The telephone has become an invaluable sales tool, ever since its invention. The first contact between customer and business remains most commonly — the telephone. First impressions count, so whether the first voice your prospective customer hears is a receptionist’s or an IVR (Interactive Voice Recording) professional tone and courtesy are paramount. Despite the technological advances in telephony — from the old party line…
12 Freemium SaaS Tools Guaranteed to Rock Your Business
These days, SaaS tools that promise to make the entrepreneurship journey a breeze spring up like mushrooms after the rain. Admittedly, many of those tools sound downright fantastic– until you’re hit with the revelation that your dream list resembles more of a monthly budget than a business improvement strategy.
Freemium SaaS tools were designed to battle such predicaments. Like a life raft for small business teams, they navigate the previously murky waters between the expenses of paid products and the dead-end inflexibility of free ones. What are freemium tools? They’re the perfect compromise between free and premium services, offering you a basic version of the product which later can be upgraded to a paid subscription.
The best-kept secret, however, is this: certain freemium marketing, sales, CRM, and analytics tools can serve startups and small business well enough even without upgrades, or with a budget-friendly monthly plan.
Here are the 12 SaaS tools your business (and your accounting books) will love.
- Wave accounting
- Sumo customer engagement
- SendinBlue email marketing
- SurveySparrow customer feedback
- Cyfe business data organization
- MightyCall VoIP business phone system
- SEO Review Tools
- Canva designer tools
- Buffer social media sync
- HubSpot suite
- Trello project boards
- Zapier task automation
What are SaaS tools?
SaaS stands for ‘Software as a Service’. It is a model of providing various services, apps, and tools in the Cloud, without the need to download software to your computer. For example, whenever you register to a service and start using it right away in the web browser, you’re using SaaS technology.
The most populous market for SaaS tools is engineering, marketing, and business operations, but the SaaS development model is seeing rocketing growth across all industries. According to Blissfully’s 2019 SaaS Trends Report, in 2018 U.S. small businesses (0-50 employees) spent over $20k on paid SaaS subscriptions. That’s double the spending amount from 2016.
Freemium and cost-effective SaaS tools for small business
The above expenses may seem overwhelming if you’re just starting out, own a home business, or are a solopreneur. If you don’t want to be swallowed up by competitors, though, you’ll need to learn not to cut down, but save up: in other words, find the right technology that will both do the job and save you money. Finding the right balance is key – and completely possible with these fresh and classic, freemium and low-cost tools for small business and startups.
Even amongst tight SaaS competition, Wave Financial is a classic that makes nearly every free SaaS tools list – and for good reason. The product really stands out thanks to its unlimited service model.
While freemium accounting tools like Zoho Invoicing and Freshbooks may have advanced business features (on their paid plans) that Wave lacks, the latter is still a beloved choice for small businesses.
Image source: Chrome web store
That said, Wave’s Cloud financial service isn’t exactly freemium: it’s completely free. The financial tool offers free accounting, invoicing, payroll, receipts, tax calculations, deductions, and more. In short, it’s the no strings attached SaaS accounting tool every small business should start out with.
Cart abandonment during online shopping is one of the greatest challenges online store owners experience. With a rocketing 76% of online carts being abandoned, this invisible culprit is responsible for $4.6 trillion in lost e-commerce sales annually.
Sumo is a freemium ecommerce tool created to fight such issues: business owners can set up the Sumo tools on their website to start reducing cart abandonment rates in real time. Sumo shows you ROI from every single sale or subscriber, to make sure you see what they’re doing for you.
Screenshot via Sumo
Sumo’s WordPress plugin is very popular, but it integrates just as well with other web and ecommerce services. The free plan promises to drive up to $500 in extra monthly revenue for your online store.
If you like the free version, you can switch anytime to the $39/month PRO plan to go for unlimited benefits.
Newsletters are a huge thing. According to WBR Digital, 80% of retail professionals say it’s their number one customer retention tool. Further, email marketing statistics show that for each $1 spent on email campaigns, business owners get a ROI of $44.
