29 Online Business Tools Perfect for Beginners, Experts, and Everyone In-between
We would never dream of suggesting that Edgar is a high-maintenance fella. (Especially because we’re pretty sure he reads these posts.) But we will say that keeping him happy and running smoothly takes more than just elbow grease!
Everyone on Team Edgar, from development to writing to customer service to management and more, depends on certain tools of the trade to do their job – and today, we thought we’d give you a close look at just what some of those tools are!
So, what are some of our favorite business tools for managing a business online?
The online tools that keep Edgar working (and keep Team Edgar sane)
First things first – some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase, we may receive a referral fee (and in certain cases, you actually score a discount yourself). We have strong feelings about honesty and affiliate links, so we never recommend something that we don’t actually use and love. (That would be silly.) If it’s on this list, it’s because we genuinely think it’s amazing, and that our readers would love it, too.
If you want to know more about your customers and how they’re interacting with your site, KISSmetrics can tell you. It’ll set you up with all kinds of data, like customer behavior and retention, your marketing’s conversion rates and ROI, A/B testing results, and more.
Google Analytics is a free stats/data service that provides detailed information about your web traffic. Among other things, we use it for monitoring our blog traffic – where visitors are coming from, which posts are the most popular, and so on.
This sweet little CRM system hooks up with your Stripe account to provide you with all kinds of valuable customer insights. From monitoring at-risk users to tracking the performance of different segments, this thing keeps an eye on important information so you don’t have to.
Want real-time sales information and handy dandy long-term revenue stats? ProfitWell is how we track things like MRR, retention, and growth – perfect for seeing the actual results of all your hard work, all in one place.
WordPress is the gold standard for building a website or a blog, and with good reason. With tons of free and paid themes to choose from, reliable support, compatibility with countless plugins, and a massive community of users, WordPress is the platform you want, plain and simple.
You don’t have to be an SEO expert to optimize your website. Yoast offers both free and premium plugins that make SEO manageable regardless of experience, so the posts you write are easier for people to discover than ever.
Integrating images in your dev is way easier with Cloudinary. Fast and versatile with built-in image manipulation tools, it cuts way back on time and headaches.
You don’t want to be the last to know when something isn’t working. PagerDuty alerts you when something gets busted, so you can be quick with the fix instead of letting it go unnoticed (or noticed by everyone except you).
Edgar’s built using Ruby, but Code Climate provides automated code review for other languages, too. If you’ve ever felt nervous before a deploy, this can help give you some much-needed peace of mind.
Welcome to Edgar’s humble abode. He lives on Heroku, which provides a secure and loving cloud-based home to him and plenty of other apps, too.
Email and Customer Service
If you receive our weekly newsletter, you’ve seen a little of what MailChimp can do. We use it to build and manage almost all of our major email campaigns – not just because it’s immensely user-friendly, but because it provides you with all the data (like open rates) you could possibly dream of. And hey – who doesn’t love monkeys?
(Also, check out Mandrill for managing transactional emails.)
A little more app-centric, Intercom is perfect for automatically sending your users messages that are triggered by certain actions. An absolute lifesaver for apps and SaaS products!
Ever see one of those little livechat dealies pop up on someone’s website? (Like ours?) SnapEngage will put one on yours, too – it’s a great way to keep in touch with visitors and answer their questions live while they’re on your site! (This link will set you up with a free trial.)
If you want to provide reliable customer service, you’ve gotta stay organized. Whether you manage your CS alone or have people who do it for you, Help Scout saves time, keeps everything organized, and prevents customer emails from falling through the cracks. (Their blog is also a Team Edgar favorite.)
File Sharing and Storage
Stop it with the endless USB drives and emailing files to yourself. Dropbox stores photos, music files, docs, PDFs, whatever you’ve got – and you can access all of it from anywhere (including your phone, because it’s the future).
Like Microsoft Office, but free and better. For a distributed team like us, Google Drive is perfect not just for uploading and maintaining a communal database of docs, spreadsheets, slideshows and more, but also for collaborating on them and seeing each other’s updates in real time.
A cluttered inbox promotes a cluttered mind. Everyone on our team uses Boomerang to keep theirs nice and tidy – schedule emails to send at a later time, or “boomerang” something in your inbox so that it disappears for now and comes flying back later, when you have time to deal with it.
If you feel like you have way too many tasks and projects to keep track of all at once, Trello just might be the organizational solution you need. It works like a digital bulletin board, so you can create and categorize tasks, then drag-and-drop to move them around according to what you’re working on and when. (And we can attest to how useful it is for managing projects on distributed teams!)
(You can also hook it up with Corrello if you want to really supercharge your dashboard.)
Want to see how you really spend your workday? iDoneThis allows you to enter in your daily tasks, and to see what everyone else on your team gets done, too. It’s less micro-managey than a true time-tracker, but it’s less invasive, too. (We’re not really into being invaded.)
Sort of like an even more awesome IFTT, Zapier allows you to create hookups between the different apps you use, so they can communicate and dictate automatic actions. (For example, we have a HipChat chatroom that gets pinged every time someone signs up for Edgar. What’s HipChat? Find out two entries down…)
A free must-have for anyone in a virtual office, or with web-based coworkers/employees. Hop on a one-on-one video call or group chat, or use features like screensharing so you can collaborate or advise live on the spot. All it takes is a Google profile, which, let’s be honest, you already have.
When you have a distributed team like we do, there’s no watercooler to stand around. And even if you’re in an office, the watercooler might be really far away. Slack is a fun and easy-to-use private chat client that allows us to stay in touch throughout the day, for both matters that are work-related and those that…aren’t so much.
Wasn’t there a section in Dante’s Inferno about glitchy conference calls? (It’s been awhile since we read it.) Point is, conference calls don’t have to be such a pain. We use UberConference literally every day, and frankly, it’s the best phone call you can make that doesn’t end with a pizza at your doorstep.
Who doesn’t love printing and reprinting an employee handbook every single time you make an edit? (Besides, you know, everyone?) Confluence allows you to create and maintain a private online wiki for your team, so you can keep all your most important info in one central, organized, searchable database.
Videos and Webinars
Like YouTube, kind of, but way prettier and more powerful. If you do professional videos like courses, demos, tutorials, etc., Wistia provides the horsepower you need and all kinds of insightful analytics.
We know you’re probably expecting us to say that WebinarJam is our jam, so we won’t. But we will say that it’s our favorite webinar-hosting tool that we’ve used – and we’ve really used a few, so we don’t say it lightly. If you’re into hosting and/or recording presentations, trust us, you want to give this one a look.
Another great tool for recording what happens on your computer screen and editing it into professional-looking videos, Camtasia is one of our new favorites. (If you’ve watched one of our tutorial videos, you’ve seen a little of what it can do.)
That’s it! (For now…)
This might not be everything tucked away in our toy box, but they’re all tools we wouldn’t dream of managing Edgar without! Keep your eyes peeled for more recommendations in the future – and if you have any recs of your own, make sure you share them in the comments below!