Top 3 Project Management Apps For Construction Firms

 

Project managers are often stereotyped as office stiffs with permanent stacks of Stick It notes in their back pockets, quietly and heroically keeping the wheels on the bus going round and round. However, real humans do not fit easily into stereotypes — and this one is simply too narrow to stand up to even mild scrutiny. After all, all kinds of fields have projects to manage, and many projects take form far from an office building.

For example, project managers based in the construction industry need a powerful suite of tools at their disposal: communication with contractors and clients, document storage, scheduling apps, and more. Beyond that, individual construction workers need features for time tracking, task management, schedule reminders, and communication. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the three best project management apps for construction workers.

But first, some criteria. To work well for construction projects, task management apps need scheduling and document sharing features, a simple and flexible UI that works well on the go, and, of course, an affordable monthly cost. Read on for a comprehensive look at the following three apps — the best of the best when it comes to construction project management.

Monday.com

Unlike the other two apps we will be covering, Monday.com (formerly dapulse) is not a bespoke project management app. It does, however, meet all of our criteria handily. Let’s start with the price.

Monday.com is not the cheapest project management app I have ever covered. It is, however, entirely competitive and reasonably priced when compared with other, similar applications. There are a number of pricing plans ranging from “basic” to “enterprise.” The lower-priced plans (especially the “standard” plan, which grants 50 GB of storage) all provide the most valuable features of this product and come down to less than $10/user/month if you have 50 or more employees. If you don’t want to worry about managing your storage space, you might want to spring for the “Pro” plan, which comes with unlimited file storage. You do, of course, pay extra for the storage, with the price coming down to around $12/user/month on that plan.

In terms of features, Monday.com ticks all of our boxes for construction. You get file storage (how much depends, of course, on your subscription level), scheduling, and communication with both team members and clients. The Gantt chart (or timeline) is particularly good; adding items to the chart and assigning them to team members is easy and making modifications to the schedule is as simple as clicking and dragging. If I had one complaint or reservation about Monday.com’s feature set, it would be that the timeline has no dependencies; the addition of this feature would make this app incredibly well-suited to construction work.

Monday.com boasts an extremely well-designed, highly unique, UI. That said, I test a lot of project management programs, so I was thrown off for a moment by the one-term-for-everything philosophy of this app. Basically, everything you do in Monday.com comes down to ‘Pulses.’ You can assign team members or clients to a pulse, add deadlines, send messages, and even create hashtags for pulses. This methodology required an adjustment period for me, accustomed as I am to the more common “task-list” format of Monday.com’s competitors. Fortunately, I think that users that are new to project management applications will not find pulses as flummoxing, especially with the help of some good onboarding training.

Overall, If you are looking for a flexible, simple, and robustly-featured solution to your construction project management needs, I would encourage you to check out Monday.com and give the free trial a shot.

CoConstruct

CoConstruct, unlike Monday.com, is a custom-built app for construction firms. Everything about this brand is construction-focused, from the name of the application itself to the marketing and support materials on the company’s website. And this seems to be a winning formula. In fact, CoConstruct is most highly reviewed construction project management app on Capterra.

Unfortunately, CoConstruct does not make their pricing options transparent. The closest thing they have to a standard price “list” is a short reference to the fact that prices “start at only $99/month.” There are references to other plans, but you must contact CoConstruct directly to get concrete details. Fortunately, with prices starting out relatively low (assuming you have 30+ employees), it seems likely that you will be able to get higher-level plans without breaking the bank.

CoConstruct is a very full-featured program. The company breaks down its feature set into three categories: COmmunicate, COordinate, and COntrol. It is a pretty snazzy way to describe what this application can do.

The COmmunicate field deals with internal communications between employees and clients. This section of the application can handle estimating, bidding, proposals, and expense tracking. Crew members can even upload pictures from job sites to confirm completed work or detail potential issues.

The COordinate section of the app handles scheduling, task lists, time tracking, and more. I want to particularly highlight the time-tracking features, which function similarly to those of Tsheets (read our review) and Timely (read our review). It is cool to see features from other apps folded into this one; that represents saved money and time for you, the customer.

The final section of CoConstruct, COntrol, is all about financials. This covers, of course, the proposals, bidding, and estimates I mentioned earlier, but also long-term budgeting and an excellent Quickbooks (read our review) integration.

Most importantly, CoConstruct is easy to use. I have to admit, when I first looked through some of the screenshots from this app, I was worried. A few parts of the UI are pretty outdated, which in my experience can translate to a steep learning curve. Fortunately, in CoConstruct’ case, I was wrong. Yes, certain elements of CoConstruct’s UI are not exactly breathtaking, but most of the app is well-designed and solid. I especially like the mobile apps, which allow crew members and foremen to easily keep track of their tasks, communicate with clients and subcontractors, and more.

While it is a little annoying that CoConstruct keeps some things hidden until you reach out to them directly (like their pricing), in the end, their high customer satisfaction rate is entirely justified. If you are looking for a comprehensive project management solution for your construction business, this may be the one for you.

Buildertrend

Considering the fact that it has users in over 40 countries, awards from reviewers, and over one million projects completed from within the app, it’s easy to see why Buildertrend refers to itself as an industry standard for construction project management. With features that cover commercial construction, remodeling, and homebuilding, this app is designed to be your one-stop-shop for managing tasks, projects, and more.

Buildertrend’s pricing system, funnily enough, reminds me of CoConstruct’s. Like that program, Buildertrend starts at $99/month. We get a few more details with Buildertrend, however, including confirmation that this price includes unlimited users. That is fantastic, and it means that larger companies will find greater value using this app. On a less positive note, the baseline price only includes one project; if your firm handles multiple sites at one time, you will need to shell out the extra cash for more projects. Having said that, Buildertrend takes pains to assure users that adding another project does not double the price; it seems that the more projects you buy, the less you pay per project. Just like it should be! Note that there is no free trial; if you choose to buy Buildertrend, you will have to do so without directly testing it first. Fortunately, there are plenty of in-depth videos to help give you an idea of exactly you will be paying for.

Buildertrend’s extensive feature set is divided into four categories: “Pre-Sale Process” features, “Project Management” features, “Financial Tools” features, and “Customer Management” features. There are 21 individual items within these categories, so rather than trying to explain everything here in this limited space, I want to point out some of my favorites.

First things first: One of those pre-sale features includes email marketing. I love it when apps combine features from other kinds of software into one place because it means that you, the user, are getting a more streamlined experience for a lower price. While the email builder is definitely less snazzy than some of the dedicated email marketing apps out there, it does the job well.

In terms of project management features, one of my favorites is the document markup tool. Need to make a change to a blueprint? Mark it in the document. Want to make sure a particular detail gets noticed? Highlight it in the document.

The last thing I want to highlight in terms of features comes from the customer management section. When decisions about color, style, and more need to be made, you can send your customers their options so they can quickly and easily get back to you.

Buildertrend is surprisingly simple to use, considering the number of features available. The best part of this is the full-featured mobile app. And I do mean full-featured– all 21 features are directly accessible from within the app and can be used on the go. Very few project management platforms make everything usable on the go, and it says a lot about the priorities of the team behind Buildertrend that they have gone that route. In an industry that is all about being out in the field, it seems like a wise choice indeed.

If you are looking for a full-featured, flexible, and easy-to-use project management app for your construction firm, I highly recommend heading over to Buildertrends website and checking them out.

Final Thoughts

If I had to pick one of these three apps, I think it would have to be Buildertrend. I like that they focus on serious, thorough, construction-focused project management without losing accessibility. CoConstruct is very similar, but I think Buildertrend is just a bit more usable. Having said that, it may just come down to personal preference regarding which one of these three you choose.

If you are working with a small team, Monday.com might be your best bet. If you represent a larger company, CoConstruct or Buildertrend might be better fits for you. Regardless, one of these apps will certainly provide you the tools you need to get out there and get building.

The post Top 3 Project Management Apps For Construction Firms appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Credit Card Processing Apps for Small Retail Businesses

small-business-credit-card-processing-app

Say you have a small retail business. You don’t have a lot of money to invest in a super-complicated POS, and you don’t want to deal with a multi-year processing contract. Frankly, the idea of trying to narrow down the options in both categories at the same time is a little bit daunting. But enter another option: an app for a tablet (or even a smartphone) that bundles payment processing and POS software all in one go, with no contract or commitment. A single app with all (or at least most) of the features a brick-and-mortar storefront could want. But what are the best credit card processing apps for small retail businesses?

Cost is definitely part of the consideration, but more than that you need to make sure any software you use actually delivers the features you need to run your business. Most processing apps tend not to be as full-featured as a full POS, but they are capable of delivering on core needs. After we go over which features should be a priority, we’ll get into the most promising apps that let you process credit cards and run your business together.

Credit Card Processing Apps For Small Retailers

In addition to choosing apps based on the most useful features, we had two other criteria in choosing the apps: first, they had to be mobile apps for tablets (and preferably smartphones). Second, they must offer a bundled payment solutions. A couple of the options on the list allow you to bring your own processor if you want, but they do offer their own payment option as a default.

In no particular ranking, here are my favorite picks for retail-focused credit card processing apps:

Square

Square business model and mobile credit card processingSquare does have a specialty POS app for retailers, called Square for Retail. That one doesn’t actually make the cut because it’s designed for larger businesses and it actually lacks many features found in the basic free app, Square Point of Sale.

Point of Sale has definitely come a long way from just a basic mobile POS app, and it’s absolutely a solution that will grow with your business. Its clear, transparent pricing strategy (2.75% for swiped/dipped/tapped transactions) and robust app make it an attractive option for retailers. But then there’s the assortment of add-on services (email marketing, appointment scheduling, loyalty, payroll and more) that all integrate seamlessly. Combined with the huge assortment of supported phones and tablets, and the wide mix of supported hardware, and it’s hard not to see the appeal.

While Square does offer payroll and employee management, these features will cost you more — $5 per employee per month for each.

Something I do want to point out: Square does have many iPad-only features, but much of its hardware is equally compatible with Android devices as it is iPads, which is a major departure from most apps that favor the Apple ecosystem.

PayPal Here

PayPal Here review: One of the top Square alternativesPayPal is an obvious choice for a lot of retailers, especially those who sell online as well as in person. If you’re not interested in eCommerce, PayPal is still a good option because it does integrate with some very well known POS systems. PayPal also has its own credit card processing app, PayPal Here.

While PayPal Here is not quite as robust as the other options on this list (especially regarding inventory), it’s a very stable app with great pricing (2.7% per swipe/dip/tap) and a wide array of supported devices and compatible hardware. It’s the only app on this list to support Windows devices at all, and the phones on your tablet or phone doubles as a barcode scanner for both Android and iOS. Plus, you get up to 1,000 free employee accounts.

Plus, near-instant access to funds through your PayPal account is a pretty awesome deal, especially if you get the PayPal Debit card. Add in free sub-user accounts with restricted permissions (something Square will charge you monthly for), and you can see why PayPal makes the cut.

Shopify

Shopify started as an eCommerce offering but these days it’s added a powerful POS app that also works on smartphones as well as tablets. Everything syncs up nicely for a seamless experience whether you’re selling online, in a store, or even on the go, and while the smartphone version of the app is more limited, it’s still quite functional. Shopify’s features definitely line up more with a full-fledged POS than just a mobile POS.

