The past year was big for any small business that works online, and while many businesses focused on getting their finances in check to prepare for the following year, the big influence for majority of small business owners was customer care and understanding -- one of the trends we will see throughout the year 2015 and onwards.
We were also learning more about social media, and how we can use it to drive more leads, create new relationships, and generally establish a trustworthy presence in the eyes of the customer. Social media marketing is more than sharing links and pictures.
The big news were, of course, LinkedIn Pulse going public, allowing the millions of networks users to express their voices freely, connect with each other, and learn from each other.
This year we should continue to see a steady increase in the amount of tools that are going to become available to us, especially when startups like Product Hunt encourage people to build new products and share them in front of thousands of potential new customers.
While many of the classic tools that we're so accustomed to still work, there are new players on the horizon that might end-up having a bigger impact than we ever imagined. Look out for new products in 2015 that will help you to analyze, curate and manipulate big-data; here are some of the trends to expect.
The bigger it gets, the better it gets. Trello is no longer a simple task management app, it has grown into a tool that can be used to prepare, schedule and edit a wide variety of content, for teams that span unlimited in their size. They're passionate about what they do, and people are starting to find all kinds of uses for this platform.
Involve your team members in using Trello, and you will quickly see how effective it can be for storing ideas, working on issues, even doing customer care tasks.
Every small business needs a platform that can help with tracking competition, analyzing the amount of links coming your way, or simply monitoring social activity for your brand. SheerSEO has been around for long enough to have become an expert, in what it takes to help businesses stay on top of things when it comes to internal SEO tasks.
Don't pay SEO agencies thousands of dollars for work that you can easily do yourself, needless to say that the experience itself will better season you for the future!
There is no shortage of tasks that a business of any size needs to deal with, and oftentimes you're forced to opt for three different tools just to achieve the workflow result you would like. Drinkle is thinking a step ahead, and provides a great list of features in one place: project management, customer relationship management, spreadsheets, global notes, and even stock management.
It's a great tool for any small business who's either starting out, or is mature enough to be looking for an all in one management solution.
The average SEO consultant is going to charge you well over a thousand dollars for advice that a simple product like SEO Site Checkup can do for free. It works fully out of the box, you enter the URL you would like to check, and the output is a list of things to improve on your site: common SEO issues, speed optimization, mobile usability, security, and more.
It's a list of 40 tools integrated within a single checkup, it only takes a minute to do a simple checkup. What are the factors that you've been missing out on?
Keywords are what helps potential customers to find your business through organic search, the better you can understand your keywords, the better you can optimize your content for them. AccuRanker is a beginner friendly keyword tracking tool that will work just as fine on your competition, as it will on your own sites that you manage.
If you work as a business online, social media is going to be one of your top priorities/tasks, and not just because your customers are there, but because potential customers are there as well! Buffer is one of the leaders in managing a transparent company where everyone can get involved. Their social sharing application is an awesome piece of technology, but so are the high-quality blog posts that these guys publish on frequent basis.
Any small business can, and should learn from Buffer and its wonderful team.
Evernote is well established as the go-to app for organizing just about everything in your life and business. Whether it's notes for a meeting or bookmarks from the Web, Evernote can take pretty much anything you want to throw at it. But are you using the platform to its full potential? Here are 10 quick tips for turning yourself into an Evernote power user.
The great thing about Wufoo is that it doesn't stop at helping you to create forms, it actually goes the extra mile to help you integrate 3rd party services like payments within your forms, helping you to save a ton of time along the way. Whether it is a simple contact form, or a full-scale application form for a new order to be placed, Wufoo can deal and tackle with those requirements quite easily.
If you're missing out on email marketing, don't worry: I wrote a column some while ago, discussing the optimal ways of boosting your email marketing efforts, but as far as MailChimp goes; it's one of the best email marketing platforms out there, and not just because it has an incredible free plan to get you started with. Email marketing is your second best channel of making sales besides physical interaction.
Mind mapping can help to unravel loopholes that need fixing, they can also reveal big ideas that are hiding behind small steps. MindMeister is all about collaborative mind mapping interaction, where you can bring in your team and work on aspects of your business together. Get everyone involved for quicker evolution of your ideas.
Achieved a new goal? Learned a new way of doing business? Create a presentation, and share it with the world! Presentations are such a great way to learn, especially because it involves visual learning. Prezi helps you to create state of the art presentations within a couple of clicks. Help yourself learn by teaching others!
This is not a tool, but it certainly could become a great asset for your business in 2015. AngelList allows you to enlist your products, enlist job openings, as well enables you to look for potential investors. If you're working hard in the online field, chances are that you could use AngelList to either find new recruits, or find an investor company who could take your small business to the next level.
Many of these tools I have worked with very closely, and have seen incredible results in terms of increasing my sales, and the amount of people I am able to do business with. What are going to be the tools that you will use throughout the year 2015? How many of these are you already an active user of?
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more informationTrack ballot status
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place