WHY READ THIS BLOG POST?
I’m going to share the Ecommerce Tools that I use on a daily basis, to help my clients grow their sales. I will also share tools that will improve your productivity, give you more focus, deliver better creative and enhance your knowledge. If you are feeling overwhelmed and like you’re sinking in time-consuming tasks, then these will help.
“The best investment is in the tools of one’s trade.”
Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States
Feeling a bit broken? Struggling to keep up with everything on your to-do list?
Worried that your site imagery is crappy and that your emails look like a 5-year old has designed them?
What about focus? Are you constantly flitting around Facebook and wasting time?
If that’s you down to a T, then fear not. I’ve got a set of tools that will help you get your shit together, even if you have no design skills, are the most disorganised person in the world and you are lost for sales ideas.
I personally use these ecommerce tools day-in, day-out to with my clients to become more efficient, more productive and serve my customers in a more professional way. These guys are all on a tight budget so it’s important we use the right kit and don’t waste money on stuff we’re not going to gain value from.
I will also share with you my personal tools that I use to keep my head in the right place and the stress levels down. It’s no joke guys. Stress can be a killer, both to you and your productivity levels.
Forget chasing your tail. We’re going to have you firing on all cylinders and rapidly increase your ecommerce store sales in the process.
What’s so great about these tools? And why should I use them?
OK, I’ve been around the ecommerce block a few times so I’ve tried and tested all sorts of software tools to make my life easier. Some are free, some expensive, some technical, some not so technical, some good and some amazing.
To save you the job of wasting time with the bad ones, I thought it would be useful to share my favourites with you so you can ‘cut to the chase’ to get better results, faster.
I know how stressful it is running your own business. I’ve personally been on the receiving end of the dreaded ‘BURNOUT’ until I got my act together. I took steps and found tools to make my life more efficient and focus on my mental health in the process. I don’t want you to be in the same position and I don’t want you wasting time on needless tasks that could be nailed in double-quick time.
Time is the most precious thing you have (along with your brain) so don’t waste it.
OK, ready to get started? Let’s crack on.
MY ECOMMERCE TOOLS FOR SALES & BUSINESS GROWTH
What is it? The best software tool on the planet to collect email addresses and growing your business.
Building your email list is one of the most important things you can do as an ecommerce business owner. It’s your lifeblood, your source of income and the growth of your business!
An email address crushes social media in terms of cash return on investment. According to the ‘bigwigs’ at McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than social media.
YES, that’s 40 bloody times!
SumoMe is the best tool that I’ve found to capture email addresses in a non-annoying way. It subtly uses pop-ups, header bars, a welcome mat and contact forms to grow your list. The guy who created it (Noah Kagan) is ex-Facebook and Mint.com, so he knows his onions.
It also comes with an amazingly effective share bar plugin that works like a dream. You’ll have people sharing your content all-day long. You can the FREE starter version of SUMO here.
What is it? A truly brilliant tool that will surprise and delight your customers.
I love this tool. It’s a little bit of an unknown but it’s a true gem that will give you the edge over your competitors.
Bonjoro is an app you install on your phone and also plugs into your site to sends you an update when you get a sign-up or an order (Nothing new there). The very clever part is the ability to send them a ‘super-quick’ personalised video message to thank them for jumping on board.
How cool is that?
People buy from people at the end of the day, so a personal welcome will make your customers feel like a million dollars. When they feel like that, they buy more from you!
How many other companies do that? Very few so you’ll be that brand that stays at the forefront of their memory. Get started with your free Bonjoro account here.
What is it? An brilliant app that will drive sales using social proof.
FOMO plugs into your site and notifies people who visit the site that ‘Mark from London’ has just bought ‘The Shiny Sparkle Fairy Dust Sneakers’.
The resulting effect is that your site looks busy, your shoppers see that the product they may buy is selling……. and fast!
Because the app uses random sales it also makes people aware of products that they may not have seen. Clever $hit!
What is it? A super-effective email sending tool that will help you sell to customers on autopilot.
Active Campaign is my go-to email broadcast platform and I literally love it to bits.
Because it’s so clever it will grow your business on autopilot.
Yes, I know most ecommerce businesses use Mailchimp because it’s dirt cheap BUT you get what you pay for. Mailchimp has a huge user base but it’s waaaaayyy behind the curve on the functionality stakes. This is where ActiveCampaign is one of the very best and works like a dream for online retail.
This system allows you to create email campaigns that target small pockets of customers depending on what they’ve purchased. So, for example, if you had a customer who bought a new camera, you could enter then into a post-purchase welcome sequence that would offer them how-to videos and blog posts on how to use it. You can also follow-up with an email to sell them additional accessories which means ……..more $$$! (ching, ching, ching)
It has a simple drag-n-drop campaign builder which makes it easy to set triggers and actions based on time and behaviour.