Unsurprisingly, that means it’s a bit more expensive than the two previous options on this list. Shopify’s plans start at a very reasonable $29/month for its online store. If you want the countertop retail solution, that’s a $49 add-on per month, but you don’t need to purchase additional licenses to add more devices, which definitely ups the value.

You can also create staff PINs without creating staff accounts — which means if only a few of you need admin privileges but you do have a large staff and want to track who is running the register, you can get PINs without paying for additional accounts.

However, I do want to call attention to an underplayed solution Shopify offers: its Lite plan. For $9/month, you can sell on Facebook and other social media platforms, add a buy button to your blog, and use the POS app. The caveat is that you can’t add the retail package to it — which means while you have the app, you don’t have support for the receipt printer or cash drawer.

ShopKeep

Like Shopify, ShopKeep is more of a full-fledged POS than a mobile unit. But unlike Shopify, it’s not an eCommerce solution. It’s an iPad POS targeting all kinds of small businesses: retailers, yes, but also restaurants and quick-service environments. ShopKeep specifically targets small and medium-sized businesses, whereas many of these solutions are happy to tout that they work for businesses of all sizes.

ShopKeep’s user interface is highly intuitive, but also feature-rich, which is a major contributor to its popularity. In addition to its advanced inventory tracking tools, you get employee time-keeping, customizable reporting, and more. It also has a record for excellent (unlimited) customer support via email or live chat.

Sadly, there’s no smartphone app support for processing, but ShopKeep does offer integrated payments. Merchants get an interchange-plus plan based on their volume, which is pretty awesome considering there’s no contract involved, either. Everything is on a month-to-month basis. There’s also an additional $69 monthly charge per register.

Honorable Mention: SumUp

While SumUp has a few limitations — it lacks, for example, the ability to process simultaneously on multiple devices — it is overall a solid credit card processing app. The app supports a solid item library and variants, plus convenient tax settings. While there’s no offline mode and no invoicing, SumUp does have an interesting feature in its SMS payments. The app allows you to send a text message to a phone, with a link embedded. Customers can open the link, enter their payment information and complete the transaction.

Pricing is identical to Square for retail transactions: 2.75%. There is no keyed entry option within the app, but the low-priced virtual terminal (at 2.9% + $0.15, even below Square’s rate) is a workaround, though not one you should use for the bulk of your processing.

While new to the US market, SumUp has been operating in Europe for a few years, so it definitely has experience in the processing industry, and so I expect it to see fewer growing pains than other new solutions.

Must-Have App Features for Retailers

It’s safe to say what app features a business needs tends to vary from one business to the next. But there are definitely commonalities — solid inventory management or the ability to print receipts, for example. Check out our comprehensive comparison chart below to see how these systems compare to one another. 

Square for retail review logo imageSquare PayPal Here Shopify Shopkeep SumUp
BASICS
Integrated Processing Yes Yes Yes (Other options available) Yes (other options available) Yes
Processing Rates (for Most Swiped/Dipped Transactions) 2.75% 2.70% 2.70% Interchange-Plus based on volume 2.75%
Monthly Fee $0 $0 Plans start at $9/month $69 per register $0
Number of Devices Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1 (additional registers $69/month) 1
Tablet Support Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple, Android Apple Apple, Android
Smartphone support Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple, Android N/A Apple, Android
Email/SMS Receipts Email/SMS Email/SMS Email Only Email Only Email/SMS
Receipt Printer Connectivity Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB Bluetooth, LAN, Wireless Bluetooth, USB, LAN Bluetooth, Ethernet Bluetooth, LAN
Cash Drawer Connectivity Yes (Tablet Only, With Printer Connectivity) Yes (With Star Printer Connectivity) Yes (iPad Only, with Printer Connectivity) Yes (With Printer Connectivity) Yes (with Printer Connectivity)
Barcode Scanner Yes (Bluetooth for iPad only; USB for Android) Yes (USB for windows, device camera for iOS/Android) Yes (Bluetooth) Yes (Bluetooth) No
FEATURES
Split Tender Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Offline Processing Mode Yes No Very Limited No No
Full and Partial Returns Yes Yes Yes (including store credit) Yes (Check store credit) Full Only
Sub-User/Employee Accounts Yes (monthly fee) Yes (free) Yes (PINS/accounts) Yes Yes (Limited)
Discounts by $ or % Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Customizable Receipts Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Generate Invoices Yes Yes Yes No No
INVENTORY
Bulk Item Upload Yes No Yes Yes No
Item Counts Yes No Yes Yes No
Item Variants Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Item Photo Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Create Item From App or Dashboard Yes Yes Yes Yes No (App Only)

It’s worth mentioning that many of these systems have FAR more features that we don’t cover in this chart (think: virtual terminals, eCommerce support, supported integrations, etc.). If you really want to learn what a system is fully capable of, I recommend checking out our complete review of each credit card processing app.

Processing with Square or PayPal Here? Up Your Inventory Game with Shopventory

With retail environments, inventory is usually a major concern. Shopventory is a monthly add-on that works with Square, PayPal Here, and the Clover system (except Clover Go). It allows for inventory tracking and reporting, bundling, variants, and more. The biggest difference will be that you’ll no longer be using your credit card processing app for inventory reports or management. Everything will be done through Shopventory’s dashboard. Check out our Shopventory review for more information.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to software and processing, there isn’t a good one-size-fits-all solution for merchants. Every business’s needs are unique, so what works best for one business may not be good for another. Many of the credit card apps we’ve listed here have no monthly fees, and others offer free trials or a free pricing quote. They are all top-rated offerings, as well. The biggest difference you’ll find is the feature sets and little differences in the user interfaces.

If you’re on the fence about which to choose, I recommend checking out our full reviews of each product. Got questions? We’re always here to help, so please leave us a comment!

As always, thanks for reading!

The post The Best Credit Card Processing Apps for Small Retail Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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13 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Business

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Why Small Businesses Need New Year's Resolutions

The beginning of a new year is a good time to think about what has passed and what is to come, but this time shouldn’t be limited to personal reflection alone.

As a small business owner, give yourself an opportunity to reflect on your business and its finances. What worked last year? What didn’t work and why? Where do you want to be a year, two years, five years from now? What will it take to get there?

Once you’ve spent some time reflecting, start creating new goals to strive for. There’s no better time to reevaluate your business strategy or implement new financial processes than at the start of the new year. Build on what you learned in 2017 and make 2018 even better by creating financial and business resolutions.

Table of Contents

Business Resolutions To Consider

Here are some possible financial resolution ideas to help get you thinking about how to make this year a success for your business…

Create A Budget & Stick To It

This could be the year to create, implement, and stick to a reasonable budget. Most accounting software programs make it easy to create yearly budgets, and some even allow you to use last year’s data as inspiration.

Increase Sales

Who doesn’t want to increase sales? Begin by considering practical ways to make this happen, like creating specific motivations for your sales staff or expanding your clientele. Use your existing accounting software to drill into your sales records and analyze the trends in your business. What sells well? What type of customers buy your products? Leverage this data to make informed decisions going forward.

Go On An Expense Diet

It might be time to cut back on the expenses. Use your existing accounting software and purchases records to pinpoint unnecessary spending. Find ways to automate processes so you can save time on projects and avoid paying excess wages. When it comes to the overall profitability of your business, this is one diet that isn’t so hard to stick with.

Reinvest Money In Your Business

Did your business make a decent profit in 2017? This year, make it a point to reinvest in your company. Increase your company’s assets, or buy those new computers everyone has been needing to boost productivity. Incentivize your employees to stay by providing more benefits or increasing wages. The more you invest, the more return you’ll see.

Try A New Marketing Strategy

Marketing is always changing and adapting. The New Year is a great time to evaluate your current marketing strategy to see what’s paid off and what hasn’t. Continue practicing the strategies that work, dump the ones that don’t, and don’t be afraid to experiment with some new strategies during 2018.

Pay All Bills On Time

A New Year’s Resolution doesn’t have to be grand and impressive. Your resolution could be as simple as paying your bills on time. If you struggled to get all of your bills paid on time in 2017, make it a priority to stay on top of that this year. Use your accounting software to set reminders and automate your billing if needed.

Stay On Top Of Invoicing

It’s easy to get backed up on invoicing. But when invoices are your company’s bread and butter, it’s important to follow through. Fortunately, almost all accounting software allows you to set up invoicing automations and automatic late-payment reminders. QuickBooks Online even has an invoice scheduling feature when you can schedule invoices to be sent at a later date.

Keep Better Tax Records

If tax time is looming large for you right now, a good New Year’s Resolution would be to keep better tax records for next year. Use your accounting software to keep financial records and check out what tax support your accounting software offers.

Switch Accounting Software

There’s no better time to switch accounting software than at the beginning of a New Year. If your software isn’t cutting it, maybe this year should be about finding a program that actually works for your business. Check out our accounting software comparison chart and read our comprehensive accounting software reviews to see which software is right for you. If you need extra help, read our Complete Guide to Choosing Online Accounting Software.

Update Existing Accounting Software

Even if you don’t want to switch to a new accounting software program, it might be time for an upgrade. This could definitely be the case if you use an old locally-installed program. Read 5 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Accounting Software and start your new year right with the best-performing accounting software.

Add A New Software Integration

Integrations are a great way of adding extra features to your accounting software. Integrations can cover everything from project management to time tracking, email marketing, analytics, scheduling, and much more.

Reconcile Your Bank Accounts Every Month

Were you overwhelmed last year when closing your books? Make things easier on yourself by striving to reconcile your bank accounts each month. Not only will this help you to be less stressed, it will help you to be more proactive with your business’s finances.

Automate Your Business Processes

Perhaps, when looking back on last year, you realized how many day-to-day business processes could be streamlined. This year, choose to automate your business as much as you can. Use your accounting software to automate invoicing and billing. Or take advantage of software integrations like MailChimp to automate your email marketing.

Make Resolutions A Reality

We all know how resolutions go. You are oh-so committed at the beginning of the year, but come March, the diets have been forsaken, the gym memberships are wasted, and nothing is accomplished like you thought it would be. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

There are several tricks you can employ to make your financial resolutions last.

First of all, break the resolution up into smaller, manageable tasks. Resolutions often involve worthy but intangible ideas. Take ‘increasing sales,’ for example. This is a great idea, but how do you achieve it? Break it into achievable components. You could start by running a sales rep competition for the most sales, breaking out a new social media marketing strategy, or implementing a loyalty program to encourage buyers to come back.

Second of all, don’t go at it alone. Bring your whole team in on your business resolutions. Let them know what your goals are for the year so you can all work together to achieve them — and hold each other accountable. Your team may even have a few ideas of their own.

Now that you have a few potential financial resolutions for your business, run with them or come up with new ideas all your own. Whatever you do, don’t let this precious time of reflection and new beginnings go to waste. Seize the opportunity to regroup and create new business goals for yourself and your team. 2018 is yours for the taking!

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

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Prepare Your Books For 2018 With Accounting Software

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How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018

Watch the ball drop in New York City on New Year’s Eve, but don’t drop the ball with your small business in the new year! After holiday celebrations wind down and before tax season begins, take the time to reflect on your last year of business and make vital preparations for the year ahead. Learn how to make the most out of your accounting software by using it as a tool to plan for 2018.

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Reflect On Last Year

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018

Before you can move on to planning a successful 2018, it’s important to reflect on what happened with your business in 2017. Luckily, your accounting software makes this easier than you think. Now’s the time to grab a journal, a cup of coffee, and a few key accounting reports.

