience’s attention. Giveaways and contests are an intelligent approach to the human need to go for free things.

Contests are an effective interactive marketing experience and can provide valuable information about your prospects. As contest always have some kind of fun content, people Is keen to participate.

People also find it fun to take part in contests. There is often the possibility to win something and this is a magnet for every person.

Quizzes:

Quizzes are a very effective form of interactive marketing because always have some dosage of fun and provide high level of engagement. Customers make their way through a set of questions and see their progress and results. As quizzes show a personalized result in the end, you can include there a form to capture user information. You can collect emails and specific info.

To get an idea about what quizzes and how you can use them for getting leads, take a look at this Interactive Product Survey Template (typeform.com)

In this quiz the prospect answers 11 short questions about overall product quality, how innovative the product is, what is his purchase intent and more. You can then process the collected info to fine tune your strategy.

Polls:

Polls engage customers providing immediate feedback in the form of results. People like to complete a poll to compare their own results against other answers and justify their own answers against other people.

Polls help to collect valuable information about customer satisfaction, brand awareness and more.

A poll is quicker to complete than a quiz or a contest because users don’t have to go through several steps to get an outcome.

Calculators:

Calculators are a useful tool to provide value to your customers. If you can show your prospects how much money they can save with your product or service, you will surely increase your sales and conversion rates.

With calculators you can give personalized responses, with the chance to generate more leads. Calculators help to segment customers thus helping the sales team to close deals.

Calculators collect the information that the customer inputs and using this data can be helpful to plan your next steps nurturing leads. This is an excellent method for lead qualifying.

Here’s an excellent example about calculators from Outgrow Interactive, Business Calculators | Outgrow

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With this calculator, the prospect can see how much will save by purchasing a Tesla electric car. After answering some questions, the results are shown in an interactive graphic and the system asks for an email address to send the results. This is a win-win; you are adding real value to the customer, and you are getting a valuable lead too.

Chatbots:

With chatbots you can communicate in a friendly and seamless way.

Chatbots are available 24×7 and can capture visitor’s data for further following by a salesperson.

Chatbots can get info about customer feedback, product requirements, order tracking and more.

See this example about Outgrow Chatbots | Outgrow in real estate

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RELATED:     Why you should boost your marketing with chatbots

Email:

Email autoresponders are great tools to promote interactive content. Surveys, polls, and calculators can be sent to the prospect and reply with the right content depending on the prospect previous actions.

Email is not a superstar interactive marketing tool, but a perfect complement for your interactive content.

Learn how popular brands are using interactive marketing here

Interactive marketing stats:

If you are wondering if interactive content is important for your business, here are some stats from proven sources.

Check them carefully to understand why interactive marketing is the key to engage customers, provide value and grow your sales records.

80% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service from a company that provides a personalized experience: New Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences

91% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands providing relevant recommendations and offers Personalization Pulse Check | Accenture

Interactive content gains two times more engagement than static content.2019 State Of Interactive Content Marketing (demandgenreport.com)

89% of digital companies are investing in personalization Transform Your Personalization Strategy At Forrester’s Consumer Marketing Forum

72% of customers engage only with marketing messages that are customized to meet their individual interests Privacy and Personalization Report | SmarterHQ

77% of marketers agree that interactive content has “reusable” value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures Interactive Content Fuels Customer Experiences [Research] (contentmarketinginstitute.com)

In a HubSpot poll, 15% of consumers preferred to tap through Instagram Stories with quiz or poll features. This interactive content type was the third most popular Story format Which Instagram Story Formats Really Engage Viewers [New Research] (hubspot.com)

10 Statistics That Prove Interactive Content is the Future of Digital Marketing 10 Statistics That Prove Interactive Content Is the Future (outgrow.co)

 

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Interactive marketing software tools:

Now that we have covered what interactive marketing is, let’s take a look at some of the best software platforms to create and publish interactive content:

Outgrow:

This is a full featured platform for building quizzes, calculators, forms, assessments, chatbots, giveaways, and surveys.

Using Outgrow you can increase lead conversion rates, qualify leads while adding value to your customer, and boost your content marketing.

Content generated with this tool can be embedded on your web page, as a popup, in chatbot, or exit intent. This software has 1,000+ integrations to manage your lead traffic with your preferred app.

Outgrow provides full analytics reports for a detailed tracking of your content.

Outgrow pricing: Free plan with basic functionality. Next plan $14/month with 3 content types. Free 14-day trial available

Interact:

Interact is a well-known player in the quiz market from 2013. This is a tool for creating online quizzes to generate leads, segment your audience and drive traffic to your website.

With Interact you can create 3 types of quizzes:

Personality quizzes, scored quizzes and assessment quizzes (also called multiple choice quizzes) With 800+ templates to choose from, a drag-and-drop builder lets you change logo, fonts and images. More than 80 integrations are available to insert Interact into your current application workflow.

Interact pricing: Free plan with limited features but a good starting point. Next plan $17/month with integrations and email collection.

QuestionPro:

QuestionPro allows to design a survey, add multiple question types and logic. With 250+ templates for marketing research, customer satisfaction, community-based surveys and more. This is a solid and complete product with many features, but perhaps not the best if you are just starting due to the various options.

This platform provides unique features not available in similar software. 100+ languages to choose from (only on paid plans), heatmaps and sentiment analysis. A solid logic allows for almost any type of content.

QuestionPro pricing: Free plan with unlimited questions and answers, color and logo customization, 24/7 email support and 25+ question types. Next plan costs $85/month with full set of features and own subdomain.

Paperform:

This is an online form builder and form creator. With a simple editor, you can create online forms quickly and without technical knowledge. You can define your own logic rules and control your customer`s experience depending on how they answer the form.

This software includes a 300+ professional template library. No matter what your business is about, you will find templates from church forms to poll, onboarding and report forms.

With 1000+ integrations, you can easily import captured information into the systems you currently use.

Paperform pricing: From $12.50/month (annual billing) featuring unlimited forms, 10,000 form views per month and 1,000 submissions per month. Free trial available.

Jotform:

Jotform is an easy-to use online form builder. You can create and publish forms, get an email for each response and collect all related data.

You can design and customize professional looking forms with advanced options to match your branding. A simple drag-an-drop editor makes it easy to create forms, and a solid collaboration feature allows forms to be created by many users. With 1,000+ integrations, Jotform makes it easy to simplify and automate your workflow.

Jotform pricing: Free plan with 5 forms limit and 100 monthly submissions and 1,000 monthly form views. Next plan start at $24/month and allows you to set up your own branding.

Typeform:

Typeform is a leader platform for building forms, surveys, and quizzes. With a built-in photo and video library you can make professional-looking surveys that boost your lead generation.

This tool uses conditional logic to make surveys fell like conversations and not interrogations, so you can grab the prospect attention and get valuable data. Integration with Zapier make it easy to use your actual platforms to integrate data captured in Typeform.

Typeform pricing: Free plan with 3 typeforms and 10 questions per form, reports and metrics. Next plan $35/month (monthly plan) with 1,000 responses per month and 3 logic jumps per typeform.

 Leadquizzes:

This tool allows to easily create quizzes to share on your website, paid advertising, email list or social media platforms. This platform offers quiz takers a personalized experience by showing specific questions and results based on their previous answers.

With over 75 templates to choose from you can create text or image-based questions and open-ended answers. You can also add your own images, fonts and colors to fit your branding.

Leadquizzes provides a strong reporting feature, so you can analyze leads and make smart marketing decisions to grow your business.

Leadquizzes pricing: From $37/month billed annually. This includes one website and 5,000 visitors per month, templates, different quiz and survey types, logic branching, URL redirect, and full analytics.

Free 14-day trial available.

SurveySparrow:

SurveySparrow is a complete set of tools that offers many solutions working as an omni-channel solution.

This software provides tools to identify what determine purchase actions from the customer and collect feedback. You can create online surveys and distribute them through email, social media, and many channels.

SurveySparrow pricing: Free plan with 100 responses per month, 10 questions per survey and advanced integrations.  Then basic plan at $29/month for 10,000 responses per month, multilingual surveys, unlimited display, and skip logics.

 

Conclusion:

Today small business can take advantage of interactive marketing to grow sales and revenue.

Interactive content is engaging and provides a lot of value to the customer.  The above tools will help you to build a solid strategy with no technical expertise. Calculators, polls, quizzes and contests are powerful marketing tools with affordable cost an excellent cost-benefit rate.

To use the tools listed above you don’t need to be tech-savvy because all of them are easy to use. You can plan and execute a solid strategy with no technical expertise. All these tools provide easy drag and drop editors to create and publish a form or a quiz in minutes.

Regardless of your niche, using interactive content will help your business to increase lead generation, segment and qualify leads, build a stronger relationship with your customers, and grow your sales.

In need of some ideas to start? Check this page for idea generation.

 

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Video marketing for small business

Video Marketing for Small Business

In this article, we’ll talk about video marketing for small business, what are the benefits, video marketing ideas, and strategy. We will also know some video software platforms to make, edit and publish videos.

Did you know that 75% of video traffic is on mobile devices ?

Read on if you’ve been thinking about adding videos to your marketing plan. You will know and understand why this marketing strategy is being adopted by more and more companies each year.

Today we can consider video marketing as one of the top content strategies. More consumers show a preference for video over reading.

And if you are on a budget, there are plenty of affordable apps to build a visually attractive video in minutes. We will discuss some of them later on.

 

What is video marketing?

Video marketing is using videos into your marketing strategy, just simple like that.

This strategy can help to create brand awareness, build trust, promote products and services, boost your online presence, and generate revenue.

The goal is to engage the consumer and grab their attention. Today the mix of social media and mobile devices makes it possible for a video to go viral, which can help your product or service.

And if your video goes viral or gets a lot of views, further comments, shares, and likes will contribute to building trust from your social followers. These reactions may amplify your reach because when we get information from someone we know; we are likely to interact with it.

 

What are the benefits of video marketing for small businesses?

The benefits of video marketing for small businesses are enormous. If you add video into email marketing, social media, website, blogs, you will notice  increased consumer engagement. In the end, this will reflect in more sales and better customer engagement.

 

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But numbers rule the world. Just take a look at these impressive stats that show how video marketing can help your business:

Videos attach 300% more traffic and nurture leads. ( Marketing Sherpa  )

A website is 53 times more likely to reach the front page of Google if it includes video. (Insivia)

Including a video on your landing page can boost your conversion rate by up to 80%. ( Unbounce )

Nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. ( Hubspot )

Video increases organic search traffic on a website by 157%. (Conversion XL)

25% of companies publish videos every week. (Buffer)

85% of consumers want to see more video content from brands. (HubSpot)

97% of marketers say video has helped users better understand of their products and services. (Hubspot)

52% of marketers say video is the type of content with the best ROI. (HubSpot)

Adding video to your emails can increase click rates by 300%. (  Hubspot )

50% of viewers aged 18-34 said they would stop what they were doing to watch a video from their favorite creator. (Google)

People spend 2.6x more time on pages with video than without. (  Wistia  )

 

Video marketing can help your small business to:

Increase online presence:

Today every business needs to be online. With suitable content, videos can boost your online presence making your content more engaging.