For the same reasons however, email campaigns can swallow up a ton of time – from crafting the right content to making the design modern and attractive enough to encourage click- through rates, email marketing seems like an art in itself.
Screenshot via SendinBlue
SendinBlue relates to those struggles and offers business owners simple SaaS marketing. With designer newsletter templates for all business occasions, automation workflow (campaigns based on clicks, purchase data, open rates, website visits, etc.), a landing page editor, SMS marketing (a tool that’s not readily available with competitors), and detailed reports, SendinBlue is the fresh alternative to MailChimp (which is still a classic thanks to its countless integrations).
SurveyMonkey, move over! Founded just over two years ago, SurveySparrow makes sending surveys to customers and employees nothing short of a joy.
Screenshot via SurveySparrow
The SurveySparrow startup story reflects a personal mission to revolutionize boring old surveys with an interactive/chat-like experience plus develop mobile-first surveys, prioritize mailing scheduling options and add simple social sharing. SurveySparrow’s great UI allows users with no tech knowledge to craft awesomely-designed surveys that customers actually love to engage with, helping you nail that sought-after feedback and gain real interaction with your audience.
You can try the free Basic plan (includes 100 responses per month, 10 questions per survey, advanced reports filters, and more) to get the hang of the process and upgrade when necessary.
Screenshot via Cyfe
Wouldn’t it be terrific to monitor all your business data from various tools and apps on one or two dashboards? We’re talking all kinds of marketing, sales, SEO, CRM, and organizational channels you might be already using made visible in one Cloud service, with the ability to share the dashboards anytime with your team!
The Cyfe free plan gifts you with two fully functional dashboards that you can use to organize all your business data. The service integrates lots of services and is a great deal even with the free plan. If you need more dashboards (for example, your business grows, and you feel the need to organize data by departments) you can update your plan accordingly.
As of 2018, three out of four U.S. adults live in wireless-only households. Come to think of it, that’s no surprise in an age when life itself is mobile-first. Mobile devices have also transformed business communication: Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies are fast replacing landlines in offices, hospitals, call centers, etc.
Screenshot via MightyCall
MightyCall is a small business-first VoIP phone system that offers local, toll-free, and vanity numbers, the ability to port in your existing virtual number for a better deal, plus over 35 features like these:
- Business caller ID for a professional image wherever you go
- Unlimited extensions to keep customers connected with your team
- Call flows and call menus for organizing incoming calls by user, working hours, availability status, etc.
- Custom voicemail greetings and voice prompts
- Activity queues that display all activities that need action (e.g. missed calls, SMS, voicemail, messages from integrated social media and web widgets)
- Call history and analytics to help your business gain leads
- Call recording to gather important customer feedback
- Call back and click-to-call widgets that engage callers via your website
- Integration with softphones and IP desk phones so you can keep talking the way you’re used to
- The Mighty Call mobile app so you can have the most useful MightyCall features on the go
- And more
Although MightyCall doesn’t offer a free lifetime plan, using a VoIP phone system is proven to save up to 60% on phone bill costs – so it’s still a terrific deal for your team. Moreover, you get to test-drive the full-feature product with a free trial and get special deals on all three MightyCall plans.
Screenshot via SEO Review Tools
Another important thing to consider is search engine optimization, or SEO. If you plan to drive traffic via a blog or written content, you’ll appreciate the free Keyword Research Tool, Content Idea Generator, and SEO Writing Assistant from SEO Review Tools.
A step beyond that, SEO Review Tools Service also helps you analyze backlinks, domain authority, and the Google Rankings of your website. And those are just some of the things you can do to improve ranking through this freemium SEO tool. The whole list numbers 37 real-time SEO tools for your business, both free and paid.
Every business owner who’s got a website, online store, or business social media accounts has once racked their brains over design. Just how do you match all those stunning banners, promo posts, branding materials, etc. that competitors seem to be flashing at you, without crazy investment in time or money?