The following common accounting software reports can provide great insight into your business:

  • Profit & Loss (or Income Statement): The Profit and Loss report (or Income Statement) shows your total net profit (or loss) for the year. Use this report to see how your company performed overall.
  • Balance Sheet: The Balance Sheet shows your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity. It’s good to know these totals in general, but you can use this report to apply for funding as well.
  • General Ledger: The General Ledger report shows all transactions from all accounts during the year. This report is helpful for a more detailed analysis.
  • Statement Of Cashflows: The Statement Of Cashflows report shows all transactions affecting cash accounts. Use this to learn how much cash your company has gained.
  • Statement Of Owner’s Equity: The Statement Of Owner’s equity shows owner’s equity at the end of the year
  • Budget Overview: The Budget Overview report compares your yearly budget with the actual money you spent. Use this both to see how you performed and to plan your 2018 budget.
  • Sales By Customer: The Sales By Customer report is self-explanatory and can be helpful for gauging your biggest clientele.
  • Sales By Item: The Sales By Item report is helpful for learning which items did well and which didn’t sell as successfully.
  • Sales By Employee: The Sales by Employee (or Sales Rep) report shows which employees have been most successful so you can use their methods to create a successful sales strategy.

In analyzing these reports, ask yourself:

  • What worked this year and what didn’t?
  • Where did my business succeed?
  • Where could it still improve?
  • Did we meet our goals? Why or why not?

I recommend filling a journal with notes. Not only will you be able to see your successes and the areas that need improvement clearly on paper, you can also refer back to these notes in the future to follow your business’s journey through the years.

Consider encouraging your managers and employees to do the same — or even make a day of it in the office!

Create New Goals For 2018

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018Now that you’ve taken some time to consider what happened in 2017, start creating goals for 2018. Start with the big picture. Ask yourself:

  • Where do I see my business by the end of next year?
  • Do I want to increase sales? By how much?
  • Do I want to increase employee focus? In what ways?
  • Do I want to expand my business? If so, how?

Think of general goals for the business as a whole and personal goals for yourself as a business owner. Ask your managers or employees to weigh in on their goals and ideas for the company as well.

Now that you have a few big goals jotted down, start thinking of smaller, practical steps that can lead you toward those bigger dreams. Big projects — like improving sales — can be daunting (which I’m sure I don’t have to remind you). But when you break a goal into many smaller, achievable checkpoints, the big projects can be completed with relative ease.

Take the time to parcel your goals for 2018 into manageable, practical baby steps, and you’ll stand an excellent chance of having a banner year. You can record these in your business journal to look back on later, or you can create tasks for these goals in several accounting programs.

If you need some extra inspiration, create a 2018 goals list on your office bulletin board, or keep a copy on your desk to stay motivated. Send a company goal list to each of your employees so that the whole business is on the same page, working toward the same goals.

Make A Budget For The Year

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018While budgeting can be incredibly daunting, accounting software makes the process easy. Most accounting software programs even have a built-in budgeting feature.

For example, with QuickBooks or Xero, you can create yearly budgets from scratch or generate them automatically based on last year’s data. If you created a 2017 budget using your accounting software, make sure to also take advantage of that software’s budgeting reports, which can help you analyze last year’s income and expenses and better plan for 2018.

Brainstorm A New Sales Strategy

Now is the time to update or create a brand new sales strategy for the next 12 months. Consider what’s working about your current sales plan and what could stand improvement. Which processes and marketing strategies were successful last year? Are there any sales tactics or marketing strategies that you haven’t tried yet?

I recommend taking a look at the sales reports your accounting software provides. Reports like Sales by Item and Sales by Customer can help you see what products are successful and give you a better idea of how to reach your target audience. It can also be very useful to look at Sales by Sales Rep reports with your sales team and have each member share which sales methods have been successful for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for input. Your employees may have terrific new ideas to implement or ways to improve current processes.

It’s nice to create a formal, written sales plan that you can then distribute to your sales team and refer back to this time next year.

Consider Integrations

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018Integrations may be the answer to achieving your 2018 business goals. Integrations are software add-ons that connect directly with your accounting software to bring you more features. Integrations vary, and may involve anything from CRM to email marketing to scheduling to project management to time tracking to analytics and more.

When should you use an integration?

  • If you need features that your accounting software doesn’t have.
  • If you spend too much time on tasks and need to automate processes.
  • If you want to offer more payment gateways for customers to pay you faster.

Go back to your list of 2018 goals and your analysis of 2017. Consider whether an integration could be the answer to fixing an area that needs improvement or achieving a brand new goal.

Update Contact Information

If you read our Small Business: How To Close Your Books At The End Of The Year post, then you’ve already updated your employees’ information. Now is a great time to take a break and make sure the rest of your contact information is accurate. Ensure that the contact information for your customers and vendors is completely up-to-date. Mark customers or vendors as inactive if needed, to clean up your software.

This is a great time to check up on customers as well. Send consistent customers a thank you card or reach out to old customers to see if they are interested in your products or services once more. Not only will you feel better having everything organized, you could potentially start the year off with some new sales and happy customers.

Get Organized

How To Prepare Your Small Business for 2018The start of a new year is a great time to get organized.

We’re talking about more than cleaning your desk, folks. Evaluate your current filing system to see how efficient and up-to-date it is. Maybe create a better way to store online accounting records and reports. Upload your receipts directly to your accounting software to store them in the cloud and save some paper. Whatever this looks like for your company, you won’t regret starting the year off with a clean, organized slate.

Give Your Invoices A Face-lift

If you want your company to get off to a fresh start this year, consider updating your invoice template. It seems like a small thing, but having an appealing, modern invoice is a huge plus for businesses. Say goodbye to boring black and white, Times New Roman templates or Excel monstrosities, and ring in the new year with a new look. Don’t be afraid to use color, be bold, and show off your company logo. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Invoice templates are more than a means of getting paid — they’re a reflection of your company’s professionalism and brand. Start off 2018 with a template that you’re excited about.

Final Thoughts

Taking a little time to reflect on 2017 and plan for 2018 can make all the difference if you want to run a successful business this year. We hope that these suggestions inspire you to think deeply about your business’s goals and act practically to achieve them.

From our company to yours, we wish you a very happy New Year!

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is a writer, avid reader, and researcher. In addition to loving writing, she became interested in accounting software because of her constant desire to learn something new and understand how things work. When she’s not working or daydreaming about her newest story, she can be found drinking obscene amounts of coffee, reading anything written by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

5 Patreon Alternatives

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patreon alternatives

For a wide array of podcasters, YouTubers, writers, journalists, artists, comedians, and other creatives, Patreon (see our review) has provided a convenient means of monetizing output that was previously unavailable. Patreon’s conception of crowdfunding, based as it is on ongoing donations from patrons in exchange for exclusive content, is well-suited to those who produce works that people enjoy but who previously had no means by which to get compensated for their toil.

However, if you’re on the lookout for an alternative to Patreon (as are many Patreon creators ever since Patreon introduced — and then rescinded — their unpopular new fee policy), there are several other good options. Let look at some of them!

Table of Contents

1. Kickstarter

I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you what Kickstarter is. You’re also likely aware of the fact that Kickstarter (see our review) crowdfunding campaigns do not operate on Patreon’s recurring subscription-like model. However, if you’re a creator whose focus is on putting out, say, a few major works per year — as opposed to a continuous stream of content — Kickstarter may work for you. You can always launch a new Kickstarter campaign after your old one runs its course.

Kickstarter vets crowdfunders fairly strenuously, so not everyone gets in. It’s a more exclusive platform than most of its rewards crowdfunding peers, which is a factor to consider if you’re a small-time creator. But with nearly $3.5 billion in dollars pledged to Kickstarter campaigns — and over 136K successfully-funded projects — Kickstarter’s track record is nothing to sneeze at.

One thing to keep in mind about Kickstarter campaigns is that the funding is all-or-nothing. If you don’t raise your goal amount within the time frame you specify (anywhere from 1 to 60 days), you get nothing — no soup for you. Launching a Kickstarter campaign requires a certain degree of confidence in your ultimate success.

As for fees, Kickstarter and Patreon don’t differ a great deal in this respect. Both Kickstarter and Patreon take a 5% cut of what you earn, with payment processing fees taking upwards of 3% of the rest.

2. Indiegogo

Indiegogo (see our review) is another alternative consider, and while it has a lot in common with Kickstarter, there are some key differences.

Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns are not continuous and have concrete start and end dates. Unlike Kickstarter, however, Indiegogo doesn’t pre-screen the campaigners who sign up to crowdfund, making it a less exclusive platform for creatives. Indiegogo also gives you the choice of whether you want your campaign to be all-or-nothing or keep-whatever-you-raise in its structure. With the latter, you won’t be left with nothing if your campaign fails to reach its funding goal.

The maximum campaign length with Indiegogo is 60 days. Indiegogo’s fee structure is nearly identical to that of Kickstarter and Patreon — 5% to the platform, ~3% to the payment processor.

Think of Indiegogo as a slightly more relaxed Kickstarter.

3. Donation Buttons

Here’s a crowdfunding solution that ensures you won’t have to pay a 5% platform fee to anybody: You can just directly solicit donations from those who enjoy your work. Payment providers like Stripe (see our review) and PayPal (see our review) have buttons you can place on your site for just this purpose.

These payment providers allow people to make recurring payments, so your fans can sign up to support you on a continuing basis (just as with Patreon). Of course, you won’t be getting any of the extra crowdfunding services you’d get with Patreon (reward distribution, patron management, analytics, etc.), so this funding solution will require more of your time and energy than Patreon. Then again, you’ll get more of every pledge made to you. If you have an existing fanbase motivated to pay up for your content and the ability to manage everything manually, this may be a crowdfunding route worth exploring.

Now, let’s take a look at a few crowdfunding sites that share Patreon’s subscription-based crowdfunding model.

4. Podia

Formerly called Coach, Podia isn’t one of the better-known crowdfunders out there — in fact, they’re new to the crowdfunding game, having just launched their new Patreon-like Membership service a few weeks ago (I’m writing this in December 2017). Prior to this, the site — then known as Coach — was simply a service with which people could sell online courses and digital downloads as standalone purchases.

Podia is keen to invite comparisons between themselves and Patreon — in fact, they’ve put up a page on their site devoted to showcasing themselves as a superior Patreon alternative. Their main selling point is this: Podia charges no fees on the donations your contributors make. Instead, you pay a flat monthly fee to use the service. You’ll have to pay $79 per month for the Membership package and $39/month if you just want to sell online courses/digital downloads and use Podia’s email marketing services. If you can draw a significant monthly income from selling access to your work, you’ll be paying less in fees with Podia than with Patreon. However, if you pull in just a few hundred bucks a month or less, Podia is clearly not a more cost-effective crowdfunding service than Patreon. It all depends on the level of support you get from your followers.

5. Memberful

Memberful is a decidedly different way to make money from your work. It’s not a crowdfunding platform, but rather a plugin you install on your website through which you sign people up for subscriptions to receive exclusive content. You can set up the application to accept subscriptions for different lengths of time (monthly, yearly etc.) and for different subscription plans that give access to varying levels of content.

