10 Best Tools to Make Your Small Business Look Big - Page 2

By Jamie Bsales
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And if you think only big companies can offer community feedback and voting on their websites, meet UserVoice. This online community-builder application lets you integrate user feedback, voting and other interactive features just like all of the major sites. You can let your customers submit discussion topics and join discussions (with or without requiring a login), and vote on the ideas and suggestions you or others propose so you can improve your product or service.

The online form makes it easy for customers to submit their feedback, and as they type in their idea UserVoice's search-as-you-type feature automatically finds similar feedback for a user to vote on, so they don't create a new entry that duplicates an existing one. Plans start as low as $19 per month.


Also on the interactive services front, RevenueExpect offers small business owners another way to deliver individual customer attention. The service provides instant insight into customers who have abandoned transactions on your website, allowing you or your staff to reach out to those customers proactively.

RevenueExpect works by providing data from users that is entered into the form before and after the submission process, hence capturing information -- including phone number, email addresses, IP address, and geographical location -- even about abandoners. It also provides data on the number of total conversions on a given form, letting you know if a given form is working or needs to be redesigned. The service costs $50 per month for each domain and supports an unlimited number of forms per domain.

Constant Contact

It's happened to you: You've been a satisfied customer of a business, given them your email address, but then never heard from them again. That's a dead giveaway that it's a small operation. You can avoid making that impression with your own business while also increasing revenue with an email marketing service like Constant Contact.

This service helps you build polished email marketing campaigns with professionally designed message and newsletter templates to keep your customers engaged. You can build recipient lists by location, interest categories, or other criteria so you can target your programs to specific contacts.

On the back end, Constant Contact tracks and reports which mailings were opened and by whom, so you can easily see which promotions resonated with customers and which did not. The company also recently rolled out the Constant Contact Event Marketing service to help small businesses and organizations professionally promote and efficiently manage registrations and RSVPs for their meetings, functions, seminars and other events. Constant Contact's services start at around $15 per month.


Small businesses such as architectural/engineering firms that rely on document collaboration and interactive project management with customers have been at a disadvantage compared to larger competitors on the technology front. Deploying and maintaining sophisticated collaboration and communications platforms generally requires the big investment and IT resources only a big company can afford; but not if you use HyperOffice.

This cloud-based collaboration and messaging suite make it look like you have an IT department behind the scenes running a sophisticated collaboration platform that lets you share documents and other files with clients (and of course your remote workers). You can easily set up a customer-accessible portal (branded with your company logo and colors) to share documents and messages with clients.

Microsoft Office 365; Web tools
Microsoft Office 356 is a cloud-based take on MS Office productivity suite, with a host of additional features.
(Click for larger image)

The company also recently added more sophisticated project management features into the suite, including task dependencies, interactive Gantt charts and more. And these features are on top of the business-class email, shared calendars, contact management and other features. HyperOffice subscriptions start at $44.99 per month for five users.

Microsoft Office 365

All of these tools can make you look a larger business to outsiders, but what about having some big-company perks for you and your staff, as well? Microsoft Office 365 offers small businesses an easy-to-use set of Web-enabled tools and business-class productivity services.

The cloud solution delivers anywhere-access to email, important documents, contacts and calendars on nearly any device -- including PCs, Macs, Windows Phones, iPhones, Android and BlackBerry devices. In a few clicks, you'll be able to access enterprise-caliber productivity applications and Office Web Apps, for viewing, editing and sharing documents.

You also get easy-to-use design tools to build a professional-looking website quickly, and your site will let you share documents securely with colleagues, customers and partners. The platform even includes online meetings with audio/video conferencing and multiparty data sharing. Those interested in trying it can sign up for the beta program now, and Office 365 will go live early in 2011 at an estimated price of $6 per user per month.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology editor and writer with 18 years experience covering the full range of hardware and software products. His specialties include notebook and desktop PCs, printers, displays and small-business software and Web services

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on December 08, 2010
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