Digital tools to help your business run faster and smoother

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It’s not easy for anybody to keep up with the 21st-century revolution happening in the world and in business.

As part of our AATPowerUp series, we suggest the tools and apps to help you keep ahead of the game when running your business.

Investing in digital

Markets, opportunities and expectations are all evolving at a record pace.

But if you can invest a bit of time in learning about what digital tools are available, and how they could work to make your organisation smarter and faster, then the benefits to your business will be tenfold.

If being digital doesn’t come easily to you, then just remember that it won’t do to a lot of your competitor’s either, and if you can embrace it then it really will give you the edge.

It will be simpler for smaller businesses to adapt and introduce a tool or two at a time or begin to automate tasks.

Larger companies will need to put more planning in place to make changes but will see greater benefits in time and cost savings, the retention of staff and by being seen as leaders in the industry.

How businesses can use to stay ahead of the game

Tools for social media management

There is a huge variety of free and paid social media management tools.

These can help you with anything from scheduling and creating content for multiple accounts, to getting notifications for what’s being said about your brand or industry and tracking what’s working.

Start by trying one tool with the functionality that appeals to you the most.

Social media management tools to try:

  • Buffer

Buffer is very easy to use – just set up your schedule and start adding content.

  • SocialBee

SocialBee takes scheduling a few steps further by also helping you curate relevant content and letting you categorise it so you can see how many times you’ve posted different types.

  • Tweetdeck

Solely for Twitter – you can tweet from and monitor your accounts plus track topics, events, hashtags, searches and lists.

  • Meet Edgar

Meet Edgar makes it easy to schedule content, repost evergreen content and even writes variations of posts for you.

  • Hootsuite and Sprout Social

These are both more comprehensive tools suitable for large businesses who might have to manage lots of accounts.

You can pre-approve content by different users before it goes live and they have great dashboards for curating, monitoring and tracking.

Google Analytics

The best way to find out how much traffic you’re driving to your website from your social media channels is to use Google Analytics.

You can automate receiving reports on where people are coming from, what pages they’re visiting, how long they’re spending on them and you can measure return on investment on sales and other goals like form submissions, button clicks and downloads.

Productivity apps

Productivity apps are designed to help you to do more in less time.

Social media management tools count as productivity apps, but there are also tools for project management like:

Trello, for managing your time and to do lists like ToDoist, and to cut down on cumbersome email communications like Slack.

Banking apps

Setting up banking via a smartphone app will let you make one-off or regular payments to suppliers.

Pay salaries, check your balances and transfer money between your accounts all in a few seconds and completely securely.

Google for Work

By making your business Google for Work-based you will find that you will be able to work seamlessly across devices.

It will be much easier to collaborate with teams or clients as documents are stored online securely, they’re easily searchable and shareable, changes can be seen live and they’re auto-saved so you’ll never lose work again.

You can start using the Google software instantly and for free which includes email, calendars, instant chat, word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

Email marketing and database management

Manage and segment your marketing databases so that you can target different groups of people who you have different relationships with more effectively with the appropriate content (for example customers versus prospects).

Use an email marketing platform like MailChimp to do this for free in a GDPR compliant way.

You can also use it to send beautifully designed emails, automate responses and track how well they’ve been received (with metrics like open rates and click-through rates.)

The key to using digital tools

These tools are effective for any size of business and are popular with startups, but are also being implemented by the largest of companies worldwide (Slack’s customers include Capital One, Ticketmaster and Airbnb).

The key to using digital tools to gain an unfair advantage is to choose the ones that will make the most difference to your business.

Don’t try and do too much at once but commit to implementation across your team once you’ve made the decision. The change will be hard at first but worthwhile in the long run.

Something else worth considering, can you run your business from your phone?

Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.

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