For online marketers, tools can make the difference between being productive and spinning your wheels.
But with so many tools available, finding what works for your team is a task unto itself.
As toolmakers, we consider ourselves curators of apps that make work life easier.
So if you’re like us, and subscribe to the mantra of “work smarter, not harder”, here are 10 tools you should definitely try.
If you’re sick of communicating with teams through disjointed email threads, Skype messages and calls, Slack brings all your conversations together in one place.
Slack is specifically designed to allow teams of co-workers to converse, collaborate on projects, and share files and links. It makes work seamless between people who don’t operate in the same physical space
Since we have someone working remotely almost every day, this tool has become invaluable. Rather than reading through email, my first move in the morning is logging onto Slack and making sure I’m in the loop.
We generally put all our metrics updates, FYIs, and company resources (images, slide decks) into Slack, and use the Search function if we need to find anything.
To bring people “scattered across different systems” onto the same page, Slack integrates with Google Docs, Dropbox, GitHub, SVN and Perforce, Twitter, Crashlytics, HelpScout and ZenDesk, Wufoo, Nagios, Trello, Heroku, Hubot, and Phabricator.
I haven’t emailed anyone on the team in weeks, and it feels great!
Cost: Free for an unlimited number of people (although we are on the paid plan because we like the ability to search back over 10,000 messages!).
We’re all familiar with the revision process. It’s a grind.
With feedback and creative opinions flying, the last thing you need is confusion over what you’re talking about.
Notable solves that problem. It’s all about giving great visual feedback that everybody can understand.
Notable helps clearly identify tags and specific sections of a mockup. You can then have meaningful back and forth discussion around a specific area/piece of the section, and decide on the best course of action.
We have multiple remote stakeholders here at Rooster, so using Notable to streamline our revision process is a huge timesaver.
Here are a couple screenshots of our team holding detailed discussions using Notable:
Cost: Plans start at $19/month
Even if you have great writing skills, crafting hard-hitting web content is not easy.
The combination of spellcheckers and grammargirl.com will not help you get the job done.
If you write regular blog posts or e-blasts, chances are you spend a significant amount of time in the revision process. Enter Hemingway.
Rather than worrying about grammar, Hemingway is all about making your content readable. It warns you when your writing is longwinded. It warns you when your sentences are dense and complicated. And it helps you eliminate unnecessary adverbs and instances of passive voice.
We typically spend 10 – 15 hours per week blogging, and would say Hemingway shaves at least a couple hours off that. And it makes our writing a lot better, can’t you tell?
If you’re not tracking where your time is spent, you’re likely guessing wrong on how much time is spent on each activity.
The way things are and the way you choose to remember them are completely different! Keep yourself honest and keep track of your time. If you’re data focused, it only makes sense to optimize the one resource you can’t get more of.
But while time tracking has always been a pain in the ass, Harvest makes it bearable. It still requires some effort, but it’s pretty freaking painless.
Harvest does all the things normal time-tracking software does: manages projects, tracks employee hours, and monitors expenses.
The differentiator for us is how easy it is. It’s all web-based, and you can start your timer on one and computer and stop it on another. You can go back and edit hours, and it gives you handy notifications when you’ve inadvertently left a timer running (happens more often than you think, but it’s easy to undo).
Every couple of weeks, we use Harvest to review where our team actually spent its time, and use the insight to make more informed decisions.
Cost: Up to 3 users for $12/month; up to 9 users for $49/month.
Web users visit pages using different browsers, different devices, and different platforms.
And if pages aren’t rendering the way you intended, the results can be costly.
To make sure everyone is seeing what you want them to see, BrowserStack lets you easily test your design and systems without having to have 46 different computers, tablets, and phones each running various operating systems.
If you want to optimize the experience for each user, experience testing is a must. The main benefit here is timesaving. It would take far too long to line up a whole bunch of devices/browsers/platforms and test them all.
Instead, BrowserStack lets you do it all at the click of a button.
Cost: Plans start at $39/month (we use the basic plan).
Every blogger and marketer has the need to throw together punchy graphics to enrich their content, quick and dirty.
But if you’re like me—impatient and terrible at design—Photoshop just seems like overkill.
Flipping from layer to layer is also a real pain in the ass.
For the lazy, the impatient, and the design-challenged, your answer is Canva.
As the review from The Webbys so aptly states, Canva is the “easiest to use design program in the world.” No argument here.
The program is free so long as you don’t use Canva’s premium imagery in your graphics. I’ve used it cost-free for quite some time. Just drag, drop, crop, resize and type without any technical bothers.
On the web, metrics rule everything, but multiple data sources can make consolidating them quite a large task.
GeckoBoard solves this problem by unifying all your data sources.
Rather than logging in at multiple locations, GeckoBoard brings everything together in a simple, easy-to-understand dashboard.
It’s easy to set up, easy to interpret, and very user-friendly. Big timesaver for us! And our Crowdvert clients love ‘em!
Cost: Plans start at $17/month
If the stick is wearing off your post-it notes, Trello can save the day.
The homepage headline pretty much tells the story: “Trello makes it easy to organize anything with anyone.”
It’s the digital version of post-it notes that you can share amongst multiple remote users. Simply and easily.
Trello makes task organization dead simple, and it’s a really quick way to build simple workflows and organize tasks.
You can also integrate Trello with Zapier to automate the entry of certain tasks. Every time we get a new Rooster lead, it’s automatically loaded into a Trello board for follow-up.
Cost: Free (there’s a paid plan, but we’ve been doing fine with the free one)
Whiteboards are great if you all work in the same office, but what about sharing ideas with remote teams?
We use Popplet to brainstorm ideas, plan projects, or just record notes between one another.
Unlike other tools like Xmind, remote users can link in and share their thoughts.
For the cost of a cup of coffee, you can save a ton of time, and make sure your ideas are made clear to all.
Sure beats trying to take a photo of a whiteboard diagram!
Cost: First few Popplets are free, $3/month afterwards.
Describing what we’re doing on computers can be frustrating. So when words fail, JoinMe can help.
If you’re holding a Skype or phone call and trying to explain something on your monitor, JoinMe will help you launch a quick screen share within 30 seconds.
Setting up a screen share is easy as sending a link to your chat partner. Show, don’t tell!
Cost: Free for individual use, plans start at $13/month/user for larger teams.
Hopefully you get value out of these tools. And if you want to suggest any awesome tools you can’t live without, drop me a comment.