If you’re serious about growing your sales and customer loyalty on autopilot (whilst you sleep) then you need this tool.
Take off the heavy lifting a get ActiveCampaign.
What is it? The best survey tool on the market to get information from your customers.
To deliver the best possible service to your customers, you need to learn more about them. This means sending them questions and short surveys to collect more info to get a better understanding and build the intelligence you have on them.
IMPORTANT: More information means more sales! (Remember that)
You can’t build your business on just an email alone. You need to build a profile of your customers over time and Survey Monkey is the perfect program for this.
You can easily create surveys and polls to send to your customers in just a few minutes.
Survey Monkey integrates with your Active Campaign so all of the information collected can feed straight into the system to, you guessed it, build a profile of your customers. You can also use it on your Facebook page and collect information there (which is vital).
MY CONTENT PRODUCTION TOOLS
What is it? Like an English teacher in your pocket. A FREE app to correct your grammar.
I write quickly (like I talk) and sometimes I just miss words out or get my grammar all over the shop. Grammarly is a FREE app that helps you to correct any blog posts, email copy or sales letters for spelling and grammar. Yup, it’s a total whizz and makes your writing less like The Beano and more like Ernest Hemmingway.
Get your FREE download of Grammarly here.
What is it? The Best Note & Archiving System on the planet!
Imagine being able to create a ton of notes, reminders or to-do lists and always being able to find them. Now, add to that the ability to upload photos, save web pages, make audio recordings and scan documents and store them in the same place.
Sound good eh? Welcome to Evernote.
Evernote is the ultimate filing system on steroids. I use it to make create lists of content ideas, write blog posts, clip web pages that I can read off-line and add voice memos to my notes. You can even tag every note you upload which means you’ll also be able to easily find it using the app’s search function. And yes, it searches the whole document, not just the filename like your computer does.
I find this tool an awesome way to plan, brainstorm and organise content for my ecommerce stores.
Pro Tip: I find it easier to write blog posts in Evernote and then copy and paste over to Grammarly for final editing.
What are you waiting for? Get Evernote downloaded here.
What is it? The place to find affordable, skilled help (so you don’t burn out).
Not so long ago I was unfortunate enough to experience ‘burnout’. It was not pleasant at all because I couldn’t function, couldn’t work and couldn’t even get out of bed for quite a few days. It was a depressing experience and not pleasant.
My burnout was caused by my own determination trying to do everything myself – perfectly. After that experience, I vowed never to try to do everything myself, ever again.
PeoplePerHour is an extremely affordable way of finding the people you need who can support you and your business. They are skilled, experienced and low-cost. You can find designers, copywriters, web developers, pr specialists or just people to perform the tedious admin tasks.
Check out PeoplePerHour here and find some freelancers to help you take care of the simple tasks.
MY SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT TOOLS
What is it? A tool where you can manage all your social accounts in one place.
I don’t know about you but I get fed up with having to log in to all of my social media accounts to replicate pretty similar posts and then update them. I was frustrated by this until I met my mate, Buffer!
Buffer is the most efficient way to manage your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest you’ll ever find.
Simply create your post, upload an image and select the social accounts where you want to post it. Buffer will then post at the best time or enable you to schedule when you want it posted.
It tracks all interactions so you know what is and isn’t working plus (big bonus) you can also re-buffer stuff (or line it up to go out again).
PRO TIP: Social media is a noisy place so I would recommend you re-send any posts or tweets that aren’t time sensitive every 2 weeks. More eyeballs means more traffic!
Buffer also has a browser extension so you can share and ‘buffer-up’ articles without the need to copy & paste the link. That means you can be a ‘sharing ninja’ – which people love!
This app also has Pablo, a FREE image creation tool that you can use to make your posts look dead pretty. Lovely jubbly!
What is it? A URL shortener that tracks the popularity of your clicks.
If you are posting URL (webpage links) on Twitter, Facebook or in your emails you’ll want to track how many clicks they get and what links get clicked to see if what you’re doing, is actually working. Google analytics only tracks on your own site and won’t track the source if the visitor’s browser has cookie blocking on it.
That will now track every click and also give you extra characters to play with on the tweeting front.
MY DESIGN TOOLS
What is it? The home of awesome designers that are affordable……and, well awesome.
Need a new logo designing for your online store? Then 99Designs is the place for you. (It’s where I got my Webshop Mechanic logo designed). Cool eh?
99Designs does have a low-cost option where you can get a logo for $99 BUT (and this is a big but) you’re better off paying someone a little more to get a totally unique logo created.
In my experience, the quality of design was better with the premium service because the logo concept was unique and completely drawn by the hands of the designer. And I blooming love it!
What is it? A library of fantastic FREE images.
FREE images I hear you say? In case you didn’t know, you can’t just lift images from Google images and add them to your website.
Because they are copyright protected and you’ll most likely get sued by a Harvey Spector wannabe. Ouch!
To save yourself a court case, Pixabay is a wonderful resource for FREE stock images. It’s got plenty to get you started on your website, your blog, your emails and your social. Did I mention it’s FREE?
What is it? An extensive library of high-quality images at an affordable price.
If you can’t find the images you’re looking for on Pixabay then 123RF should be your next stop. This is the best site I’ve found for having a ton of great, non-cheesy stock imagery at a competitive price.
Nope, the best stock imagery isn’t dead cheap but you do have to pay for quality.
MY PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS
What is it? An effective to-do list app that lets you sort and prioritise tasks and projects.
Before I started using this app, my desk was full of post-its and my notepad looked like a toddler had been let loose on it. I was disorganised and all over the shop!
To-doist has enabled me to take control of my weekly tasks, move them around in order of priority and never forget to do them.
It works on your laptop, tablet and phone and you can set time easy reminders in your schedule. Use this and you’ll be a time-efficient jedi!
What is it? A truly incredible yet simple app that helps you achieve a ton of stuff.
This isn’t an ecommerce tool as such but I’ve included it in my ‘ecommerce arsenal’ because I can’t live without it. It makes me more productive and I just get $hit done!
Most people fail at things because they give up too easily. They don’t persevere and they are not consistent. I was one of those people……until I starting using the Habit Loop Tracker.
Loop Habit Tracker is a very simple app that helps you to complete the basic tasks every day. You simply list the tasks you should complete each day and tick them when you’ve completed them. The best part is that the app keeps your score so you start to compete with yourself to get them complete.
I can honestly tell you now, this app has changed my life. In the first 35 days I started using it, I set myself 15 tasks a day to complete (some work, some personal, some health, some touch, some easy). Of the 535 tasks set, I missed just 7, giving me a 98.66% consistency rate!!!
My production levels have gone through the roof, my motivation levels are through the roof and I’m a much happier person because I feel like I’m moving forward – at speed.This app is totally FREE to download on Android here. Unfortunately, there isn’t an iPhone version but the FREE app Habitica for iOS is very similar. Get it here.
What is it? A tool for achieving complete focus from the outside world.
Yes, I know you probably like belting out Justin Bieber on Spotify but your brain can’t physically consume and create at the same time. Multitasking is a myth!
Try Noisli and see how you get on. I’m a fan of Thunderstorms and Heavy Rain mixed with a dash of Crackling Camp Fire. You can also choose Turbines, Coffee Shop or 10 other sounds. When I’m plugged into this, I just get $hit done!
PRO TIP: Combine it with some noise-cancelling headphones from Amazon. It cuts out noise from the real work (even in Starbucks) and makes you feel like you’re in a safe audio cocoon. They are also great for meditation because they give you silence! (Especially great for planes too.)
What is it? A tool that keeps your brain happy with meditation.
Mental health is something that most people ignore. They think it’s for weak people. I can tell you now that stress will creep up on you if you don’t look after yourself. I’m a firm believer of:
Healthy Mind + Healthy Body = Optimum Performance.
If you miss your sleep, you work late every night, you don’t look after yourself, you’ll get problems further down the line. Don’t risk it. I know from experience.
Headspace is a meditation app that will help you to relax, unwind and balance your mind. I know, I know…..meditation…..mumbo jumbo. Well, no actually. It helps you to concentrate on calming things down so your brain is not firing at 100mph all the time.
I meditate in the morning and before bed so I’ve got a level head for work and sleep. It only takes 10 minutes a day and the first 10 guided meditations are FREE. I just listen to these on repeat and never get bored. Chill man!
What is it? Amazon’s spoken word app that enables you to consume more stuff on-the-move.
I’m a firm believer that you should take steps to educate yourself daily. I’m also a bit of an audio fiend that loves to consume content on-the-go, in the car, out walking, in bed and even in the shower. I don’t care whether it’s fiction, autobiographies or business-related books.
I JUST CONSUME! This is why I love Audible.
Audible has access to over 200,000 audiobooks that can help you grow your knowledge and become better at everything you do. I try to learn from the best business minds so I can apply it to my own world.
