Speed up your workflow with affordable solutions that help you achieve more with less.
Psychologists say it takes two and a half months for new behaviours to become second nature. That’ll be music to the ears of businesses adjusting to life after lockdown.
Companies have had to act fast and find smarter ways to operate and keep revenues flowing. Many have struggled, but others have adapted, working online and even growing amid the disruption.
What’s their secret? Scrapping old processes, using better tools, and doing more with digital.
The companies doing best under new rules have invested in cost-effective solutions – most of them cloud-based – that let them do things faster and simpler. They've got rid of paper wherever possible, minimized face-to-face meetings, and shortcutted the timeline between agreeing new business deals and closing them.
New normal, old normal; it's always time to grow. In this blog, we'll take a look at smart tools that can help you keep profitability climbing.
01 Marketing automation
To sustain existing revenues and find new ones, you need to keep reaching out to audiences and qualifying prospects. But even before the pandemic and the challenges of remote working, marketing was getting more complicated. You had to select the best route to reach target segments across a shifting landscape of channels, and base decisions on a constant stream of data about customer behaviour and satisfaction.
You still need to do that, but with fewer hands on the tiller, it makes sense to automate as much of campaign management as possible. That includes the flow of communication and gathering of metrics, and the adaptation of messages and channels in response to data.
Marketing automation tools handle all of that for you, pulling data from multiple data sources like emails opened, carts abandoned, and contacts captured to make marketing decisions easier.
Smart Marketing automation tools to try
There's no shortage of options to choose from in the marketing technology space. Its a mature category with a mix of trusted incumbents and plucky challengers, but to start your search we'd suggest adding these to your shortlist:
- Hubspot is a strong all-rounder, combining marketing automation with sales and CRM functions. It offers the most extensive set of capabilities, but there’s a price tag.
- ActiveCampaign deserves a look. We use its flexible features and pricing here at SignRequest.
- And where retention is the goal, tools like Optimove can analyze behaviour and transaction data to help you find ways to keep customers engaged and loyal.
Sales is about more than selling. It’s about forging a bond and managing what will hopefully be a long-term versus a transactional relationship. You have to create leads and nurture them, gathering essential information – what’s important to customers, what isn’t – as they move through the funnel.
Then the data has to be presented in an easily digestible format, to the right people, at the right time. That's what customer relationship management (CRM) software does: provide the data, customer profiles, and insights that can lead to a sale.
Because of that, CRM and marketing automation solutions often come as a single package. CRM captures all customer interactions with every touchpoint the business offers, providing the detailed and segmented data marketing automation platforms need to make campaigns and communications even more targeted and fine-tuned.
According to Nucleus Research, they work. CRM tools deliver an average ROI of $8.71 for every dollar spent.
Smart CRM tools to try
The CRM space has a clearly defined top table, with a few leaders and everyone else challenging for 9th or 10th place:
- Salesforce is the runaway market leader, with a wide array of integrations with complementary solutions (like SignRequest, for example) to round out its functionality.
- HubSpot appears on this list too as it blends CRM and marketing automation, plus free contract management. Mind the price gap though.
- Salesloft is another one to consider – with top marks for customer satisfaction on independent software review site G2
Marketing campaigns need content, and that makes an intuitive, easy-to-use content marketing system (CMS) a must for any growth-focused business. You don’t want to be tweaking code on a landing page or panic-texting your dev team when a campaign break-date arrives. A good CMS will let you create, edit, format, and publish with minimum fuss.
In this space, there's really one dominant player – WordPress, which CMS Research says powers 34% of the web. But there's a growing list of challengers that take WP's template-based approach to content management a step further, and depending on your needs, arguably make it better.
Smart CMS tools to try
- So if you aren't already using it, give WordPress a try. It's the legacy favourite and for many organizations a must-have smart solution.
- If you want to take branding and customization up a notch, try Webflow’s unrestricted templates. Part of the no-code movement, we use it here at SignRequest and love how it lets us create templates easily. Only caveat, it doesn’t have the same extensive set of options WordPress offers.
- For less flexibility but more simplicity, all-in-one CMS and website hosting services like Wix and Squarespace are worth a look.
04 Project management
When everyone’s working remotely, project management gets harder. Team members need to be in constant communication, checking timelines, watching budgets, tracking progress, plotting milestones and deadlines, and sharing information. Under COVID, a reliable project management tool has become a full-top necessity for sustaining collaboration and getting things done.
Today’s PM systems are online and fully mobile, enabling team members and partners to keep an eye on every project detail. Anyone with approved access gets a snapshot overview of every task in the pipeline, from daily status to requirements, dependencies, and next steps. The very best will have resource management functions as well, helping you allocate and track people, hours, materials, and money.
Smart PM tools to try
To keep projects in track and moving forward, consider taking these for a test drive:
- Jira is designed specifically for agile teams and processes. It scores highly on independent review sites and comes with several integrations with complementary systems. It offers extensive capabilities that are probably best suited for complex environments with large technical teams.
- Asana and Trello are two top contenders for small- to medium-sized companies. We only lump them together because of their similar use of ‘boards’ as a visual mechanism to track things easily. Asana is what the product development and marketing teams use here at SignRequest.
- On that front, Basecamp is another popular PM tool with high marks for collaboration.
05 Digital Signing Solutions
Getting signatures on all the contracts, NDAs, and related submissions that cross our desks is a chore. Digitizing the process with an e-signature solution can save effort and admin, and dramatically shorten the timeline from agreeing a new business deal to bringing it into force.
There are a lot to choose from, and obviously, we think SignRequest is worth a look. If you’re thinking about how to digitize more workflow and simplify how you ink formal documents, these options can help.
Smart Digital Signing tools to try
- DocuSign is the big beast in the e-signature space. It's The most extensive tool out there, but you pay for all those options. Do you really need them?
- It’s a similar story with PandaDoc, another one of e-signing's front runners and known for its wide range of customization options.
- We’re not biased or anything, but along with excellent customer reviews and integrations with other smart tools, SignRequest is the smart choice. If your business is in scale-up mode, you need a solution that will grow with you, not against you. We focus on mastering the high-value features you really need.
It’s always time to grow
Technology companies have been telling everyone for decades that digitalization will boost productivity and enable organizations of all sizes to run leaner. The time has come to put those claims to the test.
Smart tools like the options we’ve suggested above can help you get rid of manual, paper-based processes, realize new revenues faster, and stay focused on the future.
One smart tool you can try today is SignRequest. Sign up for a free trial and give us a go. If you like what you see and sign up for a paid plan, we’ll even plant a tree.
Find out more about our partnership with Eden Reforestation Project.