No matter the size of your business, you need a reliable arsenal of online business tools that’ll help you keep it running.
(We’re pretty sure we heard the eight-year-olds who run the neighborhood lemonade stand debating the best way to organize their QuickBooks.)
Everyone on Team Edgar, from development to writing to support 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 online business tools are!
(Plus, some that we just plain like and recommend. Because why not!)
So, what are some of our favorite online business tools for managing a business online?
Our Favorite Online Business Tools
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.
(Curious about alternatives? Mixpanel is another popular option!)
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.
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.
Designed for small software teams, Ropig makes sure you get all the performance alerts you need – without a ton of noise and unnecessary interruptions. (This one was made by the team that brought you Edgar, too, so take a look!)
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? 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!
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. (Pretty sure we saw that embroidered on a pillow somewhere.) 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 work on a team, you’ve probably imagined something that works just like Asana. Luckily for you, that thing actually exists! This project management tool is perfect for creating, assigning, and managing all the tasks that keep your business moving.
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. (It also integrates with Edgar – check out some of the cool stuff you can do!)
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 some time since we read it.) Point is, conference calls don’t have to be such a pain. We use Zoom literally every day, and frankly, it’s the best phone call you can make that doesn’t end with a pizza at your doorstep. (It integrates really nicely with Slack, too, so if you’re already using that, definitely check this out to go with it.)
Speaking of tools that work really well with Slack, Tettra is a simple, beautiful solution for creating internal team wikis. Keep all your most important info in one central, organized, searchable, and easily edited database – AND quit wasting paper printing out employee handbooks! (Because who doesn’t love trees?)
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.
If you ever go live on Facebook (and at this point, why wouldn’t you), Ecamm Live will help you give your broadcast a seriously professional polish. With a nice combination of convenience options and stuff that’s just plain cool-looking, this program is a must for the serious broadcaster. It’s what we use, too, for broadcasts like this one:
That’s it! (For now…)
This might not be everything tucked away in our toy box, but they’re all online business 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!