That’s how it was before Canva jumped onboard the freemium tools arena. Nowadays, Canva is the most user-friendly design tool imaginable. With its help, anyone can design their own social media posts, web banners, and you name it promotional materials without leaving the web browser.
Screenshot via Canva
Canva is one of the great freemium Cloud tools out there – a small catch to the free version is the smaller (but still impressive) library of stock images at your disposal.
If you have a business social media account, you’ve no doubt noticed that engagement times vary by hour and day. Such observations are baked by stats: for example, the best time for B2B tweets is around 3 p.m. on weekdays while B2C posts do well during commute hours (especially Monday mornings).
Now that’s great, but you have your own workday to worry about, right? In this case, using SaaS tools to schedule social media posts for the entire day (or week) ahead sounds like a life-saver.
Screenshot via Buffer
Buffer is a freemium social media tool that lets you publish to different social platforms without the hassle of doing it manually at different times throughout the day. You can let this free social media scheduling app automatically select the peak engagement times of day for you or choose your own.
Customer Relationship Management or CRM is an abbreviation seen all over the internet these days. On a basic level, Cloud CRM solutions let you organize your business contacts into one place and from there manage all interaction and communication, providing you with analytics on that communication process. On a deeper level, CRM stands for a very wide infrastructure of tools that encompass sales, analytics, customer service and marketing.
HubSpot CRM like other free CRM tools, provides a basic set of features in its free version. All of these features are centered around organizing, sorting through, and quickly communicating with your business contacts imported from various sources. This also includes analytics.
Screenshot via Hubspot
To get core benefits though, you will eventually want to look into the paid HubSpot tools – such as the Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub services (individually or included in the Growth Suite). These are growth-centered services specifically for growing businesses.
HubSpot CRM is free, while Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub are available starting at $50/month.
Inspired by the legendary Kanban productivity boards developed by Toyota, Trello takes the idea and brings it into the Cloud and mobile apps, making it easy to share project boards with everyone on your team, wherever they are.
With Trello, you have an online project board with visually appealing lists that you can add up on the board. Each list can be a category, a step in a workflow, a to-do list, a bucket list, etc. – it’s up to you. To these lists, you then add any number of cards where you write down the specific tasks needed to get the job done.
Screenshot via Trello
The most convenient part is that these lists and cards are visible to your whole team, and everyone can see who’s working on what! Result: less time spent on email, fewer meetings and increased individual productivity.
Trello has a great free plan that will suit most small business owners.
All of the above freemium SaaS tools are designed for one purpose: making your life as a startup or small business easier. But sometimes, integrating all the technologies and having to manually do repetitive tasks with different tools is enough to kill hours on end.
That’s where Zapier steps in (ta-da)! Zapier is a SaaS automation tool that automates a chain of actions that you usually do manually in different apps. Instead of doing actions A+B manually, you can set up what’s called a “Zap” to automatically perform action B for every trigger A.
Screenshot via Zapier
Let’s say you want to automate content sharing. Instead of manually copying and pasting post URLs into your Buffer queue or social media pages, set up a Zap to automatically share posts to any (or all) of your social media accounts via RSS feed.
Here are just a few other Zaps to mention: add transactions in Wave for new Stripe or Square sales; create SendinBlue/MailChimp subscribers from new Google Contacts; send automatic welcome letters to new subscribers; share new Shopify products with image tweets; add new Shopify orders to Salesforce as leads; create new Trello cards from Gmail, etc.
The free plan lets you automate up to 5 two-step Zaps (multi-step zaps are a premium feature) which for a small business is already a great time-saver.
SaaS tools and freemium tools make up a terrific team. Working for you together, they prove that innovation doesn’t have to be overpriced while ‘free or low-cost’ doesn’t imply ‘low-quality’.
To select the most fitting SaaS tools for your small business, remember to discuss your tech needs and priorities with your business partners and/or team and decide on the marketing, sales, and other gaps you need to close.
See more tips on cost-effective small business solutions for your team!
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