Saas subscriptions worth the cost

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SaaS for Small Business, Startups and Organizations

I tend to use SaaS services plenty of the time during the course of my workday. Because my work time is rather diffuse, I work at home and from my phone, I tend to especially prefer SaaS that I can use across a range of devices. The following post is a showcase of some my preferred applications for project management, email marketing, content management systems, google analytics and WordPress.

Spectacular Spreadsheets

Google Chrome and the Google Drive platform have created an incredible platform for providing low cost efficient tools. Whether you need a text editor, a more complex spreadsheet editor, or create pivot tables Google is a rich platform. Going a step-further Google’s oAuth system has made it possible for those with Google profiles, millions of users, to use third party services offered in their app market. Smartsheet is one of the many different apps in the productivity genre of the google apps marketplace. I used Smartsheet for several months on a free basis before upgrading to a premium subscription. It’s well worth upgrading. The amount of free templates you receive when upgrading are incredibly useful for a range of different tasks. In my own work as a professional communications consultant there are many detailed templates that I can use on a one-off project basis. Check out Smartsheet here.

Barrels of Organic Bananas

I find myself lucky to have been using Mailchimp from the early days. Now that Mailchimp is offering a 2-step authentication process and has spun off the timely Mandrill for transactional emails and better app-integration, I think I’m going to stick with this email marketing platform for good. Mailchimp makes it very easy to design beautiful, responsive emails. More importantly the platform allows you to integrate lists from a wide variety of sources and has features that provide granular interpretation for how your email marketing campaigns are doing. A/B testing with Mailchimp, no problem. Form, CTR, Membership, Payment Gateways, each of these tactics are at your disposal. I know that many clients have been working with competing companies for a long time. Aweber, Constant Contact and Get Satisfaction are other good email marketing services worth a mention. Try Mailchimp today, you’ll be happy you made the switch.

PHP and SQL Based Content Management Systems

WordPress and Drupal are two php and sql based content management systems that I’ve been using since 2006. Though I’ve used both since then, I’ve developed more sites with WordPress, though it’s worth mentioning that Drupal has maintained it’s position as a powerful, complex and secure content management system. Thing is, WordPress adds a suite of developer and client-side features that have encouraged me to stick with the open source community. WordPress has become the most successful of the CMSs I believe because of the following:

  • the five minute install is great
  • but the five minute upgrade is really the most impressive feature
  • the WordPress core is maintained to be timely, responsive and robust.
  • The platform is consistently developed by the WordPress community.
  • You can find my WordPress.org profile here
  • WordPress is the best place to show the idiom “there’s an app for that” is true.

Purty up your Google Analytics Reports

Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for online marketing. Without backing that up, because I don’t think it’s needed think about this: when you’re looking to conduct effective communications in the online space, it’s crucial to track the progress of your campaigns according to granular data. In other words, you want to know if your visitors are happy. You want to know if people are staying around or ‘bouncing’ too quickly. I’ll keep on drawing your attention to granular data as a common theme on this blog. But I digress. Visual.ly is one of the most incredible online marketing platforms in recent years, in my view. The thing I would love to bring to your attention is the free service that Visual.ly is currently offering to generate more visually appealing Google Analytics Reports. As I mentioned above, the ability to sync third-party platforms with your oAuth Google profile is remarkable. Visual.ly syncs the existing Google Analytics accounts you own and manage. Try it out.

WordPress Plugins for April 2013

Here are several WordPress plugins to extend WordPress and make your sites secure, social and sound:

Login Lockdown – prevents hackers from getting into your site via the admin area. Brings advanced features to WP beginners.

Google XML Sitemaps – for providing a sitemap for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools there is no better option.

WP User Online – see how many people are on your blog when you’re logged in. Get an idea of time of day, and which posts are most popular.

Wordfence – This is the best WordPress Security extension that I’ve seen. The license is not going to put you in the poor house, and the features are rich.

Redirection + Search & Replace – These two plug-ins are for advanced WordPress users only. Redirection helps you perform redirects via the dashboard. Indispensable for 404 and 301s.  Search and Replace can help change bulk data on WordPress website. This ‘database string’ tool comes in handy for projects with many posts, comments and authors.

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