I love web apps. I unnecessarily sign up for them all the time. Once upon a time I had tested pretty much every CRM and Project Management tool in the Google Apps marketplace; one part because I needed one of each, one part because I was afraid of choosing the wrong one, and two parts because I love looking at the way different companies build their apps. I love seeing how different people attempt to make complex systems simple.
There are lots and lots of web apps being created and launched each month, however only a handful have a substantial beneficial effect for their users. The term “game changer” is bandied around quite a bit (usually by CMO’s) and at this point its meaning has probably been diluted…well for me at least.
The apps below are apps I use. They made it onto this list because they fundamentally changed the way I and/or my team work on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I’m sharing them with you, dear reader, because I hope they will do the same for you.
1 – Google Apps
Now I know there’s nothing new about this tool but if you are a small business owner and you are not using Google Apps, you should be. There’s a free version and a low cost paid version (approx. $50 per user, per year!) and the suite of cloud based tools you get access to is nothing short of amazing.
For example, by connecting your domain name with Google Apps, you can have all of your company email run through Gmail. If you don’t like using the Gmail interface, no problem! You can easily just send the email out to your favourite desktop email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc).
Some of the benefits to using Google to handle your email are:
* Best SPAM fighting capabilities in the world because of their large user base
* Fast and very reliable email servers
* Practically unlimited storage for your mail
* Email integration with any Marketplace Apps added to your Google Apps account (e.g. create project tasks in Project Management Apps from emails, etc)
* No IT overheads, server archiving & backups
* And many more benefits…
The email capabilities and the ease with which you can enable your organisation with tools for everything through the Google Apps Marketplace would be enough of a reason to adopt Google Apps. However the suite of real time collaboration tools also comes with word processing, spreadsheets, calendar, Google+ and instant messaging, all of which contribute to better communications and collaboration, internally and externally for your organisation.
2 – Rapportive
This is hands down the most effective tool I think I have ever implemented in my business. Rapportive.com plugs in to Gmail and adds a column (sidebar!) on the right hand side of your email. When you type an email address into a To: bar, or if you open an email from somebody, the Rapportive sidebar populates with all of the social information about that person.
You can see if you are connected to them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If the person you are communicating with at that point in time is on any of your email lists (Mailchimp and Aweber). If you are connected to them you will see their latest Tweets and status updates on Facebook. Rapportive will also show you a summary of the conversation you’ve had over recent email.
It’s like a combination of an automatic relationship management tool, a memory aid tool and a social network growth tool all rolled into one awesome package. Best of all (for now at least) it’s free!
This tool is so good that it’s worth going and signing up for Google Apps, connecting your business domain and using Gmail for the benefits this app alone provides.
3 – Dlivr.it
The pros and cons of cross posting (is it the devil’s handiwork or just clever leverage of your time) is a debate for another day and another blog post, however I will say this: I believe it can be either depending on the way it is conducted.
Dlvr.it’s tag line is “You publish, we deliver”, and that’s exactly what this tool does. You connect your blog’s RSS feed to the service, and then your social media accounts and hey presto, when you publish a blog post, the content gets distributed to your social networks automatically.
Is this new technology? No of course not, publishing an RSS feed to social networks has been something we’ve been able to do for years now. BUT, now it’s really easy to setup, user-friendly to manage, gives you engagement stats, can be connected to Google Analytics and Feedburner, and basically does an all-around great job.
If you blog, or create content with RSS functionality, then you should go sign up now. It will help you increase the traffic to your website.
4 – Do.com
Do.com is the Project Management lovechild of Salesforce.com and Manymoon, but to look at it you would have to wonder who their postman was because Do.com looks like neither Salesforce or Manymoon!
Before choosing to use Manymoon for web design and internet marketing project collaboration here at Web Sales Marketing, I had a good look at the competing Project Management tools out there. Manymoon was (it’s been discontinued now that it was acquired by Saleforce) the best Project Management tool because it looked a little bit like an early, simple version of Facebook, and as a result was quite intuitive to use.
Do.com is even more user-friendly (read: idiot proof) which means the adoption time, learning curve for you and your staff, and consequently the time until its effective for your organisation will be as short as possible. As with Manymoon however, there are no Gantt charts.
Go forth and collaborate with ease: http://do.com
5 – Crowdbooster
Crowdbooster is basically a clever social media tool that will allow you to see how effective your social media efforts are. I’m sure they will increase their range of networks over time but at the moment it’s limited to Twitter and Facebook.
The Twitter data you get is quite useful, the Facebook data less so, particularly given that Facebook already gives you pretty good metrics about your efforts through Facebook Page Insights.
Still what I like about it is that it makes recommendation as to what times of day you should tweet based on the volume of your followers that will be active at any one time. It also tracks and reports on how effective you efforts are.
The app may still be in beta, but get your name on the list as it’s well worth checking out.
And so ends my roundup of the apps that I’ve found to be hugely influential in changing the way things are done here at WSM.
Do you have any web apps that you use on a frequent basis that you think are worthy of being on this list?
Feed my web app addiction and tell me all about them in the comments.