By the time I finish this article, I can say with reasonable certainty that 10 new online tools will launch that will make the world of marketing more versatile and will push the envelope of what we can do with automation, business growth and more.
What do I mean when I say tools? Well, simply put, those resources, apps and subscriptions that allow us to perform various tasks in our business. It could be accounting, it could be integrations, it could be memberships. The list goes on.
Whether you’re a coach or consultant, an attorney, B&M store owner, etc. having the right tools in place can help you save time, make you more productive and save you money. All while helping you make more of it as well as automate parts of your business, potentially eliminating the need to hire additional people.
The trick is knowing which ones you can’t live without and which ones aren’t right for you or your business at the time. No one wants to see their money going to waste on tools that aren’t providing any value.
In this post, I will share my favorite tools, why I love them, who they’re for and how you can purchase. In some instances, I may be sharing an affiliate link, which means I may get a commission if you purchase. In all cases, the pricing you see is the best price available to you. In many instances affiliate programs offer discounted rates for those willing to help their brand get better visibility.
Sales & Marketing CRM & Automation
If you’ve spent 5 minutes with me you know I’m a Keap person! I love all things Keap. It changed my life, changed my business and is changing the lives of small business owners all over the world. Keap is an all-in-one sales and marketing platform. I share with our clients that it should be the hub of your business. It’s your CRM, email marketing solution, ecommerce and sales engine, text messenger, appointment scheduler and more. Keap helps small business owners do the work that matters, by automating everything else.
ActiveCampaign is also a great CRM and marketing automation tool. What I love about ActiveCampaign is the ease of building automations. For some, the colorful visual and workflow of automations work well with the way people’s brains work.
Landing Pages & Funnels
I think many people learn the concept of a funnel, thanks to Russel Brunson and clickfunnels. They are great for fast, easy to use templates for building sales funnels in a jiffy.
While I don’t recommend this strategy, I have had clients in the past that don’t have a website at all. They only have clickfunnels pages because of the time saving benefits.
This is an incredibly powerful and robust feature and for that the value you get from your small monthly subscription can be huge. You do have to be a Keap user to get these benefits, but just look at what they do. For instance, while Keap offers automated text messages, you can send both SMS And MMS messages with FixYourFunnel, allowing for much longer character length as well as images to your texts. FixYourFunnel also provides Text Message Lead Capture (think “text the word goals to …” ) Integrated Dialer, One Click Upsells, more than 30 bots to extend the functionality of your automations to do things like math or correct the lower case name to upper case and that sort of thing and so much more!
Zapier has become so popular that I have prospects reaching out to me because they heard of Zapier but have no experience with automation. Zapier is an API which allows 2 different applications to exchange information based upon an agreed set of rules. I call Zapier a 3rd party hand shaker. They will make it possible for your quickbooks app to talk to your CRM app, or your Facebook talk to your Google sheet and many many many more! I love Zapier as does everyone else in the automation industry because they play with everyone! At the time of this post, Zapier partners with more than 3,000 apps. The potential with Zapier to make all your tools talk to each other is almost limitless.
Parsey is another 3rd party hand shaker. Like Zapier, Parsey will do some amazing things with webhooks (similar to API) to make apps talk to each other and it also is able to parse out content from an email. When I’m building solutions for clients, Parsey is my go-to for an integration between Keap/Active Campaign and Docusign because it’s amazing. I also love the email parser tool because I can see what data it’s grabbing.
PlusThis is also an insanely powerful integration tool and it has its own capabilities that differentiate it from the competition. PlusThis has about 50 tools that do all kinds of fun things. My favorites are its Docusign Integration and its Add to Calendar tool that allows you to create custom links for an event like a webinar, and it will create a calendar link for google/outlook and ical for you. It has made a tremendous impact on the turnout for mine and clients attendees for events because the reminder is automatically added to their calendar.
Online Learning & Memberships
The thing I love about LearnDash is my memberships and courses can be built right into my website. LearnDash does this! This allows my clients and customers to have a seamless experience. LearnDash provides lots of tools, tutorials and extensions that allow you to really create amazing and unique course experiences.
Thinkific is a great and easy to use course builder tool, loved by many of our clients. It comes with beautiful designs and can be an all in one solution from the sales page of your course to content delivery. Using all the features or just a little, Thinkific has beautiful templates and a clean professional look. Thinkific has several out of the box integrations and also integrates with Zapier, thus connecting you to the other 2,999 apps that exist in the Zapier toolkit.
Kajabi is another great tool for courses and membership programs. While they tout themselves as the all in one solution to run your business, I still believe that their sweet spot is courses and membership, however, because of how they track and monitor members, they are developing extra bells and whistles around a CRM tool. Kajabi can drip feed content or have content based on work completed. It too integrates with Zapier for connections to all the wonderful apps accessible there.
