30 second summary:
- With global lockdowns triggered by a pandemic, millions of businesses have had to relocate online
- Creating this marketing strategy for “digital transformation” consists of several steps and tasks that most small business owners have neither the time nor the budget to manage
- Fortunately, several new and existing platforms have plans and features in place aimed at busy small business owners who are struggling to keep their businesses alive
- All of the tools on this list meet the following criteria: they are easy to master without training and affordable enough to meet even the most modest monthly budget
While digitization has been a hot trend for many companies around the world for some time, many small businesses haven't really had an urgent need to do so. Until the pandemic happened. Global lockdowns and shelter in place programs have changed the way consumers shop, educate, and work. For millions of companies out there, this trend meant an important need: To go through an urgent digital transformation, ie to offer their products and services online.
However, most of these companies lack both the money and knowledge to digitally transport. McKinsey reports that small businesses are most vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. Adopting new technology is the biggest battle small businesses are facing right now.
Fortunately, technology is finally catching up. Many platforms offer affordable solutions that companies can use to work digitally without having to hire or train.
1. Wix: Set up your ecommerce store
Wix offers powerful e-commerce Solution for companies that are struggling to build a digital entity.
Wix does everything that takes you step-by-step through the whole process:
- Choose your template, customize it, and add your products
- Create your logo
- Connect to a payment processor
- Choose your custom domain
- Go live
No changing nameservers to find out where to host your site. You don't have to hire a designer to create your brand identity. The platform even automates your taxes and manages your subscription payments.
It is possibly the most intuitive solution out there, which makes it perfect for small business owners who are overwhelmed enough.
Wix plans start at $ 23 a month. This tier includes all of the basic website building functionality and the ability to add unlimited products, manage shopping cart exits, social selling, and much more.
2. PayKickstart: Move your courses online
For companies selling on-site training and certification, digital transformation is the only way to go.
There are many online training solutions to choose from today, including this one that are self hosted, but not many of them are easy to incorporate into your existing website.
PayKickstart offers a simple SaaS shopping cart Solution that can be easily integrated into your existing setup.
PayKickstart may take some time to figure this out, but has detailed tutorials that non-technical people can use to make the settings.
With its prices and features, PayKickstart is aimed at young entrepreneurs and small businesses and therefore fits perfectly into our context.
PayKickstart starts at $ 99 per month and includes subscription payments, reminder management, multiple payment integrations, and more.
3. Botsify: Strengthen your customer service
If you move or expand your business online, you are likely to have problems with your customer support. Online shoppers are used to continuously interacting with companies when they have questions.
And when you expand the purchase options to have goods shipped to your door, there are more sales and also more questions about how long delivery will take and why it is taking so long.
Hiring and training a customer service team is probably what you end up doing, but it takes time and investment. You can scale your customer service and make it more efficient by creating a smart chatbot that answers most frequently asked questions.
Botsify makes it easy by giving you a visual control panel that you can use to create your customer support bot.
There are many more ways to strengthen your customer support team, many of them are listed here.
The Botsify dashboard is really easy to use, so it's perfect for small business owners looking to find out.
Botsify's personal package costs $ 40 per month and allows you to create two chatbots that should be enough for a small business website.
4. vcita: Align your marketing with your service fulfillment
Digital marketing can be quite overwhelming and difficult to manage. You need to analyze, track, contact and do a lot more on a daily basis. No wonder that few small business owners are willing to do this.
Now that digital transformation is inevitable, there seems to be no getting around it. If you don't have to rely on local pedestrian traffic, finding new ways to find and retain customers is a must.
vcita has created a great marketing suite designed to make life easier for small business owners. The platform manages email and SMS marketing, offers personalized marketing functions and enables segmentation of your customers. She sets up automatic emails to reach your customers, to revive inactive customers or to better acquire new customers:
These messaging functions are particularly powerful, as vcita can be used to easily create user-defined target group segments based on the business transaction history of your contacts. This is because the platform has many more features that small businesses can use to adapt to the new normal. This includes customer communication portals, a powerful CRM, contactless mobile payment and appointment booking tools integrated in Zoom.
While there is no shortage of marketing platforms, vcita perfectly fits our list criteria: it caters to small business owners who don't have time for training to figure out what to do and allows them to quickly launch a marketing campaign.
vcita starts at $ 19 per month so one team member can use the platform. Again, it's a perfect start if you want to save while staying productive and efficient.
5. WordStream: Keep your ad management internal
Brick-and-mortar businesses often rely on local traffic, but the pandemic has eliminated that source of traffic. Once a company goes online, companies need to build more resources. Sure Search traffic comes to mind However, this source takes a long time to build. Paid advertising is a quick way to get customers quickly until you've built SEO traffic.
However, PPC advertising can be pretty overwhelming.
WordStream provides a standalone tool for busy small business owners who don't have time to figure out ad management or the budget to invest in a third-party ad management solution.
The platform supports major PPC platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Bing.
WordStream made this tool especially for small businesses, so it offers a perfect (and unique) combination of price and time to spend there (~ 20 minutes a week!).
The cheapest plan is $ 49 per month and comes with the dashboard, cross-platform reports, and free ad creation tools.
6. InVideo: Create your ads in-house
If you want to invest in the ads, you need professional themes for the ads to work. And when it comes to effective ads, nothing works better than a well-made video, especially when you're promoting on Facebook and Instagram.
InVideo is an easy-to-use video creation platform that allows you to create these ads in-house. It's the cheapest solution I know, and it has a free trial so you can try it out.
InVideo is the most affordable video creation solution I know. That's why I chose this tool for this article.
InVideo lets you make 60 videos a month for just $ 10. It also offers a free plan so you can try making these videos before deciding if you need to upgrade.
7. Finteza: Combine web analytics with finance
One of the most common problems small businesses face when building an online presence is understanding their cash flows.
If you've run a small brick and mortar business all your life, it's difficult to keep track of your finances when everything goes virtual.
Finteza helps by creating a neat report showing your online marketing channels, online payment effectiveness, popular products and order amounts:
Finteza has a unique range of functions that makes web analysis very easy to understand. No need to create advanced event tags or click through endless reports: Finteza is extremely easy to use.
Finteza’s analytics capabilities cost $ 25 per month. You can also try the platform for 30 days before committing.
8. Appointment fix: manage the appointments of your customers
Most local businesses that still offer on-site services (hairdressers, nail salons and others) must comply with local occupancy regulations. Therefore, all appointments must now be booked in advance.
Fixed dates makes scheduling easier for both companies and their customers. The platform manages reminders, makes sure your business isn't overbooked, and has a nice reporting feature that lets you see how effective your business is.
Source: Fixed dates
Unlike other calendar management platforms, Appointfix keeps a detailed record of your customers, making it easier for you to keep track of the customers who may be reached. It also supports scheduling recurring appointments, which is one of the most practical features around.
Appointfix offers a free plan with unlimited appointments. If you need access to reports and email templates, it costs $ 12 per month.
The digital transformation is utterly overwhelming and you may feel desperate. Done right, it can transform your small business into a global business too. When you go online with your business, you discover new growth opportunities that you never even imagined. Good luck!
Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community Manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.