When 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.
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 also, there is no in-person speaking right now so I can’t physically hand them anything anymore.)
But I took the teasing to heart and figured this would be valuable to everyone, not just for those who take that workshop.
A Gigantic List of Tools for Communicators
So here you go…a gigantic list of tools for every need you might have. Not that you have to use them all (please don’t use them all!). Rather, this gives you lot of options to consider.
- ActiveCampaign. This is what we use for marketing automation. It has worked really well for us for the past few years, but I don’t like that I have to have a separate CRM. They claim to have a CRM, but trust me when I say, they don’t. Other than that, it works great.
- AgoraPulse. I participated in their big virtual summit a few months ago and was super impressed with every bit of working with them. Because of that, we started using it for a client’s social media publishing, listening, and commenting/engaging. It’s a really nice all-in-one platform that is reliable and effective.
- Answer the Public. This is another one that I have always, always loved. I loved the guy picking his teeth on one of their early website iterations and I love the question-type searching you can do. Last month, I participated in a webinar for them and learned about their alerts and I’m more in love. It’s fantastic and you should try it out.
- Asana. I don’t love Asana, but there are lots and lots of people who do. 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.
- 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.
- Brandwatch. You’ll probably find all of the social listening tools in this article a bit too much. But I use them all for different reasons and they all provide useful data. I love Brandwatch for the email alerts that make it crazy easy to lie in bed at 5 a.m. and figure out how my day is going to go.
- Buzzsumo. I’ve long been a Buzzsumo fan for blogger relations and influencer tracking. Plus, you can now get Facebook insights and to get content ideas.
- CoSchedule. It’s no secret I love CoSchedule. I asked it to marry me (it said yes) because I love it so much. It’s a complete tool for editorial, social media, and marketing project management. If you were to use just one tool, this would be it. Add on marketing automation (with CRM) and WordPress for content management and you’re set.
- 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.
- Evernote. I have never been a fan of Evernote because I’m tactile and I need to write things down with pen and paper. But I am definitely in the minority. Check it out if you need to file notes, keep notes, take notes, and digitize notes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Google Data Studio. This is mecca. When you use Supermetrics to combine everything (analytics, CRM, email, social, etc) into one place, you can merge it into Data Studio and build beautiful reports, provide your executives with access, and let data help inform your decisions.
- 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.
- LeadPages. LeadPages is 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.
- 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.
- Moz. There are lots of options for keyword research and building content (SEMRush is another), but Moz is my favorite. It’s easy-to-use, the interface makes sense, and their education is top-notch.
- OptIn Monster. I met this tool a few years ago 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.
- 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. And now, with the help of Syracuse University, you can get certified in the process and prove, once and for all, how the work you do contributes to the organizations goals.
- Pipedrive. Personally, I use Nutshell for CRM (which is OK), but every agency owner client I work with uses Pipedrive. That alone, is worth checking it out.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sanebox. It’s no secret I am in love with Sanebox. I mean, I wrote an entire blog post about it. I also was just interviewed by their team. I love this tool! 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.
- SharpSpring. I’ve recently been introduced to SharpSpring and I have to say, I’m super impressed. I’m not using it yet (mostly because transferring all of our data over there is going to be a massive undertaking), but I love that you can do all of your marketing automation, build landing pages, create opt-ins, track leads, track analytics, and more. All in one spot! They primarily work with agencies and their pricing is crazy inexpensive, especially when you consider how much you spend on all of what it will do, separately.
- 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.
- Superhuman. It may seem a bit silly to have two tools sitting on top of your email, but trust me, you need both. Superhuman allows you to have shortcuts to manage your inbox. With the click of one button, I can pretty much do anything—move to a client’s folder, delete, save, send, send later (one of my faves), and my most favorite—remind me later. I use that command constantly. People will say, “How did you remember that?” It’s my photographic memory! (Or it’s the reminder command in Superhuman.)
- 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.
- 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 it works for now!
- 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. You also can use it for webinars and for podcasting, which I love.
Depending on the audience, I also recommend Medium for repurposing blog content and Zapier for hooking websites or apps together.
So there you have it.
A gigantic list of tools for you to use.
What’s on your list? If you comment below, I’ll update this list so it becomes even more gigantic.