Videos can also encourage viewers to perform specific actions, like subscribing to a news list, or downloading a giveaway content.

Increase brand awareness:

Video is a crucial factor in connecting with people, and if the viewer likes your content they will share it and spread your brand among their connections.

Boost social media engagement

If you post a good video on social media, many reactions and engagement will follow. This will grow your followers and/or subscribers, and more and more people will be attentive to your posts and updates.

Build trust:

Most of your marketing efforts must be towards building trust. People are open to buying from businesses and brands they trust.

Generate sales

A good marketing strategy ends up generating sales and growing revenue. If you can increase your online presence, level up brand awareness, boost your social media engagement and build trust, be sure that your sales will increase consistently.

 

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How can you promote your business video?

You can promote your business video by publishing it on social media sites, email campaigns, and of course, on your own website.

Facebook video marketing:

Video is one cornerstone of Facebook. With 8 billion daily views and more than 100 million hours of video watched every month ,this is a proven marketing strategy that gets results.

To begin with, you can add a video in the video tab of your page and upload a Facebook video cover to increase visitor engagement.

Posting organically on Facebook is an intelligent way to engage your audience and grow a relationship with your customers. Think about sharing news about product launches, promotions, and general updates about your business with short Facebook videos.

You can also start a campaign with Facebook video ads.  Facebook allows to segment audiences into age, demographics, and personal interests.  Running targeted video ads will put your brand just in front of your target audience with a low budget. And this combination will end up boosting your sales.

Instagram video marketing:

If publishing videos on Facebook is important, publishing on Instagram is a must.

Instagram stories provide an exciting business opportunity. They are a way to grab consumer´s attention about news and updates.

For Instagram stories, consider product updates, sharing promotional offers, or creating content with a behind-the-scenes video.

Twitter video marketing:

Tweets with video are six times more likely to be retweeted than tweets with photos. This amazing difference in viewer behavior is a major advantage  in your marketing strategy.

With the right hashtag, video tweets may get a lot of views and get viral in no time.

LinkedIn video marketing:

This social network is focused on B2B (Business to Business) relations. You can promote your product or service with your own post or even run an ad campaign. Unlike Facebook Ads, LinkedIn ads are more expensive, and this is due to the customer they are targeting.

According to LinkedIn, videos get 20X more views than any other type of content.

YouTube video marketing:

YouTube is the second search engine, only behind Google Search. Today YouTube where people look for answers to almost any question, from repairing a car to improving their relationship.

This is a unique platform to post videos about your brand and business. These may include product updates, how-to videos, tips, tricks and more.

Snapchat video marketing:

With 249 million active users, Snapchat is the preferred social media network for teenagers. According  to Visualcapitalist.com , it ranks #1 among U.S. teens.

Suppose your product of service is focused on this demographic segment. In that case this is the social media network where your brand must publish.

Website video marketing:

Videos can complement your website articles, product descriptions ,and blogs. Including short videos on your website can increase CTR by 34%.

Google has recently launched Web Stories, a webmaster tool to include videos on websites. Easy to share and connect, this feature boosts web visitor engagement.

Email video marketing:

You can increase your email marketing campaign´s open rates by adding video content.

Also, the mere fact of including the word “video” in the subject line can reduce unsubscribes by 28%.

Almost every mail you send to your customer can be enhanced with video content.

 

Video marketing ideas for small businesses:

You can use video marketing in several ways, just to name a few:

Product video:

A product video is intended to highlight the product’s benefits. If a prospect is thinking about buying a product but is unsure, providing with the correct content value can turn a prospect into a customer. A product video can complement a product page and engage the viewer since you can show the product up and running.

You should always focus on benefits rather than characteristics.

Educational video:

An educational video is intended to teach the audience something related to the company history, how it began and the founders. These kind of video help to forge confidence and trust.

Customer testimonial video:

This kind of videos help to build trust because people tend to rely on actual personal experiences and stories from people with similar needs.

To make a customer testimonial video, you should ideally find a genuine customer using his own words to deliver a credible and effective testimonial.

Another option is to show positive reviews that consumers have left on your website.

Instructional video:

Also known as how-to videos, tutorials or do It Yourself (DIY) ,the goal is to assist your audience in using your product. Instructional videos are more important for products rather than services. But a good video about how to use a service can also be valuable (how to use a software platform or how to book an appointment ,for example)

Almost 70% of YouTube users watch YouTube to learn about something they are interested in. And this is an excellent platform to publish instructional videos.

Tips and tricks video:

Providing tips and tricks is a unique way to build trust. With this kind of video, you build authority in your field and become a reference for your customer.

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Video marketing platforms to create and publish videos:

We list below 8 platforms that we consider the best and easier to start with. Although the universe of video marketing platforms is endless, these are beginner-friendly. Most of them are packed with powerful and professional features.

Wavevideo

Wavevideo is a user-friendly platform and professional online video editor. With Wave, you can create videos in any format and for any platform.

This platform also includes a video hosting service that makes it simple to publish, embed and share videos as soon as you upload them.

A distinctive feature of Wave is the social calendar, to help you develop with engaging ideas and curated suggestions.

Wavevideo pricing: Free for basic editing, featuring 2,000,000+ royalty-free video clips and images with watermark, 600+ templates, an audio library of 300,000+ free audio tracks, and more. You must move to the Creator plan to remove the watermark at $20/month.

Filmora:

Filmora is a well-known brand in the video arena. With a friendly dashboard Filmora offers tons of filters, stock photos and videos, overlays, green screens and more.

Despite its learning curve, there are hundreds of tutorials available. The good part is that you will always end up with a polished and professional video.

Filmora pricing: Free to try with watermark. Then you have the option to pay $39.99 per year or make a single payment of $69.99 for a perpetual plan.

FlexClip

FlexClip provides easy online video editing and creation with no registration required. With thousands of templates at your disposal, 3M+ animated texts and elements, and 4M+ stock assets, you will never run out of ideas to craft your perfect video. But if you have a storyline, it´s easy to start from scratch.

FlexClip pricing: Free for 480p downloads, max 12 projects, and video length up to one min. Next plan $5.99/month allows 720. downloads, 3 min videos and 10 GB cloud storage.

Vidyard :

Vidyard is an online video platform for businesses. This software offers a full-featured tool for creation, hosting, personalization, and analytics.

Vidyard pricing: Free plan with unlimited videos, unlimited uploads, and email and social sharing. This plan also includes basic analytics. For more features, plans start at $15/month

Biteable :

Biteable is an online video maker for social videos, ads, and more. This is an excellent product, and their web page claims that you can create content in minutes.

Biteable pricing: Free plan available with watermark. Plus plan starting at $19/month removes watermarks, 1080p resolution, and gives commercial usage rights.

Animoto:

A solid platform for creating and sharing videos with a drag-and-drop interface. Animoto lets you create powerful professional videos with no video editing experience needed.

Animoto has partnered with Getty Images to offer over one million stock photos and videos (this feature is available on Professional and Business Plan only)

Animoto pricing: Free with watermark for unlimited videos. To remove branding and add your own logo, you’ll have to pay $15 per month, a low price for a full-featured suite like this.

WeVideo:

An online video editor for creating professional videos in a snap. WeVideo allows to making and publishing videos in any format for any social media platform. Also features 1,000,000+ images, videos, and music clips for commercially licensed purposes.

WeVideo pricing: Free plan with 420p resolution and basic features. With the Power plan at $4.99/month you can publish up to 30 minutes per month with a resolution of 720p. For more advanced features, move to Unlimited plan for $7.99/month

Glitterly:

Currently in beta, this app allows you to create videos with animations and effects in just a few clicks. This video software integrates with Unsplash, Giphy, Pexels, Pixabay, and more platforms for a full-packed media library with tons of HD photos and videos.

Glitterly features a unique tweet-to-story mode, where you can turn a tweet into a movie just with a pair of clicks.

Glitterly pricing: Currently free.

 Storycreator:

This social media editor provides several templates and an easy dashboard to edit and make videos in a pair of minutes.

This app features automatic subtitles, animated text, and premium content from Unsplash and Pexels.

Storycreator pricing: Free with watermark, 1GB storage, and 5 videos per month. The next plan is $15/month and allows to remove watermark, HD videos, 20 videos per month, and 5GB storage.

 

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What are video marketing best practices?

Using video to empower your marketing strategy is an excellent option. However, there are some tips to keep in mind before making your video ads:

Videos under two minutes long get the most engagement. (Wistia)

Make sure your video can play without sound; people watch 85% of Facebook videos without sound, while 60% of Instagram Stories are watched with the sound on. (Instagram)

Avoid making videos longer than one minute; 33% of viewers will stop watching a video after 30 seconds, 45% by one minute, and 60% by two minutes. (Ad Age)

Don’t be too salesly; 65% of viewers skip online video ads as soon as possible. (CNBC)

Conclusion:

Video marketing allows you to tell a story in a differently and uniquely. Before you start, it is essential to think about your customers, their needs, and how you can fulfill them.

So think about:

Which is your audience?

What kind of video is relevant for them?

What should you communicate?

What channels could be the best to publish your videos?

The answers to these questions will be the starting point of your video strategy. Go ahead!

 

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How to use SMS marketing to grow your sales

How to use SMS Marketing to grow your sales

In this article, we will learn how to use SMS marketing to grow your sales.

Text message marketing is an excellent option for small businesses looking to attract and retain customers. With this strategy you can create a direct line between your brand and the consumer.

Did you know that 15.2 million text messages are sent every minute worldwide?

Today, almost everyone has access to a mobile phone.  People pick up their phone on average 55 times a day.  Americans are leading these statistics checking their phones 96 times a day.

People is conditioned naturally to respond to notifications and alerts, and with text messages you don’t have to wait until they are in front of a PC to take action.

Text messages are short and easy to consume, with short sentences and immediate delivery.

That’s why SMS marketing provides a valuable channel to reach your customer.

 

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is a strategy that uses text messages to engage customers and increase sales.

SMS stands for “short message service” and is a communication protocol to send and receive text messages over cellular networks.

The first SMS was sent back in 1992.. The term SMS also refers to MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) , which are multimedia SMS with the capability to send audio, video, files and phone contacts. MMS have a maximum length of 1600 characters, versus 160 characters of SMS.

 

How SMS marketing can help businesses?

SMS marketing can engage and acquire new customers for your business. Since text messages create a direct path between you and your customer, it’s easy to create brand awareness and forge a stable relationship to generate sales.

There are plenty of reasons to send text messages. For example:

1-To send updates and notifications about products.

2-To collect customer feedback.

3-To promote sales.

4-To offer coupons and special discounts.

5-To follow-up email campaigns.

6-To send updates about order status and shipping.

SMS marketing can help small businesses, restaurants, real estate agents, contractors, ecommerce platforms, financial services, gyms, retail, non-profits, schools, hotels, retail, and almost every business.

As usual, the key is to add value to the customer. This is the main point to consider when you start any marketing effort, and SMS marketing must follow the same idea.

Learn how SMS marketing can help your business with short sentences and immediate delivery here

Is SMS marketing effective?

