by: Braidyn Browning
Small to medium size businesses may use completely different workflow tools but in general, the most effective tools are going to be online project management tools. There are a few old school ways to keep on track such as physical lists, calendars, etc. but we often find you simply can’t beat the offers and technological advances available online today.
In order to properly explain what each tool is used for, we’ve broken them down into functionalities. In each section below, you will be able to read up on our areas of need and what tools we use to cater to those needs:
Every project fulfillment agency needs a means of tracking tasks, projects and deadlines. We currently use Smartsheet to fulfill this area of need.
This tool allows you to organize, prioritize and assign every part of task. It is also a collaborative tool so mass quantities of team members have the ability to collaborate and work together on to do items. You can add comments, update completion percentages and re-assign items to let your teammates know how tasks are coming along.
We also heavily lean on Google Drive to assist in project management. With its seamless collaboration features, keeping the entire team up to date and on track is easier than ever.
Many companies use the age old “drive” to save their files company wide. This means something different for everyone but it generally means that employees must be logged in to a Virtual Private Network or VPN in order to access their work files. Honestly, it can be a hassle and using a VPN comes with it’s own set of issues and costs.
We utilize Google Suite Software such as Google Mail, calendars, docs, sheets and Google Drive. Google Drive is a life saver when it comes to collaboration, auto saving changes and sharing files. Google Sheets allows for you to make comments, edits, highlight and suggest changes for other collaborators to review. Everything you do is automatically saved so there’s no more stress about computer malfunctions or loss of WIFI connection. The best part? You can access all of from the internet (anywhere in the world). The google suite allows for users to interact and work together in real time.
Bonus Recommendation: We also recommend DropBox or Microsoft 365.
DropBox is an old school storage tool which also offers both a paid and free version of their tool. Much like Google Drive, this tool allows you to collaborate and share files with team members.
Microsoft Office 365 is extremely common among PC users. The software suite is an umbrella for many additional tools such as the Microsoft Office Suite, Cloud based software, Skype for Business and much more.
Many corporations rely on a mix of emails and softwares such as Skype to fill out their communications needs. At our company, we utilize a mix of emails and the software, Slack.
We often find that email works well for info that needs to be keep long term or for conversations that need to be tracked. However, Slack tends to work the best for quick Q&A or updates. The tool runs anywhere from free to $12.50 per month, per user.
Bonus Recommendation: Zoho Cliq
Many PC users may be familiar with Skype and Google Hangouts. Both offer free features for phone calls, video calls and group chat. Upgrade to the Business version for added features and capabilities.
Every company large and small will ultimately need to find a means for securely storing sensitive information such as login credentials. Large corporations will have various ways of providing access to sensitive information. For smaller businesses, it needs to be much more simple than that.
We have found that LastPass works well for us in this area. The online resource allows for the master user to add on team members and give access as they see fit. In addition, the tool offers a convenient quick “launch” feature which takes you directly to the desired website/location with the credentials already filled out. We have saved Last Pass as a shortcut in our Google Toolbar so logging in to any type of website or software is as simple as a few clicks. The tools runs for an affordable $48 per year.
Bonus Recommendations: Our top alternatives for password management and security are Dashline, Enpass (which runs anywhere from free to $10 per month) and PassPack (which runs anywhere from $18 to $480 per year).
Content management is another key factor of business that varies widely based on company needs, preferences and budget. For us, Webflow is a clear cut choice for our content management needs.
Webflow brings something different to the table and offers user friendly features for everyone. For Business Owners, Webflow offers seamless design and quality content editing tools. For marketers at large, using webflow means you can operate your site on your own without relying on developers to assist you with your every move. The tool ranges from free to $420 per year.
Bonus Recommendations: If you are interested in finding alternative tools, we recommend you consider any of the below:
Data Driven Decision Making
In a marketer’s world, anything we do begins with the data. It is the roadmap we follow. Always, ALWAYS follow the data. In order to do this, companies need to establish what tools give them the best bang for their buck. Some tools offer free insights but do not dig in to the data far enough. Although we utilize a free tool or two in our daily operations, we decided this one was worth the money.
One of the tools we use regularly is Google Analytics. The online tool offers both free and paid versions. The nice thing about using this tool is you get to determine how deep your relationship goes. You don’t have to host your website through google in order to use the tool and YOU get to decide if the free tools (which gives info on items such as visitors, bounces, etc.) are enough for your needs or if you want to kick it up a notch with the paid version. We often use this tool for driving decisions and analyzing data pertaining to our websites. But what about other forms of data driven decisions?
Keyword research is key in developing any form of marketing strategy. For this, we use SEMrush. The tools offers a slew of features including organic and paid search results, backlink info, deeper analytics, site auditing, social reporting and much more.
You CAN utilize the free version of this software but we highly advise our fellow marketers to look into the paid version. If you have multiple clients/website management projects SEMRush is a must have tool for formulating strategy and tracking performance across multiple websites. The price for paid versions of SEMrush can range anywhere from $99/month to $399/month.
If you are interested in researching various tools, we highly recommend the below:
As we always say, what works will be different for everyone but these online marketing tools have performed time and time again for us. We hope you take some time to test out these workflow tools and find the best solution for your business.