While the world slowly struggles out of the financial crisis of 2008, most companies face fierce pressures on keeping their prices low to cater to as many customers as possible. It’s only a scrappy handful of brands like Chipotle, Pepsi or Apple that have actually raised their prices and yet have seen their bottom lines grow simultaneously.
In a scenario like the one we face today, every little help that we can get in non-core areas of our business ought to be welcomed with open arms. This leaves us time to focus on our main areas of strength and improve our product and service offerings to stay on top of competition.
Here’s a cherry-picked list of four business automation tools that will give you the gift of free time.
Most businesses have large, clunky and outdated accounting software that takes up huge amounts of man-hours and effort to be useful in any way. Xero is a refreshing change in that regard. A beautifully designed, easy to use accounting tool; Xero wears many hats with élan.
From creating invoices to sending them out on time, paying creditors, managing personal business expenses to payroll taxes to managing all your bank accounts and credit cards in one place, Xero is the go-to financial software for a small business that needs a little bit of everything. It has a great mobile app to manage finances on the go. It also connects to other apps and third party software that need an accounting end like Square or Vend.
Pricing: Xero has a 30 day free trial period post which you can switch to the base package of $9/month which does not offer payroll services. Alternately you can go with the more full-fledged versions of the tool at $30 or $70 per month, depending on the size of your business.
Which website owner does not want their site to convert as many users as possible? While most people depend on analytics tools like Google Analytics to give them their base numbers and then work from their gut to fix the problems that they think might be plaguing their site; the smarter way to grow your conversions is through a tool like Unbounce.
Unbounce is a landing page testing tool that tracks every action your users perform on your site and gives you clear directions on where it is that you are messing up and what exactly can be done to improve customer conversions. One of the highlights of Unbounce is the fact that it is so easy to use, it eliminates the needs for an agency or specialized testers to work on improving your site – it’s as D.I.Y as it gets.
It lets you build your own landing pages using simple drag and drop page elements. You can alternately pick from their library of landing page templates if you prefer to go that way. Once you’ve finished building a few options for your landing page, test away till you arrive at the magical version that maximizes conversions while minimizing bounces.
Pricing: While you can take the tool for a test drive with their 30 day free trial, the real stuff begins with $49 per month and can go upto $199 per month depending on the number of visitors to your site. The upside is that you can create and test an unlimited number of landing pages with whichever paid plan you choose to go with.
Multi-channel businesses often have to juggle a lot more balls in the air than an e-commerce only business. Enter Agiliron – a multi-channel business, multi-tasking ERP system that bundles a variety of functional modules into one superb package. With Agiliron you can manage you web store, mobile store, physical retail outlet or even Amazon stores with equal ease.
Agiliron’s various modules handle both front end and backend functions. You can build your website from the ground up using Agiliron’s e-commerce platforms. Build your product catalog, pricing structures and set up inventory management systems. Agiliron lets to identify, track and nurture leads with email marketing, web analytics integration to Google Analytics and a full-fledged sales and marketing suite. Manage your orders across platforms, keep your financials straight with Agiliron’s QuickBooks integration and have your business data on your fingertips with its excellent reporting and business intelligence options.
Pricing: Agiliron is surprisingly cost effective for an ERP that performs so many different functions. It starts you off with a $49 per month base package and lets you upgrade up to a maximum of $199 per month for the fully loaded enterprise version.
Infusion Soft is a highly popular and extremely effective marketing automation tool. This versatile software offers a range of functions that would require several differenttools in the normal course of business. Infusion Soft brings together productivity management, e-commerce tools, marketing automation, social media marketing and CRM all under one roof with surprising ease.
Starting with a planner, personalized calendar, task manager and note taking app, Infusion Soft steps up its act with a marketing automation module that shows muscles of steel. From capturing and nurturing leads to building custom quotes for each potential lead to designing, scheduling and executing marketing campaigns across email, social and other digital platforms, Infusion Soft tries to cover as many bases as possible. It has a great analytics section that helps you get insights into onsite customer behavior. Infusion Soft also comes with end to end e-commerce functionality – from setting up your e-store to accepting payments to processing and fulfilling orders to even managing your own loyalty program – this is one power packed tool for small businesses.
Pricing: Infusion Soft’s pricing model varies based on the type of business you own. Small businesses can get going at $199 per month; businesses with a real-world sales focus only or an online store only pay $299 per month, while businesses which bridge both the online and offline worlds pay $379 per month.
Equipped with the right type of automation, creating some free time to increase focus on innovating in your core business area is not tough. All it takes is the will to delegate tasks that can be automated to trustworthy technology partners and learning to breathe a little easy in the process.
Hiral Rana is head over heels in love with SEO and social media marketing. Her core endeavor is to help brands effectively harness the potential of digital marketing and fuel business growth. A music lover and an adventure seeker, you can find her on Twitter and Google+