If you sign up for Memberful’s Starter plan, you won’t pay any monthly fee, but Memberful will take a whopping 10% of what you earn — and that’s before you get to the payment processing fees. Memberful’s Pro and Enterprise plans cost $25 and $100 per month (respectively) while cutting the platform fee down to 2% and 1% (respectively). Both give access to features like coupon codes and newsletter integrations. Memberful isn’t a funding solution for everybody, but for the right sort of creator, it may be worth checking out.

Coming Soon: Drip

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kickstarter’s new Patreon-like subscription-based crowdfunding platform, Drip. Drip is still invitation-only at this point, so we’re still waiting for a proper release. However, given that it has the weight of Kickstarter behind it and is clearly Kickstarter’s response to Patreon’s popularity, I expect it to become Patreon’s main rival when it becomes open to everybody. Details are scarce at this point, but Drip promises to integrate with Kickstarter so the 13.7 million backers currently on Kickstarter can use their login details and payment info to start backing Drip projects without having to set up a new profile. They also promise that Drip campaigns will feature a “founding membership period” during which backers will be designated “founding members” and get special perks for jumping in early. It’s an intriguing way to get people motivated to support you during your campaign’s early days.

Few details are available, but when Drip is released to the general public, I’m going to try to be the first person to post a review of it. Stay tuned!

Final Thoughts

Monetizing your work online has long been a challenge. Thankfully, platforms like Patreon and its various alternatives have arisen to plug this market inefficiency and help creators make money from the very people who consume and enjoy their content. No single solution is right for everybody, so check out these platforms (heck, check out other ones too if you want!) to determine which funding model makes sense for your particular needs.

Now go forth, create, and get paid!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can’t eat raisins.

Jason Vissers

“”

Team Bio Series – Chris Motola (Gamer Extraordinaire)

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Chris Motola: Merchant Maverick’s own little piece of Brooklyn. When he’s not writing about, erm, extremely dubious financial products, he’s playing table games, hiking, or geeking-out, Tarantino-style. (What is a Tarantino-style nerd? Do they perform Kill Bill cosplay? Or meet for table reads of Jackie Brown? Chris isn’t telling.) Let’s find out more about how the East Coast’s number one writer of MCA reviews rolls…

Name: Chris Motola

Title: Writer – Loans and MCAs

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Current city: Middletown, NY

Education and background: BA in English Writing from SUNY Oswego; MS in Interactive Media from University of Central Florida. I’ve worked a variety of jobs over the years–banking, warehouse, social services–but I keep coming back to writing in some form. I started off in print working for a small business and healthcare publisher in Upstate New York. I’m just old enough to have worked both sides of the digital transition.

Merchant Maverick department/specialty: I mainly cover merchant cash advances, but I also write about equipment financing, loans, and credit cards. Previously I was covering scheduling software and email marketing as a freelancer.

How did you discover Merchant Maverick?: Through the grapevine, really. My friend is friends with my editor’s brother. He told me Merchant Maverick was looking for writers. It was a happy coincidence.

Proudest professional moment: It’s hard to pin it down to any one thing. I enjoy the feeling of producing something, whether it’s a tangible product like a sandwich or something more abstract like an article. If you put a gun to my head, though, it would probably be the first time I saw my name in print. It felt like I’d managed to finally make it through the gate.

Favorite Merchant Maverick post/moment/opportunity: It would definitely be the invitation to join the staff. I had some experience covering finance from back in the day, so it turned out to be a good fit. As for content, I like knowing I’m helping readers make informed decisions about risky financial products.

What do you do when you’re not working for Merchant Maverick?: In my other life, I’m a game designer who dabbles in web development. I enjoy learning as a hobby, which might sound pretentious, but it’s more masochism than idealism. I like powering through frustration until the moment where something clicks. I’m into a lot of geek stuff: movies, tabletop games, video games, shows, though my geekdom probably aligns more with Tarantino or John Carpenter than Marvel. When I step away from glowing screens, I enjoy cooking, eating out, climbing mountains, and exploring towns and cities in the region.

You’re a new addition to the Marvel Universe. Who are you and why?: In spirit, I’d probably have more in common with Squirrel Girl than Doctor Doom or Captain America. I’d be Oblivion, a Walter Mitty type who discovers that I can create dimensional holes when I zone out or daydream. At first everyone, myself included, would think portals lead to pocket universes born of my imagination. In truth, they just deposit my victims into random Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) franchise restaurants throughout the world.

Favorite ‘90s song: Soundgarden’s Outshined

Favorite breakfast food? I usually skip breakfast, but I’ll be a basic New Yorker and say bagel with cream cheese.

What are three items on your bucket list?: 

  • Travel to Asia
  • Complete and publish a work of fiction, either a game or a novel
  • Be functionally literate in another language, probably Spanish

If you could travel back in time and live in a different era, which would you choose and why?: Hmm. Most of them were objectively pretty bad. I’d probably be self-serving, go back to the 90s and set myself straight.

Mac or Windows?: Mac’s alright, but I prefer Windows.

If you could have lunch with a famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?: I’d be really curious about what Karl Marx was like in a casual context. After a drink or two, would he be talking about revolution or soccer?

We’re not sure if we’d enjoy a summer blockbuster about a superhero like Oblivion, but we do give a big kudos to Chris for working a Walter Mitty reference into his interview. We love having Chris on the team, and wish him a future filled with Spanish-speaking and Thai adventures.

Julie Titterington

Julie Titterington is a writer, editor, and native Oregonian who lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley with her husband and two small children. When she’s not writing or testing software, she spends her time reading early 20th century mystery novels, staring blankly at her iPhone, and attempting to keep her kids fed, clothed, and relatively uninjured.

Julie Titterington

Julie Titterington

“”

2017 Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday Deals for Small Company Proprietors

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Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

I’ve never understood why, at the time as we meditate on being grateful and quite happy with what we should have, we hurry towards the store and proceed throngs of people to purchase the following best factor. So far, that’s.

With regards to your online business, you need to make the most of every deal open to you. Fortunately, this season there are many to select from. We spent hrs digging to find the best Black Friday, Cyber Monday, along with other holiday deals so you do not have to. Whether you’re looking for a brand new POS system, a good deal on a credit card merchant account, or some seriously discounted accounting software, there’s something for everybody this holidays.

Note: We’ll be updating this publish regularly to create the most up-to-date offers and discounts. Be on the lookout for additional bargains in the future!

Table of Contents

Merchant Services

If you are searching to simply accept card payments out of your customers, you’ll need a credit card merchant account. Most merchant services charge a particular rate per transaction, but there’s a couple subscription-based mixers are providing discounts on their own monthly rates along with a couple of which are offering deals on hardware.

Fattmerchant

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Fattmerchant hasn’t released their Cyber Monday deal yet, but it’s not far off. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

Fattmerchant is really a subscription-based credit card merchant account that works with most major shopping carts. The organization offer 24/7 free support and receive 5/5 stars on our websiteTo understand more about this credit card merchant account, visit our comprehensive Fattmerchant review.

PaySimple

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

PaySimple is providing 50% from the first 3 several weeks and services information.

This promotion is perfect for new clients you have to complete the enrollment form by 11:59 pm EST on November 30th to obtain this discount (discount doesn’t affect individual transaction charges). Use coupon code CYBER.Offers are not valid with every other promotions. Contact PaySimple for more information.

PaySimple is yet another subscription-based credit card merchant account that meets its name. The credit card merchant account is straightforward, simple to use, and it has great customer support. To understand more about this credit card merchant account, read our comprehensive PaySimple review.

Cayan

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Cayan is providing $150 in free software and hardware.

Cayan is providing a vacation Bundle to new users who join a Cayan account. The bundle includes $100 in instant credit, a totally free EMV-enable card swiper, and free eCommerce setup (often a $150 value as a whole). Contact Cayan directly for more information or join the vacation bundle here.

Cayan has developed in the credit card merchant account game since 1998 and it has an excellent status. The program is fairly priced while offering wonderful features. To understand more about this credit card merchant account option, read our full Cayan review.

Mobile Payments

If you were to Nederlander Bros, you realize about Mobile Reason for Purchase (mPOS) apps. Accepting payments on the go with simply a tablet and/or smartphone is essential for many companies. Which screaming holiday deals might help your organization just do that.

Square

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Square is providing $10 off a Contactless + Nick readers.

When you join a Square account, you will see a promo for $10 a Contactless + Nick Readers (ordinarily a $49 value). The discount is restricted to 1 per account. Contact Square to learn more.

Square is a huge name in mobile payments processing–and for a good reason. With ample features along with a flat swipe rate, it’s easy to understand why. On this 4.5/five star software within our comprehensive Square review.

Intuit GoPayment

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Intuit hasn’t released their Black Friday promo yet, but it’s not far off. The deals will likely be announced on Monday. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

While Intuit is much more noted for its QuickBooks accounting software, Intuit also provides a mPOS known as Intuit Go Payment (formerly referred to as Intuit Payment Solutions). Intuit GoPayment offers competitive rates along with a seamless Quickbooks integration. To understand more about this method, read our comprehensive Intuit GoPayment review.

POS Software

Reason for Purchase (POS) solutions really are a huge element of retail and restaurant companies. If you are looking for a great POS system, there’s seriously no better time for you to purchase. Miracle traffic bot category has got the most holiday promotions undoubtedly, so you have several options.

Toast POS

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Toast POS is providing up $6,000 in hardware to new clients.

If you’re a new Toast POS customer transitioning from Aloha or Micros, you are able to qualify for approximately $6,000 in hardware.

This deal is essentially a hardware swap. For instance, for those who have an Aloha or Micro terminal, you are able to swap it for any free Toast POS terminal (as much as $6,000). Toast is just matching existing hardware, so any other purchases is going to be priced normally. This deal applies its November. Find out more about this deal and Contact Toast POS directly to find out if you qualify.

Toast POS is a perfect restaurant POS that provides ample features, a loyalty rewards program, and gift certificate abilities. Discover what else Toast POS provides within our comprehensive 5/five star Toast POS review.

Revel Systems

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Revel Systems hasn’t released their promotion yet, but be on the lookout for that company’s announcement. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

Revel Systems is among the top iPad POS systems, boasting 25,000 terminals being used and powerful features. To understand more about Revel Systems, read our comprehensive Revel Systems review.

Lightspeed

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Lightspeed hasn’t released their promotion yet, but be on the lookout for that company’s announcement. We all do realize that both software and hardware is going to be discounted. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

Lightspeed offers multiple POS systems for particular industries. (Before the promo is released, we won’t know which version is going to be discounted.) Read our complete Lightspeed Retail, Lightspeed eCom, and Lightspeed Restaurant reviews to find out more.

NCR Silver

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

NCR Silver is providing 1-2 free several weeks and services information for annual subscriptions.

Although this isn’t always a Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchase, we would have liked to show you from the promotion NCR Silver is presently running.

If you buy single-year subscription, you’ll get a month of free service if you buy a couple-year subscription, you’ll receive two several weeks of free service. The offer pertains to brand new merchant, no matter location or quantity of terminals. Purchase ends on December 31. Contact NCR Silver for more information.

NCR Silver is really a cloud-based POS well suited for medium-sized companies. It provides 24/7 support and integrates with leading accounting software. Read our complete NCR Silver review to find out more.

LingaPOS

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Linga POS is providing 3 several weeks of free service.

New users who begin a Linga account will get 3 several weeks of the free Linga POS license. Deal ends on December 15th. Contact Linga POS directly to benefit from this offer.

Linga POS offers impressive features together with a strong inventory management system. The program is competitive in cost and is a superb option for food services. Read our complete LingaPOS review to find out more.

