10 Perfect Virtual Stocking Fillers for Small Business Owners
It’s almost time to jump head first into the New Year and take the next step in leading your small business to the next level. Our top 10 free and low-cost apps for a small business owner article, should be a great guide for your Christmas List!
We’ve taken the time to round up all the apps you’ll want ticking off your Christmas list this year, including some of our own personal favourites and recommendations. Whether you’re looking for that pocket money stocking filler or that big ticket item, your business will thank you for investing in those little changes that make all the difference (and make your life easier).
The perfect tool for creating content to push your business via social media platforms. The Canva app has a great free option that gives you access to multiple tools ranging from 250,000+ free templates to thousands of free images and graphics at your fingertips. With a huge range of templates perfectly sized for all your needs, Canva allows you to get creative and design graphics for social media platforms, logos, posters, flyers, T-shirts and more. Upload your own images, integrate your brand theme and voila! You’ve become your own personal graphic designer. Although the free version has some limitations, it’s a great starting point for any small business owner.
Canva pro, an upgraded version of the Canva app is available on the app store for £10.99 a month or £99.99 annual yearly subscription. With the options to upload your brands colour scheme to keep your content streamline and unlimited access to millions of stock images and graphics that aren’t available with the free version. Why not try the free trial available and see what your favourite tools are? We’ve found the best way to navigate Canva is trial and error, YouTube tutorials can be a designer’s best friend.
Let us let you in on every influencer’s little secret: VSCO. Available via the app store, VSCO has been changing the social media game in recent years, allowing you to edit your images in all sorts of ways. Whether you want to boost the colours and make your product pop, or remove that unfortunate pimple that appeared on office picture day, VSCO has all the magic tools to make it happen.
Whatever it is you’re selling, make it eye catching by utilising the features on VSCO. With pre-set filters and simple tools for retouching, photo editing just became easy. One of our favourite features on VSCO is the ‘Sharpen’ tool, perfect for clarifying the quality of the image and adding emphasis on the details and lines that can become lost when adding a filter. VSCO gives you the ability to create your own ‘recipes’ allowing you to edit all your images to fit the same theme and create a cohesive look throughout your social media. Although the free version has some great options, VSCO pro, available for £6.99 per month or £19.99 annual yearly subscription contains thousands of pre-set filters, used by social media gurus all over the world. With new features added regularly, VSCO is always up to date with the latest trends, colour schemes and photography tricks.
3. Google Analytics
Certainly not a tool to be overlooked, Google Analytics is a completely free service and may just offer the business insight you’ve been looking for. It has the ability to track your online presence, gain easily understandable analytics and identify all aspects of your business keeping your audience engaged. Google Analytics allows you to delve deep into your website and unlock its true potential. With data readily available at your fingertips, access to Google Analytics gives you the potential to not only set your own goals, but also track the competition, gain some insight into their visitors and take into consideration how you could use this knowledge to improve your own site.
The great thing about the tools available via Google Analytics is how instant your data is readily available, over time as you integrate changes to your site, the data will reflect and help build an understanding of how your audience interacts with your page. What are they spending the most time on? What are they possibly overlooking and how can you optimize the customer experience? Providing an easy, memorable experience that keeps a customer engaged until the minute they checkout is a key part of obtaining that valued customer relationship. The higher the value of the customer journey, the more potential in returns.
In the age of social media, advertising has never been more accessible. Let’s face it, you can’t scroll on your phone for 60 seconds without coming face to face with an advert, no matter what social media platform you’re using. It’s time to take advantage. Instagram Stories has become a favourite of small business owners all over the world, allowing for adverts, behind the scenes footage and general content you want people to see but may not want cluttering up your Instagram feed.
It’s never been more important to stand out, capturing content is one thing, but pushing it out there in a creative, desirable manner can be a tricky thing to master. One tool we love for this particular reason is Instories. The free app allows you to add your own content in the form of pictures and videos and choose from hundreds of templates with unique designs. From sales to new product launches to welcoming a new member to your team, Instories has a template for any occasion. Alongside all the great, easy to use editing features, Instories also has features specifically tailored with small businesses in mind. Create your own team within the app, navigate your way through upcoming projects and approve details or changes along the way. Not only is Instories perfect for Instagram, it also features hundreds of templates readily available for all sorts of social media sites, what starts on Instagram may venture into TikTok or the next viral app craze.
5. Office 365
Expanding a small business into a team can be tricky, where do you begin? We like to think the key to a well-oiled machine is the organisation in the workplace. Office 365 combines all your online office apps with the ability to collaborate as a team and create that united workspace for all your combined efforts and projects. With a safe and secure space with (depending on your subscription) advanced security and cyber-threat protection, Office 365 can host a hub for all your business needs, keeping your documents in check and your projects in easily accessible files for all the team. With projects often needing multiple elements, Office 365 allows for collaborative efforts on apps such as OneDrive, Word and Excel, and gives you access to business-class email for contacting clients, communicating with your peers and keeping updated on progress throughout projects.
Any small business with a team requires leadership, structure and positivity. Boost productivity in the workplace by having your team’s daily, weekly and monthly tasks laid out in an easily accessible format. The ‘to-do’ app allows you to set goals, designate tasks and track your teams progress throughout the day, and who doesn’t love that feeling of accomplishment after ticking off a task?
With your personal budget in mind, Office 365 has a range of subscription options from as little as £3.80 per month to £15.10 per month, tailor your subscription to meet your needs and decide what apps you need to keep your team working to their full potential.
