Author: Bonnie Harris

Instagram seems to be a hit these days, but it can be a challenging platform for marketers to incorporate into an integrated mix. We've identified the top Instagram marketing tools to address a broad range of activities and issues that marketers typically encounter on this platform. These apps not...

top tech toolsBusiness owners have ranked their favorite business tools for 2016 in SurePayroll’s third annual top tech tools survey. The survey was included as part of part of the July 2016 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard®.  I've been posting the Scorecard on the Examiner for a few years now, and it's  turned out to be a fairly informative and reliable SMB metric. (It's also a great example of strong B2B content if that's what you're interested in creating for your brand. ) Google Drive was the most used app among small business owners – for both organization and Cloud storage. SurePayroll asked small business owners and entrepreneurs nationwide to rank their favorite business top tech tools in the categories of Cloud Storage Providers, Organization Apps, Social Networks, Social Media Management, Customer Relationship Management and Email Marketing Software. Facebook and LinkedIn were cited as far more useful for business than other social media outlets such as Twitter or Snapchat. Perhaps surprisingly, Google Plus ranked higher as a social media platform for business than Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or Pinterest. Other important tools included Mail Chimp for emailing marketing, Dropbox, and Salesforce for customer relationship management. “Our average customer tells us, for example, that they use Mail Chimp to communicate with customers, Google Drive to store important documents and SurePayroll to pay their employees. Those are the building blocks and beyond that upgrading technology becomes costly,” said SurePayroll General Manager Andy Roe. “Small businesses with only a few employees are typically not going to have a lot of resources for extensive technology systems. Fortunately, there are some really beneficial, low-cost tools available.”

Business Top Tech Tools

  • Cloud Storage – Google Drive (Note: last year’s winner was Dropbox)
  • Email Marketing Software – Mail Chimp (Note: last year’s winner was Constant Contact)
  • Organization App – Google Drive
  • Social Network – Facebook
  • Social Media Management – Hootsuite
  • Customer Relationship Management – Salesforce

Out of control e-mail chains. Confusing shared spreadsheets. Files carelessly strewn about multiple cloud storage accounts. If your marketing team isn’t using project management software, you’ve probably encountered these problems at least once…if not every day. E-mail, while a go-to for convenience, is not agile when it comes to keeping a team of employees on the same page. And trying to manage the unpredictable situations that crop up in marketing – like a client’s change of mind about details of a project – can quickly turn into a nightmare without a central hub to get the word out to the whole team fast. That’s where project management software comes in. This kind of software reliably tracks progress on tasks and projects, hours spent, budget, reporting and allows teams to communicate in one central place.

Online dating sites cater to every age and income bracket. For many years, niche online dating sites specially catered only to ethnic and religious groups. But today there are sites for every kind of single person. Online dating sites use many integrated marketing tools and techniques to get visitors to the critical point where they feel it's worthwhile to join. The tools they use and the messaging that drives their marketing depend heavily on the audience they hope to reach. When Jerry Miller launched the FarmersOnly.com dating website in 2005, he filled a niche for people to connect to others in similar circumstances. Farmers, ranchers, and people who live in the relative isolation of small towns can browse hundreds of profiles of people just like themselves. FarmersOnly.com  has quickly carved out a unique place in an overpopulated online dating market. Miller was working in agricultural marketing and heard the same story from many farmers: Dating was tough. Nobody else understood the relentless hours and how everybody knows everybody in their small rural communities. If they didn’t marry their high school sweethearts, they had a serious problem. So he started FarmersOnly, where over 4 million people have created profiles  in the hopes of harvesting a relationship.

building a slack communitySlack is a team messaging app that has created a great deal of excitement since its release in February 2014. Those who use it love it, as shown in its high engagement rates. If you’re considering implementing Slack as part of your marketing efforts, here are some statistics courtesy of DMR. Slack currently has 3 million daily active users and is growing at a rate of 3% to 5% each week. Over 75% of Fortune 100 companies use Slack and there are over 60,000 teams on the platform. Users actively spend 140 minutes per weekday on Slack. There's no doubt that Slack's highly engaged user base is growing fast. The opportunities for marketers to use the app to build a Slack community are, obviously, huge. The team-orientation makes the platform a natural for building out your Slack community just like you would on LinkedIn or Google+. There are far fewer groups on Slack than there are on LinkedIn, so there’s little competition for getting new members. Of course you can just participate in relevant groups, but you’ll gain the greatest return by creating your own. Although creating a group on Slack is free, it does require some time and effort to build and sustain your community.

Choose Your Slack Community Topic

The first step to creating your community is deciding on a topic. Broad topics have the potential to attract the greatest number of people. So think about the type of community your target market would be interested in joining. If you’re targeting prospects and customers, make sure your theme is related to your product or service. If you’re creating a community to build thought leadership among your peers, focus on a subject in which they are interested.

Create Your Slack Community

Writer Karin Winegar explains why despite all these new messaging channels, the basics of good writing never change “Keep it short and make it sing,” my late editor told me at the big Midwest  newspaper when I started my job as a general assignment reporter. He’d had...