Hike POS

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Hike is providing a 30% discount to customers.

Hike is providing a 30% discount to customers. We are adding a lot of this promotion soon, until then, contact Hike directly for details.

Although Hike is really a relatively recent POS solution, it provides an attractive interface and lots of features. Hike is simple to use and versatile too. Read our comprehensive Hike review to understand more about this 4.5/five star software.

Epos Now

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Epos Now’s offering $500 in savings.

Epos Now’s offering their POS System including a 15″ touchscreen terminal, an invoice printer, along with a cash drawer for $1,299 (ordinarily a $1,799 value). Contact Epos Let’s focus on details or visit here to join up with this promotion.

Epos Now’s a quick-growing POS system located in the United kingdom. The machine is simple to use, filled with features, and reliable enough for Disney Pictures and Universal for doing things (that’s enough to achieve my election if it is adequate for Disney it should be the most joyful POS system on the planet right?). Read our full Epos Now review to find out if you accept me and to understand more about the program on your own.

Springboard Retail

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Springboard Retail hasn’t released their November promotion yet, but be on the lookout for that company’s announcement. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

Springboard Retail is really a POS system with limitless users and ample features. The POS system offers scalable prices plans and it is incredibly simple to use. To understand more about POS option, read our complete Springboard Retail review.

GiftLogic POS

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

GiftLogic POS is providing a hardware looking for $.99 with acquisition of any initial software bundle.

If you buy any GiftLogic POS software bundle, you’re qualified to purchase a hardware looking for a reduced cost of $.99. We is going to be adding a lot of this promotion soon, until then, contact GiftLogic POS directly for details.

GiftLogic POS is really a Home windows-based retail POS that is fantastic for clothes shops and gift shops. The program offers extensive features including reporting and inventory. To understand more about this POS contender, read our complete GiftLogicPOS review.

Accounting Software

The section you’ve all been awaiting! Okay, in order the mind accounting author at Merchant Maverick I’m just a little biased toward accounting software, but hey–that means I understand a great deal after i see one. I’m excited to talk about these steals along with you.

Aplos

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Aplos is providing 50% off select annual subscriptions.

Aplos is providing 50% from the newbie of the annual subscription for their Starter or Standard Accounting packages. Any new user can use with this promo and you will find no cancellation charges (should you aren’t satisfied, Aplos will refund you the rest of your unused subscription). Use coupon code SuperSale2017 to obtain this deal although it still lasts. Contact Aplos to learn more.

Aplos is really a non-profit accounting solution with ample features and extremely positive testimonials. We even named the program among the Top 4 Accounting Programs for Nonprofits, so long should be good. Browse the publish on your own to find out if this nonprofit solution is a great fit for you personally.

QuickBooks

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Intuit QuickBooks hasn’t released their Black Friday promo yet, but it’s not far off. The deals will likely be announced on Monday. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

QuickBooks may be the big named in comprising grounds. With multiple desktop and cloud-based products, this accounting giant offers solutions for pretty much any sized business. Read our comprehensive reviews of Quickbooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Mac, QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, and QuickBooks Self-Employed, or read this handy comparison chart to determine what version fits your needs.

Note: If you are offered on Quickbooks Desktop, look into the Black Friday deals at the local Best To Buy, Staples, along with other office supplies online stores. I will allow you to inside a little secret: The final time I visited Staples, QuickBooks Desktop Pro was $30 less expensive than the discounted form of the program on Intuit’s site.

Shopping Cart Software Software

This season, most eCommerce sellers are most likely considering how you can market their very own stores to bring in the vacation sales. But remember to take a few here we are at yourself and think about whether these shopping cart software discounts are suitable for your company.

Zoey Commerce

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Zoey Commerce is providing a 5% – 10% discount on annual subscriptions.

Zoey Commerce is providing a price reduction on annual subscriptions. New clients registering for the Strategic business plan will get a 5% discount using the coupon code THANKS5. New clients registering for the company Plus or Premier pan will get a tenPercent discount while using coupon code THANKS10.

These discounts are additionally towards the existing 10% discount that Zoey offers for annual subscriptions. Monthly plans don’t apply. These codes is going to be active from Wednesday, November 22 to Thursday, November 30. When you produce a trial, you will see a place for any coupon code. If you want help getting this deal or want more details contact Zoey Commerce directly.

Zoey Commerce is really a well-loved, fully-featured eCommerce platform. If you wish to determine what makes miracle traffic bot so excellent, read our complete 5/five star Zoey review.

Shopify

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Shopify is providing $30 predetermined fee shipping with DHL Express.

Shopify can also be offering holiday shipping with UPS.

Although this isn’t always a Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchase, we would have liked to show you from the promotion Shopify is presently running.

This holidays, Shopify is partnering with DHL Express to bring Shopify customers a $30 flat-rate shipping option (before Holiday sales in my opinion). Packages should be between 1-3 pounds. Certain countries might not qualify and fuel surcharges may apply. Purchase ends December 31st. On this deal or contact Shopify for details.

Shopify can also be offering holiday shipping rates with UPS. This integration brings Shopify customers guaranteed date shipping, discounted rates for heavier packages, and all sorts of peak surcharges on UPS Ground is going to be included in Shopify. Find out more about this deal or contact Shopify for deals.

Shopify is among the big names in eCommerce and even for good reason. It provides good prices, strong features, and 24/7 customer care. To understand more about this 5/five star software, read our complete Shopify review.

3dcart

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

3dcart hasn’t released their November promotion yet, but it’s not far off. The promotion should really launch on Wednesday. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

While 3dcart might be keeping us at nighttime on their own promotion for which appears like forever, it’s no mystery this company provides a great eCommerce platform. With ample features, affordable plans, and lots of design styles, 3dcart has something for virtually any merchant. Read our complete 3dcart review to learn more.

WooCommerce

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

Woocommerce hasn’t released their promotion yet, but be on the lookout for that company’s announcement. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

Woocommerce is definitely an free shopping cart software wordpress plugin that directly integrates with WordPress websites. The first software download is free of charge and also the eCommerce platform provides a apparently unbeatable quantity of integrations. On this shopping cart software option within our complete Woocommerce review.

Website Builders

Searching to construct a brand new small company website? It’s not necessary to become coding expert overnight. Rather, make use of a website builder.

uKit

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

uKit hasn’t released their Cyber Monday promotion yet, but be on the lookout for that company’s announcement (it’ll be in this article). We’ve heard the offer will probably be pretty great. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

uKit is really a feature-wealthy, simple to use website builder that screams classy and professional. Read our full uKit review to understand more about what this rising website builder can provide.

Inventory Software

If monitoring your holiday inventory gets difficult, it might be time for you to consider a listing software. And just what better time for you to purchase than when you will find Cyber Monday promotions within the works?

TradeGecko

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Promotion not far off.

TradeGecko hasn’t released their Cyber Monday promotion yet, but it’s not far off. We’ll update this publish when we all know more, so make sure to return in.

TradeGecko is really a cloud-based inventory software with strong worldwide business abilities. The program can also be noted for its robust set of features and simple to use interface. To understand more about this inventory option, read our complete TradeGecko review.

inFlow

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

inFlow Cloud is providing per month of free service along with a free USB scanner.

inFlow is providing per month of free service along with a free USB scanner to new clients who join inFlow Cloud. This Black Friday deal is going to be sent being an email promotion you must sign up for any free trial offer between November 24 and November 27. To be able to receive this deal, it’s important to spend the money for first month and services information next, the 2nd month is free of charge and you will find no cancellation charges. The bar code scanner is restricted to all of us addresses. Contact inFlow to learn more.

InFlow offers both in your area-installed and cloud-based solutions. The program offers ample features and it is only suitable for Home windows computers. We presently have only overview of inFlow On-Premise, however, you can look it over to a minimum of learn bout inFlow like a company.

Invoicing Software

You probably know this: Creating invoices in Stand out just doesn’t work during christmas (or during any season, really). If you feel it’s time for you to manage profits having a full-fledged invoicing software, take a look at these deals.

Harvest

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Harvest is providing $10 off and away to new users.

Harvest is providing $10 from the first month and services information for brand new users who join Harvest during christmas. Use coupon code JUSTSAYINGTHANKS to reap the harvest of the deal before it’s far too late. Contact Harvest for more information.

Harvest is a superb invoicing application with amazing time tracking abilities and much more amazing customer support. The program can use more invoice templates for me, however if you simply need time tracking and project management software, this really is certainly a high contender. Read our complete Harvest review to find out if miracle traffic bot fits your needs.

Invoice Ninja

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

Invoice Ninja is providing 75% off.

On Cyber Monday, Invoice Ninja is providing a 75% discount on invoicing plans. We is going to be adding a lot of this promotion soon, until then, contact InvoiceNinja directly for details.

Invoice Ninja is a straightforward-to-use invoice solution with great invoice templates along with a client portal. Invoice Ninja also provides over 35 payment gateways. to understand more about this invoicing option, read our complete Invoice Ninja review.

E-mail Marketing

Get the own Black Friday and holiday emails sent fast with the aid of e-mail marketing software. If you’ve never considered e-mail marketing before, this is the time.

GetResponse

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

GetResponse is providing 15% business Enterprise plan.

GetResponse is providing a 15% discount for GetResponse Enterprise. We are adding a lot of this promotion soon, until then, contact GetResponse directly for details.

GetResponse is really a seasoned e-mail marketing veteran with experience along with a set of features to demonstrate it. The program is simple to use and cost-effective. Read our full GetResponse review to find out if this e-mail marketing tool suits your company.

Project Management Software

Project management software solutions offer from task management to workflow management to scheduling to budgeting and much more. But every one has one common denominator: they assist you keep an eye on work.

ProofHub

Best Black Friday Deals for Small Business Owners

ProofHub is providing a 41% discount on their own software.

Although this isn’t always a Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchase, we would have liked to show you from the promotion ProofHub is presently running.

ProofHub is providing a 41% discount on their own Ultimate Control plan (ordinarily a $150/mo value for $89/mo rather). Contact ProofHub directly for particular information regarding this promotion.

ProofHub is really a superbly designed software with wonderful features like task and subtask management, reports, and file proofing. To understand more about this project management software option, read our complete ProofHub review.

Time For You To Get Shopping!

Before getting to transported away within the Black Friday mania, there exists a final suggestion: Seek information in advance.

While these deals could be a good way for your online business to save cash, we implore you to definitely save time before you act. Don’t purchase it just since you can. Purchase it because it’s the best solution for your online business.

Each one of the promotions above originates from items that we’ve researched extensively at Merchant Maverick. However, we don’t would like you to simply take our word these are wonderful products. Seek information. Make the most of our comprehensive reviews, investigate the organization you’re thinking about purchasing from, and look for the other users are saying before choosing.

If you want help buying a solution, our Merchant Maverick blog provides extensive great sources and we’re always here for those who have questions.

Friendly PSA over! Now you can shop ’til you drop and make the most of these bargains before they’re gone.

Shall we be missing anything? If you’re a vendor having a Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or holiday purchase that people haven’t pointed out, please tell us within the comments below.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is really a author, enthusiastic readers, and investigator. Additionally to loving writing, she grew to become thinking about accounting software due to her constant need to learn something totally new and know how things work. When she’s no longer working or daydreaming about her newest story, she are available consuming obscene levels of coffee, studying anything compiled by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files together with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

“”

MailChimp Versus Constant Contact

Mailchimp-vs-Constant Contact

Constant Contact was among the first companies to get involved with the e-mail marketing business. The organization was founded 1995, and started operating in 1998. Up to now, it’s still probably the most broadly recognized ESPs — particularly among individuals who know hardly any about e-mail marketing. Which, to be honest, is most likely most of Constant Contact’s users list.