We love Asana for all our project management needs. Those that work with us as clients find it to be a super helpful tool for managing all the moving parts of their work with us. As a project management tool, we use Asana for creating workflows, tracking tasks and seeing every client project to completion. As an added bonus, when you check something off your task list in Asana, sometimes you get a unicorn or narwhal fly across your screen…how cool is that!
As our business has grown, streamlining communications was critical. Slack has made it possible to keep all our communications in one place allowing single person conversations as well as teams and other variations. We also love Slack because it has helped us have official times when we are “on” and times we we are off, so we are not texting with clients all over the world in various time zones at all hours of the day and night. The other nice thing about it is it integrates with Zapier, so you can create some pretty amazing integrations, like the one we made for a few clients when a payment failed from their billing platform, the billing department is alerted of the issue in Slack, so they are able to follow up in a timely manner. Amazing!
Last year we made a big change in how our site was managed to improve performance when we switched our hosting to WPEngine. There are many things to love about WPEngine, but to name just a few would be speed, 99.9% uptime, amazing customer service, one click options to move from staging to production sites, auto-updates, one click backup and resources. These guys are just great and the metrics to monitor how your site is performing really sets them apart from the competition.
I love elementor and I’ll be honest, I’m surprised. After nearly seven years as a die hard fan of Thrive Themes, I was genuinely surprised by how effortless it was to make the transition to a new page builder. I love for the simplicity of it! Anytime a tool sets themselves up to play well with others, they get a gold star in my book. Elementor is super easy to use page builder and offers both a free and paid solution so it fits with everyone’s budget. Most recently they began offering a very affordable hosting package and for the first time ever, our site is getting A+ rating on page load speeds!
If you haven’t looked at Thrive Themes, you’re missing out. Thrive Themes is one of the most popular page builders on the market and has been for years. It’s more than just a page builder and that is the selling point for me. I was really fed up with plugin conflicts causing site outages and Thrive Themes has done an excellent job at solving this problem by providing a suite of add-ons that are included in the cost. So, in addition to a beautiful page builder, you have a tool for building pop-ups and forms, a quiz builder, headline optimizer, and so much more.
One of my random business goals in 2021 was to break up with Dropbox. They didn’t do anything wrong and for years, they were my go-to for storage, but in an effort to streamline work with clients, I found Google Workspace to be such a better tool for collaboration. Gone are the days of storing massive amounts of files I will never look at or use again and even better, there is no more risk of conflicting versions of the same documents. I love the ability to replicate everything I do with the office suite, store in the cloud, and share and revoke privileges with ease. It does involve some learning, but I have found it’s mostly a process of reprogramming the way we think about file storage. If you’re not already using google workspace, here’s a little promo for getting you started:
Promo Code for for 10% off
Starter Plan – EAD6DYMXHAKNJMH
Business Standard Plan – M3FMQMAHXKXKTYC
You don’t have to be a designer to create beautiful graphics. Canva is here to save the day. It’s easy to use, comes with tons of beautiful graphics and templates, easy to add your own content, share with team members and more. It has replaced the adobe creative suite in so many places because it’s just faster.
Passwords & Security
We don’t have to be in dangerous times with impending war to be vulnerable to cyber attack. Additionally, our clients want to know that their private personal or business data is protected. That’s where Lastpass comes in. We use Lastpass to both store and share passwords and other important information that needs to be stored securely. Lastpass is consistently reviewed as one of the best solutions for password and cybersecurity and we encourage all clients to use it and it’s nifty tool that generates passwords. It has extensions for your browsers, apps for phones so you don’t have to worry about remembering passwords.
Docusign is likely one of the most recognized and trusted sources for sending secure documents for review and signing. We’ve been using Docusign since the beginning of our business and send clients this direct because of it’s integration capabilities with tools like Zapier, Parsey and PlusThis. I really like how I can create templates that can be automated for signing, or manually upload and send to individuals.
Things Our Clients Have Been Searching For
Streaming Webcam w/ Ring Light. This little camera is a powerhouse. We’ve been hesitant to make a computer upgrade for our business because it meant saying goodbye to our beloved laptops. But alas improved technology won and this webcam saved the day. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing webcam or like us, changing your computer hardware, this camera features 1080HD streaming and the ring light makes you look beautiful! 😉 Click the image below to learn more.
At Confluence Business Solutions we rely heavily on checklists to ensure all of our clients’ needs are met. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is an absolute must read for those who struggle with forgetting important tasks.
After growing tired of purchasing expensive whiteboards for all of our offices and the kitchen, we developed this habit of using wet erase or chalk markers to just jot down our to-do, honey-do, grocery and idea lists on our windows using these chalk wet erase markers. Some days it’s a sight to behold driving up the driveway! And having an assortment of colors allows us to use a different color for each list.