Gini Dietrich

A Gigantic List of Tools for Communicators

By: Gini Dietrich | July 7, 2016 | 

A Gigantic List of Tools for CommunicatorsWhen I speak—particularly when I do my three hour CEO workshop—I offer a list of tools that everyone should at, the very least, check out.

Most are free, but there are some premium tools that we have tested and know to be effective for the types of work I recommend.

It used to be that I would hand out a sheet with a list of all of those tools and URLs, but I had an attendee make fun of me about that.

He said:

I love that you talk about digital media and then hand us a piece of paper with your recommended tools.

Truth be told, I do that because the audience for those workshops are mostly old school and appreciate that more.

(And the sheet of paper is branded so they always have my contact information.)

But I took the teasing to heart and figured this would be valuable to everyone, not just those who take that workshop.

A Gigantic List of Tools for Communicators

So here you go…a gigantic list of tools we recommend.

  1. Asana. We start off with project management software. I actually prefer Basecamp (below), but Asana is free, up to 15 people. So, if you’re just starting out with project management or if you have a small team, it’s a great tool to use.
  2. Basecamp. This is my favorite for a few reasons: You can physically check things off of a list, you can add the client to a project, you can assign projects with or without the client seeing, you can set up recurring tasks, and more. You can use one project for free and then pricing starts at $29 per month.
  3. ConvertKit. We are just beginning to test this, but from what I hear, it’s much, much better than Infusionsoft or anything else. So far, I’m really happy with it. It’s easy to use, it’s intuitive, and it seems to be pretty powerful. It costs a bit more than Mailchimp, but it’s features are more robust.
  4. Dropbox. When we moved to a virtual office, we were forced to use a server in the cloud. It was a little scary at first, mostly because no one was doing it, but I would never go back to changing tapes every night and carrying them home with me so we always had a back-up. I prefer Dropbox over anything else because, when I’m on a plane without WiFi, I can still access our files.
  5. Excel. This probably seems like a strange tool to have in here, but I recommend Excel to anyone and everyone because we all know how to use it and it’s very powerful. There are some things you just don’t need fancy software for, such as cash flow projections, communications dashboards, and tracking metrics.
  6. Facebook Live. I recommend livestreaming, in general, but I prefer Facebook because the videos are downloadable and you can save them forever. I also saw last night that they’re soon going to allow you to add other people to your videos so I can’t imagine you should use anything else.
  7. Google Alerts. It’s pretty darn easy to monitor the web, social media mentions, and blog comments with Google Alerts. All you do is enter your search term(s) and your email address and voila! You receive an email once a day that has links to the spots where your search term is mentioned.
  8. Google Analytics. It’s always a little shocking to me when I ask who reviews the analytics basics of their website and maybe a quarter of the audience raises their hands. People! How do you know what is working and what is not if you don’t review your analytics? It’s free, it’s available on every website, and it’s something that should be reviewed weekly.
  9. Google Cardboard. Right after the holidays, earlier this year, Cision sent me a Google Cardboard virtual reality headset and I have been hooked ever since. For a mere $15, you can have one too. Just download an app, directly to your phone, slide it in the back of Cardboard, and you’re in virtual reality. I always recommend it as a gift to top prospects. Brand the thing and send it out!
  10. Google Drive. Though I much prefer Dropbox for file storage, I love Drive for sharing files outside of our organization. Sure, you can do the same with Dropbox, but it seems to be a lot easier with Drive. This prevents having to send attachments via email and it prevents having to download and house the file on your hard drive.
  11. Hootsuite. This is my personal preference for social media management, though some of my team also uses Sprout Social or Buffer. If your job is not social media management, however, Hootsuite is a great tool to manage, review, monitor, and engage in one spot.
  12. HubSpot. This is the tool I recommend for anyone who is just starting out with content marketing, email automation, and lead generation. It’s not cheap (starts at $200 per month), but it’s the cheapest of anything else out there—and the best of anything in their price range.
  13. Infusionsoft. Alright, look. I hate Infusionsoft. Hate. It’s not intuitive. It’s not user friendly. Heck, you have to take five days—FIVE DAYS—of training to be able to use it. But it’s the most powerful tool on the market right now. I’m really hoping ConvertKit will replace it, but right now, it’s the best tool (once you figure out how to use it) for marketing automation, customer relationship management, and segmentation and data analysis.