Some audiobooks that I’d highly recommend you check out are:
- Finish – Give yourself the gift of done – Jonathan Acuff
- The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
- Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – Brian Tracy
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
- Time Management Made Simple – Brian Tracy
- How to be F*ucking Awesome – Dan Meredith
MY TECHNICAL TOOLS
What is it? SEMRush is one of the leading SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tools on the market. Yes, it’s a techy piece of kit but the advantage this software can give you over your competition is immense.
Let me explain.
If want to rank higher on Google than your competition then you need to create a website that Google loves. You need to find the right keywords that your customers are using to find your type of product on Google.
You also need to tag your site in the right way with those keywords, make sure the structure of your page content is high quality and also find other sites to link to so you can build authority.
SEMRush will help you to do this, and more. You can even backwards engineer your competitors to see who is linking to them so you can reach out and try to get a link. You can also compare your site with the competitors to see where you are missing opportunities.
It does take some training but SEMRush does have a brilliant free training academy that guides you through how to do things.
What is it? Google Analytics gives you intelligence about what is happening on your site so you know what to improve.
I’m not going to say too much about Google Analytics because you’ve probably already got it installed on your site. If you haven’t, then get onto it here because it’s FREE and probably the most useful ecommerce tool of all.
GA obviously tells you what people are doing on your site. Some key metrics to look at are:
- Bounce Rate – Gives an indication of whether your pages are good or bad, too noisy or that you are attracting the wrong people. Low bounce rate is good.
- Time on site – This determines whether they are finding it interesting. The longer, the better.
- Exit Pages – Tells you where potential weaknesses are and where people are leaving from.
- User Journeys – Check where people are going on your site and the stage they are falling away.
- Devices & Browsers – You can see what devices people are using to access your site so you can iron out bugs.
- Traffic Sources – See where your visitors are coming from so you can do more of it!
You can also set up some custom dashboard reports to monitor specifics plus a ton of other stuff. It’s brilliant.
What is it? Google’s diagnostics tool that shows you how it sees your site. Important for SEO.
Google Webmaster Tools is quite geeky but it’s a goldmine of information. It tells you how Google sees your site, if you have any errors (like broken links) or how you are ranking for specific search terms.
What is it? This is Google’s speed checker that tells you if your site speed is up to scratch.
People are impatient and don’t like waiting for things. If they have to wait or queue, they leave. It’s the same with your ecommerce store.
Google Page Speed Insights is Google’s own tool that tells you how fast your store pages are loading and if they are Laptop or Mobile friendly – that means, can people use them. It also tells you how Google sees your site and if it may be penalised for slow speed.
Run your site pages (not just your homepage) through this FREE tool and it will tell you where you can improve your site from a speed and usability perspective. Ideally, you want a load time of 3 seconds or less for a page. The longer a page takes to load, the more sales you are losing. A lack of site speed will seriously hinder the success of your ecommerce store.
PRO TIP: Mobile responsive is not the same as mobile friendly! Mobile friendly means customers can easily use it and buy from it. Make sure your site is tested by people who are unfamiliar with your site on mobile.
What is it? An external site that gives you page speed from all around the world.
Depending on where your customers are in the world, your site speed will vary. This is because your site might be hosted in the UK but somebody in Australia will need to wait for the information to travel to them and load.
Pingdom does the same thing as Google’s Page Insights speed test but it’s a little more technical. It tells you what files or scripts are taking the longest and gives expert advice on improvements. And it’s FREE.
What is it? A free tool to reduce to image file sizes that will make your site load faster.
Like I’ve already said, Google wants fast websites. Most ecommerce websites struggle with speed because they have huge images that slow everything down. Whilst pretty scrolling banners look nice, they slow everything down because they make your page heavier in terms of file size.
CompressJPEG is a FREE tool that can help you to reduce your store image file sizes by up to 50%. That can make a huge difference to your loading speeds and even your ranking, because Google will rank you higher if your site loads faster. Sweet!
There you have it, my favourite ecommerce tools…
I’m not saying you need to use all of these tools but these are the ones that I use day-in, day-out. Running an ecommerce store is not just about selling stuff. It’s also about using the right tools to make your days more efficient, give you more time, improve the relationship with your customers and to automate some of the sales process.
You can’t run everything on autopilot but you can make life easier for yourself. Don’t forget to look after yourself. Your brain is the most powerful muscle you have and it needs rest from time to time. You can’t go 100mph 24/7 because it will break. Take care of it and you will be in a better place.
*Disclaimer: I use every one of these tools personally. I never recommend any software tools that I have not used myself and had success using them. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to buy any software from those links then you will not pay anymore for it. I will simply get a small commission that will pay to run this blog so I can continue to help small online businesses. Thank you.
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