This month’s article is about ways you can find and secure new customers for little to no spend. What’s not to like about that? What many people don’t realise is that the old payment model for software has completely changed so there is plenty of software available that doesn’t have to cost you a penny.
SaaS and how it has changed the way we pay for software
Largely, gone are the days when you paid for a software license. It came in a nice box with a manual and you owned it forever. Most software developers now prefer a cloud-based Software as a Service, or SaaS, model meaning you pay for the software monthly or annually and what you pay is based on the features you choose and how many people use it. The downsides to this are that you never really own it, the costs can change at any time, there may be service outages and you are constantly paying for it. The upsides, however, are that you can effectively spread the cost out, all updates are free, all your data is safely and securely stored in the cloud and you can pay for only the features you use. There are definitely pros and cons.
However, whether the pros outweigh the cons for you may be irrelevant, as it could cost you nothing. One of the great things to come out of this model is that with many software products using the SaaS model, the small user can either use it for free or a much smaller fee because a scaled pricing model means the bigger companies make up the difference. With the free options, fees usually start to kick in once you want to use more of the features (beyond the basic version) or you reach a certain amount of data usage but they can still be free forever.
I am going to run through my favourite FREE tools that you can use to better manage and grow your business.
Business & Marketing CRM: ZOHO & HubSpot
Let me start by saying I don’t use either of these tools but they are excellent. I use one called Zendesk Sell (formerly Base) that costs the princely sum of $25/month. You cannot run an effective sales pipeline without a Customer Relationship Management tool. Both of these tools are hugely powerful and enable you to track new leads, be alerted when you need to follow them up, have a communication trail of customers you are speaking to, integrate with things like your emails/social media and run email marketing campaigns. A good CRM is the first thing you should have in place for your business sales and marketing management. When we moved from a fairly fragmented and archaic way of working across Outlook and different database systems to one central cloud-based CRM we saw our new business swell by as much as between 250% and 300% simply by being better organised!
Website Visitor & Lead Tracking: Google Analytics, Alabcross & Hotjar
Google Analytics enables you to see things like how many visitors your site gets, where traffic is coming from e.g. Google searches or social media, which are your most popular pages and things like your bounce rate (how many people dive straight out of the exit). Albacross is an alternative to Lead Forensics which many of you may have heard of but it’s expensive. The main features on Albacross are free and they provide cross-referenced identification of the actual companies or organisations that visited your site, which pages they looked at and for how long. What it cannot tell you is who the person was but, with a bit of old-fashioned detective work, you can often find out – in other words, pick up the phone. Last, Hotjar is an excellent tool if you have a lot of traffic/visitors and cannot understand why your enquiries or sales are low. It will show you heatmaps of the routes visitors take through your website and will highlight where the bottlenecks and problems are that are losing you business.
E-mail Marketing: Mailchimp
Mailchimp is hands down the best all-in-one email marketing tool out there. If you have fewer than 2,000 contacts on your email list and want to send fewer than 10,000 emails per month, you can use it to design, build, send and report on your email campaigns. It provides tutorials and templates for beginners and rich feature sets for those who want a little more from it. Typically, sending email campaigns can get expensive quite quickly but you have absolutely everything you need here and more plus it can grow with you. However, once you have a list that is getting into 10,000+ contacts, the cost ramps up pretty quickly and there are much cheaper ways to send out big campaigns. As with all email marketing, you must make sure your list has either opted in to receive marketing emails from you or that you have acquired an opt-in guaranteed list from a reputable data vendor.
You will be amazed at what these tools can do for you and your business without costing you anything Please give them a try and I would be interested to hear any stories of readers who have put them to good use and won a big deal or seen a positive impact to their business as a result.
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