The term “cloud based” can be confusing to some business owners - especially those that have been doing things the same way for a long time. Once you realize its benefits, the confusion can quickly turn to excitement.
Undeniably, in today’s fast paced world it can be tough to keep up. There are four specific pieces of cloud-based software we use at our digital marketing agency, ProFromGo, that makes my life, and the life of my employees, much easier.
Bookkeeping, Accounting and Invoicing
If you picked three words that drive a small business owner crazy, they might pick the three words mentioned above. Luckily, QuickBooks Online has you covered.
First off, it’s a cloud-based software - meaning you don’t have to download it and store it locally on your computer’s hard drive. This also means you can access all of the information you need no matter where you are. There’s also a free mobile app, which makes accessing important financial information on the go easier than ever.
Also, depending on your subscription level, you can use QuickBooks Online to manage and pay bills, create and send purchase orders, track inventory, and prepare 1099s.
Sales and Marketing Software
We’ve been a HubSpot partner agency for years - one of the few Gold-tiered partners in the Pittsburgh area. I could write an entire book on the benefits of using HubSpot’s sales and marketing software. One of the biggest pain points we see with our clients, or even internally, is how can we get the sales team and the marketing team to work together? HubSpot makes that incredibly simple.
We use their Sales CRM (which is free, by the way) and their marketing software. This allows the marketing team to generate leads, nurture them along the way, and then pass them over to the sales team to, hopefully, seal the deal.
The best part about the software is that you can see how someone visiting your site progresses from a contact to a customer. HubSpot captures key information in the background, allowing you to base your marketing efforts on what is working.
A Quick Example
For example, let’s say I google “best places to have a wedding in the Pittsburgh area.” One of the top results from a quick google search sends me to a blog post by one of Bella Sera’s wedding experts titled: “Five Must-Haves for your Perfect Pittsburgh Wedding.”
Now, stay with me, this is where it gets fun.
The bride-to-be hasn’t picked a venue yet. At the end of the blog post, she clicks on a call-to-action promoting a checklist highlighting things to consider when booking a reception venue.
However, in order to get that checklist, she has to fill out a form, giving Bella Sera her name and email address. Once the form is completed, her information is sent to the CRM and she gets her offer.
It also has some great marketing automation capabilities as well. A simple form submission can trigger an internal or external workflow to alert the right people that there’s a new lead.
Email and Productivity Tools
Another great cloud-based software is Google’s G Suite. It allows for easy collaboration between members of your team. Think of it as Microsoft Office, email, a hard drive and a calendar all under the same umbrella.
From a business perspective, you can also have files stored in your Google Drive, making it easy for other team members or individuals outside your team to view or even edit files with ease based on your sharing preferences.
G Suite is great because it gives you extra security, integrates with your CRM ((HubSpot CRM and G Suite are like peas and carrots and we are experts at aligning those two systems and training sales teams how to work more efficiently), and allows you to use your company’s branding. And their support team is awesome.
Project Management Process and Tools
As many of you already know, project management can be stressful - especially if you’re relying on a legal pad or a post-it note. In addition to your repeatable tasks, various things come up throughout the day. Sure, it’s easy to jot it down, but, it’s just as easy to forget about those little notes or misplace them. These mistakes can cost you a key client.
One way we try to stay ahead of the game is by using a cloud-based project management software called Teamwork.
Teamwork allows you to create tasks for all of your daily activities and assign them to members of your team with due dates, estimate the time the task will take, and the prioritize the level of the task.
You can also create accounts for people you’re working with outside your organization and assign them tasks as well.
Teamwork lets you create multiple projects. Those projects can also have multiple task lists. It allows you to adjust due dates, make certain tasks dependent on others, and even create templates for your common projects.
It’s an amazing tool that holds everyone accountable to due dates, helping keep you, your employees and your clients on the same page.
Navigating Through The Cloud
There are tons of cloud-based software tools out there today that can be beneficial to any industry. Admittedly, it’s scary moving your important files - even your day-to-day communication - to a software component rather than to a hard copy in a filing cabinet. However, the benefits of having programs you can access anywhere and share with ease (or even hide with ease) far outweigh the comfortability of doing things the way you’ve always done them.
These four programs have saved ProFromGo time, money, and numerous headaches. I couldn’t run my company without them. If you have any questions feel free to reach out!