Tools of the Trade

The other day, I took some time to review how much we were spending on Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. The total was a little higher than I expected, so I wondered if I could reduce the total by giving up any of these tools.

The process of reviewing your expenses is an important one. It’s easy to sign up for a tool for $10 or $20 a month and forget about it, but those amounts add up.  Periodically, it’s worth it to review your expenses to be sure you still need everything you have signed up for.

For me, the process confirmed that software is a sizable expense, but these online tools are now an integral part of what we do. While some of the tools are only relevant for digital agencies like Roundpeg, others should be a part of every small business. What’s on our list?

  • Raven Tools The most expensive of our online tools, it allows us to review online marketing campaigns for all of our clients from one dashboard. It pulls in data from Google Analytics, AdWords, and email programs as well as social media platforms. For most small businesses this is probably overkill because you can get the data elsewhere, but as an agency, I wouldn’t live without it.
  • Formstack – At the center of our inbound marketing program are the forms visitors fill out to request access to downloads, sign up for newsletters and contact us. Easy to build and integrate into websites, Formstack also feeds directly into our Constant Contact database
  • ConstantContact  – Our email newsletter has been a core part of our marketing for more than 10 years. ConstantContact has been the engine driving that program since the very beginning. The history stored in that tool alone would make it valuable, but ConstantContact is more than history. Over the years they have worked hard to improve the tool, making it easier then ever to create, distribute and manage our email program
  • AddressTwo – As much as I like ConstantContact for email, I need a robust CRM tool to keep up with all my interactions. With AddressTwo, we have access to complete contact information from desktop, laptop or phone. I can record conversations and reminders to help me manage my relationships and share that information with my team. As we get larger and I spend more time on the road, complete client records will be more and more important.
  • TinderBox – The first time I saw a demo for this product, I knew I have to have it. Tinderbox is a proposal management tool that allows me to store content in an organized library, making it easy to build proposals in a few minutes instead of a few hours. The professional-looking documents the client receives helps us close sales quickly, and the tracking component built in to the tool shows me when the proposal is opened or read.
  • GoToMeeting – As we have begun working with clients around the country, the ability to share screens to conduct training webinars allows us to offer the same level of service to all our clients. The added ability to record sessions has helped us build a robust training library too.

That is a pretty long and somewhat expensive list, but it doesn’t stop there. There are the subscriptions to Hootsuite, Elegant Themes, HostMonster and Midwest Internet for web hosting. I also spend money each month on Adobe Cloud and Microsoft 365. In both cases, I opted to pay a monthly fee instead of purchasing the software outright. The downside, I will pay forever.  The upside? I will always have the latest version, and can set up the software on multiple devices and access all my documents from all of them.

What are your must-have tools?

photo credit: oskay via photopin cc