In order to answer this question, just consider::

1-SMS has 98% open rates  compared to 20% open rates of email.

This is because notification remains on until the message is read and is likely to be opened by the customer. People always have cell phones with them, and this is an advantage that contributes to the high open rates.

2-SMS is fast, inexpensive and more than 90% of messages are read in the first 3 minutes.

3-SMS is a low-cost method to reach your customer, specially for small business.

4-SMS has high engagement rate, and 70% of customers say that SMS grabs their attention.

5-SMS don’t need of internet connection to work, and this is a great advantage over other messaging apps and email.

6-More than 50% of consumers prefer text messaging over phone call for consumer support.

7-Almost 50% of millennials favor SMS texts over emails.

8-Consumers prefer SMS because they don’t have to download a brand’s app.

How to start with SMS marketing?

To start a SMS marketing campaign, follow these steps:

1-Use a SMS marketing platform. There are plenty of platforms and we’ve listed the best below.

2-You need explicit permission from you customer to send SMS. This is especially important to comply with federal regulations.

3-Always add value to your customer. This is an immutable law of marketing applicable to any action.

4-Keep your messages short and do not send lots of messages. Only send important texts so the consumers know that when they get a text from you it is worthwhile to read.

5-Personalize your campaign. This will lead to higher engagement.

6-Only send messages during business hours. Avoid annoying customers any hour and consider time zones where your customer is located in.

 

Is text message marketing legal?

Many countries have specific rules about SMS, and you should know them before starting an SMS marketing campaign.

The main word about email and SMS marketing campaigns is “consent”. In U.S FCC rules say that consent for commercial text messaging must be written.

A proof of consent may be collected from your contacts through email, website forms, text message and many more options.

Primary regulations of the TCPA(Telephone Consumer Protection Act)  from 1991 are:

Prior Express Written Consent – A consumer’s written* consent  is required prior to sending any text messages for commercial or marketing purposes and must sufficiently show that the consumer (1) received “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of what messages they’ll be receiving; and (2) agrees unambiguously to receive such calls at the phone number given.*Consent obtained in compliance with the E-SIGN Act, such as permission obtained via an email, website form, text message, telephone keypress, voice recording, etc., satisfies this requirement. **Tax-exempt nonprofit organizations are not required to comply with the do-not-call provisions of the TCPA

Auto Opt-Out Mechanism – Recipients must be able to opt-out by replying directly to the text message.

Text Message Content – According to the TCPA, text messages must include (1) the identity of the entity sending the text and (2) opt-out instructions (the CTIA clarifies that messages must include opt-out instructions at least monthly).

Appropriate Texting Times – Text messages for marketing purposes can only be sent between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm (local time of the receiver). In short, the TCPA prohibits text messages sent to a mobile phone from an auto-dialer (including text message marketing) unless (1) you previously gave consent to receive the message or (2) the message is sent for emergency purposes.

References for the FCC Regulations discussed above, and for additional regulations not mentioned above, include:

1-A description of the program.

2-The short code or phone number you will be sending from.

3-The phrase “Msg & Data rates apply.”

4-A number of messages participants will receive.

5-Instructions to opt-out.

6-A link to your terms and conditions or privacy policy.

7-Contact and support information.

 

SMS marketing vs Email marketing:

Email is a popular channel for marketers and the preferred digital channel for marketing campaigns.

That’s why 300 billion email are sent per day worldwide, although nearly 50% of these are spam.

Inboxes are getting thousands of unsolicited emails, and people deletes many mails without reading them.

But consumer’s behavior about text messaging is different.  When someone receives a message the phone alert grabs their attention, and the notification gets on until the user reads the message. So, chances to open text messages are remarkably high.

SMS is best for:

B2C (Business to consumer) marketing.

Deals and coupons.

Personal alerts.

Quick information delivery.

To inform customer that don’t access websites.

Younger people.

 

Email marketing is best for:

In depth information.

Service and product promotions.

Building and establishing a community.

Meaningful and detailed content.

B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) marketing.

Deals and coupons.

Don’t think as email marketing excluding SMS marketing or vice-versa.

When you combine email marketing and SMS marketing you can increase engagement and retention of your customers.

Both mediums are good, but always think what your audience needs and how you can provide it. You need to ask your customers, get feedback, and learn what they expect from you.

Segmentation is particularly important. Text messages don’t have the same usage in every country, and you should consider this when you start a campaign. Also, younger generations are more likely to use text messages than adults, and this also depends on your product or service.

sms-marketing-pic

What is an SMS marketing platform?

To send SMS, you need to subscribe to a SMS platform.

This is a tool to create and send text messages to a specific list of phone numbers. Some platforms allow to send SMS worldwide and others focus on specific countries or zones.

Most of these platforms allow to send automatic text messages that are triggered based on an user’s action, such as signing up for alerts or requesting more information about a product or service.

 

Which is the best text message marketing service?

There are plenty of text marketing solutions out there. Some of the best text message marketing platforms are:

ClickSend:

ClickSend is a cloud-based gateway service for your business that lets you send bulk SMS, email, fax & letters worldwide

Features: No monthly fees, dedicated number option, lots of integrations, global coverage.

Pricing: Starting at 6 cents per message

 

Klaviyo:

A full platform for sending mails and SMS, only US numbers.

Features: automatic consent management, email and SMS signup forms, advanced segmentation, MMS at no additional cost. Focused on Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce,

Pricing: First 50 messages for free, then two cents per message.

 

TextMagic:

A solid player in the business from 2001. Send notifications, alerts, reminders, confirmations and -sms marketing campaigns.

Various free interesting tools available.

Features: Send texts, email to SMS, reporting and analytics, two-way SMS chat, iOS & Android apps, integrations.

Pricing: starting at 4 cents, only pay for texts you send. Free full-featured 14-day trial without credit card.

 

EZTexting:

With more than 16 years in the SMS market, EZTexting is a known and solid player with flexible pricing plans.

Features: Automated event notifications, mobile keywords, lead generation, safe opt-out compliance, group messaging, toll-free numbers, MMS messaging, text to landline messages, contacts segmentation, analytics, reporting and more.

Pricing: Starting at $39/moth per 1000 credits. Free-trial available.

 

Textedly:

Textedly is one of the best text message marketing software for small businesses.

Features: custom keywords and free incoming text messages, two-way SMS, text to landline, text keyword, built-in link shortening, drip campaigns, voice services, email capture, Zapier integration and more.

Pricing: Starting at $29/month with 1200 messages included. Free 14-day trial.

 

SimpleTexting:

SimpleTexting has multiple plans to choose from and great variety of tools.

Features: 2-way messaging, scheduled texts, multi-number, link tracking, MMS messaging, automation tools, message templates, Mailchimp and Zapier integrations.

Pricing: Plans start at $25 per month for 500 credits to send 500 messages. Free 14-day trial.

 

What to look for in a text marketing platform?

Text message marketing services are full-scale marketing solutions that help you engage with your audience, track results, and improve your customer service. All these services offer many options and features. We suggest you look for:

Scheduling: Useful to schedule text messages in advance to go out at any date or time.

Analytics, tracking and reports: You will need helpful reports on your campaigns, contacts, and keywords that you can use to improve future campaigns.

Automation: Automation tools to send out the same text message on a regular basis, such as recurring reminders.

Contact management: Accurate, up-to-date contact lists are vital to successful text message marketing campaigns. Since consumers often change their numbers, it is important to check that your contact list is up to date. Otherwise your customers won’t receive your messages and your campaigns will fail. The best text message marketing solutions make it easy to add contacts, import existing lists and crawl lists to ensure only active numbers are on it.

Customization: The best text message campaigns are personalized. Some solutions capture customer data, such as the person’s full name, and personal data.

Free incoming text messages: Most text message marketing companies don’t charge you for the texts you receive from customers.

Drip campaigns: With this feature, you can set up actions triggered based on conditions you set. For example, a welcome text goes out when a customer subscribes. Then they can get a thank-you message when they make their first purchase, with other triggered texts to follow.

Integrations: Some text message companies integrate with other platforms, such as email marketing tools like Mailchimp and SendinBlue.

Message templates: If you send the same text message frequently, look for a solution that lets you create and save templates so you can send messages faster.

Multimedia messaging: Almost any service allow you to send pictures, videos and audio clips. These are also known as MMS messages.

Mobile keywords: Several SMS platforms allow you to choose custom keywords and track the use of these keywords in your campaign.

Text-to-landline: This feature lets you send and receive text messages through your business landline phone number with no changes to your voice service.

Demographics: Important to check if the SMS platform can deliver messages to the countries you want to target.

sms-marketing-pic

What to expect for SMS marketing next years?

In 2023 3.5 trillion SMS business messages will be sent, from 2.5 trillion in 2019  ( Hurekatek)

By 2021 Rich Communication Services (RCS) will combine SMS with other chat apps to reach a projected $75 billion market.   ( ClickSend)

Chatbot platforms will go on reaching customers via SMS, increasing the business size. Also read:  Why you should boost your marketing with chatbots 

Demand for personalized SMS will rise (Textedly)

 

Conclusion:

SMS is one of the best mediums to engage with your customers in a personalized way, but it is important to use it according to the customer’s needs. Every SMS you send must have a purpose and a goal and must add value to your subscribers.

If you are using email marketing, adding SMS marketing is for sure a good idea. The overall cost is low and considering its amazing open rates, you will straighten your sales in the short term.

Many SMS marketing platforms offer a free-trial, and this is another reason to try this marketing strategy.

 

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12 Best Invoicing Software for Small Businesses

12 Best Invoicing Software for Small businesses

In this post we will discuss the best invoicing software for small business.

What is invoicing software?

Online invoicing software is a tool that generates a bill for products or services provided to a client. The software creates an invoice that you can deliver by mail or other method.

These apps often include billing integration, so you can get paid faster as your client gets the proper tools to make payments within the system.

Although you can create a simple invoice template in Excel or Microsoft Word, an invoice system will automate the whole process and will save you a lot of time (and money)

Choosing the best invoicing software for your small business can be one of the most important decisions you make, as it can make running your business easier and more efficient. The right invoicing software for you depends greatly on what your business needs today and will need in the future as your business grows.

In this article we’ll know the 12 best invoicing software platforms for small businesses, mid-sized businesses, freelancers, contractors, consultants, accountants, and enterprise that we consider the best.

We’ll only focus on the invoicing and billing process since some platforms are a complete accounting software.

 

 

Wave:

wave invoicing software

Wave invoicing is a 100% free platform with no limits and no hidden fees. This software includes invoicing, accounting (with fully functional double entry system) and receipt scanning.

All your invoicing and payment information automatically syncs with the free accounting system included in your account.

Wave is easy to set up with a clear and friendly interface. Invoice templates look professional and clean, and you can customize them for free with drag-and-drop line items.

A free mobile app for receipt scanning works even if you are offline, and then incorporate receipts into the accounting reports.

You can run many businesses with one account and invoice in any currency. It’s easy to set up automatic payments for recurring invoices, the system will email an automatic remainder for payments. In our opinion, Wave is one of the best invoicing software for small businesses.

