Growing your business and building an infrastructure that works is very hard. What do you need? How can you automate some things so you can focus on other stuff? How can you support your staff working from different locations? We have a few ideas and apps to help you out. Full disclosure: these are tools that we use everyday to run our business. And, trust us, they really work.
That being said, this article does contain affiliate links (a way we remain ad-and-popup-free when you are using the site! and hint: you can also become affiliates and make a little passive income on the side, too). Don’t see something on the list that is amazing for your own business? Slide into our DM’s on the ‘gram and we will look into it.
For automating some marketing communications: Flodesk
Flodesk is an email marketing platform you can use to send emails to your customers. We’ve used a few different ones in the past and, wow, this is hands down the easiest one to set up and use. You can make the forms directly through the platform and embed them into your own site. You can put customers into segments (like “menswear shoppers” or “sale shoppers”) depending on which form they use to sign up. Then, comes the real power. Flodesk has a function called “workflows,” where you make automated emails for any of your segments. It’s literally a set it and forget it and we couldn’t be happier for it.
Let us run through an example. A customer goes to your website, they click on the lifestyle blog and look at some content. You have an email signup form in the lifestyle section and they sign up for it there. They go into a “lifestyle” segment, where you send them a welcome email, and then several automated emails that focus heavily on lifestyle content and your social media. Another customer goes right for your sale section, they sign up on an email form there, and they go into a “sale” segment, where you send them the same welcome email, but then also several automated emails that focus heavily on discounts and end of season sales. And, don’t worry, you can always send emails to the entire subscriber list.
When you design the emails, it’s all drag and drop, no coding necessary. It autosaves everything. You can copy an existing email into another. Oh, and you can schedule emails in advance so you don’t have to even think about it until after it sends. Then you can use all their great analytics features to track how well it did. You know we love a little analytics data to make decisions.
It. is. a. dream. Use this link to sign up. With this affiliate link, you get to only pay $19/month (50% off). That’s down from $38/month and you get that promo forever. With this tool, you only get that promo using this link!
For making sure your team is always connected: G Suite
This is key infrastructure for pretty much everything we do. Email (this is how you can use Gmail and still have an @yourcompanyname.com address), file storage (the cloud is a game changer), calendar, video conferencing, and the list goes on. We even set up alias emails so when you contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] or whatever, it goes to one inbox and we can reply from whatever email you sent to. And you don’t pay extra for that. For a small business, the low cost of G Suite is totally justified with all of the tools it has to offer. Make sure you also integrate it with your Google Analytics accounts for your website and you’ll be fully streamlined.
You can use this link to sign up. When you are checking out, use the promo code 4CV4ELRVWFGAJHP for the Basic Plan or FANXT944LKVTCD9 for the Business Plan and it’ll give you 20% off for the first year. That means you only pay as little as $4.80 per user.
For keeping your website fast, safe and hosted with a team of people to help you: WP Engine
About a third of the internet is powered by WordPress. The platform, while it’s amazing, is a lot of information to store on your servers (or the place that all your website data lives). You may be using something called ‘shared hosting,’ which means that you and a bunch of other websites share one server. That means you are also sharing something called bandwidth, or the stuff that makes your website fast. The more people on it, the slower your website. Enter WP Engine, a hosting platform for WordPress that gives you a dedicated server to call your own (ours is coincidentally also named Benjamin). That means a blazing fast website.
Besides speed, you get enhanced security, staging sites (you can test out changes on a mirror of your site without affecting your actual site with just a couple of clicks), and the best thing of all: their technical support. We have very rarely come across a company with such good support. You simply chat them on your online account, give them your dedicated support pin (kind of like a member ID) and they will help you with ANYTHING. We had an issue with some formatting after some WordPress updates and their team set up an entire staging website for us, troubleshooted the issue and fixed it; and, all we had to do was tell them about it on the chat. They really took the lead and the cost of WP Engine is worth it just for that!
Use this link to sign up, and you can get 3 months for free on an annual plan (which already saves you a bunch). Trust us on this one, it’s so worth it…as WP Engine notes — you pay 5x more on your cable bill a month. If you are in the market for themes to build your website from (if you are doing this yourself, it’s so so helpful to start with one of these), check out StudioPress.
For when you want to keep learning: edX
We always think a ‘continue to learn it all’ mentality is the best. Especially with sustainability and marketing, the rules and concepts are always changing as the consumer does. While Bellwether provides some, let us say great, courses for fashion specifically, we find it very helpful to learn from other industries.
edX was started by Harvard & MIT, currently has over 20 million users and is home to courses from the world’s top-ranked universities. The topics include everything from operations management to climate change to divination (that last one is top of our list to take, we are going back and reading all the Harry Potter books right before to prep). You can do a graded course, or just audit one at your own pace. They even offer verified certificates that you can display on all your profiles and show off your genius.
This truly is the future of education, get on the train and explore their classes today!
This article talks about marketing and supporting your business with digital technology. We built an entire course bundle around Marketing Basics for Fashion Business, where you can learn about creating a digital marketing plan, researching the market and your competitors, brand auditing, omnichannel strategies, distribution and more. Explore free samples of the courses today!