When starting a new business, step one is to find out what software you'll need to run your business. Once your business is growing it will be much more difficult to create the technological foundation on which your business will continue to grow. Starting with the right software that suits the needs of your business will get your business intelligence funnel started from day one, instantly providing data you can use to make informed business decisions. Equipped with this data, you can determine what software, campaigns, and content are causing growth and what isn't. This article discusses the technological essentials you'll need to get started.
You'll need software to build, manage, and host your website.
Your website is the most essential part of developing a strong online presence. It is a digital representation of your brand. Keep that in mind when making decisions related to your website. The first step is to find the right web content management system (CMS) for your business. Do you need an informational website with a few web pages? Tools like SquareSpace, Wix, and Weebly are likely the best route for you. Do you need a custom web design with more advanced functionality? Tools like Adobe, Kentico, Solodev and Sitecore are more suited to you. There's a lot to consider when choosing the right CMS for your business. Take your time, do your research, and don't pull the trigger until you've found the perfect fit.
You'll need a CRM to manage your prospects, leads, and opportunities.
Sales is the cornerstone of business. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform allows you to streamline your sales pipeline and convert more leads into customers. How does it do this? By giving you a bird's eye view of everyone in your sales cycle from prospects to recently closed opportunities. What CRM system you choose depends on your sales strategy and the size of your sales team. If you have a large sales team, products like SalesForce and SugarCRM might be for you. If you have a small sales team, free tools like Zoho CRM and Insightly CRM are likely better options. Make sure your CMS can integrate with your CRM before signing on the dotted line.
You'll need software that enables you to sell products online.
Some CMS platforms have built-in E-Commerce functionality while others integrate with third party applications. Check your options and if possible, try and go with the native E-Commerce your CMS provides. If your CMS does not have E-Commerce built into it, you'll have to hunt for E-Commerce solutions unless you already have a favorite. Ideally, pick your favorite tools and find a CMS that integrates with them. For example, if you love Magento ensure your CMS integrates with it. With the right E-Commerce solution integrated with your CMS, you won’t only have a great website but a shopping experience in line with the digital experience your website provides.
You'll need a platform for managing social media content.
There are a lot of options when it comes to platforms to manage your social media accounts and the content you publish to them. Which option is best for you depends on your goals with social media. Do you plan on publishing content on a regular basis to several social media channels? If so, you'll need a platform like Hootsuite, Spredfast, or Sprout Social. These tools allow you to schedule the publishing of your content to your social channels. Don't plan on doing much on social media? Creating social media accounts for your business is still a must. The ROI on social is hard to quantify so consider a more aggressive social strategy. Regardless of the size of your organization or your goals, devising and executing a social strategy is essential.
You'll need marketing automation software to put marketing initiatives on autopilot
Sitting at your computer waiting for leads to come in so you can email or call them is not productive. Distribute relevant content when visitors perform specific actions on your website. Marketing automation tools are what make that a reality without human intervention. Tools like Pardot, NetResults, MailChimp, CampaignMonitor and Marketo are excellent to automate your website marketing and all have public APIs to integrate with your CMS. As mentioned previously, pick a CMS that allows you to choose which products to integrate with, not the other way around. Once your marketing automation tools integrate with your CMS you've synced up both your website and marketing – both of which are now on autopilot.
You'll need tools to track the success of your digital initiatives.
Even with the tools above at your fingertips, they are worthless without analytics. Key analytics can be conversion and bounce rates on your website. They can also show you what content is working the best. Website analytics allow you to make informed decisions based on the data provided. This leads to more conversions, sales, and a better experience for your customers. Tools like GoodData, Domo, SEOProfiler, Ahrefs, Moz are perfect for this. Without analytics, everything you do is a gamble, as you have no way of knowing what is working and what is not. Your digital footprint is only as valuable as your ability to have a thorough understanding of it and make data-driven decisions accordingly.
Finding the right solution for each of the tools above is vital to your success. Remember that your website is the centerpiece of your online presence. Keep that in mind when selecting vendors for your marketing toolbox. The tools mentioned above all compliment one another. You cannot pick one or two; you're going to need one of each. The biggest decision will be what CMS you choose as that will determine your other choices. Pick a CMS that integrates with the marketing tools most suited to your business. Take your time, do your research, and don't pull the trigger until you've found the perfect fit. Learn more about filling out your online roster today at Solodev.com