Wave reports are somehow basic, and if you require custom recurring billing may be difficult ( if not impossible) to set up.

If you are wondering how they make money, Wave charges 1% per bank payment transaction and 2.9% + $0.030 per credit card transaction.

Best for: Small businesses, freelancers, and solo entrepreneurs.

 

PayPal Invoicing:

invoicing software paypal

PayPal is a giant worldwide payment processor with 346M+ users, andclaims that you can create and send an invoice in minutes, from nearly any device.

You can send the invoice via email or using a shared link.

Customer doesn’t need to have a PayPal account; he can pay with credit and debit cards. And with PayPal credit the client gets financing for 6 months on purchases of $99 or more. This works on 200+ countries around the globe and is a decisive advantage if you work with customers from other countries.

This platform provides 10+ pre-made templates that you can customize with your logo, contact information and custom fields. It is also possible to track payments and set reminders. Full mobile support allows to send invoices from your mobile on the go.

PayPal argues that their invoicing software can help to get paid faster, and that 78% of payments are made within one day the invoice is sent.

There’s no set up or monthly fee for online invoicing because the only cost associated is a 2.9% + $0.30 fee per transaction. This is a good solution for anyone to keep costs under control.

Best for: Freelancers and small businesses.

 

And.Co: 

invoicing software andco

This is a platform focused on freelancers and independent contractors. Useful time tracking, proposals, task management, expense tracking and invoicing. A simple and robust system that manages invoicing for an extremely low price or even for free.

They offer a full free plan for only one active client, but you must pay $18/month for unlimited clients and to remove And.Co branding.

When a client views and pays an invoice you’ll get a notification, so you are up to date with your payment flow. But when an invoice is overdue, there is no notification of a payment reminder, and you must set it manually.

Invoicing and contract customization are not very functional, but overall this app does its job.

The mobile app is functional and intuitive. Allows to track time, create, and send invoices, accept payments, and see reports.

And.Co supports multiple currencies and manages payments through PayPal and Stripe. A client can sign and approve your proposal, and then you can accept payments straight from the document.

And.Co enables integration with several platforms, such as Slack, Shopify, G-Suite and Zapier.

Best for: Freelancers, entrepreneurs.

 

Invoicely:

invoicely-invoicing

This is a solid online solution that provides tools to manage invoicing billing and accounting.

The whole process is easy through a very functional dashboard.

Invoicely supports many countries and currencies and provides an easy way to add several taxes. If you work with overseas clients, this is a cool feature.

Their free plan allows up to 5 invoices per month and 3 saved clients, with basic features and only PayPal integration, but still may be a good fit for freelancers.

If you need unlimited invoices and customers will have to move to a higher plan (starting at $9.99/month) that also allows to track time and expenses and make estimates. In these plans you can remove branding and add team members.

The client can receive a PDF file or a link with a payment option and send payments through PayPal, Stripe and ACH.

With the mobile apps you can create and send invoices and estimates, track time, expenses, and mileages. According to users, mobile apps are not the best, so you may be ending opening your browser on your mobile to work on the field.

With only 3 integrations ( PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net) it’s hard to find where Invoicely stands out because you will need to use more than one software app to run your business.

Best for: Small businesses and freelancers.

 

Invoice2go:

invoicing software invoice2go

Invoice2go is easy to use, solid and with full functional mobile support. This software does a good job on expense and time tracking, estimates, reports, and online payments.

With the mobile app you can create and send invoices and estimates on the go, receive payments, and get notifications.

The app is outstanding, and you can manage almost every feature of the platform. So, if you spend most of your working day away from the office, this is a key point to consider.

Invoice2go provides several templates that you can customize with your own business logo for a full branded design. You can create an estimate and the client then can view, comment, accept or reject it on the platform.

You can send the invoice by email, WhatsApp, SMS and even Facebook Messenger.

To manage payments this platform integrates with Stripe and PayPal. Invoices include a payment button so your client can pay with a single click and you get paid faster. The system also updates invoices payment information after payments.

The lower plan ($19/month) allows up to 50 invoices and 5 clients, a good fit for many freelancers and small contractors. But in this plan, you cannot generate estimates, time tracking, and payment receipts.

This pricing structure is not the best compared with other similar apps, like Zoho or PayPal.

Invoice2go offers few integrations and doesn’t support live bank feeds, a feature almost many accounting  software offer.

Best for: Small businesses, solo entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small contractors.

 

Zoho Invoice:

zoho-invoicing

If you are under Zoho’s ecosystem, this is a good option to consider.

This software features invoices, payments, estimates, expense tracking and time tracking. And it’s simple to set up and easy to use.

Zoho invoicing software allows to create and send professional invoices. You can easily send automatic payment reminders and accept payments online.

With real-time invoice reports you can know how your sales are going, track expenses, payments, and taxes.

With Zoho it’s easy to get paid, you can set automatic payments reminders, so you don´t have to manage payment dates elsewhere.

You can create professional-looking estimates, so your customer knows prices and scope of work. These estimates can turn into invoices later, but also make any necessary change before creating the invoice.

Zoho provides a wide arrangement of templates fully customizable and multilingual support, and tax management in certain countries.

The client portal is a key feature of this platform, here the client can access estimates and invoices and you can choose to share other useful information. You can collaborate and get feedback with the client through this portal, avoiding thus the need of emailing.

In Zoho free plan you can bill up to 5 customers, and a distinctive characteristic from most competitors is that the free plan has almost  same characteristic of higher plans, differing only in the number of customers you can invoice.

Zoho has integrations with G-Suite, CRMs, and other apps, but users often complaint the integrations are difficult to use.

Best for: Small businesses, non-profit and freelancers.

 

Hiveage:

invoicing software hiveage

Hiveage claims to be “easy online invoicing loved worldwide”. This is a simple and robust online invoicing and billing software that helps with invoicing, time tracking, expense tracking and quoting.

You can create manual invoices, automatic and auto-billing recurring invoices. With Hiveage you can prepare estimates and get acceptance from customers online, and easily generate invoices from quotations.

This platform allows to log the hours you worked on clients by tracking them in real time and set rates according to different type of tasks. From these tasks is easy to generate estimates and invoices.

Within the mileage tracking section, you can create categories for the most common expense types and add expenses entries based on them.

Hiveage is a strong player when it comes to payment integrations. Supports multiple currencies and more than a dozen payment gateways including Stripe, PayPal, WePay, Coinbase and more.

Payment options are added straight into invoices, making it clear and easy for your clients to complete their payments.

Free plan up to 5 clients and unlimited invoices, for financial reports upgrade to $16/month

Mobile support is good but somehow limited because not every feature of the desktop software is available on mobile.

Best for: Freelancers and small business owners.

 

Invoicera:

Invoicera is a complete suite for online invoicing, project management, client and staff tracking, subscription billing and task management.

With Invoicera you can customize invoice templates with your logo and brand colors.

It takes a pair of minutes to create an estimate with Invoicera, and you can convert estimates to invoices. The client portal is where clients can pay, accept, reject, and comment on estimates.

Regarding mobile support,  users have reported a good usability of the mobile app with all features of the core product

Invoicera has no live bank feeds, a useful feature that have almost any invoicing system nowadays. So, if you need to know in real time how money is flowing, you will have to track it manually.

This platform offers a free basic plan that allows up to 3 clients with basic capabilities. If you have only 3 clients this plan may be fine, but also lacks API access and password PDF protection. Next plan for $15/month up to 100 clients may suit a small business and offers good value for the money.

Invoicera provides multi-currency support and multi-language support. This software stands out integrating with 31 payment gateways, but it is difficult to explain why there are only 4 third-party integrations.

Best for: Freelancers, small businesses, and mid-sized businesses.

 

Invoice Ocean:

invoiceocean-invoicing

Invoice Ocean is a cloud-based platform based on  simplicity and ease of use.

Invoice Ocean supports 25 languages and all world currencies. You can define tax rates for specific countries.

Recurring invoices are issued automatically at a chosen date and time, and you and your client receive an email notification

A payment widget allows clients to make quick payments with the payment button within the invoice form.

With the Mobile app it’s easy to capture documents and file them as expenses, also generate and send invoices

You can  email invoice documents directly to your clients from the app, and the recipient can view the invoice online or download it as PDF.

Free plan up to 3 invoices per month and unlimited products and clients.

Best for: Freelancers and small businesses.

 

Invoice Ninja:

invoiceninja-invoicing

Invoice Ninja was built to provide freelancers and business owners with a complete suite of invoicing and payment tools.

This is an open source platform offering invoicing and payments, proposals creation, expenses and vendors tracking, time tracking and projects.

You can set a custom branded invoice design, set up recurring invoicing and payment notifications.

Invoice Ninja has 40+ payment gateways, which provide full flexibility also with bitcoin, ACH, and partial payments. They also offer integration with 1000+ apps like Slack, Gmail, and more.

Invoice Ninja claims that mobile support is fully functional, and that creating and sending an invoice from a mobile device only takes a pair of minutes.

The basic plan is free, providing you work with 100 clients and unlimited invoices and quotes plus a bunch of features that are rarely seen in this type of platforms. This is a great choice for businesses with few clients but still need a solid invoicing system

This software features 30+ language support and several currencies.

Best for: Freelancers and business owners.

 

FreshBooks:

freshbooks-invoicing

Featuring invoices, expenses, time tracking, accounting, projects, estimates, payments, and reports FreshBooks is a well-known player in the accounting business. For sure one of the best invoicing software available.

FreshBooks offers mobile apps easy to use, but they don’t resemble the full functionality of the platform.

Templates are fully customizable and look professional, a key feature not available in every invoicing software.

FreshBooks features estimates and proposals. A proposal is a more detailed estimate and can be signed and accepted by the client. Both estimates and proposals can be turned into invoices.

FreshBooks plans start at $10/month, up to 5 billable clients and unlimited invoices, sales tracking, and reports.

Best for: Freelancers, small businesses, mid-sized businesses  and entrepreneurs.

 

Xero:

xero-invoicing

Xero is a solid player in the accounting business. designed for small business and accountants. This cloud-based platform automates your accounting tasks and related processes.

This is a complete suite and not only an invoicing system. Xero offers a double entry system, fixed assets and inventory management, purchase orders, projects, quotes, bank reconciliation, bank connections, time tracking, multi-currency accounting, and expense tracking.

With a polished and customizable dashboard this software is easy to use but you’ll need some time to explore and learn all the features.

Surprisingly, Xero offers a single invoice template and the same template for quotes. You can create your own templates and customize them, but any invoicing system in the market today has a minimum set of templates to choose from.

You can create quotes quickly using the contact, inventory, and pricing information. Then you can turn quotes into invoices and receive updates when they are opened, accepted, or rejected.

Xero features full mobile support and mobile apps are fully functional.

If you use an online payment service, Xero adds a pay button with your invoices allowing your client to pay online instantly.

Thanks to the multi-currency support, you can get paid in 160+ currencies. All foreign transactions are converted into your local currency in real time, but you can also enter the exchange rate manually.

The Xero Marketplace provides 700+ integrations, including financial services, CRM, inventory, reporting, payroll HR and more. This is a huge advantage of Xero in terms of business process management.

