image credit: aiiapromogifts/pixabay
Even if you've got an inbound marketing dream team (or a rad agency) in your corner, you still likely have some room for improvement. That's where productivity tools come in, which include nifty platforms and apps for collaboration, project management, and more. You could be amazed at just how much more effective you become with tools to improve transparency, communications, and processes.
One of the top tools we have recently stumbled upon for internal HR help is Clockspot:
Clockspot is payroll software that does it all. It’s hosted on the web, so no additional hardware or software installations are required. It allows employees to clock in and clock out from anywhere, using any device; it has task delegation capabilities; it tracks employee attendance, absences, and vacation/sick day accruals; and handles job cost calculations and payroll accuracy with the greatest of ease.
There are dozens of productivity options available for every aspect of an inbound marketer's daily flow, from social media posting to calendar management. This list is far from an exhaustive overview of productivity tool options, but it's enough to give tool newbies a running start. If your marketing New Year's resolutions include goals to get a little more done each day, you're in the right place. Join us as we review some of the coolest technologies to boost your get-it-done factor, including a few that are favorites here at Sea Monster Marketing.
It's pretty hard to make documenting your team's standard operating procedures sound exciting. But trust us -- it's pretty important, and SweetProcess is one of the better ways to accomplish just that. Documenting your approach to publishing blogs, listing tasks in Basecamp, or promoting campaigns can help your company scale as you onboard new employees or coworkers. SweetProcess serves just one purpose, which is helping you easily document the "right" way to do things, and share your knowledge with your team.
There's a reason that Basecamp is one of the most popular project management tools for marketing agencies and inbound teams. It's super-easy to use and maintain. New users have virtually no learning curve before they're ready to start adding and checking off tasks. You can build templates for tasks that repeat regularly (like blogging or social media). Basecamp even allows you to give clients or management limited access for approving deliverables.
If you're serious about project management, Teamwork may be the productivity tool of your dreams. Personally, I've used no fewer than five project management solutions in my career. Teamwork PM is right for teams who need something a little heavier than Basecamp or Trello, because it offers some advanced customization options, like dependencies. However, it's not quite as industrial-strength as Atlassian Jira, which is built for large-scale software development projects. Perhaps Basecamp is your happy middle-ground for project management software.
Inbound marketers deal with massive volumes of information on a daily basis, which is why notetaking apps are basically a necessity. Evernote is among the most popular since it offers diverse features and mobile accessibility. Use this tool to curate content, gather resources for blogs, record your speech for voice-to-text transcription, and build out to-do lists. Perhaps best of all, basic Evernote is free!
For marketers with minimalist inclinations, Wunderlist could be exactly the right amount of tool. This simple app allows users to create lists and share their lists with others. It probably can't be the only productivity tool in your inbound marketing portfolio, but it's just the ticket for certain actions (like sharing campaign or blog ideas with your boss).
6. Tomato Timer
If you haven't tried the Pomodoro technique, make it your single takeaway from this blog. Trust me, it can be positively life changing. It's the process of working in short, agile bursts of 25 minutes. Between each work section, you take a scheduled 5-15 minute break. The Pomodoro technique can seriously boost your productivity, while preventing mental fatigue and burnout.
Tomato Timer is a free, simple web-based timer for Pomodoro users. It's also one of the first tabs I open each time I sit down to knock out some marketing work.
If you're anything like most inbound marketers, you're not a certified public accountant. Freshbooks is a remarkable substitute for tons of invoicing knowledge. Once you get set up, it's really simple to send professional-looking, itemized invoices to your clients. I can also attest from personal experience that their customer support is excellent if you run into any snags while using this product.
There's quite a few compelling reasons to start tracking your time as an individual or marketing team. You can understand where you're excelling and where there's room for improvement. It simplifies monthly billing, invoicing, and project planning. Finally, it can engineer accountability and transparency into your marketing processes.
Toggl is a free online time tracker, which allows users to track time within tidy categories or projects. Just a $5 per month upgrade per user allows access to premium features.
