Are you a business owner who’s trying to bring your small- and medium-enterprise into the digital age? You and your team will need some tools in your digital transformation journey, so we thought we’d share with you our favourite tools. We are not going to review each one in depth, but rather just give you an overview of how we use the tool, and why we think it fits well in an SME environment.
All these tools are simple and affordable—in fact, all of these have a free tier for you to start (not just a trial, but actually, an option to use their basic features for free). We’re an SME like you, and we use these tools every day… so hit us up if you’ve got any questions about them!
Marketing automation platforms let you orchestrate your digital marketing. This includes sending emails when a visitor comes to your website, managing your online ads, and providing analytics on your leads. This is done on a single platform. There’s plenty more to unpack with marketing automation, and it can’t be fully explained with just one paragraph.
Here is our take: we love HubSpot, but we understand that micro-SMEs (with less than 10 employees) may not need such a sophisticated solution. There are plenty of other options, in fact, the list of option is extremely long – we made a list of all the marketing automation solutions, were we counted more than 100 of them.
Here are three reasons why we love HubSpot:
- It’s easy to set up and use (and there’s no steep learning curve, even for non-techies). Plus, it’s priced for SMEs – there’s actually a free tier that you can use; we ourselves started using this, then subsequently moved on to the paid plan. Even the paid plans start at a reasonable price. The pricing changes accordingly as you grow your contact database.
- It’s a versatile tool. Don’t think of HubSpot as a CRM or a tool for sending emails. It also does double-duty as a CMS, web analytics, SEO, online ads manager, and social media manager. You can use it to design landing pages, perform email marketing, and build customer experience journeys. In fact, HubSpot can do pretty much everything that the all the other tools listed in this article do (with the exception of Asana and SurveyGizmo).
- HubSpot grows with your business. This is not only in terms of pricing, as mentioned, but also in terms of potential future integrations with other products which allows you to build a more comprehensive marketing technology stack.
- Last, but not least, the Inbound methodology and the HubSpot Academy are valuable services as part of working with Hubspot. Again, there’s too much to unpack here, but go ahead and read about Inbound marketing – it’s an important component of digital marketing that you should add to your strategy. Check out the free courses on HubSpot Academy as well!
If you pick only one tool out of the list we are making here, this is the one you should choose. Read here to learn more about choosing and implementing a digital marketing solution, read this.
Regardless of how and where you host your website, there are two musts: having proper analytics and doing (at least some) search engine optimization (SEO). Now, according to our proprietary research, only 40% of Singaporean SMEs have websites – so if you’re one of the minority who does have a site, you might think that this alone will give you a leg up on your competitors. While that’s true, you won’t be able to reap the full benefits of your website unless you have good analytics and SEO tools.
When it comes to web analytics, Google Analytics is the golden standard. You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics before – if you’re not 100% sure what it does, it’s a free web tool that allows you to analyse your website traffic. With Google Analytics, you can get insights into:
- Who’s visiting your website
- Where your traffic is coming from
- Which are the most popular pages on your website
- What are people doing on your website
And more. All in all, approximately 30 to 50 million websites around the world use Google Analytics. If you do not have Google Analytics on your website, we encourage you to do so.
In terms of SEO, there two tools that we prefer to use.
The first one is Yoast. Yoast comes as a plugin, so it’s easy to integrate into WordPress. Once you’ve got your plugin installed, it’ll give you tips on optimizing your content for your specific keyword, and provides a full on-page SEO report. Yoast ensures that you’ve gotten the right keyword density, readability, and metadata for search engines. If you are a WordPress user, this is a must-have.
SEMrush is similar to Yoast in that if you install the WordPress plug-in, it provides good on-page SEO tips. Where SEMrush differs from Yoast is it adds more reports and suggestions about your overall web presence. It can run weekly scans of your site, give you suggestions for improvements, and compare your site to competitors’ sites. These and other features give you a holistic view of how your site is doing.
Finally, the other great use of SEMrush is competitive benchmarking. You can scan other websites, and get an overview of their performance (in absolute terms or in comparison to your site). It is great for gathering insight about your competitors, partners, suppliers and customers, and for understanding which aspects of your web presence to improve on.
Hootsuite is great both for social listening and planning posts, as well as for supporting specific online “events” – for instance, we recently conducted a #DigialPredictions2019 “event” (see here), and we used Hootsuite to plan, run, and monitor it. In addition to this, Hootsuite has various courses and certifications in social media marketing which are great resources for any marketing team.
Asana vs. Trello is like Colgate vs Crest. Both are good project management tools, however, we prefer Asana.
Asana is a project management tool that helps your team stay focused on projects and daily tasks. With Asana, you can easily break your projects down into tasks, and assign tasks to your various team members. Your team members can set timelines and deadlines, discuss details, and tag each other within each task. This makes communication easy and transparent. And it's great for making sure that business processes are delivered consistently time after time. If you happen to work with Zapier, Slack, Salesforce, or the other tools that integrate with them (like we do), then you’ll love the convenience that these integrations bring you.
Customer satisfaction tools and survey tools also deserve a much longer article, which we will soon write. Until then, we will focus on our tool of choice: SurveyGizmo.
SurveyGizmo’s wins over other similar tools for its flexibility, which allows you to run multiple projects from full-blown customer satisfaction programs, to quick customer surveys and internal projects. SurveyGizmo comes with over 300+ features; this gives you the power to customize every single aspect of your survey to fit your needs.
The above is an introduction to the digital transformation tools. However, there is one more category worth mentioning… and that’s training. When it comes to supporting digital transformation of your business, you need to train and upskill your teams. Check out these free online resources that you can use to train your employees.
We already mentioned the HubSpot Academy, which will turn your team members into savvy digital marketers. Their training courses aren’t Hubspot-specific, so even if you’re using a different CRM or marketing automation tool, your team can still benefit from these courses.
Salesforce also has an amazing (and free) online training program, the Salesforce Trailhead. This comprises of a mix of product specific, methodology, and concepts trainings. Their programs are short and sweet, so you can get your employees to just spend a few minutes per day on it. The best part? You don’t have to be a customer of Salesforce to access the program; all it takes to get started is a LinkedIn account.
Finally, Google has two free, product-specific trainings: Google Analytics Academy and GoogleAcademy for Ads. The former is a must; the latter comes highly recommended if you are planning to run online ads.
Finally, if you are interested in learning more, take a look at Squared by Google (it’s not free, but it’s SME focused, as this Business Insider Singapore article points out).
Note that this is an updated version of an older article, to reflect the latest tools and solutions we use. In the previous version, we mentioned Mailchim, Hotjar and Buffer, but we did not include SEMrush.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to add these tools and software we’ve outlined in this article to your toolkit! If you have any ques spec-tool-bar-sections on which tools are a good fit for SMEs, you can always get in touch with us.
And if you are looking for more suggestions about your digital journey, beyond tools, click here to check our Digital for Singaporean SMEs: Practical Guide for founders and CEOs.