The starter plan costs $20/month and allows to send 20 invoices and quotes, but you must pay extra for projects, expenses and additional users.

Best for: small and medium-sized business.

 

How to choose the right Invoicing Software?

With an overcrowded market and lots of options, finding the best invoicing system can be though. But follow these simple steps to fine tune your options:

1-Number of clients: Think about how many clients you have today and how this number could increase in the near future.

2-Number of invoices: How many invoices you create per month will determine the plan you have to choose,

3-Business growth: Note that with certain platforms you can shift plans as your business growths.

4-Automation: Important for recurring billing, payment reminders and late fees.

5-Payment collection: A key point to consider; an invoicing platform must have a billing solution integrated and many payment gateways available.

6-Mobile support: Not essential but important if you spend most of the day out of the office.

7-Languages and currencies: If you work with overseas clients, this is a non-negotiable item.

8-Integrations: When you need some advanced features, you probably have to integrate the invoicing software with your CRM or accounting system.

 

Conclusion:

Invoicing is a core process of your business. There are full accounting solutions which include invoicing (FreshBooks, Xero, Wave ) and invoice and billing solutions( PayPal, Zoho)

Since not every business needs a complete solution, you must choose what is the right system for you, and we’ve written this guide to help you choose the best.

If you also need to evaluate proposal software, check this post 12 Proposal Software Tools (Paid and Free) + Free Templates

Most of these offer free trials, so the only cost you have is investing some time until you find he best for your business.

.

 

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12 Proposal Software Tools (Paid and Free) + Free Templates

12 Proposal Software Tools (Paid and Free) + Free Templates

A proposal is a key factor in the relationship between you and your client. It is often the reason to win or lose a contract.

Proposal software helps to write, manage, and send business proposals efficiently. This in turn will grow your business, add new clients, and make your efforts more profitable.

Proposal platforms have a set of pre-defined and customizable templates, payment integrations, notifications, e-signatures, and analytics that make your proposal workflow smooth and productive.

If you are reading this article, chances are that you are not comfortable with your actual proposal system.

What is the best proposal software? This question doesn’t have a unique answer, and we have compiled 12 proposal software tools to help you decide which is the right for you.

But first, what to look for in a proposal software?

1-Reusable and customizable templates: To save time with each new proposal need.

2-Content library: A place where to organize templates, descriptions, and texts.

3-Payment tools: Key feature to get paid faster.

4-E-signature: to make a proposal legally valid like a written document.

5-Branding: This will reinforce your brand and customer awareness.

6-Languages, currencies, and taxes: Important if you work with worldwide clients.

7-Mobile support: Not essential but a good feature to look for.

8-Integrations: How will the proposal system integrates into your current CRM or document managers.

9-Notifications: To track if the customer has opened, accepted or rejected the proposal after a period of time.

10-Client chat: This will allow to solve issues that customers may have.

11-Web-based documents: Since modern proposal software send a link to the proposal instead of a PDF or Word file, the document output must be responsive in any device.

Now let’s see what these platforms offer:

 

Proposable:

proposable-proposal

Proposable claims that you can create a proposal in minutes, with a simplified workflow through an intuitive an easy to use dashboard.

With more than 30 customizable templates to choose from, a drag and drop editor builds your document with ease. This app is focused on sales teams and are available many collaboration tools to track teammates actions.

It’s easy to collect payments with Proposable since it offers a Stripe integration and e-signature capability.

Their mobile support is average, and pricing may be not suitable if you only send a few proposals a month. Also note that for all CRM integrations you’ll have to spend $500 per month.

Proposable has a strong real-time notification system including SMS and detailed analytics reports. This is a key feature for following up your success metrics.

Best for: Small and mid-sized business.

Proposable Integrations: Salesforce, Pipedrive, Insightly, Capsule, Highrise, Hubspot, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Stripe and Zapier.

Proposable Pricing: Starting at $19/month. 14 day free-trial available.

 

PandaDoc:

pandadoc-proposal

PandaDoc is a well-known player in the proposal software industry. A proven tool suited for individuals and enterprise sales teams that makes it easy to create professional-looking proposals, contracts, quotes, and documents although design is not their strong point.

This is an intuitive and mobile friendly platform that offers solutions in proposals, quotes, contracts, e-signatures, and payments.

You can collaborate with clients in real time with live chat. PandaDoc can track proposals and analytics metrics with full reports.

There are hundreds of templates to choose from but seems they have focused on quantity and not in quality.

Mobile support is good, and if your customer receives a proposal will be able to read it on his mobile  with no issues.

The learning curve in this platform not the smoothest, but this is a solid option to choose.

Best for: Individuals and enterprise-level teams.

PandaDoc Integrations: Lots of integrations including PayPal, Stripe, Pipedrive, Zoho, Quickbooks, Authorize.net, Salesforce, Hubspot, Google Drive, Dropbox, Canva and Zapier to connect to hundreds of apps.

PandaDoc Pricing: Basic functionality is free and then Essential plan at $19/month/user

 

Proposify:

proposify-proposal

With this tool you can create proposals, contracts, and quotes with e-signatures.

Proposify claims that they are revolutionizing the proposal process, helping to create customized, interactive, and beautifully designed proposals. The proposal editor is outstanding, and you can customize templates with high detail, so if you are looking for a perfect design this is a must-try.

This platform offers 70+ templates, most of them with beautiful designs for almost any industry.

Proposify has mobile support for both Android and iOS but it’s not the best out there.

Best for: Enterprise and sales teams.

Proposify Integrations: Hubspot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Insightly, Stripe, FreshBooks, Google Drive, Slack, Quickbooks, Wave and plenty of apps plus Zapier.

Proposify Pricing: Starting at $19 month/user and 14-day free trial available.

 

Qwilr:

qwilr-proposal

Qwilr has a different approach from other similar tools, since all your proposals and documents are shown as web pages from a custom Qwilr domain by default, although you can download them as PDFs.

Qwilr has a simple editor with modular building blocks to create documents. There are more than 50 professional templates to choose from. Customization is somehow limited, but document management works fine.

This tool features e-signatures, mobile support, custom fonts, collect payment through Stripe, and collaborative editing. Your clients can accept blocks to save time printing, scanning, and emailing forms. Keep in mind that Qwilr only supports English language.

Best for: Freelancers and mid-sized teams.

Qwilr Integrations: FreshBooks, Xero, Slack, Stripe, Intercom, Crazy Egg, Hotjar, Google Analytics, Mix Panel, Crisp and Zapier. Very few according to its price, so think twice if you preferred integration is not listed.

Qwilr Pricing: Starting at $75/month for 3 users.  Free 14-day trial available.

 

NiftyQuoter:

niftyquoter-proposal

NiftyQuoter is based on a friendly drag-and-drop interface that let you customize texts, images, and tokens inside the text of a proposal or email template.

This software offers 3 types of proposal templates: themes, content, and pricing templates. Automatic PDF generation, easy proposal approval by your client, auto responder, automatic proposal expiration, and  translatable client-side texts are core features.

NiftyQuoter lacks an e-signature feature and mobile support, so look elsewhere if you plan to send proposals on the go.

Best for: Freelancers, small and mid-sized business.

NiftyQuoter Integrations: FreshBooks, Quickbooks, Xero, Capsule, Pipedrive, Stripe, PayPal, Harvest, Zoho, Teamwork Projects and Zapier.

NiftyQuoter Pricing: Starting at $29/month/1 user. 14 day free-trial available.

 

Better Proposals:

The name of this platform honors its performance. Elegant design, solid and user friendly interface with 160+ prebuilt customizable templates.

Their mobile support is good, and this platform has a few features for teams because it is focused on small business and freelancers.

This software has one of the best editors we have seen, and the overall impression is that Better Proposals gives great value for its pricing. The content library feature allows to save the best elements of any proposal to your content library for future use.

Best for: Freelancers, agencies, and service business.

Better Proposals integrations: Trello, Hubspot, Intercom, Stripe, Insightly, Zapier and 35 more.

Better Proposals Pricing: Starting at $19/month/user. They offer a free 14-day trial.

 

Nusii:

nusii-proposal

This app was built for creative teams that need to build proposals in a simple and quick process. With support for 35 languages and currency and taxes for 95+ countries and mobile support.

Nusii only offers eight basic proposals templates, most of them for creative. If this is not your business,  you’ll have to look for another software.

Templates are easy to use and the process is fast, but options are overall basic. If you need more than 5 proposals per month, integrations, and custom domain then you’ll need to spend $49/month. For this price you can find better options in the market.

Best for: Freelancers and small agencies.

Nusii Integrations: Intercom, Slack, Pipedrive, Hubspot, Basecamp, Highrise, Stripe and Zapier.

Nusii Pricing: Starting at $29/month/1 user. 14 day free-trial available.

 

Bidsketch:

bidsketch-proposal

Good design and features are not a strong point of Bidsketch. The user interface is not the best

With only 23 proposals templates best suited for marketing and web design and a mobile app that needs mprovement, this software doesn’t show up as a solid one. You can’t remove content from templates and customization is limited.

You can send proposals through the platform but if you prefer the PDF option is still available. Notifications work well and you get instant updates  when the client makes comments, opens , accepts, or rejects the offer.

Best for: Freelancers.

Bidsketch Integrations: Harvest, FreshBooks, Basecamp3, Salesforce, Docksketch, and Zapier.

Bidsketch Pricing: Staring at $29/month/1 user. They offer a 14-day free trial.

 

Prospero:

With a clear and minimalistic design Prospero makes easy and straightforward to write a good proposal. They claim you can create a proposal in a few clicks, and this is for real.

Once you access the platform the system will guide you through the proposal structure, and you may change or remove almost any content you wish.

This software offers 36 templates for several industries, and you can send unlimited proposals per month. If you add to this their simple pricing plan, this is a particularly good option for freelancers and small business.

A cool feature of this software is the pre-made content for creatives. A set of texts that help to build proposals for designers, video artists, developers, and writers.

Best for: Freelancers and small business.

Prospero integrations: FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Integromat, Stripe and Zapier.

Prospero Pricing: $5/month when you pay annually (or $8/month) This is the only plan available. They offer a 21-day trial for $1

 

Quotient:

quotient-proposal

This is a cloud-based solution for small business, to create, manage and send professional proposals.

With dozens of customizable templates for every industry, (from accounting to plumbing, life coaching and many more) and mobile support, this may be a good option for small-sized business and freelancers.

Customer can chat on the proposal, and notifications work well on mobile devices.

This platform lacks e-signature and payment integration, both regular features available nowadays in every similar system.

Best for: Service business, freelancers, agencies.

Quotient Integrations: Xero, Quickbooks, Mailchimp, Insightly, Capsule, Highrise and Zapier.

Quotient Pricing: Starting at $25/month/1 user. They offer a 30-day free trial.

 

Practice Ignition:

practiceignition-proposal

Practice Ignition aims to “cut friction” by sending your clients a single smart proposal they can read, sign, and pay in one place.

