2 (FREE) Cloud Apps Every Small Business Should Tryon Sep 19 in Blogroll by Ivan Stamatovski
This time it’s all about collecting leads, tracking customers and direct communication with them.
Google’s Business App Marketplace has leveled the field by providing access to hundreds of services and applications made by third party vendors that can tremendously benefit your business.
I will focus on two: Insightly and Mail Chimp, I used them extensively to collect contacts, keep track of projects and conversations and send out newsletters / analyze response.
Before I jump into explaining what these two apps do, I would like to share with you a tip that I found very useful: For best integration of these services switch your e-mail servers to Google and you won’t regret it. You still keep your same email addresses, the only difference is – they will now run on one of the the most robust email services currently in existence. Here is a step by step tutorial on how to do it.
To be able to access Google Business Apps you need to open an account with your domain name (@your_company.com). Here is more on How to Set Up Gmail as Your E-mail Business Client. Not only will you get an always accessible, secure business email, but you will gain access to an entire Apps Marketplace.
1. Insightly – CRM and Project Mangement
Like any application from Google Marketplace, Insightly can be activated in minutes. There are features of it that require subscription, but I found even free version to be incredibly versatile. Here is a list of my favorite features:
- Full integration with your Google account (this is where e-mail server switch comes in handy)
- Links related items, people and documents
- File sharing (keeps all your docs, emails, proposals etc. in one place)
- Just forward the email to it and it creates an entry (very useful when you want to automate an online lead acquisition via web contact form)
- Simple and intuitive user interface
2. Mail Chimp – Email Newsletter Platform
Step one - establish your lead database with Insightly – step two – communicate! I found Mail Chimp to be the best, easiest to setup, most intuitive newsletter platform in Google Marketplace. You will get a ton of automated features and newsletter templates that are really easy to customize.
Export the list of contacts from Insightly in Excel or .csv format and import it into Mail Chimp (I wish there was a way for these two to talk to each other directly, but this isn’t too hard for now). Slice your contacts to taste and create different groups if needed and create targeted newsletters for every segment.
You will get to choose your type of campaign – regular, text only, A/B campaign or RSS driven. The last option is a real gem, it takes your blog updates via your RSS and sends them to your subscribers “automagically”. Sweet…
Newsletters are easy to craft, just select a template or create your own from scratch. There is a large number of templates and layouts to chose from that are fully customizable.
DON’T FORGET to stay relevant to your audience, no amount of technology can save you from loosing followers because you are sending uninteresting and irrelevant newsletters. Make sure they are of VALUE to your readers.
Analytics, reports, social share
If you tab over to REPORTS you can start looking at data pouring in within minutes of sending out the newsletter. On a well timed launch I have seen half of my “openings” happen in the first hour. Here are some of the subcategories in the reports area:
Subscriber Activity – opens and clicks over time. See who clicked first and who kept going back to your letter to gauge interest.
Social Stats – add your Twitter and Facebook accounts and see who shared your campaign and what is your reach.
Click Performance – what links were clicked the most, what areas of the letter were acted on. Very interesting data especially when you’re comparing an A/B campaign.
“Analytics 360 is a MailChimp module that allows you to “pull” stats from your web site traffic tools right into your MailChimp campaign reports page. You can see not only how many people might have opened your message and clicked on links, but you can also see see instant ROI results for every email campaign you send.”
Mobile version for your smartphone is also available, so you can stay updated with the most important stats on the go!
Insightly and Mail Chimp are some of my favorite Google Business Apps that I have used a lot in the past, but there are hundreds of other apps there for every type of business.
Best thing about these applications and services is that they are in the cloud, always accessible and always updated with latest features.