Small businesses make up the great majority of U.S. companies, but with limited resources, innovation needs, and stiff competition, how do small business leaders carve out their own piece of the pie? By using data to their advantage.
Unfortunately, data tools tend to be expensive. Sure, you could break the bank for top-of-the-line, AI-infused tools. If you know where to look, though, there are plenty of options available for free.
To save money and springboard yourself to the top, take advantage of the following free data tools (in no certain order):
#1: Email automation
Email is vital to any business. From internal communications, to keeping up-to-date with each and every potential sale, email helps keep your business moving efficiently and effectively. Mixmax is one tool to help you take control of your busy inbox. You can send personalized, automated emails and set up workflow automation to automate repetitive tasks. All the while, you’re getting invaluable data about who is opening your emails, when they’re being opened, and how many times that potential sale has reviewed your proposal.
Gone are the days of not knowing if your email got lost in cyberspace or if someone ignored an important note. Mixmax has a few different options for levels. A free account isn’t quite as robust as the paid accounts, but it does get your feet wet and gives you invaluable data about your email.
#2: Keyword analysis and SEO
Optimizing your content and site for search intent is essential, especially if your company makes most of its money online. Although you’ll be limited to 10 search per day with a free account, SEMRush lets you compare your site’s keyword rankings to competitors’ domains.
As long as you space your searches out, the company’s free plan is plenty enough to get your feet wet with SEO. Find keywords related to your niche, see how content you create ranks for those terms, and spot competitors you may not even know existed. Use the Site Audit feature to check the SEO “health” of your site and spot errors that may be hurting your search rankings.
#3: Web performance
Dig into the nitty-gritty performance details of your website with Google Analytics, a free tool that lets you look at page views, bounces, session durations, user demographics, traffic sources, and more. Use it to strategize ways to increase your traffic and provide a better user experience.
For example, seeing that you have a lot of users visiting from Mexico or Spain might justify adding Spanish language options to accommodate your readers. If most of your bounces are from mobile visitors, is your website responsive?
Because the volume of data Google Analytics delivers can be overwhelming, set up a custom dashboard to display only the metrics you’re interested in. Use its Goals feature to measure how assets like lead capture forms produce conversions. Note that data collection only begins when you attach your domain to your account, meaning that you won’t be able to see historical data.
#4: Workflow management
Your company is only as efficient as its processes. Clickup ensures your projects are progressing as intended and your team’s time is distributed effectively. Plan sprints and scrums without wondering whether the team is ready. With free and paid options, this project management suite offers a range of data visualizers and analytics tools.
Gantt charts let you easily visualize who’s working on what, when, and for how long. Use them to identify which steps and people are taking more time than expected. Take advantage of integrations with Google Calendar, Slack, Dropbox, Github, and other apps to create a hub for project communication and analysis. Although some features are limited to paid users, ClickUp’s Box View shows who has capacity and who’s overloaded. It’s especially useful if you have remote workers or do a lot of traveling.
#5: Time analytics
As a small business owner, time is one of your most important assets — one many don’t value as much as they should. Calendar.com offers a free calendar analytics tool that shows you who you spend the most time with. For example, maybe you spent a lot of time meeting with people you like and are friends with, but not nearly enough time with contacts who could bring value to your business. If you’re trying to grow your business, that may be a red flag that you need to re-evaluate how you’re allocating your time.
The Calendar.com analytics show you how long you’re spending in meetings, how many you’ve missed, what types of meetings you typically attend, and more. Having the data behind how we spend our time empowers us to become the most effective business owners we can.
Having the right software in your toolbox can mean the difference between success and stagnation. Use these free data tools to optimize your workflow, track the competition, and keep your business growing no matter who you’re up against.