No man is an island, so they say.
It’s impossible for any online business, let alone one with software as a service business model, to exist without various services and tools. Some of the popular ones are new. Some are with us for decades and became a pure necessity (e.g. grandma Domain and grandpa Hosting.)
Without further ado – let’s see what a trendy SaaS company should have under the hood nowadays.
1. Web Domain
The name of your domain builds your brand and lets your clients find you in the vast depths of Internet.
A perfect domain name should:
- be short and easy to type
- contain keywords
- be memorable and easy to pronounce
- have a top-level extension
You can register a new domain or buy an existing one. Before you buy a name – make sure it’s not penalized by Google.
Your service has to “live” somewhere to be available for your customers online.
Web hosts provide you with necessary space on a server that is owned or leased by you. In shared hosting all domains are coexisting and sharing server resources, such as RAM and CPU. It is the most popular, but not only option. You may decide on a VPS solution, where the server resources are divided into individual virtual servers. Alternatively, you can use cloud hosting or invest in your own physical servers.
3. Payment Service Provider (PSP)
The buying process should be easy. If it’s not – most people abandon their carts and go away.
The best way to make payments more client-friendly is to accept multiple payment methods: paying via credit and debit cards, PayPal, bank transfers etc. It would be ideal to also allow multi-currency payments. Payment providers can help you with all that.
Typically, PSP services have the software as a service business model and collect fees as a percentage taken from each transaction or a flat fee for every transaction.
Also take a look at: How To Choose Best Payment Provider for Your Online Business?
You can invoice your clients manually. You can write a script that does the lion’s share of work for you. Or, last but not least, you can use one of many invoicing services available on the market.
Depending on the service chosen you’ll get a set of features, commonly including:
- history of transactions
- information about unpaid invoices
- option to initiate re-billing
- customizable invoicing templates
- ability to change the currencies and languages
- team collaboration
Invoicing services are often merging invoicing together with accounting into one platform, so you have everything under one dashboard. Now that’s convenient.
Expenses and costs are a bit too much to handle? It is possible to outsource both accounting and bookkeeping to an accounting office and have the weight off your shoulders. They’ll gather all financial data and create financial reports and statements, help you with tax returns and track multiple revenue streams, do accounting for lines of credit, loans and leases and more.
If you want to have a tight grasp on your finances and do everything yourself, you still can go ahead with available software that will aid you in keeping finances under control.
6. Client Communication and Support
The number of applicable ways to contact your clients is still growing and the expectations are high. The customers want your response and they want it fast. Hence, it’s important to make your contact channels work flawlessly. If you can’t assure swift responding time, it’s best to settle for fewer channels and double-check that they are doing their job.
And boy, do we have many options to choose from!
- live chat
- contact form
- social media (Twitter and Facebook are most preferred)
- help desk support ticket software (Zendesk, Groove, Desk)
Some of those communication environments are relatively new and can make some of the customers feel uncomfortable. You need to keep that in mind, along with the accessibility standards.
Also take a look at: What Kind of Support Channels Should You Handle in Your Online Business?
7. Email Marketing
Not every entrepreneur is great at coding. Most of them want to send newsletters though. Do email marketing.
Pretty newsletters. Easily designed and edited newsletters. Ones that melt your heart before you read them.
In today’s world it has become astonishingly easy.
In most email marketing tools you have access to WYSIWYG editor (an acronym for What You See Is What You Get) where a user can see the preview while creating layout and content for their message.
The looks are important, but this is not the only advantage of using email marketing software. Most of it will also help you with maintaining a segmented list of recipients, sending targeted mail, checking conversions and A/B testing.
8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
With CRM, you automate and organize all sales, technical and customer service in one place. There’s simply everything in there:
- customer and prospect contact information
- customer accounts and purchase history
- subgroups for target marketing
- leads and sales opportunities
- interactions with clients (e.g. emails, history of support queries)
The list goes on. You can manage teams, assign tasks, measure net promoter score, do loads of things that help your business grow.
There are non-cloud-based and cloud-based CRM systems available on the market. Cloud solutions are accessible for all your team from everywhere, real-time.
9. Online Analytics
Statistics and analytics are landmarks that help you navigate through the marketing jungle. They track conversion, collect, measure and report all sorts of data. Thanks to that you can assess and improve the effectiveness of your business strategy.
The most accessible and widely used is Google Analytics. You can stick to it or find many paid replacements around the web. They will give you a deeper insight into visitor stats and perform analysis on subjects such as PPC advertisements, banner/text ads, forum postings and signature links, backlinks, email campaigns, specific sections of your web site and so on.
Many of the aforementioned tools allow testing your content. A/B tests are the most popular way of doing that. After performing tests you’ll know which way of selling works better, which version of your web page, call to action, newsletter or headline has most impact on their viewers and recipients. You can even check if the time you send out your newsletter affects click rate, or discover which template dazzles your audience more.
The only problem for you to solve is to use the right variables.
Welcome to the Future
When it comes to communication and gathering data, we sure have come a long way as a civilization.
All of the above-mentioned tools can save you a lot of time and money. Some of them are standalone, some are merging CRM with analytics, email marketing and testing.
Every day there are more of all-in-one business toolboxes you can freely compose and rearrange. They respond to all your needs and evolve lightning fast. Are we able to operate businesses without them? Mayb…
No, let’s not fool ourselves. They became simply irreplaceable.