This is a solid product which allows to manage complex and recurring billings; for example, you can require the client to enter its bank details and issue a direct debit before accepting the proposal. The client can receive proposals on mobile devices with excellent support.

The proposal creation process is quick, and templates are fully customizable. That said, you’ll need some time to get the ins and outs of this product. With only 7 integrations and plans starting at $75/month, this product may result pricey if you don’t take advantage of all its features.

Best for: Medium businesses to large enterprises.

Practice Ignition Integrations: Xero, Quickbooks, Xero Practice Manager, Xero HQ, Carbon, Intuit and Zapier.

Practice Ignition Pricing: Starting at $75/month. They offer a 14-day free trial.

 

Free proposal software:

If you are starting and need to send your first proposals for free, there are many possibilities: Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Open Office, Notion, Canva, Libre Office  and  Adobe Spark to name a few.

Some of these tools are free and another offer a freemium license.

An interesting source of cheap and professional-looking templates is Envato Marketplace.

All you have to do with one of these free tools is to choose a template (or make your own), write your proposal and export it to PDF before sending it to your client.

You will get your job done, but will have to look elsewhere for e-signatures, notifications, and payment processing.

Best for: Freelancers just starting out.

Pricing: Free and paid options.

Some sites to get free proposals templates:

Proposify: Free Business Proposal Templates | Proposify

FreshBooks: Free Invoices Templates-FreshBooks

Canva: Free, printable, editable proposal templates for work or school | Canva

Template.net: 70+ FREE Proposal templates-Template.net

Adobe Spark: Free Proposal Templates | Adobe Spark

Smartsheet: Free-project-proposal-templates Smartsheet

Visme: Proposal Maker-Visme

Wave: Invoice-templates-Wave

Nusii: Download Free Proposal Templates-Nusii

Office Templates: Customizable MS Word Proposal Templates-Officetemplatesonline

Wordtemplatesonline: 15+ Free Business Proposal Templates (wordtemplatesonline.net)

Conclusion:

To choose the right proposal software, follow these simple steps:

1-Write down what are your non-negotiable features along with your “wish list”  to test each option.

2-Think ahead, what about if your team grows, you need more integrations, or start working with clients from another country?

3-Based on previous steps, choose a proposal software. Get a free trial, using the product is the only way to feel if it is the right choice for you.

 

Keep in mind that a proposal tool is a fundamental tool to grow your business.

Both you and your client will get benefits from a straightforward proposal process.

For this reason, it is important to take time to test and analyze which software is the best for you.

 

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marketing-tools-pic

14 Digital Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

14 Digital Marketing Tools For Small Businesses

What are digital marketing tools?

Digital marketing tools are resources that use online or offline components like software, applications, and platforms to develop strategies for promoting products and services.

Companies and individuals can take advantage of these and build strategies to reach their objective audiences using marketing tools to attract customers.

Main categories of digital marketing tools are email marketing, websites and landing page creators, content creation (articles, podcasts, and videos) , analytical and search engine, social media. optimization tools, paid ads, interactive marketing tools, design tools (banners, images, infographics), ecommerce platforms (for online stores)

If you have a web-based business, an online store, a physical store or service business looking to grow sales through online presence you will need some digital marketing tools to plan and manage your strategy.

Here we’ve compiled the more important and best brand digital marketing tools for small business, so let’s take a look:

1-Google Analytics

Almost all your digital marketing efforts will be tracked by Google Analytics (GA). This is a platform that processes your website traffic to deliver powerful insights and statistics about how your website is performing.

GA is the market leader in analytics, and can integrate non-Google traffic source data, such as Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook.

GA tracks everything about traffic origin (organic, paid search, referral, social media), geos (that is where you got your traffic from including countries and cities) and user data (gender, age, and interests).

For this to work, you must insert some lines of code into your site. When a visitor comes to your page the code records this action, along with data such as gender, geo, and interests. Once the user exits your site the script sends this information to Google Analytics servers for processing.

The quantity of info that GA gathers may be overwhelming, but to understand  consumer behavior it is a must to understand Google Analytics. And don’t worry, there are lots of tutorial out there.

Google Analytics Pricing: Free.

 

2-Buzzsumo

Within this platform is simple to find what content perform best and what content doesn’t engage your audience. This makes creating content a simple task because there is no need to go after complicated metrics to find your next topic.

Buzzsumo has four key features:

Discovery: to explore high performing content to get more like and shares.

Research: Analyze data points to sharpen your marketing strategies.

Influencers: Identify influential people to power up your brand or marketing campaign.

Monitoring: Track comments and trends so you can respond quickly and capture opportunities

All these modules give detailed and simple to read info about competitors, backlinks, geos, and keywords that help to build your content strategy.

Buzzsumo Pricing: Starting at $99/month.

 

3-Hotjar

hotjar marketing

Hotjar is an excellent solution to understand user’s behavior on your website. Unlike other analytical tools that show lots of numerical data, this resource provides a graphical map (heatmaps) to understand what areas of the website have been visited and where the visitors have clicked on.

Another feature of this software is recording. You can playback user sessions to see how the visitor scrolled the page, how much time he spent and where he clicked on.

You can even collect visitor’s feedback about your site with friendly and non-intrusive po ups and short surveys.

So, if visitors are coming to your website but you are not getting clicks, Hotjar is a must-have. Setting it up is an automated process through Google Tag Manager which takes only a minute.

Hotjar Pricing: Free plan up to 2,000 pageviews/day, then $39/month up to 10,000 visits/day.

 

 

4-Google Search Console

google search console

Google Search Console is a service to check, maintain and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google search results.

With this tool you can monitor if your site is indexed, fix spam, check your mobile site performance and  know your referring domains (who is linking to your page)

Search Console is the starting point of any digital marketing strategy, because will help to fine tune your site according to Google´s rules. And that is the first step to appear in search results and get visitors to your site.

Google doesn’t crawl your site every day, and if you have just added some new content you can send them a request via Search Console so your updated content is ready to be seen on search results.

This platform keeps track of how many impressions your pages have in a certain time frame (how many times were shown) according to search results, and how many clicks you got.

Google Search Console Pricing: Free.

 

5-Outgrow

outgrow marketing

Outgrow is an interactive marketing tool that focuses on customer engagement through quizzes, giveaways, polls, forms, surveys and chatbots.

There’s plenty of evidence about how interactive marketing helps to increase customer engagement. Building these types of assets improves user’s experience and boosts relationship  adding real value to the customer.

This software takes marketing to the next level, providing SEO and analytic data for full customer insights. All the platform works with a visual drag-and-drop editor and there is no need of technical knowledge to build any type of content.

When your survey or quiz is ready, you can publish it on your website simply embedding it or also get a link to make an email marketing campaign.

Check here   7 tips for building calculators with Outgrow

Outgrow Pricing: From $14/month with limited functions, then paid plans up to $95/month.

 

6-Crowdfire

crowdfire

Crowdfire is a social media management tool to discover and schedule content, acting as a hub to manage all your social accounts from one place.

You can determine your topics of interest and this app delivers relevant articles and images, so you do not have to search for them, saving a lot of time. This curated content can be set from blogs, articles, YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo, Shopify and Etsy shops.

With Crowdfire it’s easy to schedule and publish content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  All posts are tailored for each social network with preview before posting. A powerful feature is that it can recommend best time to publish content ( based on trending topics rank for example)

In higher plans you get analytics with competitor analysis and key metrics data.

Crowdfire Pricing: Free plan with basic capabilities and plans starting at $7.48 /month.

 

7-Google Ads

google ads marketing

Google Ads is the major online advertising platform for paid ads worldwide. Here the advertisers bid to display ads of their products and services. Depending on this bid the announcement ranks in the search page to be displayed.

Google Ads performance is outstanding; you can segment your audience by country, age, gender, interests and also  by type of device (mobile, PC or tablet).

Based on your product or service offer, you must choose keywords that will fire the ad depending on what the customer searches. Then if the viewer clicks on the ad, he/she will be redirected to the page you set on your website and Google then charges your account.

Results coming from paid ads are almost immediate, and only 24 hours after setting up your campaign the visits to your website will begin to increase. Of course, this traffic will depend on your budget, the quality of the chosen keywords and the overall campaign setting but is for sure the quickest way to get visitors to your website.

Google Ads Pricing: Depending on your budget.

 

8-Microsoft Advertising

microsoft ads

Microsoft Advertising is an ad platform (like Google Ads) but with a narrower audience. This means that 66 million of US customers use Bing on an exclusive basis.

Also, Bing power searches and results from Alexa, Cortana, Yahoo, AOL, ClassifiedAds.com and DuckDuckGo with this resulting in a 20% US market share.

That said, Microsoft Ads functionality is like Google Ads and in some cases CPC (cost per click) may be lower.

Many people use both search engines, and in markets that require a longer research to purchase like travel, real estate and automotive Microsoft is a strong player. Since its audience is somehow a little older, in the healthcare industry takes 50% of all paid clicks.

Microsoft Advertising Pricing: Depending on your budget.

 

 

9-Ahrefs:

ahrefs

If you need to check keywords for SEO positioning, plan your content strategy and look at your competitor’s situation, Ahrefs is the right tool.

With more than 5 billion pages crawled, Ahrefs provides a clear and understandable view of the keyword panorama. This includes competitor analysis and site audits, so you can take the necessary actions to grow your online ranks.

Ahrefs includes Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube keyword tools, SERP checker and content explorer. All this information is provided in detailed reports about keywords ranking, backlinks and search results.

Beginning with this tool is not easy, although their website has plenty of tutorials and training, and if you are new to SEO and website positioning don’t expect to have a soft learning curve. With some practice you will be learning the ropes and starting to have a clear spot of your actual situation.

Ahrefs Pricing: $7 for a 7-day trial and then $99/month.

 

10-Google keyword planner

google keyword planner

Google’s Keyword Planner is a proprietary tool to find the keywords you need to start ranking for. It is included in Google Ads platform and can be used to find keywords volume and competition.

Keyword planner helps to find relevant keywords for your business and shows an estimate of keyword’s search volume. It’s easy to make a project projects (which later may turn into paid campaigns) setting up keywords and budgets.

Although this tool is easy to use, you must have a Google Ads account (free) with a credit card set as a payment method.

Contrary to what you may think, Google Keyword Planner won’t give you all the detailed data they have. But is a good and free starting point for your SEO an PPC (paid campaigns) projects.

Google Keyword Planner Pricing: Free.

 

11-Grammarly

grammarly

Grammarly is a must if your business requires content creation on a regular basis.

This tool will track your writing and suggest better grammatical and spelling forms to make your text clearer and easy to read. This is done checking your writing against more than 200 grammar rules using AI.

You can use Grammarly from the app or with a browser extension to check for readability score, spell checking, grammar checking, writing style, punctuation, and plagiarism.

This program allows to set goals before writing; Intent (Inform, describe, convince, tell a story), audience (general, knowledgeable, expert) style (formal, informal), emotion (mid, strong),

If you are not a professional writer Grammarly will improve your writing and your articles will look polished and clear. You will find some incongruencies from time to time when the suggestion tool works, but nothing that you cannot live with.

Grammarly Pricing: Free for basic functionality, then starting at $11/month.

