Meet the Best Small Business Products of the Year - Page 3

By SmallBusinessComputing.com Staff
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Intro     Hardware     Software/Services     E-Commerce

Full service ISPs and hosting providers are all the rage this year with small business owners wanting someone to design, host and maintain a Web presence at an affordable price. Oh, and SMBs don't mind service providers throwing in some marketing assistance, as well. Voted the winner in the Site Hosting category, Interland reflects the popularity of its Platinum Business Solutions service for $95 per month.

Interland's service includes a 10-page Web site, consultation with a designer, e-mail marketing, keyword advertising, blogs, online gift certificates, analytics, e-commerce capabilities, a new domain name for two years and e-mail with up to 50 mailboxes and hosting services. (Additional coverage.)

Affinity Internet came in a close second to Interland after debuting a number of small business services in 2004, including the $49.95 per month ReadyWeb package and a new marketing service called "ValueTraffic," which takes the load of online marketing off the shoulders of small business owners.

Site Hosting Service
      Affinity Internet ValueWeb
Design Tool
Macromedia Contribute 3 for eBay
      Affinity Internet ValueWeb ReadyWeb
      ShopSite 7.1
Store Front
Kurant StoreSense 5.7
      OScommerce 2.2 Milestone 2
      LaGarde StoreFront 6
Web Analytics
WebTrends 7
      Urchin 6
      ClickTracks Pro 5.0
Constant Contact
      WebTrends + ExactTarget
Customer Support/Service
      Avidian Prophet 2004
After cozying up to eBay even more in 2004, Macromedia takes home the award for Best Site Design Tool with its Contribute 3 for eBay. The budget-friendly $99 lets customers shop on a Web site created and hosted on non-eBay servers, yet still connect transparently to eBay for processing a sale. For those who aren't HTML-savvy, Contribute 3 is as easy to use as a word processor to design a fully functional, professional-looking Web site. (Additional coverage.)

Affinity Internet's ValueWeb/ReadyWeb service was the runner up in this category. Voters seem to like the package that includes a homepage, contact page and up to three additional pages for any small business Web site.

The winners in the Store Front category were neck-and-neck with voters this year. Kurant's StoreSense 5.7 came out on top as the e-commerce platform of choice for advanced users. In fact, Kurant's products are so well liked that eBay gobbled them up not even two weeks ago.

StoreSense lets e-commerce sellers post products on eBay, manage auctions and handle billing and shipping through the same interface used to manage their online storefronts. (Additional coverage.)

osCommerce 2.2 Milestone 2 was the runner-up. The open source (read: free) storefront software is a full-featured online sales and payment package designed more for the technically inclined entrepreneur. Available for either Windows or Linux systems, osCommerce 2.2 has more than 2,100 user-contributed enhancement modules — one of the benefits of using an open-source tool. However, given the time needed to install and configure this full-featured product, most SMB owners will likely opt for something easier and more convenient, even if the costs are higher.

WebTrends 7 takes home the winning prize for Best Web Analytics. As one of the original developers in this market, WebTrends kept pace in 2004 with version 7 of its popular analytics tool. With the announcement of 7.1 this week, new features such as detailed e-mail campaign analysis and search page optimization tools figure to keep WebTrends at or near the top of the heap. (Additional coverage.)

The economically priced Urchin 6 comes in this year as the runner-up in the Analytics category. JupiterMedia analyst Eric Peterson said Urchin was, "a good package for the small-to-medium-sized online merchant. While its functionality is not top tier, it offers a good value for a lower price." Apparently, voters agreed with him.

Constant Contact, a Web-based e-mail marketing service that helps business owners stay in touch with clients through customizable, opt-in newsletters and marketing campaigns, wins the reader's vote this year for best Marketing Tool. Its ease of use, content-customization and visitor-sorting (according to their interests) is apparently hitting home with marketing-savvy SMBs. (Additional coverage.)

This category's runner-up comes from both Web Trends and on-demand e-mail marketer, ExactTarget. The two companies teamed up in late 2004 to create an integrated solution that provides e-mail marketers with a comprehensive, straightforward view of how respondents react to specific creative elements within an e-mail and their Web site. This partnership was designed to provide e-mail marketers sophisticated scenario analysis, allowing e-tailers to pinpoint both e-mail and on-site conversions and to identify actions needed to improve results.

AuctionVideo, which lets auction sellers on eBay, Yahoo or other auction sites add further appeal to any item by posting one-minute video clips, is the voters' top choice for Customer Support or Service. AuctionVideo stores the video clips on its own servers for e-tailers to use in any auction for up to 30 days. (Additional coverage.)

Claiming the runner-up spot is ThinkingVOICE. The company's hosted CallActivator service is designed to let shoppers who visit your online store click a link to initiate a text chat or a phone call with you. You can customize the link and then embed it on your site, on an eBay listing, in a Google ad or in an HTML e-mail.

Page 1: Hardware Winners | Page 2: Software/Services Winners | Page 3: E-Commerce Winners

Compiled by Devin Comiskey, Dan Muse and Lauren Simonds. Vangie Beal, Eric Grevstad, Eric Griffith and Chris Saunders contributed to this report.

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 January 28, 2005
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