5 Free Tools to Grow Your Small Business
Times may still be uncertain but these 5 tools can help you advance your business goals and stay focused. Bonus? They’re free!
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Change is all around us and an overarching goal in our industry is to find the silver lining in the context of the uncertain. This especially holds for smaller businesses — chances are you are looking to the platform and other digital tools to manage and market your business. By focusing on the basics, you can not only stay true to your goals and the reasons behind why you exist, but you can also dedicate more energy and efforts towards staying inspired, innovating, and growth.
Here are five free tools you should consider to help you achieve your objectives:
Marketers are turning to alternative ways to stay connected in an age of social distancing, including video, yet small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t have the tools, time or budgets to make videos at the volume and quality needed to compete. New tools allow businesses to focus on creative insight and communicate meaningfully at scale and eases some of the challenges presented by the modern video format.
With Vimeo Create, available on desktop and as an app, businesses can create videos in minutes by tapping into pre-made, professionally curated video templates customizable to their specific needs and millions of stock photos, videos, and royalty-free music. They can also opt to roll up their sleeves further by starting from scratch integrating their own video footage shot from a mobile device. After the video is finalized, marketers can automatically tailor the content for each of their social channels including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Vimeo is expanding on its goal to level the playing field of video creation through a new campaign: Get Business Moving. From now until July 17 Vimeo is offering free three-month subscriptions to users who register through the Vimeo Create mobile app. This includes unlimited access to all Create video templates, millions of stock images and videos, custom branding tools, distribution, and analytics to promote your business during this challenging time. As part of this launch, Vimeo is also releasing new Create templates and debuting an educational guide on how to get back up and running.
Since its launch in 2012, Canva has found steady growth for its consistent delivery on a mission to enable the whole world to design. With Canva, you can create everything from invites and posters to website ads and landing pages. A big use case for the platform is its slideshow-maker Presentations, which now lets users edit slide decks on mobile devices and easily optimize them for smaller screens, embed them with video, social posts, and other visuals, and push them live with shareable URLs.
As of 2019 Canva was valued at $3.2 billion and boasts over 20 million users, including over 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies, across 190 countries. Collectively, the community is responsible for more than 1 million presentations created each week and it hasn’t shown signs of growth during COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, Canva released a feature allowing users access to a library of easily editable Zoom background templates. With this, people can bring a little fun to the table when they can’t be in a conference room with their colleagues paired with a touch of personalization, allowing people to either use designer-made backgrounds or their own designs.
Separately, with the launch of Facebook “Shops,” Canva introduced a collection of optimized design templates for free in addition to a range of resources tailored to support small businesses across a variety of industries including retail and restaurant who are especially confronted with hardship. Finally, FedEx and Cava announced a partnership centered around a digital design-to-print marketplace for struggling businesses to create the professionally printed materials needed to get back to business
Unsplash entered the scene in 2013 as a Tumblr blog and since evolved into one of the leading stock photo libraries. Currently, over 10 billion Unsplash images are seen every month with an average single photo featured on the site garnering more views than the front page of The New York Times. They also have more image downloads a month than Shutterstock, Getty Images, and Adobe Stock combined and more contributors than Wikipedia.
To participate, you can simply upload an image to the site and artificial intelligence will analyze the image and add keywords and then promote it across Unsplash feeds and under relevant searches. What’s especially unique is that reach doesn’t require massive amounts of personal data hyper-targeting — the photo’s utility and message put them in front of the right audience. Unsplash is not restricted to any geographic region allowing principles of diversity, inspiration, connection, and sharing to dominate its community in lieu of strict copyright and legal red tape.
Beyond PowerPoints and business plans, images are increasingly being used to tell stories in today’s world when we either fortunately or unfortunately, are dependent on the screen to understand human stories during this global pandemic. In this vein, Unsplash recently leveraged its platform and distribution power to create a coronavirus response library for the UN, which served as a visual Public Service Announcement system for the cause.
You can learn more about Unsplash in this recap of a session featuring its CEO Mikael CEO that took place during #SMWONE.
Customer relationship management is essential to any and every business but solutions are not one-size-fits-all and finding the right mix for your marketing stack can be daunting. If you’re unsure where to start or if you’re a smaller business tight on resources, HubSpot CRM is a solid contender for its intuitive interface, flexibility, and widespread set of features to meet a variety of needs across email tracking and notifications prospect tracking, meeting, and scheduling.
Specifically, free CRM features offered by HubSpot include a built-in activity stream with notifications delivered immediately after a lead opens an email, clicks on a link, or downloads an important document, a real-time email metrics including open rates and click-through rates, a library of email templates designed for every step of your customer’s journey and the option to create your own, and storage of up to 1 million contact and company records using their email addresses, inbox, or form submissions.
With business growth comes the need to organize critical information and a CRM is an essential tool in informing both long-term strategies and on-the-fly decisions — a balance marketers are grappling with now more than ever.
Information overload is not a new term yet we continue to be plagued by its effects, uncertain which sources to trust and not having the time to trace down the insights we need across a multitude of sources.
Feedly is an app with the goal of sharing information and connecting marketers with the topics they’re most passionate about without the hassle and headaches. Across Twitter feeds, research journals, business and tech publications, YouTube channels, leading newspapers, or niche publications, the app leverages AI to organize information so you can skim by topic and extract the headlines you need to advance your career whether just by following the latest updates or developing a new skill or area of expertise.
Along the educational vein, major platforms are stepping up in recent months to offer courses and resources catered to what is going on in the world including LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, and Snapchat. These cover top-of-mind topics such as productivity and mindfulness and ways to boost your advertising efforts.
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