 

12-Snappa

snappa marketing

Snappa is an online tool for building professional-looking graphics. These include logos, banners, infographics, social media ads and covers, social media posts, eBook’s covers, and custom templates.

 

Snappa has a drag-and-drop editor and building a catching-eye looking design is easy. The learning curve is smooth, and you’ll be making good designs in a few minutes.

To begin you must select a pre-sized design depending on the type of image (Twitter header, Facebook post, blog post image, LinkedIn ad, etc.) Then you choose a premade template which is fully customizable with typos, photos, backgrounds, and patterns.

There are 3,000,000+ high resolution royalty-free images and 100,000+ graphics to choose from. This saves a lot of time because you don’t have to dig here and there looking for free images.

But if you don’t find what you are looking for inside their library, there is the possibility to upload graphics, photos and even fonts.

Snappa Pricing: Free up to 3 downloads per month, then $10/month for unlimited downloads.

 

13-GetResponse

get response marketing

GetResponse is a top platform for email marketing, landing page creation and digital marketing automation.

This software also includes webinar marketing, email autoresponder, social media marketing, CRM, lead generation and e-commerce features

GetResponse is a simple but powerful suite to build an email list, with the possibility to create detailed segment lists with tags and labels to manage your leads. Their email creation tool has hundreds of built in templates that you can customize to your liking.

You can set up automated email flows according to clicking links, previous opened emails, and website pages visited. This is interesting since users receive messages according to their behavior and not in a bulk fashion.

This platform also includes a drag-and-drop landing page builder with built-in templates. You can get their own subdomain hosting for free or use your own domain.

GetResponse Pricing: Starting at $10.50/month for the basic plan.

 

14-Shopify

shopify

If you need to sell online with an e-commerce website, Shopify provides a powerful platform to maintain large amounts of products, categories, and everything you need in a full-featured online store.

This software manages unlimited products, coupons, discounts and gift cards, payments, shipping, social selling (Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Messenger, Buy Buttons) Shopify has  almost everything to build and grow a professional ecommerce website.

To run this platform, you don’t need technical background, and the whole interface is easy to navigate. Hosting is also included in every plan and this cuts off the need of any external app or service to run your online store. Unless other similar software, their customer service is available 24/7

Shopify Pricing: Starting at $29/month.

Conclusion

These online marketing tools will help a lot to plan and work your marketing strategy. Most of them have free trials available, and it’s a good idea to try and work with them to see which is the best choice for your business.

 

 

 

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4 Graphic Tools for Social Media

4 Graphic Tools for Social Media

In this post we will discuss 4 graphic tools for social media

If you are into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or any social network  pulling ahead to build and keep a fluid  relationship with your audience, to stand out from an overpopulated feed may be difficult.

But a good banner is a good starting point to catch your followers’ eye, and in this post we will talk about 4 graphics tools for social media that can help for a good graphic design and do not require any kind of previous design knowledge.

With this software you do not depend on a freelancer or external person because - once you get the feel - you will spend only 5 minutes building a wonderful image.

Of course, these are not intended to replace a professional designer, but they are handy for daily posts and graphics.

All are also suitable for other formats too (eBooks covers, blog posts, twitch banners, etc.) and some provide infographic templates as well.

Snappa:

Snappa focuses on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitch, YouTube and Soundcloud, blog images, eBook covers, custom templates, and infographics.

All templates available in this graphic tool are pre-made with the right resolution, and this is a big time saving advantage because once the template is selected, you know that it will be saved with the correct sizing and there is no further need for any post processing.

snappa-pic

Using Snappa is easy and you will be creating a fancy image after a few minutes, but in case you need there are tutorial videos to help.

This app works well with background images and text overlays and is way simpler than Adobe family of products.

The software is intuitive, and things are where you look for them. It offers a cloud-based platform including 3,000,000+ hi res royalty free photos and 100,000+ graphics to choose from, but you can upload your own images and make your custom template starting from scratch.

There is a huge number of fonts to choose, but in case you do not find the right one or your branding uses a special one, you can upload your own.

Available shapes are somehow limited and do not allow for coloring.

The interface uses a drag-and-drop menu and here what you see is what you get. The learning curve is really smooth and once you are ready with your design it can be saved and/or downloaded.

Snappa allows posting directly on Facebook and Twitter, useful for those posting a lot on a regular basis.

Snappa Pricing:

Snappa offers up to three downloads free per month with no watermark and the whole set of images and templates are available (this is an interesting difference from other similar apps), then you must spend $10 per month for unlimited graphics.

 

Canva:

Canva is perhaps the most used design platform for custom graphics.

With this software you can create social media design, banners, posters, presentations, book covers, business cards, resumes and more.

Templates are organized in lots of categories: marketing, education, Facebook posts, Facebook  presentations, and many more.

A key point of Canva is that the free plan has lots of options, and this satisfies the needs of many casual users.

Canva has 8,000+ templates, 100+ design and thousands of free photos. As with many other apps, once you register there is a left sided dashboard where to choose images, forms, texts and more in a drop and drag style.

Once you choose a template, insert your texts and graphics in a simple manner. As many other apps in this segment, you can upload your own images to work with.

But as some templates and shapes are not free, you must navigate to the one you choose and check its availability for free members, and this is not straightforward at all.

Templates are pre-formatted to the right resolution, but for an unknown reason this data is not available on the screen. And keep in mind that without a paid subscription you cannot resize your design, so better check it twice before starting although in most cases a posterior external image processing can do the trick.

Some features are not for beginners, although this graphic tool offers several tutorials for a better understanding for paid and free members. This is somehow compensated by the huge number of graphical items, and almost endless possibilities.

There are plenty of integrations available and you can post right on your social media platform from Canva.

Canva offers a bunch of premium features that make this app unique.

canva-pic

You can turn designs into GIFs and videos, upload your own fonts, resizing, a brand kit (where all of your designs, logos and fonts are available for easy access) and the ability to save designs in PNG format.

This software is in a permanent evolution and is continuously adding more and more features, but the amount of options may turn it clunky sometimes.

Canva Pricing:

Canva has a free plan, and the paid plan starts at $9.95/mo. billed yearly.

 

 

Adobe Spark:

Adobe Spark makes it easy to create social media graphics, videos and single-page websites. Since it comes with web and mobile version makes a difference from other similar software.

Adobe shows a fresh approach here with a beginners friendly product that offers a smooth learning curve that stands out from what we are used to know from this company; top level products like InDesign and Photoshop aimed at professional users and with tons of high-end features.

adobe-spark-pic

This product has three main sections:

Adobe Spark Post:

This allows to create beautiful designs for social media, blog post images, banners, brochures and more.

There are hundreds of high-quality free photos to choose and you can upload your own.

Adobe Spark Video:

A tool to create videos for Facebook Ads, promo videos, sales videos and more. Pick up a provided template or start from scratch with your own, add a voice over and text.

Since Adobe provides its own hosting, you can share videos directly from the app ( or download in case you need them)

A downside of videos is the resolution limited to 720 px, and on some screens and devices this may not be the best option. Also, video length is limited to 30 seconds, although this may suffice for most needs.

Adobe Spark Page:

This graphic tool allows to create a single page site with beautiful design, with a mix of photos, videos, and animations. Web pages are responsive, which means they do not lose functionality when viewed on mobile devices.

There are thousands of photos to choose, and Spark also integrates with Google Photos, Dropbox, and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Hosting is free and included into this product, but please note that you cannot use your own domain and only get a link to share your page with an Adobe proprietary domain url.

Although you can embed this webpage in another website, this functionality is quite limited and not intended to replace a full website builder.

Adobe Spark Pricing:

Adobe offers three plans, free and two paid options. In the free plan there is a fixed Adobe watermark added to your content, which may be removed when you upgrade to a paid plan and paid plans start at $9.79/mo.

Stencil:

This is a web-based tool intended to create social media and graphic images for absolute beginners with a focus on speed and simplicity. This easy and intuitive tool also offers a chrome browser extension for better integration.

stencil-pic

Here you can find 1,000,000+ images and 1,000,000+ icons and illustrations royalty free. This is a valuable feature since you need not look for photos, images or icons outside the platform which is a time-consuming task and even frustrating sometimes.

Stencil also includes over 600 templates and thousands of Google fonts, although you can upload your own.

This tool works on a drag-and-drop basis like many others in this segment and provides a clear interface because is not intended to be a full featured design suite but a social media quick and efficient image creator.

A unique recently added feature is “Quotes” where you can search 100,000+ quotes to add some emotional touch to your social media.

Stencil Pricing:

Stencil offers a free plan and two paid plans. To begin with, the free plan allows the user to save up to 10 images per month and is limited in photos and icons availability but is a good starting point to test this software.

In the free plan a lock icon appears on the right down corner when you chose an unavailable icon in the free plan, this is annoying if you have just finished your design and are prompted to upgrade or delete it.

The Pro plan is $9/mo. and top plan is $12/mo.

Conclusion:

If you need an online tool for designing all kinds of graphics these listed here are the most popular, all of them have plenty of options, but keep in mind that there are many others apps out there.

After testing all of them, we choose Snappa for its simplicity and fast loading times. But all of these are good, go ahead and try for yourself.

 






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chatbot-blog-cover

Why you should boost your marketing with chatbots

Why you should boost your marketing with chatbots

In this post we'll learn how you can improve your marketing with chatbots.

Traditional marketing is a one-way communication channel where companies provide information to customers, but this has two major drawbacks:

1-From the company side you do not know if the information you provide is useful to the customer and measuring this takes a lot of time and money.
2-The customer receives the information, but if it does not fit perfectly what he needs or some doubt arises, then he must contact the company by phone or mail.

But a few years ago, social media changed everything, and today customers demand quick answers and the scope of interaction has dramatically changed.
Now traditional marketing has developed into conversational marketing, a neologism that defines a fresh approach to customer needs through real time interactions and personal level. This includes Email marketing, customer success, customer support and chatbots.

Today half of consumers seek customer support through social media, and 70% prefer chatbots quick answers.

Conversational marketing puts the consumer right in front of you while he is looking for an answer related to a product or service, and then you can generate leads and engagement based on first-hand data.
On the other hand, consumer times have turned short and usually there is no opportunity for a second chance.

And here is where chatbots come; since they are interactive marketing tools that can improve the customer experience, generate leads, provide those unresolved issues to the right support department, reduce costs, provide membership courses and webinars registrations, get user feedback, and many more benefits.

What is a chatbot?

Basically, it is a piece of software that can have conversations with humans.
A chatbot is easily integrated into your website through a little program or a third part application and on messaging apps like Facebook, Telegram and Whatsapp

There are three types of chatbots:
1-Live chat:
These are mainly used for support to answer simple questions in real time.
2-Rules based chatbots:
Rules based chatbots follow predesigned rules built around some kind of decision tree, here the user has fixed option to choose from and these will determine the conversational flow. Mainly used for customer support and basic conversation.
3-AI chatbots:
AI based chatbots are the more advanced ones, have the possibility to understand the user intent and take the conversation to the next level, providing relevant answers and improving their conversational process as time goes by.

