Saturday, 3 January 2015

Online Apps for a Perfect Small Business

To run a YouTube channel, you need dedicated staff who can work from home. To run a business where everyone works from home (in our case Hawkhurst-Taunton-Cambridge-Shanghai), you need great web services to look after the business end of the operation: invoicing, email marketing, CRM, advertising and the rest.

A friend who runs a small company asked what online software packages we use. This is a list of them. For each one we chose, we looked closely at what else is on offer. Here they are with their pros and cons.


Zoho Invoice  is excellent. It’s a straightforward WYSIWYG invoicing programme, and we occasionally dazzle our accountant or our bank with our forecasting or accounts reporting abilities using its reports module.

Customer Relationship Management

Zoho CRM is where we store info about contact with potential advertisers/sponsors. This is where every company starts to be different, but Zoho CRM serves our needs well enough. It has good reporting modules and a system of feeds, so I can watch everyone else’s activities and try to make sense of it.

There are lots of other ‘apps’ in the Zoho suite which we don’t use and I feel a nagging guilt that maybe we ought to. One we use occasionally is ZohoMail, which now allows you to mail people directly from Zoho CRM and provides a ‘coverall’ environment for switching between the Zoho apps we do use. We should do more with this but we don’t. We spend so much of the time offline, on the road and working with our mobile phones, like the Google suite of programmes, ZohoMail works best when it is attached to a 15Mb pipe. I haven’t found one of those where we work in the UK countryside yet.

Audience marketing

ConstantContact has been a wonderful help. It is consensual email marketing, so every email we send to our audience list starts with a challenge to ‘unsubscribe if you don’t want to receive these emails’. Because of that, they tend not to, and I think they feel more engaged as a result. It is strict on permissions. I once uploaded the contents of my address book to ConstantContact which resulted in five spam returns in the next mail-out. I got a call from what sounded like a schoolma’am in Wisconsin who ticked me off. I promised not to do it again. They hold marketing seminars in the UK as well as where they come from in America. Unfortunately, they do not support cookie retargeting, but there are apps you can add on to ConstantContact that do. You will find them all listed here
For retargeting non-opens of our emails, we use GoChime

Sync CRM with audience marketing

We use the Cazoomi app to sync our Zoho CRM with our email server, ConstantContact.
Cazoomi, is OK – it syncs with its own folder in ConstantContact. We have several folders, including viewers, customers, press and different lists we handle for our customers. We have to manually sync each address in the Cazoomi folder with our other Constant Contact folders.

Audience marketing

We want to reach two kinds of viewers – those who have heard of us and those who haven’t. We use word-of-mouth (Facebook, Twitter etc) for those who haven’t heard of us and concentrate instead on those who have heard of us. PerfectAudience  handles the bulk of our advertising. It is superb – a great value retargeting platform. We just have to make sure that our campaigns are not too in-your-face. There is no point telling everyone how wonderful FieldsportsChannel is – we want our viewers to work that out for themselves. Perfect Audience’s sale to Marin seems to be a positive too. They took the trouble to ring me up and introduce themselves.We spend about US$80 a month on our account with ConstantContact.

Social Media

Hootsuite is a work of genius. It allows you to hit lots of Facebook groups at once, multiple Twitter accounts, and it is worth joining the Hootsuite University to find out what else it can do. It costs a few dollars a month.

Tubular is a fast way to find influencers on YouTube – people who are commenting on your channel or tweeting your films’ URLs who will reach a lot of people. And a good Tweet or plug from another channel is the secret of success on YouTube. Good though it is, Facebook doesn’t come close.

TumblingJazz is, as it says on the tin, the ultimate Tumblr bot. It’s a desktop programme and there always seems to be a bit more anti-virus activity after I install a new update but nothing that AVG can’t cope with. is brilliant. We have an account with such a web of recipes cross-posting Facebook to Wordpress and Twitter to Tumblr that I sometimes have to switch them all off and start again. You have to get your head round RSS feeds, but if you don’t do that, then you are going nowehere with any of these apps.

Video editing

This is least important to us. There are several good editing programmes. David, who does most of the filming and editing, uses AVID Composer  

I use Adobe CC and pay a £50/month subscription for it, which gives me Photoshop, Bridge (very useful as an SEO tool and often ignored), InDesign, AfterEffects, Dreamweaver and the rest. One day before I retire I will learn the animation programmes.

And of course many of our freelancers use FinalCutPro

That's it. The complete package for running a YouTube channel. Now you just have to learn to use this stuff...

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