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Top Tools for Online Businesses in 2020
Being a Tech VA, I come across A LOT of business software. Some good and some bad. So I thought I would compile a list of my favourites. If you are new to business or wanting to scale, these are the tools I recommend you take a look at (quite a few of them are free!)
Some of my clients have just started using Kartra and they love it! It has everything – landing pages, email marketing, cart/checkout platform, membership/online course portals, helpdesk functionality, booking calendar and the ability to enable affiliates to advertise your product.
There are lots of done-for-you campaigns so if, for example, you would like to start getting people on to your email list, they have this ready-made for you. It includes landing page, thank you page, emails and tagging. It’s all linked in, you just need to amend to your business and away you go.
Such a powerful tool! Read more about Kartra in my other blog post here.
The only thing it doesn’t do well is a blog so I would always recommend having a separate website if you want a blog but if you don’t, some people just use it as their main website as you can link up your www web address to it.
From working in Kartra, one of the criticisms I would say is that there isn’t a visual flow of how the pages, tags, emails link together (like you get in other platforms) so you would need to use another tool to map it out for you – like Funnelytics (which is free) or Geru.
You also cannot use it for video hosting so you would need to use Youtube (free) or something like Vimeo to host your videos so that would be an extra cost.
If you don’t want to go down the all-in-one route, then these are the autoresponders I would recommend (in order of budget with the highest first).
Active Campaign – this is my favourite email marketing tool. The automations and segmentations for your list are endless. All automations are built out in a visual workflow – which makes things so much easier to see and to follow the customer journey you have built. It has a fairly cheap plan for starting out but does go up after a while. I recommend Active Campaign to people looking to scale their business and grow this list – especially those that are running online courses/memberships.
Convertkit – this is my second favourite autoresponder. It is a great tool which is based around tagging. It’s pretty easy to use for the non-techy people out there and the deliverability rates are (reportedly) some of the best in the business. It also has a visual automation workflow but not as good as Active Campaign’s but good enough for a lot of businesses. There is a (sort of) free plan with Convertkit where you can collect subscribers but you then have to upgrade to actually email them – which I think is pretty pointless!
Mailerlite – this is what I recommend to people who don’t have a list. They have a free plan and is a great little tool for starting out.
You see I haven’t recommend Mailchimp. They used to be good for beginners but they removed a lot of bits from their free plan and it’s not so great anymore – I’ve never really liked it to be honest and don’t find it very user-friendly.
Don’t forget once you have chosen a platform you are not stuck to it forever. A lot of companies will migrate your subscribers from your old platform to them – or I can do it! I know people that have tried lots of email platforms until they came across the right one.
If you need to keep track of projects within your business then Asana is a great tool. I use it and share projects with my clients – all on the free plan!
Everyone should have a Zapier account (it has a free plan!). This tool automates lots of tasks within your business and can save you huge amounts of time. An example of this would be if you have an online shop and someone purchases but you want a Slack (instant messenger) message to go to a team member then Zapier can automate this for you; or if you have an online course platform that doesn’t link with your email marketing system you can ZAP new student details across to your email marketing system when they purchase. Definitely one to check out and see what zaps you can start making
I use the free version of Calendly for my online booking system. Visitors to my site can book a slot with me to have a discovery call. This has made the process so much easier as removes any to-ing and fro-ing organising a time - plus if you are speaking to people in another country it will default to their timezone.
You can upgrade and link Zoom (video calling) and Stripe/Paypal (payment processors) to it so people can book a paid-for meeting with you which automatically sets up a Zoom meeting.
This also has a free plan! Zoom enables you to have video meetings with up to 3 people on the free plan – most of my meetings are 1-2-1 and I’ve never had to go to the paid version.
Courses and Memberships
If you are looking a build a course or membership in 2020 then these are the platforms I would recommend:
Kartra - all-in-one platform (as detailed above) or
Thinkific and Teachable are very similar. They are both online course platforms where you can run courses and memberships on there. Be aware that if you want to run a membership the layout on these platforms will be in the form of a course i.e. modules/completion etc. and you can’t change the layout.
So I suggest comparing these two tools and seeing which one suits your business.
Kajabi is a very popular course platform. It is more expensive than the two above but it is more of an all-in-one with landing pages and email marketing thrown in. At its core is the course builder and the rest is built around that. It visually looks great as well. Most people I know use a separate email marketing platform as well as Kajabi so I can’t really comment on how the email marketing aspect is.
Memberpress is my favourite wordpress plugin for membersips. It is not a course tool where people move through modules but it is great for a membership site. It basically restricts pagtes on your Wordpress site so you can design them exactly how you want.
Memberspace is similar to Memberpress but for Squarespace websites.
If you just want to sell products direct from your website (or even if you don’t have a website) then Thrivecart is a great option. Everything is done in the cart and you can offer order bumps and upsells, it is proven to really convert from standard checkout software. You can also add affiliates in Thrivecart than can sell your product for you. They have a lifetime deal on at the moment which apparently is going to go in Spring 2020 so check it out today!
Last but by no means, least I recommend you get a Password Manager. I use Lastpass for all my clients login details and you can create secure passwords from it. Clients can share their logins with me and I can’t see the password itself. Definitely recommend!
So that’s it! I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions about any of this software or anything that I haven’t recommended then please pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links which means that I will get paid a small bonus if you purchase through my site. This is of no cost to you and please be assured I wouldn't recommend anything that I haven't used before! Before you purchase please make sure that these products are a good fit for your business and don't just take my word for it!