Why chatbots improve your marketing efforts:

1-Chatbots provide instant answers:
We all have been hanging on the phone for countless minutes waiting for a customer service agent to get our call, and that experience is far from good. When you finally hear “Hello, my name is xx how can I help you?” You are really upset, and the conversation does not start in the best manner.
(Also think of the above approach with an email instead)
A quick and proper answer improves your business image and brand awareness. If the consumer could solve the issue, you have for sure a returning visitor.

2-Chatbots can engage and qualify leads:
With the right process, lead engagement is a key task for chatbots. According to your sales funnel, you can drive any lead accordingly. There is always the option to pass the data to the right department for later follow-up of those leads that need further clarification about some product or service to close the sale.
If the conversation takes place with an existing customer, you can make a tailored offer based on previous activity and purchase records available in your database.

3-Chatbots cut down costs:
A chatbot service is a monthly fixed cost that works 24/7.
Unlike a human being, its performance is always the same and not depending on any external or internal factor.
And regarding costs, the cost benefit relation is excellent.

4-Chatbots provide a vast amount of data:
Since the chatbot interacts directly with an actual person, you can get a vast amount of real data from your website visitors. Keep in mind that people are not keen to answer questions or complete surveys, but since they are into a natural conversation, they will provide first-hand real-time answers to your inquiries.
This interactive approach is invaluable because a website visitor is someone that has a certain interest in your product or service and is there to get information and - if the conversation is sales related - to be guided through your sales funnel.

5-Chatbots boost your presence on social media:
Chatbots allow you to connect customers on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and more. The ability to provide answers 24/7 also helps to strengthen brand awareness.

How to start:

1-First of all, you must set up a strategy and begin with a few questions:
Where do you plan to use chatbots, customer service, social media, marketing, or sales?
What kind of leads are you interested in?
What do you want those leads to do?
What specific data do you need to collect?
What customer service issues are you going to deal with?

The best approach is to begin with customer support and once the system is up and running move into another instance.

As with any strategy, you must provide goals and see how those goals are met and make corrections to the initial plan.
This is not a onetime setting; you must test and rework your strategy to build a good system.

2-Put the chatbot in the right pages:
Notice that is useless to put a chatbot on a landing page because you are just trying to qualify a lead there.
Also it is not good to try to start a conversation with everybody, you only want to chat with people showing some minimum interest in your products or services, and a prospect that is lurking the pricing page is a firm candidate for this.
A well-planned strategy will reveal which site pages are best suited for chatbots.

3-Information management:
Do not overload the customer with information that is not valuable to its actual need, you face the risk to overwhelm the user and make the process useless.

4-Do not forget to ask for user feedback, this is crucial to improve your chatbot behavior.
Always remember you have a potential buyer in front of you and would not be wise to let him go without his opinion.

Some chatbot service providers you can try:

There are plenty of chat platforms out there and you should choose one that does not require technical background.
Today all these services are billed in a SaaS manner (Software as a service) . They are cloud-based and billed on a monthly basis. This means that if you stop paying, your chatbot service goes down.

1.Sendpulse.com
A multi-channel marketing platform. They have a free plan that includes 10.000 messages/mo. and up to three bots.
2.Outgrow.co:
An all in all interactive marketing software. You get chatbots and quizzes, forms and calculators builder. 7-day free trial and then prices start from $14/mo.
3.Mobilemonkey.com:
A huge platform about chatbots. They offer a free plan only to qualified small businesses.
4.Chatbot.com
An excellent option with plans starting at $50/mo.
5.Revechat.com:
A complete customer connected platform with prices starting at $13/mo.
6.Surveysparrow.com
A multi-channel platform offering a 14-day trial without a credit card.
7.Manychat.com
A chat only focused platform. They offer a free basic plan to start.
8.Freshchat.com
This is a product of Freshworks, a multi-product platform. Offer tons of integrations and a free plan to try.

Final thoughts:

Interactive marketing is the key to gain a customer that is avid to get quick answers about sales, services and more. Chatbots are an excellent option and a small budget can provide an enormous boost to your business wherever the chatbot system is based on a good strategy and properly maintained and tuned.
A free option is perhaps the best choice to start with and then make changes as your strategy grows.
And do not forget that those improvements you do not make, will be done by your competition.






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9 reasons to choose IDrive Cloud Backup in 2020

9 reasons to choose IDrive Cloud Backup in 2020

In this post, we will show you 9 reasons to choose IDrive Cloud Backup in 2020 to keep your business data safe.
Data loss is a genuine possibility, and the best way to secure your digital files is with an automated and secure backup.

Idrive has been in the field for over 25 years and has gained a solid reputation with a premium and affordable service.
Since we are focused on individuals and small businesses, we won’t discuss enterprise and advanced IDrive options.

 

9 reasons to choose idrive cloud backup

IDrive overview:

Idrive backups your data from your computers, servers, and mobile devices and stores it on the cloud securely, so in the event a data loss occurs (lost your notebook, your mobile is stolen, a virus attack)  the whole data set can be recovered and restored.

To begin, you have to install the IDrive client on your Windows or Mac computer. Then you can select which files to back up and also have the option to exclude certain files from the backup set. The amount of customization IDrive offers here is amazing, you can select files, folders or even a complete hard drive.

 

 

IDrive features:

1-Scheduler and notifications:

Setting the scheduler allows you to fine-tune days and hours to launch the backup process. There is a lot of customization here, you can set email notifications and also receive desktop notifications on your browser.

2-IDrive Sync:

With IDrive Sync you can synchronize folders across devices in real time, and this doesn’t count against your storage quota. Synchronized folders need not be in a backup set, note that this feature can be used as an alternative to GDrive or OneDrive.

3-Continuous Data Protection:

As soon as you modify a file, IDrive recognizes it and backs it up.

4-Disk Image Backup:

Backup hard drives and OS drives too keeping the data structures.

5-True Archiving:

Data uploaded to IDrive servers can’t be deleted unless you make it manually. When you delete a file on your device, it remains on IDrive servers
There is also a “CleanUp” option that tracks files that are no more on your PC and ask if you wish to wipe them out.

6-Security and Privacy:

As your data is stored on the cloud, security and privacy are two powerful features to consider. IDrive transfers and stores data with 256-bit AES encryption using a key (here is the option to use a keyword provided by IDrive or by the user) that is not stored on their servers.
This key is private and you are the only person who knows it therefore if you ever lose this key, access to your data will be locked forever, so keep it in a secure place.

7-IDrive Express:

If you want to use IDrive and have a huge amount of data, they send a physical storage device to copy your data and then return it to IDrive where they promise to have the data backed up within a week.
This service is free for personal accounts for the first time in the USA and also return shipping costs are free.

8-IDrive Snapshots:

Snapshots are recovery points that you can use if a computer or other device has been infected by some kind of ransomware, you can select a previous date before the infection and restore it.

9-Incremental Backup:

IDrive only uploads blocks of files that have changed and not the entire file, this speeds up the process and saves up internet bandwidth. This is the fundamental feature to look for in a cloud backup application not available in every provider.

Pricing:

There is a large pricing option here, but all of their plans have according prices related to storage capacity offered. For tiny needs, the free option may be adequate, but most users will need a higher plan.

 

Keep in mind that all the plans consider unlimited devices(with a single plan you can backup several computers, tablets, iPads and/or mobiles), and this is a killer feature that puts IDrive far away from similar services that charge with an extra cost each additional device that is added to the account.

Conclusion:

After several years using IDrive I only can recommend it as excellent service. I have left my old calendar system that helped me remind about Google Drive backups and now the whole task is taken by IDrive running in the background.
When some problems arose, and I needed my files back, they were always OK and ready to be immediately restored to my PC.

http://www.idrive.com

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Bluehost Shared Hosting: A complete guide

Bluehost Shared Hosting: A complete guide

If you are thinking about building a website for your own business or a personal page, you’ve probably come across many offers with a lot of options and technical data that can be (at least) confusing. There are plenty of providers out there with different plans and prices to choose from. Here we will discuss which is the best option when your business is small or medium-sized and you need good service and pricing.

First, you need to know that your web page will be stored on a server (a kind of special computer) that will answer every request each time an url ( or web page name) is typed into a browser.

There are several types of servers and each of them is designed according to the service they need to provide. We can at first divide this service between two major groups: shared and dedicated storage (or hosting).

In shared hosting you share server’s space with other websites, so all the files of your site are allocated with other files from other sites.

This means that the server has to resolve how to answer requests from various site visitors and that many of these sites can have several requests at the same time.

Although the server was designed with this in mind, resources are fixed and limited and this may lead to a temporary loss of quality which always ends in a speed degradation and even security issues.

Since servers running shared hosting use few resources, these plans are usually less expensive than dedicated hosting plans. See for example Bluehost comparison below:

Shared hosting pricing:

Dedicated hosting pricing:

With dedicated hosting, you have your own server and need to maintain it to keep the site running. Of course higher prices (see above pics) come with better resources and options about speed, storage and security.

3 keys facts to consider about shared hosting:

1-How many visitors you estimate per month?

Shared hosting is a good choice for some hundreds of visitors per month, which is known as “low traffic”

2-Do you have any technical skills?

Shared hosting plans are always easy to maintain through a dashboard known as a “cPanel” where all the features are available in a clear and intuitive form if you need to change or change something (email addresses, backups, etc.) These plans come with good basic support from the service provider.

3-What is your site about and what resources it needs?

If you need a personal site or blog with a few pages showing services, client testimonials, and so on, shared hosting is for sure the right option. But, if you plan to show a big e-commerce store, you should go for a dedicated hosting plan.

7 keys facts to consider when choosing a shared hosting plan:

1-Bandwidth: Refers to the speed of the network the site is hosted on. A very important feature to care about, the higher the bandwidth, the higher the number of visitors your site can handle (think of this as a runway, the more lanes it has the more cars can travel along) Always look for unmetered bandwidth here.

2-Backup: This is an essential feature, some hosting plans do not include this and you must pay an extra charge.

3-Uptime: Which uptime does your provider guarantee? As a rule, don’t settle for less than 99% with this value.

4-SSL: This is an invaluable security option, with an SSL certificate the traffic between your site and the server travels through an encrypted connection. If your site does not have SSL, Google will show your website in the last positions of a web search and will also warn the user that your site is insecure. Some providers include this in their hosting plans, and others offer it at extra cost.

5-Number of websites: If you plan to add a second website later, check if your plan allows you to host more than one site.

6-Email: Check how many emails addresses your provider offers, 5 is a usual number but there are providers that consider email as an additional extra cost feature.

7-Security:  In shared hosting, security is managed by the hosting provider and you have no option to install additional security options. Since your site runs on the same server that others if one of these sites is affected by some kind of malware there is a certain chance for your site to be affected too.

 

Conclusion:

You need not pay a lot of money to be online with an excellent website and reliable performance.

Shared hosting is an excellent low-cost option to begin with and you can always upgrade to a higher plan when your site increases traffic.

Consider shared hosting as a good choice for:

Blogs

Small business sites.

Personal sites.

Portfolio sites.

WordPress managed hosting.

Learn more at www.bluehost.com