Google has become such a force to be reckoned with when it comes to search engines—so much so, that it’s become a verb for its avid and, as much as we would like to deny it, heavily dependent users (“Can you Google this for me?”). But more than just a site used to look for information on pretty much everything, Google has a treasure chest full of useful paid and free tools and resources designed to take small business to the newer heights in profit and marketability.
From helping you make your mark in social media, to real-time tech support, advertisements and
other business enhancing tools, Google has made a plethora of marketing and productivity weapons to arm your small company up for the battlefield that is the business industry.
Free-of-charge Google Business Tools
The Plus Factor: Google+ Business, Google+ Pages, and Google+ Local
Imagine Google as a vast, vast land full of opportunities to reach out to your small business’ target audience, acquire new customers, and maintain good working relationships with your existing ones. Google+ Business is your vehicle to do all these on your desk (even your mobile phone or tablet), and more—and it won’t cost you.
Create a Google+ page to get started. You can put in as much information about your small business in your page as needed and update your followers and clients about new products, events, even discounts and promotional items and activities. Upload photos, videos and links connected to your company to enhance your page’s look, and keep the consumers interested.
Your Google+ Page will also allow your customers to leave feedback on your marketing efforts in the form of reviews, ratings, or endorsements via the +1 button. They can also share your posts to their very own Google+ page, and expand your reach even more.
Having your Google+ Page will also boost your small business in search rankings. Whenever someone Googles your business name, or a related keyword, it will be easier for them to find your page and your business information, such as contact numbers, location and directions, hours of operation, and more, whether they are on their desktop, laptop computer, or mobile phones.
Once you have your Google+ page, verify it with Google+ Local, which enables your customers to find your business when they search for it via location and business type. They will instantly have access to your phone numbers, fax, email, address, and business hours.
Website Performance and Visibility Monitoring: Google Analytics
Having a professional-looking, informative, and comprehensive website is important, but making sure that people actually go to and browse your website is crucial in making sure your business stays on top of the competition. Google Analytics is an essential tool to keep track of your website’s visitor count and traffic, social media traffic, trends and bounce rate statistics. It also enables you to see where the website traffic is coming from (referral traffic information), and lets you monitor your visitor’s site behaviour (if they stay in one page, or browse through all your pages, or if they glance at it and move on to another website). This is very important for you to be able to tell if your marketing campaigns and efforts are reaching their goal, and which areas of your website to shape up. And again, it’s amazingly free!
Paid Business Tools: Google Helpouts, Google AdWords, and Google Apps
Your very own Real-time Customer Service System: Google Helpouts
Nowadays, if doing things yourself will save you more money in the long run, Do-It-Yourself projects are always the top choice of consumers, especially if the budget is tight, or if you simple don’t want to be dealing with workers coming to your home. Most turn to Google to search for instructional websites, videos, or documents, but there’s nothing like a real-time, live video support chat to help them throughout the process.
Small business simply cannot afford to hire an entire call centre to provide this kind of customer service or technical support. That’s where Google Helpouts can, well, help your company.
Whether you have a computer sales business, or a cooking and catering company, even a small construction and home improvement venture, Google Helpouts allows your customers to gt in touch with you for professional advice, how-to’s, troubleshooting, and more. This easily puts you in the position to build a solid reputation amongst your clients, and gives your business an established and proven dependability and expertise in your industry. That means better reviews, more recommendations, more income. You can also set up your own support schedule and rates, and talk to your customers wherever you are. Google Helpouts go for twenty percent of your service rates.
Ads, Ads, Ads: Google AdWords
Advertising efforts have gone a long way from posters, flyers and billboards, to online ads and promotional content. So why not make your mark on Google?
A href=”http://www.google.com.ph/ads/adwords/”>Google AdWords is a user-friendly and cost-effective way of advertising online, that also rides on the massive audience reach of this tech giant. This way, your ads will be at the forefront of every Google search results page, and gives you an option to put your brand out on locally, nationwide, or even internationally.
This is also perfect for startup businesses looking for the best value for money. Google AdWords use a cost-per-click (CPC) advertisement policy, which means you only pay for the amount of clicks your ad gets. It even has reliable analytic tools, so you can track how your ads fare in the online market, helping you determine if your marketing efforts reach your target goals.
Maximising Productivity: Google Apps
To ensure consistency and tap on the full potential of your team, a full suite of productivity tools and applications are essential to make sure everyone is on their A-game with communications, file organisation and storage, as well as documentation and other workplace tasks. Google Apps offers a complete range of web-based business tools that provides superior online and offline office applications, and gives you a centralised filing system that ensures effortless document sharing, manipulation, and dissemination, and assures you of a strong communication line for your team and your clients.
Google Apps enables you to access your business correspondence via the Gmail platform—but with the more professional email address extension (firstname.lastname@example.org). With its 30 GB storage capacity, security features, and buil-tin Google Calendar integration, you will be able to communicate with your clients in a more efficient and official manner, and keep track of your team’s schedules and activities with ease.
The Google Calendar allows you to create events, schedule tasks, appointments, and meetings, and monitor your business itinerary in a centralised platform. Send invites to your clients, make sure your team members are present in your brainstorming sessions, or pen down delivery and receipt dates of your supplies and products. This way, no important agenda is missed, and you can make sure that you’re not biting off more than you can chew or spreading your schedule too thinly for your clients and customers.
Google Drive provides you with a reliable cloud storage and collaboration platform for you and your employees, so you can store, revise, access, manipulate, and circulate your files and documents with ease and convenience. It even comes with a presentation software, word processor and a spreadsheet program that you can use even on your mobile phones or tablets.
Speaking of Office programs, the Quickoffice suite allows you to access and revise your Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) on your portable device. Whether you use Android phone and tablets, or Apple products, you can always rely on the availability of your files wherever and whenever you need them.
Need to hold an emergency meeting with your team members, or get in touch with your employees without delay? Google Hangouts provides a high quality communications line that allows you to message, call, or even video chat with your people wherever they are. And since it’s part of the Google Apps family, you can easily use it in stride with your Gmail inbox, update your Google Calendar, and access your Drive all at the same time.
No matter how small your business is, and how many employees you have, there’s always an opportunity to shine above the rest of the competition and make a name for yourself in the ever-changing and fast-paced world of marketing. With the right tools and a lot of hard work, you’ll find yourself and your company on top of the game.