The top Web apps for business growth. It takes a lot to run a small business -- but what do you do when there's too many tasks and not enough help? Tech entrepreneur and blogger Neil Patel has put together a list of the top 25 online tools that can help you get projects done, manage your finances, leverage social media, and even have a little fun. There are a few high-profile choices in the bunch, such as Mint and HootSuite, but also some fan-favorites that are still under the radar, such as Recurly, which helps set up and maintain recurring billing for customers, and RescueTime, an automated time tracking and management program.
Putting your business on the (Google) map. If you've done a Google search for just about anything lately, you've probably noticed the handy map that pops up on the results page complete with a handful of pushpins pointing out the relevant local businesses. Marketing guru Jane Dueease has some tips for anyone who has ever wondered how their business can land a spot on the Google map. And as she explains, that map is prime real estate. Companies that appear on the map "not only show up above the 'organic' or 'natural' search results, but [the map] has a higher click rate than the Google Adwords." Austin-area residents interested in learning more can catch Dueease today at the RISE Austin conference discussing ways to improve your company's Web site.
Young social entrepreneurs, here's a way to win $50,000. The Hitachi Foundation is scouring the country to find young entrepreneurs making an impact in their communities, particularly start-ups that "help move people out of poverty and into the mainstream of American society," says the Foundation's chair. Six applicants will be selected and each will receive $50,000 and technical resources to strengthen their business. Apply here by March 22.
Making pay-per-click pay. Paid search engine marketing can be more profitable than search engine optimization, but it can be costly and futile if misapplied. The Wall Street Journal suggests following these tips to optimize your efforts: In addition to buying your company name and your competitors' names, consider asking customers what terms they use when they search for your products; Use keyword tools like Google Trends and Google's keyword suggestion tool; Monitor your results; Make sure your landing page aligns with your ad; and be specific in order to filter out undesirable clicks that you will still need to pay for.
Tesla production on schedule despite engineers' deaths. Two weeks after three of its top engineers died in a California plane crash, electric car maker Tesla said on Wednesday that it is sticking to its plan to produce and sell its first sedan within three years, The Associated Press reports. The young automaker, led by CEO Elon Musk, is hoping that the $49,000 sedan will "cement the Tesla brand in the market place," chief designer Franz von Holzhausen said. The company's only current car on the market is the $109,000 roadster.
Omniture customers get new analytics perks on Facebook. Though the analytics powerhouse and the social media giant first joined forces in May 2009 to build upon Facebook analytics capabilities, TechCrunch now reports that the two companies will be expanding their social media marketing partnership even further. The partnership will now allow businesses using Facebook to utilize Omniture's SearchCenter Plus product, which will enhance its search engine marketing management application with better efficiency for purchasing Facebook Ads. As a result, Omniture customers will now be able to compare Facebook ad campaign metrics with other media channels (learn more about how to advertise on Facebook here), and they will also be able to generate reports specifically designed to understand ad effectiveness for Facebook Pages and applications. For more on how Omniture grew from a college start-up to its $1.8 billion acquisition, check out our How I Did It on co-founder Josh James from Inc.'s March issue.
The changing landscape of e-commerce. It's becoming increasingly difficult to recall a time when pundits scoffed at the possibility of e-commerce outlets as viable businesses, but Half.com founder turned VC Josh Kopelman remembers it. He also notes on his blog, Redeye VC, that up until recently the e-commerce field has been pretty stagnant innovation- wise (via peHUB). "The online shopping paradigm is finally changing," he writes. "We've seen more innovation in the last 10 months than in the last 10 years." Kopelman lists game-changing e-commerce opportunities in the post and proudly touts the fact that his firm, First Round Capital has invested in over a dozen ventures in these fields. For strategy tips for your online store, check out our guide to selling online.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey