- Faced with global pandemic-triggered lockdowns, millions of businesses had to move their operations online
- Creating this “digital transformation” marketing strategy consists of multiple steps and tasks most small business owners have no time or budget to manage
- Luckily, multiple new and existing platforms have been coming up with plans and features targeting busy small business owners struggling to keep their businesses afloat
- All the tools on this list meet the following criteria: They are easy enough to master without training and they are affordable enough to meet even most modest monthly budgets
While going digital has been a hot trend for lots of businesses worldwide for a while now, many small businesses hadn’t really felt an urgent need to. Until the pandemic happened. Global lockdowns and “shelter in place” programs have transformed the way consumers shopped, got educated, and worked. For millions of businesses out there, this trend meant one important need: To go through urgent digital transformation, that is, start offering their products and services online.
Yet, most of those businesses lack both money and knowledge for digital transportation. McKinsey reports that small businesses are the most vulnerable to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. Adopting new technologies is the major struggle small businesses are facing right now.
Luckily, technology is finally catching up. Lots of platforms are coming up with affordable solutions helping businesses go digital without the need to hire or get trained.
1. Wix: Set up your ecommerce store
Wix offers a powerful ecommerce solution to those businesses struggling to set up a digital entity.
Wix handles everything walking you through the whole process step by step:
- Select your template, customize it and add your products
- Create your logo
- Connect to a payment processor
- Choose your custom domain
- Go live
No changing name servers out figuring out where to host your site. No hiring a designer to create your brand identity. The platform will even automate your taxes and manage your subscription payments.
It may be the most intuitive solution out there which makes it perfect for small business owners who are overwhelmed enough.
Wix plans start at $23 a month. This tier comes with all the basic site building features and includes the ability to add unlimited products, manage cart abandonment, social selling, and more.
2. PayKickstart: Move your courses online
For those businesses selling on-site training and certifications, digital transformation is the only way to go.
There are many online training solutions these days to choose from, including those that are self-hosted, but not many of those are easy to integrate with your existing website.
PayKickstart offers an easy SaaS shopping cart solution that is quite easy to integrate with your existing set-up.
PayKickstart may need some time to figure out but they have detailed tutorials enabling non-technical people to set things up.
With its pricing and feature set, PayKickstart is targeting young entrepreneurs and small businesses, so it is a perfect match for our context here.
PayKickstart starts at $99 a month and that includes subscription payments, dunning management, multiple payment integrations, and more.
3. Botsify: Empower your customer service
When you move or expand your business online, you will likely struggle with your customer support. Online buyers are used to interacting with businesses on a continuous basis, whenever they have questions.
And if you expand their buying options to shipping goods to their doorstep, there will be more sales and also more questions on how long delivery is going to take and why it takes so long.
Hiring and training a customer support team is likely what you will end up having to do but it takes time and investment. You can scale your customer service and make it much more efficient by creating a smart chatbot to handle most of the common questions.
Botsify makes it easy by giving you a visual control panel where you can create your customer support bot.
There are many more ways to empower your customer support team, many of which are listed here.
Botsify dashboard is truly user-friendly which makes it perfect for small business owners who are figuring things out.
Botsify’s personal package costs $40 a month and it allows you to create two chatbots which should be enough for a small business website.
4. vcita: Align your marketing with your service fulfillment
Digital marketing can be pretty overwhelming and hard to manage. You need to analyze, follow-up, reach out, and do a lot more on a daily basis. No wonder few small business owners are willing to go through this.
Yet, now that digital transformation is unavoidable, it seems like there’s no way around it. When there’s no relying on local foot traffic, discovering new ways to find and engage customers is a must.
vcita has built a great marketing suite that aims at making small business owners’ lives easier. The platform handles email and SMS marketing, offers personalized marketing features and lets you segment your customers, and sets up automatic emails to reach out to your customers to revive inactive customers or engage new customers better:
These messaging capabilities are especially powerful because vcita makes it easy to create custom audience segments based on your contacts’ business transaction histories. That’s because the platform comes with many more features helping small businesses to adjust to the new normal. These include customer communication portals, a powerful CRM, contactless mobile payments, and Zoom-integrated appointment booking tools.
While there is no shortage of marketing platforms out there, vcita matches our list criteria perfectly: It targets small business owners that don’t have time to go through training to figure out what to do and allows them to quickly launch a marketing campaign right away.
vcita starts at $19 a month, allowing one team member to use the platform. Again, it is a perfect start if you are looking to save while remaining productive and efficient.
5. WordStream: Keep your ad management in-house
Brick-and-mortar businesses often rely on local traffic but the pandemic eliminated that traffic source. Once a business moves online, businesses need to start building more sources. Of course, search traffic comes to mind but this source needs a lot of time to build up. Paid advertising is a fast way to quickly acquire customers until you build up SEO traffic.
Yet, PPC advertising can be pretty overwhelming.
WordStream offers a standalone tool for busy small business owners who have no time to figure out ad management or budget to invest in a third-party ad management solution.
The platform supports major PPC platforms including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Bing.
WordStream has developed this tool specifically for small businesses, so it has a perfect (and unique) combination of price and amount of time you will have to spend there (~20 minutes a week!)
The cheapest plan costs $49 a month and it comes with the dashboard, cross-platform reporting, and free ad creation tools.
6. InVideo: Create your ads in-house
If you are going to invest in the ads, you will need professional creatives for the ads to work. And when it comes to effective ads, nothing works better than a well-done video, especially when you are advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
InVideo is an easy-to-use video creation platform that will help you create those ads in-house. It is the most affordable solution I am aware of, and it does have a free trial, so you can test it out.
InVideo is the most affordable video creation solution I am aware of which is why I picked this tool for this article.
InVideo allows you to create 60 videos a month for only $10. It also offers a free plan, so you can try creating those videos prior to deciding if you need to upgrade.
7. Finteza: Combine web analytics with finances
One of the most common struggles small businesses are facing when setting up an online presence is understanding their cash flows.
If you have been handling a small brick-and-mortar business for your lifetime, it is tough to grasp your finances when everything goes virtual.
Finteza helps with that by creating a clear report visualizing your online marketing channels, online payment effectiveness, popular products, and order amounts:
Finteza has a unique feature set that makes web analytics very easy to understand. No need to figure out advanced event tagging or click through endless reports: Finteza is extremely user-friendly.
Finteza’s analytics features cost $25 a month, and there’s also a 30-day trial for you to test the platform before committing.
8. Appointfix: Manage clients’ appointments
Most local businesses that still offer on-site services (barbers, nail salons, and others) have to comply with local occupancy regulations, so it is now required to have all appointments booked in advance.
Appointfix makes appointment scheduling easy for both businesses and their customers. The platform manages reminders, makes sure your business is not overbooked, and comes with a nice reporting feature allowing you to see how effective your business is.
Unlike other calendar management platforms, Appointfix keeps a detailed record of your customers which makes it easier for you to keep an eye on those who may be reached out to. It also supports recurring appointment scheduling which is one of the handiest features out there.
Appointfix offers a free plan which comes with unlimited appointment schedules. If you need access to reports and email templates, it’s $12 a month.
Digital transformation is totally overwhelming and you may feel desperate. Yet, when done right, it may also turn your small business into a global one. By taking your business online, you will uncover new growth opportunities you didn’t even imagine. Good luck!
Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.