14 Great Productivity Apps I Use Every Day
This article was intended to be just a quick list of ways that I’ve been able to keep myself productive as a marketing consultant. However, I think it’s important to get to the why and how these are effective tools that YOU can use.
Additionally, I will make an effort to add-to and update this list as time goes on.
Let’s get into it:
1. Dig deeper into Google Analytics.
As a digital marketer, you can pass almost everything into this wonderful machine. From AdWords to Facebook, to blogs, to pretty much whatever else you can think of. If you’re not into it, get into it. This goes for C-levels, too. You can dig deep into some very telling data about your website traffic as well as track the behavior of various actions that funnel into your website.
Google Analytics is the number one tool to know. Get good.
2. Journal your thoughts in Evernote.
I’m honestly amazed at the number of people not using Evernote. Some of their product updates have been a step back, but, by-and-large, this is an incredibly powerful tool to sort out your thoughts.
I use it for writing blogs (like this one), keeping client notes, personal growth work, I even keep sketches in it with the use of an Apple Pencil and iPad.
Use it to sort yourself out.
3. Make short do-lists with Wunderlist.
I have struggled for years with using do-lists. I’ve scribbled them in notepads, used almost every app on the market, and I’ve mostly failed at being a good task manager using these lists.
However, somewhat recently I read an article on the Ivy Lee method, which forced me to investigate further. After very little homework, I re-downloaded the very simple and utilitarian app, Wunderlist, created 5 tasks I knew I could get done, and BAM, it was an “ah-hah!” moment.
I ditched the multitudes of client do-lists that continued to pile up and started knocking the 5 things I really can get done off my list.
Start checking boxes (available on iPhone, web app, android, etc).
4. Go pro at Excel.
Admittedly, this is an application that I still struggle to be great at. There’s just so much. However, Excel has been around since the dawn of man, so there’s a lot of help out there – for FREE. Just YouTube it (better yet, learn it on Lynda.com #13 on my list) and trust me, someone else has already thought of whatever problem you’re having.
The power to build formulas, profit calculators, to mine that data for all its worth – is intoxicating. When you build something in Excel, you feel like a genius.
If you aren’t versed in Excel’s language, just think of some fancy calculation you’d like to know and fight through it. You’ll thank me.
5. Automation for idiots with MailChimp.
For sophisticated email automation go elsewhere. There’s lots of expensive solutions for enterprise level products (Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot/Salesforce), but for the startup, for the day-to-day marketer, you can get a lot done in software like MailChimp and Constant Contact. They’re both great, and both offer some degree of marketing automation, which is the ability to track, score, and trigger new emails to an existing list of contacts.
Automation is less personal than an email you write yourself, but you can test and perfect these automated email across your lists, generating a lot of interest with very little effort.
6. One Tag to Rule Them All.
Google Tag Manager is a fairly new development from Google’s nerdery, but it can make your life easier if you can get past their awkward user interface. Perhaps I’m just slow, but it took me some time to get the nomenclature and layout figured out.
When/if you do, it’ll make your life a little easier, because you don’t need to figure out where to place the code in your website, or FTP anything, because with just the GTM tag you’ll be able to listen for whatever triggers you want.
7. Search Engine Domination.
I think every SEO, every marketer will have his/her own opinion here, but SEMrush does it all for me. Short tail, long tail, backlinks, competitive research, PPC, organic… just all of it under one roof. Moz has a pretty good product, too, but I can’t stand Rand Fishkin. He’s evolved into a cartoon of a hipster.
SEMrush may look ugly up front, but it’s a powerful tool for sussing out opportunities (low competition + high volume). It’s also a FANTASTIC way of examining what your competitors have already learned from their ads. You can see how often they change ads, what was changed, frequency of changes (i.e. where they’re having difficulty getting conversions).
All-in-all, I love it.
8. Read more blogs with Pocket.
Keeping up with the latest is hard work. You have to cruise around a lot of different websites and aggregators to get everything you need for your continuing eduction in marketing. Reading long articles on your computer screen actually sucks. It’s not how we’re accustomed to reading.
Pocket allows you to click a button on your browser to add it to your Pocket app, which has a reader view that’s much better on your phone or iPad. I love it, and I think you’ll find yourself reading much more with Pocket in your life.
9. Great hosting makes your websites perform better.
Websites with great design and great copy are only as good as the host that serves it. Do yourself a huge favor and get WPengine. If the incredible speed, uptime, and free SSL doesn’t blow you away, then the incredible support staff will.
Next to your average developer I’m not a very technical person, next to your average marketer; a bit more so. However, moving my client and personal sites to WPengine was easily one of the smartest decisions I’ve made this year.
Pro-tip: Google’s search algorithm likes fast websites with SSL certificates. So, they rank better.
10. No other WordPress theme comes close to Divi.
I’ve been using Divi from Elegant Themes for about 4 years now. The sheer volume of updates is incredible. They stand by their work, and the visual builder is better than anything else I’ve used.
Why is a visual builder so important to marketers? Because you, yes you, Marketer can now make your own landing pages, add content, and create testable pages whenever you want now. That’s powerful. You don’t need a developer to do 95% of the stuff you want in Divi.
Free yourself from begging developers to make a page for you. DIY.
11. Prove your AdWords improvements with WordStream.
After using WordStream for about 6 months, I love how easy it is to see your progress, and to prove your progress to the people that matter (clients, bosses, etc). It’s not perfect; WordStream doesn’t fully support PLAs, display and remarketing ads, and some other stuff. However, I have faith that they will. Larry Kim, the founder, has built a great product and a great support team. Gregg was my support rep, and he was a great teacher. Being patient and knowledgeable beyond just the workings of the product.
On top of a top notch product, they have top notch webinars for SEO and AdWords. I always go away a little smarter than when I arrived.
Good people. Good product.
12. Write goodlier.
The aptly named, Hemingway app has both web and desktop solutions to help you write more clearly and simply. I use it for writing website copy, ad copy, and sometimes blog copy (although I tend to break more rules when I’m writing blogs).
I found this particularly useful for keeping in the active voice. Leave as little room for doubt as possible when you’re writing marketing copy.
13. Learn to use complicated software with Lynda.com
Lynda.com has been something I’ve relied on to bring myself up-to-speed very quickly on complicated software, most notably Excel and Analytics. The people teaching you are vetted experts, and it’s all extremely well-produced when compared to the anyone-can-post-anything repository/dumpster that is YouTube.
14. Don’t want to deal with that email now? Boomerang it.
If you use Gmail for work, then get Boomerang, the send later option alone is worth the download. You can also use it to “boomerang” an email that you’re definitely not going to touch right now. Just boomerang it for Friday when you’re in a better mood. You’re so moody on Wednesdays.
That’s it, I hope you find this somewhat helpful, or at least good toilet-time reading. It has taken me years to get to the point where I’ve settled on a workable toolset. Oh, and I’m not being paid a dime by any of these companies to promote their applications (sadly).