The essential communication apps every new business owner needs

Emails, group chats, video conference calls; Download these apps to improve the way you and your staff communicate with one another...

Trello

trello boxCompatible with: iOS, Android, desktop
Rating: ★★★★ (App Store)
Price: Free – Also has three paid versions; Gold, Business Class, and Enterprise

Since its launch in 2011, Trello has gained a reputation as one of the best project management apps on the market.

An online, collaborative workspace, Trello uses Kanban-style methodology and presents you with boards, lists, and cards which represent tasks to be completed.

You can move the cards from board to board to indicate the status of a task or project e.g. whether a task has been completed, is ongoing or hasn’t been started yet.

A team leader can invite and assign as many members to a particular task as they wish and the app also offers real-collaboration across all devices, meaning that if team member makes a change to one of the tasks on their device it will sync immediately everywhere else.

Among the highlights of the app is it superb drag-and-drop feature, which allows you to upload images and PDFs from Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, or from a URL in seconds.

Due to some areas of Trello being more simplistic than some of its competitors, the app works best for short and quick assignments, rather than tasks that take days or projects that might take months.

Why is it a must-have app for business owners?

When the going gets tough and team deadlines are fast approaching, you need to ensure you and your team are on the same page and all pulling in the right direction. Trello provides a bright and colourful layout to ensure your business knows what needs to be done and by whom.

Slack

Slack_IconCompatible with: iOS, Android
Rating: ★★★★
Price:
Runs a freemium model

Billing itself as “team communication for the 21st century”, business chat app Slack now boasts an impressive three million users, with 930,000 of them paying for the privilege.

Rather surprisingly, Slack began life as an internal tool used by Tiny Speck (the name of the company owned by Slacks creators) while they were developing a now defunct online game.

Designed to help cut down on the amount of internal emails sent by businesses, Slack is essentially a cloud-based messaging app which allows you to partake in public, private and group chats – think ‘Whatsapp for business’.

Syncing with your mobile device and desktop apps such as Twitter and Mail Chimp, Slack can also be used on the go to ensure you’re always up to date.

Why is it a must-have app for business owners?

Slack cuts out the sometimes long correspondence times between internal emails allowing for you and your team to communicate in a much quicker, time effective manner.

Skype for Business

Microsoft_Skype_for_Business_logoCompatible with: iOS, Android, Windows
Rating: ★★

Price: From £1.30 user/month

While it’s the preferred method of video chat for millions of people, Skype was always seen as a consumer product rather than a business one, with businesses opting for more enterprise orientated VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol telephony) services.

Formerly known as Microsoft Office Communicator and Microsoft Lync, Skype for Business was officially launched in September 2015 in an attempt by Microsoft to bridge this apparent gap.

Using Skype for Business , you can you ‘invite’ people to your ‘meeting’ by simply dialling a number– giving it a much more professional and business-like tone.

Among the app’s range of features include the ability to invite up to 250 people to a conference call or ‘meeting’ with this total including attendees using the client software, web apps, and phones. What’s more, you can invite standard Skype users to all of your calls and video chats –provided they sign in using a guest account.

Skype for Business also syncs with Office 365 app so you can  schedule meetings in Outlook and instantly connect with pre-existing contacts.

Why is it a must-have app for business owners?

Perfect for start-ups who don’t need, or want, to spend bucket loads on a high-end VoIP system, Skype for Business provides a cohesive video calling solution which is perfect for organising meetings with staff and liaising with potential clients.

Mail Chimp

15555815682_78c0c815caCompatible with: iOS and Android
Rating: 
★★★
Price: ‘Freemium’

Mail Chimp is a veteran in the world of email marketing and offers users an easy-to-use yet advanced service, suitable for even the newest of start-ups.

Providing rigorous list management, eye catching email templates and detailed analytics, Mail Chimp remains the go-to service for business owners looking to follow up on purchases, nurture leads and provide product information to their mailing list.

Working on a freemium pricing model, the Forever Free plan lets you send 12,000 emails per month to less than 2,000 accounts, quite an offer if you’re a brand new business with a small subscriber list.

Three of MailChimp’s most useful features are its A/B testing, time-warp email sending and inbox previewing:

  • With A/B testing, you can create two different emails with two different subject lines, or different images or design. MailChimp tracks the open rate with one group and sends the email that was most successful to the group with the lower open rate, thereby increasing your exposure.
  • The Time-wrap option adjusts email delivery times based on your contacts time zones, ensuring all your subscribers receive your newsletter at the best possible time.
  • New for 2016, the inbox preview feature allows you to preview how an email will look across multiple desktops and devices – an invaluable feature in a time when mobile viewing is fast becoming the norm.

Why is it a must-have app for business owners?

Newsletters should be an essential part of your start-up marketing efforts. Mail Chimp provides you with all the necessary tools to expand your brand’s reach and build on sales.

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