MailChimp, however, took its begin in 2001. It’s very easy to inform the people behind MailChimp possess a great spontaneity — they’re known as The Brain Surgery Group. And despite rocket science’s status to be complicated, MailChimp really isn’t. It’s set itself apart like a cool, funny brand while still offering the type of features that attract serious Online marketers.

Constant Contact has a respectable 550,000 customers in a wide array of industries. But MailChimp claims greater than six million customers, including some huge names, including TED. We’ve reviewed both services formerly (take a look at our individual reviews for MailChimp and Constant Contact), but let’s check out where both of these e-mail marketing platforms stand out, what sets them aside from one another, and which is the greatest solution for you personally.

Table of Contents

Web-Based or In your area Installed:

Champion: Tie

Constant Contact and MailChimp are generally cloud-based e-mail marketing suites. You may also download mobile phone applications for services on Android and iOS, though it normally won’t possess the full suite of features. Consider them a lot more like supplements as opposed to a substitute. You’re have to a laptop to make use of these types of services for their full extent.

Software and hardware Needs:

Champion: Tie

MailChimp works on Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. It is also compatible with Internet Explorer 9 and above. Constant Contact works together with Chrome, the present form of Firefox and also the 3 previous releases, Safari 7 and above, and Explorer 9 and above. You should also enable JavaScript and pop-ups for services.

I will refer to this as a draw because support is fairly universal. We stated within our Constant Contact review the software has “known issues” in Explorer (around the support site it particularly mentions issues on Home windows XP) — but you aren’t really using Explorer, right? …Right? (Go download Chrome, Firefox, or Safari at this time.)

Specific Size Business:

Champion: MailChimp

E-mail marketing isn’t just something do since your competition is doing the work, too. The thing is to retain customers and also be your company. For this reason MailChimp wins this round.

Constant Contact is a perfect suite for small companies which are just beginning by helping cover their Online marketing. However, it isn’t very scalable. The client support Constant Contact provides causes it to be well suited for newbies, but when you’ve become used to e-mail marketing and wish to increase your time and efforts, you might find you’ve outgrown it.

MailChimp is much better suitable for companies of any size — from single-man (or single-lady) startups to large institutions. The prices structure is a lot more flexible and scalable too. Should you enter into this having a plan and carry it out well, you’ll find MailChimp provides you with the infrastructure to develop without getting to handle the need for importing your database from another service (unless of course you’re already searching to change, obviously).

Features:

Champion: MailChimp

When it comes to pure functionality, MailChimp dominates Constant Contact. Whichever plan you select, you have more value for your money, as they say. Let’s check out you skill beyond just delivering emails.

Features MailChimp Constant Contact
Analytics and Reports Yes Yes
Social Networking Support Yes Yes
Multiple User Accounts Yes Yes*
Autoresponders Yes – compensated plans only Yes – greater tier plans only
Sign-Up Forms (including QR codes) Yes Yes
Subscriber Profiles Yes Yes
A/B Split Testing Yes No**
Send Time Optimizer  Yes No**
Mobile Phone Applications (iOS, Android) Yes Yes

A couple of notes here:

* When you can authorize multiple users using the greater-tiered plans in Constant Contact, you cannot set multiple permissions. MailChimp, however, enables you to designate multiple roles and restricts use of features according to individuals permissions, that makes it a lot more helpful for collaboration.

** Constant Contact does not have built-in tools to evaluate this data, however that doesn’t mean you cannot get it done by hand. You may create two separate drafts of the email and segment your list to transmit one version to every segment, then evaluate your open and click on-through rates by hand. Likewise, you can try your open-rate data to get the best time for you to distribute data according to that. Still, it’s far easier to possess built-in tools that handle it for you personally.

Analytics and Reporting 

Another subject we discussed within our previous reviews may be the depth from the reporting obtainable in both services. Constant Contact’s metrics are fairly fundamental: open rates, CTRs, bounces, opt-outs, etc. You do not get tools to evaluate any A/B testing, Return on investment, or conversions — all available in MailChimp, additionally towards the standard fare. You need to do get Google Analytics integration with, that is useful, but MailChimp may be the obvious champion here.

Constant Contact’s Plus Campaigns

Both ESPs have pretty thorough social integration. However in its Plus Campaigns feature, Constant Contact also gives you some additional features that MailChimp does not have:

  • Facebook: Run sweepstakes, offer digital coupons, and share other downloadable content which you can use to develop your client base.
  • Event Promotion and Registration: Share, register visitors, accept payment and set of metrics in one place.
  • Donations: Run charitable organization campaigns via social networking or email.
  • Trackable Coupons: Digital coupons that the visitors can share and you can track.
  • Surveys and Polls: Get much more data out of your subscribers.

There’s a couple of additional features incorporated in Plus Campaigns, too. You’re likely to pay more of these features in Constant Contact. However, MailChimp can also add these functions through its integrations along with other services.

Prices:

Champion: MailChimp

The prices structures for Constant Contact and MailChimp really are a bit different, and they’re complicated enough that It is best to go take a look at our original reviews of every for that specifics. Meanwhile, here’s the rundown from the major variations:

Constant Contact is entirely list-based. You have to pay in line with the quantity of total subscribers you’ve (important to note: a subscriber on two lists continues to be only counted as you subscriber), and select 1 of 3 tiered plans for that features and additional services you would like. You can include features from greater-tiered plans for the next fee.

MailChimp, however, has three kinds of plans. The Entrepreneur plan’s free of charge (available for approximately 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails monthly).It’s not necessary to go in a charge card, however your emails have a little MailChimp badge incorporated at the end.

Beyond that, you’ve got a send-based option (essentially pay-as-you-go) along with a monthly subscription in line with the number of individuals inside your lists. Unlike Constant Contact, their email on two separate lists counts as two subscribers. The monthly subscription includes a couple of features another two plans don’t, but you can include them for a small fee.

Within our Constant Contact review, we noticed that its services have to do with 120 percent to 150 percent of the items competitors charge for comparable services. You receive more quality with MailChimp (including more reporting options and integrations) at a lower price — but we’ll enter into that later. And also the free choice is very appealing, considering that MailChimp’s most fundamental plan’s $35 per month for approximately 2,5000 subscribers.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: MailChimp

Certainly one of Constant Contact’s selling points is it’s very easy-to-use templates (65 of these, actually). They’re great and also the WYSIWYG editor is fairly intuitive. However, you’re going to need to jump through hoops (or at best screens) if you wish to code your email in HTML yourself.

Finding what you would like within the template menu can be challenging, and mobile options indicate pretty clearly that it is an area Constant Contact hasn’t really stored on. There isn’t any method to even preview your mobile emails. Much more frustratingly, the overall email preview feature is hard to rely on and sporadic, too. And you may easily miss a “save” button and lose a number of your projects.

Quite a few users appear to become at odds with regards to MailChimp’s simplicity of use. Some repeat the email creator is simple to use, while some appear to consider the personalization choices are hard to use unless of course you’ve got a solid knowledge of coding. You receive 12 fundamental templates and hundreds more styles according to individuals templates.

Here’s why MailChimp arrives ahead: You can get a typical email preview along with a mobile preview. You may also observe how the e-mail will appear in various clients. MailChimp auto-saves every 20 seconds, so you aren’t likely to lose your projects.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: MailChimp

MailChimp’s site claims it’s greater than 700 integrations with assorted third-party services. Constant Contact’s list of apps and integrations appears just below 250 during the time of writing.

Are both going to provide the fundamentals. There’s Google Analytics, obviously, WordPress, and Salesforce (in addition to Zoho). MailChimp has more CRM integrations, including Capsule and Contactually. Have e-commerce integrations with BigCommerce and Shopify, too.

By sheer figures, MailChimp may be the pretty apparent choice if you would like lots of integration with all of your data.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Constant Contact

This is when the option of best ESP really boils lower to your demands. From the bat, Constant Contact has won three Stevie awards because of its customer support. It features a phone support option that MailChimp doesn’t, and also the hrs are pretty, too: Phone support can be obtained 7 days per week. Hrs are:

  • Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. EST
  • Friday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST
  • Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m. to eight p.m. EST

And also the phone support is excellent, too. If you want someone to secure your hands and take you step-by-step through everything, Constant Contact is what you want.

Service isn’t perfect, however. Our reviewer had some negative encounters with Constant Contact’s support personnel, too, mostly concerning slow responding time.

That stated, Constant Contact also provides an intensive understanding base that you could consult as needed. There’s decent social networking support, even though you will from time to time you need to be told to email customer support. Constant Contact’s blog is filled with useful tips and there is a online community, too.

Want in addition to that? You have it: Webinars (including free and compensated options) can be found regularly. If you go searching for the greatest-tiered plan, there is also use of a 1-on-one personal coach. Constant Contact even hosts in-person classes that will highlight the fundamentals (for $199, obviously).

MailChimp does not have telephone service. However, their support is usually prompt and professional and also the individuals are knowledgeable. You are able to achieve representatives via email 24 hrs each day. Live Chat can be obtained Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to six p.m. EST (for those who have a compensated account, that’s). Social networking support can also be quite responsive.

Beyond that, MailChimp comes with an extensive understanding base, like Constant Contact, and a range of video training or even a reference of important terms. And there’s your blog, that also offers plenty of tips and information.

In case you really require the extra hands-holding, Constant Contact is the foremost option. In case your search-fu is powerful or else you have a handle on which you’re doing, you’ll get on all right with MailChimp.

Security:

Champion: MailChimp

With programs such as these, security is vital. In the end, it isn’t just your computer data on the line — it’s your customers’, too. These two services are EU Safe Harbor compliant. Both of them use SSL file encryption to safeguard charge card data.

However it shouldn’t surprise you by using roughly 12 occasions the amount of users as Constant Contact, MailChimp is really a bit more transparent about its safety measures.

If you are seriously interested in security or else you anticipate a really large list inside your future, opt for MailChimp. It even includes a documented continuity plan “in situation of nuclear attack on the data center” — something it mentions outright on its security page. Large lists are stored by themselves individual servers to lessen the risk of data corruption. (For smaller sized lists, including free plans, MailChimp uses shared servers.)

Check our earlier reviews, or visit the MailChimp and Constant Contact security pages for yourself, if you would like.

Let’s also talk as it were about junk e-mail. Nobody wants it, and both Constant Contact and MailChimp take quite strong stances against it. You have to make certain that you’re following your ESP’s tos (including incorporating remove yourself from list links inside your emails) as well as in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations and individuals associated with a country where you’re delivering email. Go browse the anti-junk e-mail policies for Constant Contact and MailChimp.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: MailChimp

Watch will have its detractors. MailChimp will get flak from users for that difficulty in building custom templates using HTML and CSS. Some also complain about getting to inquire about users to re-opt-in to receiving emails when transferring lists.

But it is not bad thinking about that among the greatest complaints about Constant Contact is manipulative salespeople. It’s extensively recorded (take a look at our earlier review), and may be described as a switch off.

