Article written by Optimise and Grow Online
I often get asked what programs and apps I use to help me run my business productively. Clients and colleagues regularly comment on how they see me all over the internet and want to know HOW I do it all without burning out.
So I wanted to share with you the programs and apps I use day-to-day to run my business efficiently and effectively. I’d love to know what programs you use too, so drop me a line in the comments to share your must-have business apps for streamlining operations and increasing productivity.
My Must-Have Business Apps for Streamlining Productivity & Marketing
Need I say more? I mean what can’t this platform do? It’s the ultimate in functionality, usability and design WordPress is my go to for building online business hubs, stores, and sales opportunities.
I have a list of go-to free WordPress plugins too that I use on the majority of client sites (as well as my own).
I use Asana as my online to-do list, project management tool, and team communications. I can access via desktop or mobile (which is very handy if I get a burst of ideas when I am out and about) and the interface is really easy to use.
Lately it has proved very useful in mapping out launches within teams.
Google Drive (free)
Google Drive is great for easily creating documents to share within teams or with clients. I use Google Drive to create all of my branded training presentation slides, content marketing planners, and campaign performance tracking spreadsheets. I also like the fact that I can access Google Drive documents on my mobile devices.
Canva (free, although I use the paid version)
Canva is an amazing online tool to quickly and easily create visually appealing graphics. The export options available enable me to use Canva for both pre-press print projects as well as designs for social media and websites.
Canva has a template feature so that I can create, for example, social media designs for clients that they can replicate time and again to stay “on brand”.
Canva is easy to use for any novice with no design knowledge through to the skilled designer who just needs to whip something together real quick.
I use the paid version of Canva to enable use of custom fonts and ability to export png files with transparent backgrounds (important in many web designs).
QuickBooks Online (from $12/month)
QuickBooks Online is a great little accounting app . I personally love it because it integrates easily with my bank accounts, with Asana, Acuity & Google Analytics!
I can access QuickBooks from desktop or phone and the interface is easy to use, especially for a small business like mine with no inventory. And as a stats & analytics geek, I love the reporting features and progress graphs. Definitely helps me know at a glance where I am at and how I am tracking against my business goals.
I started out using HubSpot Lead Forms on my website and I liked the ease of setup, however I’ve found the greatest benefit to the free app is an automatically filled client database and the ability to easily see what landing page prompted the lead and how the contact came to be on the website in the first place.
The HubSpot CRM ha a number of great features that I haven’t fully utilised yet but I can see how they will be of benefit as my business grows.
A few years back I had one of those hold-your-breath-oh-my-gosh moments when my business computer died and took all of the important files along with it. Following that I sought out a cloud-based solution (as many of these favourite apps & programs are) to keep my data secure and accessible – no matter what happened to the computer I use.
SugarSync is comparable to DropBox. It’s accessible on any device, and files automatically sync between devices. There is automatic back-ups and the ability to restore deleted items.
Yoast SEO (free)
This is a must-have tool for me. Every website I work on has this plugin activated and utilised to ensure maximum optimisation for search presence.
Yoast SEO is an easy to use and free WordPress plugin is great for beginner to experienced – it’s not the be-all-and-end-all for SEO but it is an amazingly helpful tool to get the basics covered. It even has built-in optimisation hints to help users optimise their pages for search presence.
Google Analytics (free)
Another must-have app for me. The insights available in Google Analytics are so valuable to any business owner. I use this app weekly-monthly depending on the client to find out what’s working and what’s not marketing wise, and to uncover hidden growth potential.
It can be intimidating to start as there are SO MANY OPTIONS and reports available. If you find it overwhelming, download my guide to Top 10 Performance Indicators To Monitor In Google Analytics.
Google Search Console (free)
Search Console is a great way to stay on top of any major issues with your site (like broken links) and get insights into your search performance. It can also be used to instruct Google to crawl any page of your site for faster indexing of new content.
I like to use Search Console to see how sites are ranking, effects of any algorithm updates, and get a basic overview of keyword trends.
Acuity Scheduling (from $10/month)
Acuity booking app has quickly become a key player in my business. I love it because it’s easy to use and integrates with everything. I integrate Acuity with my accounting software, payment processors and email marketing platform, and auto-sync with my Google calendar.
Bonus features that I now cannot live without include the ability for clients to book using the automatic time-zone converter, auto-debiting payment plan options for packages and programs, and aesthetically pleasing design that can be easily embedded in any website.
Mailchimp is a great platform for getting started with email marketing. The free version of Mailchimp now includes automations. There is also the ability to run lead generating Facebook Ads straight from your Mailchimp dashboard. I currently use Mailchimp to automate sending of free resources from my website, and scheduling the 5 Day Online Marketing Overhaul.
The drag and drop editor is great. The ability to schedule campaigns in advance is also a feature I use regularly. Mailchimp integrations with social media and websites are easy to setup too.
There is quite a lot you can do with the free version of Mailchimp, if you know your way around.
PDF2JPG & PDFescape (free)
Bulk Resize Photos
Bulk Resize Photos is a handy little website ideal for downsizing photos and images ready for uploading onto a website.
I use PostCron as a simple way to schedule content across multiple social platforms including Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.
The duplicate feature alone saves a bunch of time in content creation and promoting content effectively.
I now use Zoom as my preferred platform for client meetings and training calls as the connection and features are a lot more applicable to my business as opposed to Skype.
There is a free version of Zoom which is also great, but I use the paid version so that when a client books a meeting with me, the integration with Acuity automatically sets up a meeting room link and emails it to the client. I’ve saved so much time with this feature alone. It’s also a great platform for screen-sharing and recording which I use to demonstrate processes to clients.
Social Media (free)
So as you can see from this list, the 3 key features I look for in business apps to streamline business operations and content marketing are:
- Ease of integration
- Access from any device
- Easy to use interface