  14. Insightly. This is a customer relationship management software, which I’m sure is great, but I recommend it for something else entirely. With a free account, you can upload your database and it will pump out a pretty chart that gives you all of the demographic information you could possibly want about your clients and prospects.
  15. LeadPages. I met LeadPages a year ago and I’ve never looked back. It’s a WordPress plugin that allows you to create beautiful landing pages without the help of a designer or programmer. This is a perfect tool for communicators because you now have total control. I use it for everything from webinar landing pages to blog subscription pages. I love it.
  16. Mailchimp. This is, by far, the best email marketing solution out there, if you’re just starting out. It doesn’t start to get unruly until you reach 10,000 subscribers and/or you are trying to get more information out of your subscribers, such as sales lead timing or purchase intent. Until then, it’s a perfect tool and you don’t need anything fancier.
  17. OptIn Monster. I met this tool in January and it’s, by far, the best out there. I know marketers hate pop-ups, but you’d be shocked to see our stats on how many Spin Sucks subscribers we get from this tool (I’ll share them at some point). I love it the best because it has “exit intent,” which means no one gets a pop-up until they go to leave the site.
  18. PESO Model. Of course I recommend the PESO model to everyone I meet. It’s the only way to truly integrate a communications program and measure its effectiveness today.
  19. Postmatic. If you’ve ever commented on this blog, you already know Postmatic. It’s the commenting system we use. But it’s more than that. For readers, it allows you to comment on and engage with other readers right from your inbox. You never have to go to the blog (unless you want to). For publishers, it gives you control of your readers. With every other commenting system, they keep the email addresses of the people who comment. With Postmatic, the email addresses are all right in your admin area.
  20. Pulse. Look, if you’re not using LinkedIn Pulse, there is something wrong with you. It is the most powerful sales tool out there. This is because you can post content and LinkedIn gives you the information about who is liking and commenting. If they are second or third connections, you suddenly have yourself a warm lead.
  21. Samcart. This is the shopping cart we use and I recommend it to everyone because it integrates with the tools you’re already using and it’s ridiculously easy to set up. It’s very intuitive and user friendly so, if you sell something online, start here.
  22. Sanebox. It’s no secret I am in love with Sanebox. I mean, I wrote an entire blog post about it. There is almost nothing better than going from 400 emails a day to maybe—maybe—30. Life got a lot less stressful for me when I installed this and, because I’m diligent about constantly training it, it’s been very, very good to me.
  23. Slack. Our professional lives at Spin Sucks changed dramatically when we started using Slack. It completely replaced email and has allowed us to build a water cooler, virtually. As the leader, though, I love it because I can see the conversations that are happening around client work—stuff I didn’t see before because I either wasn’t copied on emails (thankfully) or I wasn’t in the client meetings. It allows me to keep an eye on things without micromanaging or stepping in at all.
  24. Talkwalker Alerts. This is a Google Alerts alternative and I prefer it. It seems to bring back much better results and it hooks into Hootsuite so I can have the alerts go there versus showing up in my inbox. And, because they’re in Hootsuite, it’s easy for me to schedule and share right from there.
  25. WebinarNinja. I’m really intrigued by these Google Hangout webinar overlays, but I don’t really love that they’re reliant on the tool (WebinarJam is a good example of this). WebinarNinja recently moved to WebRTC, which means it’s not reliant on Hangouts and there isn’t a Google watermark on everything. We recently moved to it for both monthly and evergreen webinars.
  26. WordPress. What the heck did we do without WordPress? It’s, hands down, the best content management system out there. Of course, it also gives you way too much power…our developer always makes fun of me because I’ve built Spin Sucks on plugins inside WordPress. It’ll probably all come tumbling down at some point, but we have a redo on the books later this year. It works for now!
  27. Zoom. And we end with my most favorite tool of all—video conferencing. They assign you a number (which is akin to a phone number) and you can hold all of your meetings in that one spot. While it doesn’t replace the in-person meetings, it comes awfully close. Just last week, Corina Manea and I spent a little more than an hour brainstorming, and it was as if she was sitting on the other side of my desk…even though she’s all the way in Spain. Even if you work in an office, this tool is one everyone should have in their bucket.

Depending on the audience, I also recommend Medium for repurposing blog content and Zapier for hooking websites or apps together (for instance, if someone subscribes to Spin Sucks through OptIn Monster, we have a zap that brings them into Postmatic).

So there you have it.

A gigantic list of tools for you to use.

What’s on your list?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She also has run, built, and grown an agency for the past 14 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.