It's a bit hard to simply describe IFTTT, but it may be easiest to think of it as a substitute for the knowledge and time to write lots of custom code. This app connects various aspects of your life, like social media and your calendar, and allows you to create "recipes" about how you want your mobile device to behave accordingly.
For example, perhaps you want your phone notifications automatically silenced every time an event pops up on your calendar that says "meeting." Or maybe you prefer to send calls straight to voicemail during 8am-9am every morning when you check emails and plan your day. Regardless of how you choose to manage your platforms and devices, IFTTT is the glue for automating what you need.
With a product motto of "be less busy," Slack is an internal communication platform that could slay your email inbox. This chat platform facilitates topical discussions and "rooms" within a team, integrates with Google Drive for easy file sharing, and can generally shave time off communications in great ways.
11. Sunrise Calendar
Sunrise Calendar is a Google calendar and iCloud extension made for mobile devices and desktops. It can seamlessly integrate your calendar with a host of project management tools and apps, including Evernote and Google calendar, to ensure your schedule is always complete and up-to-date. It even allows clients or team members to schedule one-on-one meetings from your available time slots. For many sales representatives, account managers, and team leaders, Sunrise Calendar is a must.
Edgar is one of many social media management tools available to marketers, but it's productivity-driven nature makes it worth a mention. As you curate and uncover content on the go, it's easy to upload it into Edgar under categories like "curated blog links" or "inspiring business quotations." When you go to schedule social updates, it's easy to direct Edgar to pull from a category of your choice, and publish within a given time slot.
For basic social media and blog graphics, sending an assignment to a graphic designer isn't always the most efficient. Fortunately, even marketers without advanced technology skills can get started in Canva in minutes. The tool is typically free, particularly if you rely on your own photos or open source images.
Inspiring quotations overlaid over beautiful photos is a basic recipe for shareable social media updates. Wordswag allows users to add text to photos in seconds, and their typography options are cool enough to please even the pickiest font nerds.
Buffer's content curation tool was widely described as "tinder for content" when it was released earlier this year. For social media managers, content managers, and anyone else whose job requires a high volume of content creation, it can be a game-changer. After downloading the app, users simply set categories. On a daily basis, they can either "like" or "dislike" high-quality content recommendations, and save their favorites for posting later.
Remote and distributed marketing teams may need an integration solution for project management, discussion, file-sharing and collaboration. Enter Wrike. This all-in-one productivity tool strives to be a "command center" for team leaders. It looks a bit like the child of Facebook and Basecamp, and encourages social discussion of project concepts, and deliverables.
There's really no substitute for a professional copy editor. However, Grammarly can make your editor's job a lot easier. This advanced spelling and grammar-checker catches up to ten times more errors than your average word processor's spellcheck tool. It's definitely worth the investment!
Ultimately, the best productivity tools for marketers are the ones that you want to use again and again. A project management or notetaking tool that's immediately abandoned by the majority of your team won't lead to better collaboration. By picking solutions that are fun and easy-to-use, you can achieve your marketing productivity goals.
BONUS ADDITION: HubStaff
(NOTE: After this post was written, we stumbled upon the folks at Hubstaff and just HAD to highlight what they are doing!)
One of the biggest requirements when setting up a remote team, is not just the ability to manage workers time and productivity levels effectively, but also to get value for money, by only paying for time worked. The fundamental purpose of Hubstaff’s teamwork projects time tracking software, is to give you the facilities to achieve these goals.
It gives you the ability to instantly view real-time and historic activity levels and pull up screenshots of work done. You can take these screenshots using the app, at designated points in time, so you can get a very accurate picture of how someone is performing individually, so that you can view this in the context of a team dynamic.
The time tracking software has been specifically designed to not just make time tracking as easy as possible, but to also provide you with the ability to produce timesheets, generate automated reports and pay workers, as seamlessly and easily as possible. You can read more and find further information at Hubstaff.com
What productivity tools power your inbound marketing? Share your all-time favorites in the comments!