5 Awesome Free Data Tools for Small Businesses
Small-medium businesses can obtain tons of leverage by utilizing the software tools used by web startups for streamlining and automating various aspects of marketing, analytics, data wrangling and communication. Here’s 5 great products that can 10x your processes.
Value prop: Scrape content on a web page with clicks, and have changes monitored.
Kimono is an web scraping tool, with a browser extension, that allows you to turn any unstructured web page into structured data. I’ve used Kimono a few times and it works like a charm. For a small-medium business to source leads on the internet, Kimono provides an extremely simple and intuitive click interface to impose structure on a web page and extract the fields that you require, such as names, emails and phone numbers. You can then download them as a .csv file, integrate with Google Docs or just have a cloud-hosted API that a developer can access to retrieve data. You can also build simple web apps on top of those APIs without writing any code.
Big Update: Kimono Labs was acquired by Palantir as of yesterday, and they are shutting down their cloud-hosting service but supporting a lightweight Desktop application that covers API creation, editing and scraping needs from a Desktop PC.
Value prop: Customer Relationship Management within your Gmail.
All small-medium business have to manage current and prospective customer information and conversations to close and retain them. Streak is a lightweight tool that sits in your Gmail inbox, integrates securely with your Google Apps account and is amazingly simple to use. With Streak, you can add contacts in your inbox to a sales pipeline, track and schedule emails, split threads and collaborate and share information about the different communications that have happened with a customer.
Value prop: Lightweight relational databases that are easy to manipulate because of spreadsheet functionality.
Airtable is a flexible and extensible collaborative spreadsheet that is also a relational database. It has an intuitive API, allowing it to be the singular source of data for both the people and algorithms in your organization. It syncs across multiple devices and integrates with services like Dropbox, Box, Evernote and Google Drive. SMBs can use Airtable to replace a legacy CRM and manage inventory. You can attach files to records, use note fields and roll back database states.
The relational database aspect of Airtable is powerful to someone doesn’t have the skill and time to setup a database server or a create a complex spreadsheet with pivot tables. Airtables can also be shared online as an embed.
Value prop: Integrating and automating data flows across different apps/services.
Zapier is an awesome tool that allows you to connect the various apps that you use as a small business (Google Apps, Dropbox, Shopify etc.) and let them talk to each other and move data between them. With Zapier, you can perform tasks like importing Google contacts into an Airtable database, save Shopify orders to a Google sheet or creating a FreshBooks invoice from a PayPal sale. Here’s a terrific resource on various Zapier use cases.
Value prop: Building beautiful, mobile-friendly surveys with built-in analytics.
Typeform is the most elegant service to design quick, conversational surveys with templates that offer a great experience on mobile. Typeforms have fresh interaction elements, high conversion rates and are a great way to obtain feedback from a customer, do market research or even assess employee satisfaction. And with Zapier, you can pipe Typeform response data straight into a Google spreadsheet or Airtable!
Next week, I’ll dive into some user analytics tools to increase engagement and retention.
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