Complaints of unfair charges when a free account is frozen for spammy tactics really are a common one. You cannot make use of your account even though it is under review, but you’ll be billed for this. You are able to cancel your bank account if you are on the month-to-month plan, but there is not much to complete for those who have a pre-compensated plan. Beyond that, you have complaints of poor usability, bugs and glitches, and merely too little features.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: MailChimp

It’s worth mentioning again that Constant Contact’s customer support has won Stevie awards, and also the fundamental email designer is simple to use. Typically people think MailChimp’s software programs are simple to use, too. Furthermore, MailChimp’s reporting services tend to be more robust also it comes with a totally free option.

It is also important to note that MailChimp beats Constant Contact in G2 Crowd reviews (4. across 103 reviews in contrast to 3.6 from 67 reviews), which its mobile phone applications for Android and iOS tend to be better reviewed.

Final Verdict:

Champion: MailChimp

Constant Contact earned a decent 3.5 stars within our earlier review, but MailChimp earned 4.5 stars, and it’s easy to determine why. With better prices, better quality features, as well as an impressive quantity of integrations, MailChimp is the foremost choice for anybody who would like to boost their e-mail marketing business. If, however, you’re brand-new towards the game and most likely will not be delivering even more than an periodic e-newsletter, Constant Contact provides the type of give you support might take advantage of. But you’re prone to outgrow it in case your efforts remove. Plus, MailChimp’s entry-level package is free of charge, that makes it the safer option to test out e-mail marketing if you are just beginning out.

We like to know what you think. Got questions? Would like to learn more? Take a look at our other e-mail marketing reviews or be at liberty to contact us!

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

“”

5 Best Options to Constant Contact

Constant Contact alternativesIf you’ve a minimum of dabbled in small company email strategies, you most likely learn about Constant Contact. Heck, even though you haven’t done any e-mail marketing inside your existence, you’ve most likely heard about Constant Contact – the organization is actually into self-promotion, sometimes to begin posting fake reviews of their service (though executives claimed the workers who did this were “acting outdoors corporate policy”).

Unscrupulous blog-commenting practices aside, the 20-year-old email company provides a solid, time-tested service and boasts over fifty percent millions of customers. Aimed toward small companies who operate mainly offline, CC is simple to use to create and execute email promotions, access data to determine who opens your emails (in addition to bounces, unsubscribes, etc.), and much more.

Even though many people discover that Constant Contact meets email addresses marketing needs all right, other ESPs available provide more features for any lower cost. Whether you’re a continuing Contact diehard or you’ve had an unsatisfactory knowledge about the service, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to test some competing services. I’ve come up with a summary of the key Constant Contact alternatives, so take a look and you can incorperate your two cents within the comments.

Table of Contents

1. GetResponse

Belgium-based GetResponse (see our review) has been available since 1999, but remains an extremely small player in American e-mail marketing, possibly since their professional services are geared more toward career marketers than companies. Nonetheless, GetResponse supplies a great group of e-mail marketing features for an affordable cost, and it is perfectly appropriate for big and small companies alike. GetResponse presently has 350,000 active users from 182 countries.

Listed here are a couple of of the items I believe are GetResponse’s best features:

  • Email Creator, including many templates for individuals without HTML experience and coding choices for advanced users
  • Website Landing Page Creator, which is what it may sound like
  • RSS-to-Email feature that enables bloggers to email subscribers every time they publish
  • Time-based and action-based autoresponders
  • Inbox preview to determine the way your email will appear across different email clients and devices

Why choose GetResponse over Constant Contact

As it pertains lower into it, GetResponse simply provides more features and much more subscribers/contacts for any lower cost. Constant Contact’s least expensive package is $20/month for -500 subscribers (and something user) GetResponse’s least expensive package enables as much as 1,000 subscribers for $15/month (or $12.30/month should you prepay yearly). GetResponse also provides all the service’s extensive features across all plans, while CC customers need to pay greater prices (a minimum of $45/month for just 500 subscribers) to obtain added features like autoresponders and social networking integration.

2. AWeber

As pointed out in Katherine Miller’s AWeber review, this ESP combines simplicity of use having a robust set of features. (Also, this really is neither here nor there, however the company’s corporate offices, situated in a renovated DaimlerChrysler building outdoors of Philly, turn to me such as the funnest workplace ever.)

AWeber (see our review), established in 1998, is ideal for companies having a smaller sized address book (under 25,000) that are looking to transmit multiple follow-up emails rather of a single-time email blasts (though it can be done too). A number of my personal favorite AWeber features include:

  • Email editor with more than 600 templates
  • Capability to create follow-up autoresponders
  • Signup form functionality
  • Advanced list segmentation
  • Number of subscriber preferences/options

Why Choose AWeber over Constant Contact

AWeber is among the pricier Constant Contact alternatives on my small list, however it still measures a rather lower cost point than CC, especially considering that to get all CC’s features (aside from the “personal marketing coach,” that is really only a sales repetition in disguise who nobody appears to love anyway), you need to sign up for a minimum of the medium-tier Constant Contact plan. Though AWeber rocks ! because of its follow-up autoresponders, if you are searching for that least expensive option to Constant Contact, this ain’t it.

3. Benchmark Email

Some awesome reasons for Los Alamitos, CA-based Benchmark Email (see our review) include it’s very easy-to-use interface and industry-themed email templates (for retail, education, entertainment, etc.), and particularly the opportunity to send video emails. Benchmark, established in 2004, also provides a passionate server and email delivery management program to improve deliverability rates.

Benchmark Email provides two free plans, in addition to three fundamental compensated plan types (subscriber-based, email-based, and-volume plans), and special choices for charitable organizations. The various plan types permit you to pick the perfect plan based on your email habits and quantity of contacts, which may be as much as 100,000.

Why Choose Benchmark Email over Constant Contact

Benchmark offers a lot of advantages over Constant Contact which i will need to list them in bullet-form, which is exciting for me personally. Listed here are the primary things Benchmark Email has over Constant Contact:

  • Free fundamental plan
  • Free 100,000-subscriber arrange for all verified PTAs/PTOs/PTSAs and nonprofit groups helping children
  • Cheaper rates overall
  • All features across all plans – such as the free ones
  • Capability to send video emails

Obviously, you’ll need to compare all Constant Contact’s and Benchmark Email’s features side-by-side to find out if either ESP is the best for your unique organization. For instance, Benchmark does not have an Android application, so if this sounds like vital that you you, then you need to choose another ESP. However if you simply operate a nonprofit or wish to send video emails, this ESP can’t be beat.

4. MailChimp

There’s a great deal to like about MailChimp (see our review). The organization doesn’t take themselves too seriously (would you tell through the name?) however they give a seriously awesome service and among the best ESPs available. MailChimp has over six million users and procedures greater than 5 billion outgoing emails monthly. The organization doesn’t take themselves too seriously (would you tell through the name?) however they give a seriously awesome service and among the best ESPs available. MailChimp has over six million users and procedures greater than 5 billion outgoing emails monthly. Its popular services are appropriate for everybody from startups to multibillion corporations for example customers The Economist and TED.

Like Benchmark Email, MailChimp also provides a fundamental free service in addition to a number of other plans varying from subscriber-based prices to volume-based prices. You may also simply pay per email you signal. Whilst not all features can be found around the free “Entrepreneur” plan, which enables 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails monthly, this is perhaps the very best free ESP package around.

Why Choose MailChimp over Constant Contact

Like all the ESPs I’ve incorporated within this list, MailChimp has cheaper plans than Constant Contact. You might also need more versatility with plan prices, as there’s a pay-as-you-go option. Furthermore, MailChimp offers multi-user accounts (Constant Contact charges extra for further users). MailChimp offers ever better integrations than CC and helpful features like “Delivery by Time Zone” to make sure emails are sent whenever your recipients are awake. And hey, you cannot beat a choice of a totally free plan. From my research, most small companies who’ve used both MailChimp and Constant Contact prefer MailChimp. You are able to sign up for any free trial offer here, if you are like doing so.

5. SendInBlue

Among the more youthful ESPs to emerge available on the market, SendInBlue (see our review) continues to be making an effect when you are, pound-for-pound, probably the most cost-effective services within their industry. Their founder, Armand Thiberge, searched for to construct a service provider that may provide a strong, core suite of ESP services to companies without overwhelming all of them with unnecessary features.

It’s worth mentioning that the organization is extremely attentive to critique and moves rapidly to fix shortcomings within their product. Having a generous free plan that allows you to send as much as 300 emails each day, up to and including more 9,000 monthly plus some of the very most competitive prices readily available for high-volume campaigns.

Why Choose SendInBlue Over Constant Contact

It might seem just like a damaged record at this time, but you may have intuited that Constant Contact is sort of around the pricier side. This is also true of SendInBlue, which undercuts the majority of its competitors on cost. Although it doesn’t provide the innovative features for highly precise campaigns, the characteristics it will provide are high-quality, including certainly one of my personal favorite campaign creators. Individuals features, except for a few a la carte products, can also be found at each tier, therefore the only factor you’ll need to bother about regarding price is the level of your campaigns. Primary advantages include:

  • Free fundamental plan
  • Very competitive prices
  • All features across all plans
  • Excellent responsive design drag-and-drop builder
  • Frequent iterations and enhancements

Conclusion

Constant Contact is really a well-known name in the realm of e-mail marketing, though this name is frequently connected with a few uncomfortable things, like manipulative/dishonest marketing tactics. Still, Constant Contact provides a helpful service for small companies that are looking to rapidly and simply deploy email strategies. But is its service sufficiently strong to warrant its high cost? Many users refuse. If you are searching for a less expensive ESP a treadmill that provides advanced features Constant Contact doesn’t provide, I would suggest carrying out a test run of all or any from the companies discussed within my list. Join a no-risk-free trial (which many of these companies offer – well, OK, AWeber’s 30-day trial costs $1, but you really can afford that) and let’s read your comments!

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is definitely an independent author, journalist, programmer, and game designer that has mastered the skill of using his laptop in no less than 541 positions, many of them unergonomic. When he isn’t pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s most likely out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen area, or delighting/annoying his buddies together with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

“”

Top 4 Options to MailChimp

Alternatives to Mailchimp

In writing, apes seem like an enjoyable experience. They create adorable faces. They delight using their human-like intelligence and mischievousness. Who wouldn&#8217t desire a monkey? Regrettably, lots of people aren&#8217t eliminate for any pet smart and devious enough to wreck your home and blame it around the dog. While popular e-mail marketing service Benchmark seems to become targeting a really similar niche to MailChimp. Supplying a similar degree of complexity and powerful free plans, it&#8217s the competitor that feels probab MailChimp inside the first hour useful.

Began with a trio of medical workers in offices in 2004 and coded in India, Benchmark has stuck to the vision of the simple, versatile e-mail marketing platform. Basically we loved Benchmark, this program isn’t without weaknesses, most of which we&#8217ll be tackling below.

AWeber

It might seem a lot more like a 17th century philosopher than an e-mail program, but AWeber is probably the more venerable ESPs that in the industry. Founded in 1998 by Tom Kulzer, this premium-only service provides a effective group of reporting tools which should please data-focused marketers.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor does what its name implies and offers a completely featured, effective tool for managing (and monitoring) your email strategies. Although it&#8217s a little missing within the integration department, it provides all onpar gps at each cost point, which means you&#8217ll know precisely that which you&#8217re getting.

SendinBlue

Among the newer contenders to emerge to the e-mail marketing scene is SendInBlue. Since 2012, SendInBlue has strongly gone to live in create a distinct segment within the crowded ESP market by providing a effective, core suite of features in a competitive cost.

