Internet Marketing
Published June 03rd, 2016 by

Online Tools to Boost your Business Today

Many people who start their own business these days find themselves ill-equipped and unprepared to face the reality of how businesses work nowadays. Even if they have had rich previous work experience they may still be quite behind in the tools and tricks a company has at its disposal these days. This is true for people who have worked in large multinationals with strict ways of doing things, people who have had very specialised jobs (perhaps in the academia), people who have been doing the same job for too long or simply people that have been out of work for long.

If people like these find themselves needing to follow the modern company ways – and in particular in a small business they have to run – they may be quickly overwhelmed by how fast and complicated things are and how helpless they might feel owing to that. So this article is for those who want to try the new world of entrepreneurship and need a crash course on modern operations.

Fortunately, recent advances in IT, specifically in cloud computing, have made a large number of tools affordable and accessible which make life easier and more productive for business owners. Here are a number of tools that you should keep in mind, if not include, in your business operations. Some are well known and established solutions, others are less popular and cater to more specific needs.

Online Presence

Whatever you do you’ll need a home online. Whether to display your products or services or even to actually make the sale from (ecommerce). You can easily get a free site at WordPress for example and a free e-shop either at Etsy or at Foliosnap. All these range from completely free to a subscription of some dollars per month (if you want to enrich their functionality with broader features). In any case, don’t forget to set up the very basic in analytics, – ie Google Analytics – too to measure your traffic to your website.


Depending on your industry, your skills and the time and money you can invest there are a number of ways to create and promote your brand cheaply and with significant results online. You can (and you probably should) run AdWords pay-per-click campaigns with Google or Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns – all are quite accessible platforms which allow ad creation even to the uninitiated.

Speaking of social media a Facebook a page and a Twitter profile should also be regularly supported with branded content. When it comes to finding content ideas, solutions such as Feedly are incomparable. Feedly is an RSS and blog reader, where you can categorize sites you follow according to your preference. It is a quick way to get informed – as it shows you what’s hot news – but also to find content to share on your social media accounts. Hootsuite is also a very helpful platform where you can schedule and monitor your postings in all of your social media accounts.

Other channels you could potentially employ depending on your expertise is search engine optimisation for your online presence(s), email marketing if you have developed over time a mailing list (always use a specialised tool like Mailchimp or Aweber) or blog and guest posts.
In particular, if you market is in the English speaking world, subscribe to Help a Reporter Out. It can be used in two ways; as a reporter (to get content for your own company’s blog) or as a source (to talk about your product or your company by means of guest posts in other blogs and that way also create SEO- boosting backlinks).

Loyalty Program

Returning clients are the most valued customers of a business. The good old punch card is a well tested solution but there are now apps that can get your loyalty program up and running and place you one step ahead of the competition. Belly, for example, works by allowing your customers to check in to your store by scanning a QR card that they can carry on their keychain. You can then set up rewards based on their number of visits: anything from freebies to naming a product after them for a week (or more!) can work to motivate your customers to prefer your business for their daily needs.

Point of Sale

If your business works with physical goods, employing a cloud-based Point of Sale software has countless advantages over the use of a traditional cash register or a locally installed solution. Multiple payment methods, sales analytics or even a CRM system are readily available right at your fingertips. Also, the use of a cloud PoS software guarantees data safety for payments. If you get a tablet packed with NFC support, you will probably be ready for contactless payments as well.

Square is definitely one of the most popular solutions. It has an Android and an iOS app and it also features gift cards and return of goods from the client. Finally, it allows you to email or text-message your receipts to your clients and avoid the cost or the environmental impact of printing.


Keeping the accounting records, especially in a business where multiple locations and various fees are involved is a tricky task. You need to have accounting software that can easily handle these tasks.

Quickbooks Online is a popular cloud-based accounting software that can handle accurately all your accounting operations. Also, you can automate your payments and it can handle your payroll to help save you time. It can also track certain business specific operations such as tracking purchase credits from your vendors or paying royalty fees.

Inventory Management

Optimizing your inventory is the key to optimizing your profit. Tracking all the movements and transactions in an inventory management application will allow you to have a precise idea of your stock and the actions you need to make to boost your sales or restock accurately.

Such inventory management web applications have been gaining popularity in the past years – and for good reasons. Such an application can handle all your invoicing and inventory transactions. Using it from a portable device will help you take your inventory on site or to have your picking and packing slips readily available on your tablet without the need to print anything. All your data is cloud-synced so every person involved in your business, from your supplier to the cashier or the warehouse manager, can instantly have access to real-time data.

Customer Support

Offering a good product is not enough if you don’t accompany it with high-quality customer support. Being there when your customers need you and showing them that their concerns are valid is crucial and will drive customers to keep doing business with you again. There are several ways to do that. First of all, a chat tool on your website, like Intercom will help people to interact with you in a friendly, informal, synchronous communication, integrated with your website, e-shop or the product itself. As an added bonus, Intercom provides considerable value in the form of customers analytics which we can further use to understand our users.

If your product is something that requires instructions, offering a thorough documentation is crucial. With Freshdesk you can build a Knowledge Base for those who want to learn on their own time and pace. You can include both text and video walkthroughs of tasks. Video helps some people more than others – so we give them the option to learn what your service is about in that medium too. Some users are more visual than others, other users prefer to learn on their downtime (eg in their lunch break) just by viewing a video and still others like to see (and share) clips they can fast forward through to the helpful part.

Lastly, if your workflow and your product line allows it, you can schedule 1-on-1 demos with your customers in order to introduce them to your product as smooth as possible. Meetme and Calendly are two online meeting software solutions that are widely used and can be real time savers.
A hidden advantage of these sessions is that it is possible to keep close to the customers and understand their needs from a personal perspective – which is very valuable for any business and especially an online business where customer interaction is limited.

These were but a few of the tools available. Of course for each application mentioned a number of alternatives exist both with richer as well as fewer features which can accommodate even the most demanding business cases. If all this seems overwhelming it’s not surprising – the number of options and parameters which need to be considered are staggering especially if you consider that these tools all need to be connected to each other at some level. In any case, it’s important to start modernizing at some point in the business chain and gradually improve the rest of it as well.

And if all else fails there are consultants to speak to which are experts in addressing such issues.

Eirini Kafourou

Eirini Kafourou handles communications for Megaventory the online inventory management system that can help small businesses synchronize stock and manage purchases and sales over multiple stores.

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