In the digital era we live in, new tools hit the market so fast it's nearly impossible to keep track.
Some are incredibly useful, and some—not so much. You need tools that make your work more efficient, not complicated software with a steep learning curve and features you'll never use.
These seven tools are useful, easy to use and designed to save time, and can help boost your marketing without much extra effort or simply make life easier.
1. Digital Documents: CudaSign
CudaSign is a legally binding digital document signing service. Use it to create contracts and agreements and send them to recipients. The program integrates with Google, Salesforce, Office365 and other apps for convenient creation, storage and sending. Or pull up templates on your tablet or laptop to complete and sign in the field.
Image via CudaSign
Cost: $1 per user, per month for the basic service or a whopping $9 per month (with a minimum of 10 users) for all the bells and whistles (integrations, branding, bulk sending and more)
Why you need it: It's long past time to say goodbye to paper documentation. Paper is shockingly costly and inefficient. It's not easily searchable, it takes up valuable physical space, and misfiling can really eat up your day. Electronic documents are the only answer that makes sense. Storing them in the cloud means you can access a contract or agreement wherever you are, and your assistant can do more meaningful work than spelunking the filing system.
2. Plagiarism Detector: Unplag
Unplag is a similarity detection engine that helps you avoid legal complications by checking for duplicate text—and also helps keep your content from being ripped off. Unlike most other anti-plagiarism tools, Unplag is not strictly cut-and-paste blocks of text.
You can upload documents in almost any format (.pdf, .rtf, .doc, .docx, .html, .txt) to be scanned and compared to each other and to everything online.You can paste in text or upload several documents at a time to be checked against billions of pages online in just four seconds per page. The program scans for similarities without changes in formatting.
Custom solutions and integration with LMS, CRM or CMS are available on demand.
Cost: If you choose to pay monthly, it's $9.97 per month. Paying by the year drops the cost $4.99 per month, or $6.98 for a quarterly payment. Custom corporate solutions are priced separately.
Why you need it: You already know how important content marketing is today, and producing enough quality content to boost your rank and attract customers can be a real challenge for any business. But you may not know that plagiarized content can hurt your website ranking even if you're not the culprit. A drop in search engine page means a drop in revenue. Who can afford that?
Related Article: Content Marketing: 5 Tips for Better Brand Content
3. Auto-Tasking: Zapier
Zapier lets you automate all kinds of tasks between programs to help your workflow. For example, you can set an alert (or “zap”) to alert a salesperson immediately when a form is submitted, and another to add the information to a spreadsheet or to your CRM for followup.
Image via Zapier
Cost: Free for 5 zaps per month (up to 100 repeats) with various paid plans from $20 (20 Zaps, 3000 repeats) to $125 per month (125 Zaps, 50,000 repeats). Each tier adds extra features in addition to more task automation.
Why you need it: Fast response means more revenue. It's that simple. You know how easy it is to drop a ball, miss a meeting, forget to return a phone call on a busy day. Zapier helps keep you and your staff on task.
4. Marketing Automation: Drip
Drip calls itself “lightweight marketing automation that doesn’t suck,” and it's pretty impressive. Automatic emails can be triggered by actions, such as clicking a certain link or opening an email and site visitors are tracked from first visit to the end of time. Every email action (or non-action), every click, every conversion.
Unlike most other automated email programs, you can use Drip for A/B split testing. To make your life even easier, you can integrate Drip with a whole host of other programs.
Cost: Plans start at $49 per month to $149 per month and upwards for custom plans calculated on email volume and frequency.
Why you need it: When properly nurtured, your email list is the most valuable sales commodity you own. Drip helps you respond in a meaningful way when customers interact with your email or your website and offers valuable insight into customer behavior with their tracking features. Ease of use and extra features make Drip stand out from the crowd.
5. Custom App Ceator: DWNLD
DWNLD helps you create custom business apps without any programming experience. Easy to use design tools help you make your app look slick and professional. No design team, no coding and not a lot of time necessary. DWNLD will automagically import your web content into your app, and just like that, your website is an app. They call it “Instant Appification.”
No existing content? No problem. Use DWNLD's powerful CMS to publish blog posts on the fly. You customize the look and layout, then publish it to the appropriate app store (iOS or Android) with one click. Other premium features include analytics, push notifications to send messages directly to users and in-app comments for chat and Q&A. Near future upgrades will add eCommerce to the feature lineup.
Want to see some apps in action? Check out a few of the hundreds available on iTunes.
Image via DWNLD
Cost: $0 for limited features with built-in ads on iOS only. Standard premium pricing is $15 per month, and they plan to set a price for a Pro package soon.
Why you need it: Last year, app usage accounted for 52 percent of all web traffic. If your website is not adapted for mobile, you are missing out in a big way. While developing a custom app can cost a small fortune, DWLD gives you the power of a mobile app for peanuts and in seconds. What's more, you can add a new revenue stream by opting to display ads, charging to download your app or offering gated premium content for a subscription fees.
Related Article: Should Your Business Consider Developing an App?
6. In-House Communication: Slack
Slack is a searchable communication tool that's become insanely popular in the business world. More than just a chat client, it provides a collaboration platform where users can share files and work together in a shared space with other team members. Whimsical details, like a colorful interface and a personable bot that sends lighthearted reminders, set Slack apart from competitors. To add to its functionality, Slack integrates effortlessly with other popular software, including Dropbox, Google Drive and MailChimp and is available for any device.
Cost: $0 for the basic service with 5GB storage, 5 integrations and a searchable archive up to 10k messages. Premium plans start at $6.67 per month (billed annually) and go up to $12.50 with a new enterprise plan available soon for $48 per user per month.
Why you need it: Most communications solutions fall short. They aren't searchable, they're complicated or they offer limited features. Slack is as easy to use as a social medium, within a secure environment. It would even be useful as a time-saving in-house application. Teams can easily communicate from desk to desk or across continents.
7. Graphic Design: Canva
Canva is the easiest graphic design tool you'll ever find. Hundreds of professionally-designed layouts, style elements, font combinations, and images make anyone look like a professional designer in minutes. Use it to create everything from Facebook post graphics to banner ads to business cards. Drag-and-drop elements, change colors, sizes and fonts and change layers for easy customization. Canva stores all your past designs online, in case you need them again.
Image via Canva
Cost: Free with basic elements or graphics you supply, or you can opt to buy premium elements for $1 each.
Why you need it: Canva solves a problem every business runs into and few small businesses can afford, the need for graphic design. Create flyers and other advertising materials, attach branded graphics to tweets and posts, spiff up your website, or make eye-catching announcements—free, in minutes and with no knowledge of design.
Getting things done efficiently isn't always easy, and complicated tools often make things more difficult. Don't be afraid to ditch complicated tools and try something new. Make your life easier and more profitable with these 7 hot new tools.
What are your favorite timesaving or money-making tools? Let me know!