April is Stress Awareness Month, and if there is one thing that reduces stress in the workplace for us, it’s being organised! Since Freelance SEO Essex took its first baby steps five years ago, we have tried and tested just about every online tool that has promised to streamline our workflows and improve productivity.
Some of these tools are specifically for digital marketing, while others provide invaluable support for all business types. So, whether you’re just starting out, or have been running your own business for a few years and now feel swamped and stressed with all the chaos around you, April is a good month to get organised and cut out that workplace stress! In no particular order, here are some of the online tools that we’ve stumbled across through the years that can bring extra value to your operations. Many of these can provide excellent cost savings and can help you enhance the way you do business.
The SEO tool industry is huge and you can easily blow your annual software budget on SEO tools alone. Over the years, we have ditched a fair few tools that failed to show adequate time-management hacks. These are the ones that survived:
SEMRush provides a wealth of digital marketing data about any website. You can quickly see if a website is performing well either in organic search or paid search. You can use this tool to quickly assess the health of websites and set out a preliminary optimisation plan.
The importance of links has declined in recent years, but they are still a vital part of the search engine ecosystem. Majestic is the best tool for gathering and analysing any website’s backlink data. When we speak to a new client, this is one of the first tools we fire up, as it will tell us how active they have already been with regards to their online marketing.
Communication is the key to success in any business, and these tools will be familiar to most of you already. For email, MS Outlook and Gmail, are great – both of these provide cloud based email access so colleagues can work from any location. Gmail is mostly used when collaborating on Google Sheets and Docs.
MailChimp is the best tool for email marketing. It’s very user friendly and provides a selection of professional looking email templates, and is also free for the first 2500 email subscribers, so is perfect for small businesses that are just starting out.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool. From one online interface, it’s possible to publish across a wide range of social media platforms. It also allows you to schedule posts, monitor engagement, analyse traffic and follow trends. This is a great tool for managing multiple social media profiles.
CRM and Workflows
Businesses will typically use Google Sheets and Excel to manage their daily workloads. Client database and workflow management can be more efficiently handled via Insightly. Insightly is another tool which is free for individuals and very reasonably priced for small teams. It allows tasks to be allocated to team members and updated, which ensures nothing is forgotten. It also provides a customer database, and all customers can be linked to assignments.
Money – it is ultimately what makes or breaks every business! The key is to use great team of accountants and make use of online banking to process many payments, but you can also make use of PayPal for all international payments. BACS is fine for UK transactions, but when ordering digital services from overseas, PayPal is the easiest and safest method.
To help reduce the stress incurred on your accountants, perhaps you could use Quickbooks to manage invoicing, process receipts and business expenses, and for managing payroll and VAT? It has a handy mobile app that allows us to keep accounts updated from any location.
The technology that supports small business is evolving rapidly and it is likely that if you ask any company in another five years what products they are using, many of these tools listed here will be replaced. The most resilient products are often the simplest, so the likes of Outlook and spreadsheets will probably be with us for decades to come, but all the other tools are subject to change over time.
When choosing tools for your own business, always make use of the free trials on offer and test as many as possible before settling on a few that will enhance your business the most. So long as you only pay for tools that pay for themselves, your business will be healthier, and you will feel far less stretched!