We often hear the phrase ‘communication is the key’, but how is that relevant to your small business venture?
Well, without communication, your clients and potential customers are kept in the dark about your business, upcoming offers, and updates. Sendinblue is an email marketing tool that allows you to take customers contact information and send out general information such as upcoming events, newsletters and exclusive offers suitable for their needs.
Create professional, branded marketing emails with relevant eye-catching images, engaging tag lines and personalised elements.
When linked to your website via an API, access to specific data such as gender, age and location can be logged alongside a customer’s contact details and utilised to make sure the correct elements of your business that are best suited to them can be communicated directly to their inbox.
For example, a small business specialising in clothing may have an upcoming sale on women’s items, Sendinblue would allow this business to directly target an email or SMS towards previous customers who have listed themselves to fit this category and would therefore be most likely to be interested in the sale. Sendinblue’s free version allows for unlimited contacts and up to 300 emails per day! Think you’ll require more? Why not check out their pricing options and get a quote for your business needs.
Trusted by multiple worldwide brands, Hootsuite is definitely one to ask Santa for this year. Keeping on top of daily social media interactions can be incredibly time consuming and often takes away from vital business tasks, with each social media app having their own analytics and reports, delving into the details and trying to figure out patterns, engagement and optimizing the customer experience can often become overwhelming.
Here’s where Hootsuite comes in. With the power to keep on top of all your social media accounts in one space with trackable analytics for measuring the success of content, Hootsuite allows you to bulk schedule your social media posts across up to 10 platforms at optimal times with exportable reports. Take the guesswork out of social interaction and boost your posts to the right audience based on the data gathered and the interaction of previous content.
Starting at £39 per month, Hootsuite is a little pricier than some of our other suggestions but a great option if you’re looking to splurge a little in the name of success. Like many applications, Hootsuite offers a free 30-day trial period, perfect for finding out whether it’s helpful for progressing your business.
8. Feed Preview
Building a brand based on the visual impact of your social media is a hidden trick that not everyone manages to grasp. Let’s go on a journey… Imagine you walk into a store, the products on the shelves are mismatched and confusing, you can’t find any of the correct information and the colours are clashing, your eyes don’t know where to look. Get us out of here!
I think we can agree, it makes the journey uncomfortable and you’ll be in no rush to return. Unfortunately, A bad visual experience can remove the quality and potential of a great product. Your small businesses Instagram page can be thought of as the storefront of your brand identity, it’s the visual representation of your message and the product you wish to sell, whether it’s a physical object or a service.
Feed Preview is an app that allows you to pre-plan your Instagram content layout, move images around in the Instagram grid format and decide whether it’s aesthetically pleasing, engaging and in keeping with your brand’s message. We recommend taking inspiration from brands you aspire to be like, pages you think have great Instagram feeds, taking elements you think could work for your business. Design your content around these ideals, lay them out on Feed Previews free app to make sure your visual aesthetic is on point and then use one of our previously suggested content scheduling apps to send out your posts in your decided order.
Now we know what you’re thinking, how can an app for kids help expand my business? Well with more than 1 billion active users, it’s time to join the wave of small businesses taking full advantage of this viral platform and reaping the huge success from building a TikTok fanbase.
Finding your home on TikTok has never been easier, it may seem daunting to debut your business onto a new platform, but we’re here to guide you into and make you wish you’d jumped onboard sooner!
A world of escapism at your fingertips; TikTok users all over the world offer content of all kinds. We all have an opinion, varying taste and what make us tick may be someone else’s ick. With that in mind, it’s key to remember that your content won’t be for everyone. Your main aim is to forget trying to please everyone, find your crowd, the people who believe in your product as much as you do and want to see you succeed. Create content that you’d like to watch, be yourself and be genuine. Unlike other platforms, TikTok content thrives on unpaid ads and genuine reviews from genuine people. The power of an authentic positive review is unrivalled, especially if the content creator is popular within your target audience. According to TikTok: 57% of users agree that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so prompted by the joyful, spontaneous nature of the platform.
It’s time to unleash your creativity, hype up your next product launch on TikTok, focus on your followers, respond to their comments, appreciate their interactions and follow in the footsteps of the businesses before you who have jumped on the viral trends and made it their own. You may just be the next viral subject on the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.
Every great small business starts somewhere, we think that ‘somewhere’ should be WordPress. Design your website on one of the world’s most popular platforms amongst creators everywhere. Why is it so popular you ask? Well, we like to think the possibilities of a WordPress site are endless. The functionality of the site, once built is completely custom to your goal, highlight your important features, show off your finest products and guide customers through a journey that represents what business with your company is really like. Reflect your voice within your site and personalise every detail on every page! There really are zero restrictions, push the boundaries and create a website to be proud of. After all, it may just be the deciding factor steering your clients into the right direction. Unlock your potential, showcase your previous clients, offer your services, whatever your goal, WordPress can handle it.
Now, creating a WordPress site does take some knowledge and can often be hugely time-consuming, not something that works for every small business owner with hundreds of other tasks to think of. Why not commission someone else to take the weight off your shoulders and create the site of your dreams for you! We at Meridian believe every great business deserves a website to match, not only do we offer website building specifically tailored to your brand, we also have knowledge on what could make you stand out from your competitors. Interested? Why not book in a consultation and let us show you how we can take your business and its online presence to the next level.
Come on, we had to self-promote at some point right?