Cost

A cost is definitely an expense, which means you&#8217ll wish to make certain you&#8217re obtaining a the best value for the dollar. Fortunately, our prime competitors within the ESP market means that you&#8217ve got options.

Benchmark

Certainly one of MailChimp&#8217s finest strengths comes by means of its generous Forever Free plan, which enables frugal marketers with modest must send 12,000 emails per month to as much as 2,000 subscribers. Or no other e-mail marketing service has attempted to steal the chimp&#8217s lunch when it comes to free plans, it&#8217s Benchmark.

Registering for Benchmark will filter you in to the Free List Plan 2,000, a periodOrquantity trial plan that ends after thirty days, 14,000 emails, or delivering emails to 250 clients, whichever comes first. If you are planning to stay around more than that, you may still make use of the Free for Existence plan, that provides 10,000 emails monthly and also the full suite of features. The main one catch is you&#8217ll need to use Benchmark-branded sign-up forms to include clients for your list, that is inconvenient should you&#8217d choose to import your contacts. Like MailChimp, this program may also incorporate a branded emblem in your free emails.

Assuming you&#8217re prepared to spend some money, you&#8217ll locate an ESP having a cost point pretty much using the average. You may choose to pay for by email beginning at $9.95/mo for 600/mo as much as $375/mo for 100,000/mo, or by how big your address book beginning at $11.95/mo for 600 contacts. At 25,000 contacts, you&#8217re searching at $112/mo. Plans greater than 100,000 are negotiated with an individual basis. Their email list plans permit you to send as many as seven emails monthly to every subscriber.

AWeber

On the other hand from the equation, we’ve AWeber, which isn&#8217t serving low-volume marketers. If you wish to do this ESP out, you&#8217ll have to enroll in a real compensated plan, even though you won&#8217t be billed for that first month. Just make certain you cancel your plan should you don&#8217t intend to stick to AWeber.

Ultimately, there&#8217s no free lunch reely plan at AWeber, which ranks one of the more costly ESPs. The least expensive compensated plan begins in a hefty $19 for 500 contacts (all AWebers plans are list-based) and topping out at $149/mo for twenty five,000 subscribers bigger lists will need contacting AWeber. Our prime costs are all-inclusive, however. You won&#8217t have to pay extra to gain access to more complex features. Note, too, that of AWeber&#8217s plans permit limitless emails.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor might have probably the most unorthodox prices plan from the three, however it&#8217s and not the least expensive. Registering for the services are free and can grant you use of all of the features Campaign Monitor provides. However that, if you wish to send any emails past the number of free test messages you are able to send, you&#8217ll need to upgrade to some compensated plan.

This is when things start getting just a little weird. Campaign Monitor&#8217s Fundamental Plan’s a hybrid list/email plan in which the most of emails you are able to send monthly may be the maximum size your list, multiplied by five. In the event that&#8217s an excessive amount of to keep an eye on, you are able to upgrade towards the substantially more costly limitless plan, which functions like a classical list-based plan. This two-tiered approach enables for many pretty affordable prices around the Fundamental Plan, beginning at $9/mo for 500 subscribers and a pair of,500 emails/mo. Regrettably, Campaign Monitor diminishes competitive on cost while you ascend the tiers, costing $199/mo for twenty five,000 subscribers. The Limitless Plan’s much more pricey, beginning at $29/mo and climbing to some steep $399/mo at 25,000.

Oh, there&#8217s even the choice to pay per campaign and email, though this method will get very costly, very rapidly.

SendInBlue

SendInBlue went to pretty great pains to undercut its competition within the cost department. Like Benchmark, SendInBlue provides a totally free plan with a few modest limitations, in addition to a very economical &#8220Micro&#8221 arrange for users with slightly greater marketing needs. Particularly, SendInBlue is unconcerned with the amount of subscribers you’ve, only the amount of emails you&#8217re delivering. This really is great news for marketers who strategically segment their lists.

Greater in the prices chain is how SendInBlue really shines. $334 buys you 750,000 emails per month.

Prices Summary

Probably the most MailChimp-esque of those companies regarding prices are Benchmark and SendInBlue, each of which provide a nice opening curve for small companies still feeling out their demands. Benchmark provides more emails monthly, while SendInBlue offers some simpler managing contacts at lower tiers. AWeber appears like a worse deal before you take into account that all of the plans permit you to send as numerous emails as you would like, excessive-volume marketers take serious notice. Campaign Monitor&#8217s prices will most likely simply be ideal in certain very specific instances (low volume marketing with no burden from the ESP&#8217s emblem, for instance).

Campaign Creation

MailChimp users will discover campaign creation for those three competitors to become familiar. The 3 offer drag editors for email design, along with the choice to import designs produced with HTML or produce a simple, plain text email. Still, there are several minute variations between your three.

Benchmark

Additionally towards the standard ESP email creation options, Benchmark will also support a mature iteration of their email creator. Like a new user, you are able to securely ignore this method, but if you’re a former user considering rejoining the service, it&#8217s best to know that you could get in which you ended.

Benchmark offers users a properly-rounded variety of email features: video emails, surveys, and the opportunity to established to eight autoresponders. Web site selection clocks in in excess of 400, there&#8217s an excellent chance you&#8217ll find something which meets your needs. When you can preview your the perception of desktop recipients, you won&#8217t have the ability to perform the same for mobile, a substantial oversight.

Where Benchmark pops up shortest, however, is by using social networking integration. You won&#8217t have the ability to do too even more than publish to Facebook through Benchmark.

AWeber

AWeber&#8217s email design system is a touch different for the reason that, instead of giving the consumer an array of templates, it encourages these to develop a design by dragging elements in to the editor. A great feature for marketers who would like more precise control of the feel of their emails without getting to explore HTML and CSS. You&#8217ll need to bring all of your images along with you, however, because there&#8217s no stock image library to attract from.

A large advantage provided by AWeber is the opportunity to perform split-tests, which let you swap out aspects of your email (subject, name, or body) to determine what your audience finds more engaging.

Missing from AWeber are a few conveniences like surveys and fully integrated social internet marketing.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor&#8217s email design product is streamlined for efficiency, having a template library like Benchmark, but jettisoning the look library ala AWeber. It&#8217s a no frills system, however it&#8217s fast and simple.

If the thought of delivering out a partial or problematic email keeps you up during the night, Campaign Monitor suits the perfectionist by providing split-testing and allowing users to transmit test emails to as much as five recipients before investing in the campaign.

SendInBlue

SendInBlue had designed a puzzling decision in this region by supplying two different campaign creation encounters: one for premium users, and something free of charge and Micro plan users, but because of December 2015 that is not the situation. The premium responsive design creators favors a depth over breadth method of campaign creation. You won&#8217t see as many template options since it’s competitors, however, you&#8217ll have the ability to tweak the particular parameters of the elements and pictures to some much greater degree.

Campaign Creation Summary

The 3 ESPs provide perfectly functional campaign creation tools, however the &#8220best&#8221 is the one which meets your campaign needs. Do you’d rather use stock images and/or uploading your personal in to the cloud? Opt for Benchmark. Desire a hyper-customizable drag experience? AWeber or SendInBlue are the programs. Wish to meticulously make sure tweak your emails? Give Campaign Monitor a glance.

List Management and Reporting

Delivering attractive emails to subscribers is fine and dandy, but if you wish to possess a truly effective advertising campaign, you&#8217ll have to crunch some figures and move certain names around. Observe that the 3 services offer something MailChimp doesn&#8217t: list segmentation, the opportunity to break your subscriber lists right into a smaller sized &#8220segment&#8221 for additional precise campaign targeting.

Benchmark

Unless of course you&#8217re dealing with the disposable plan (see Prices), adding subscribers in Benchmark is dependent on copying and pasting a listing or adding subscribers individually. You won&#8217t have the ability to directly import a listing from, say, Gmail, which means you&#8217ll need to export it into a middleman program that enables you to definitely copy.

Benchmark&#8217s data tools are fundamental, but fast, becoming available quickly following the campaign is distributed. Benchmark provides users with several key bits of data about each campaign. The (perhaps) most significant statistic, open rate, seems both in cake chart and statistical form. Additionally, Benchmark provides users with stats for clicks, forwards, bounces, unsubscribes, and abuse. Each stat further breaks lower towards the exact emails connected having a given action. Users can export this data for more analysis using a .csv or .xls file. There’s additionally a social networking area which reports shares via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, in addition to a map which breaks lower, based on country, who opens your emails. Should you&#8217re searching for additional, you&#8217ll most likely need to depend with an integration like Google Analytics.

AWeber

AWeber offers two means of contact creation: an application that enables you to definitely add 10 subscribers at any given time as well as an import tool that accepts pasted lists, spreadsheets, or text files. Like Benchmark, you&#8217ll have to take medium difficulty key to import lists using their company web services.

With regards to reporting tools, AWeber doesn’t fool around. It is definitely the standard raw figures and percentages (clicks, opens, unsubscribes, and so on). Additionally, it includes more complex data for example opens, clicks, and revenue with time subscriber growth and stats by location, area code, or designated market. Additionally, you are able to compare results across your past 20 emails. You are able to track subscribers according to their sign-up method, and also the list segmentation options provide lots of methods to optimize your e-mail marketing. Reports are very well organized and clear to see a lot of the information is presented both in chart and table format. There&#8217s no choice for integrating Google Analytics, however it&#8217s less critical with AWeber than a number of other ESPs.

Campaign Monitor

While Campaign Monitor also lacks third-party integration for importing contacts, it will permit copy/pasting and direct uploads of spreadsheet files. Among the neat choices for Campaign Monitor is the opportunity to add custom fields to subscribers while you upload them. These details is useful when benefiting from Campaign Monitor&#8217s extensive autoresponder system to transmit specialized messages according to data fields like birthday.

Campaign Monitor&#8217s reporting tools are easy-to-use, with many information color-coded, charted or graphed. They&#8217re not as extensive as AWeber&#8217s reports, which means you&#8217ll most likely wish to supplement with exterior analytics should you&#8217re managing a more complex campaign.

SendInBlue

Like Campaign Monitor, you&#8217ll have to copy your contacts in or import them via a spreadsheet (SendinBlue supplies a downloadable spreadsheet template if you want one). SendInBlue also enables you to definitely define custom fields, even though the function isn’t as immediately apparent. You may also easily &#8220blacklist&#8221 contacts you don&#8217t wish to waste emails on.

SendInBlues reporting tools cover the majority of the bases and supply nearly real-time feedback about that has opened up your emails and which links they&#8217ve visited.

If you must have an e-mail to obtain through, and obtain through safely, SendInBlue offers transactional emails upon request, which feature extra tools to prevent bounces along with other undesirable marketing fates.

List Management and Reporting Summary

Campaign Monitor offers probably the most versatile list segmentation and autoresponders in the industry, enabling you to target subscribers with expert precision. Around the reporting side, AWeber may be the obvious champion, presenting an extensive variety of data without resorting to integrations or exterior programs.

Summary

MailChimp continues to be the&#8211wait for this&#8211gorilla within the room with regards to ESPs, but it might be useful for the company to test out some MailChimp alternatives. It&#8217s fairly simple that you simply&#8217ll look for a service that fits your unique needs much better than the monkey could ever.

The publish Top 4 Options to MailChimp made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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