I must confess – I am a tool junkie. Apps, services, platforms – I like them all. I love trying out various analytics tools, SEO tools, social media tools, and so forth. Tools have the power to either make your life simpler, or more complicated, depending on what you choose. That is why making the right choice is important. Here are my top tips on finding what tools are right for your blog or business.
Start by defining your needs.
Most people look at price or features, and just assume if the price is low and the features are numerous, they will be set. But that’s not always the case. A tool could have 1,000+ features, which is pretty awesome. But if you are only going to need three of those features, then there’s no sense in A) paying for things you don’t need or B) not choosing a tool that is awesome at the three features you need and instead choosing one that is so-so at a 1,000+ features.
Let’s say that you’re evaluating email marketing software. Your requirements are that it integrates well with other tools that you use, it offers a wide variety of templates that are mobile friendly, it allows you to preview emails before you send them, and it helps you create great forms and squeeze pages. While there are tons of platforms to choose from, you’ll likely go with GetResponse because of their 100+ integrations, responsive email design, inbox preview tool, web form builder, and squeeze page generator.
Once you have defined your requirements, making a choice about what tool to go with will be much simpler.
Compare your top choice with some alternatives.
Just because you only found one tool that fits your needs, doesn’t mean it’s the only tool out there. There are great sites like TopAlternatives that can help you find the top tools for specific needs. For example, in their SEO category, they break down tools with specific functions.
This can help you discover a few great alternatives so that you can jump into the next step. They offer alternative tools for building a website, customer satisfaction, design, ecommerce, email marketing, mobile, optimization, SEO, social media, time management, usability, video marketing, and WordPress (courses, themes, plugins, etc.).
Try before you buy.
Whether you end up trying to decide between multiple tools with the features you want, or just one that seems to be perfect, be sure to try it before you buy it. Most tools will offer some form of free trial, usually ranging from seven to thirty days. Here are my recommended free trial tips.
- Don’t sign up for a free trial until you are ready to actually use it.
- Set a reminder in your calendar to visit the tool each day until the trial ends.
- Take into consideration the ease of use of the tool you are trying. If it’s difficult, you won’t want to use it on a regular basis, which will lower its value for your business.
- Know how long you have and when/where to cancel if you decide against a particular tool (include a reminder in your calendar for the last day to cancel).
- Plan to evaluate the results of using a particular tool the day before you need to decide to commit to it.
Remind yourself to regularly use your tools.
Once you have made the commitment to the right tools for your blog or business, don’t let them sit stagnant while they auto-debit your credit card. Set them up so you can easily remember to use them on a daily basis. If they are web applications, for example, create a folder on your bookmarks bar for your tools and put your username next to each so you can easily get to the login pages and remember how to login. Below is my list of top tools…
If there’s certain times you want to check a particular tool, such as taking a daily look at all of your dashboards in Cyfe to review your analytics, then you’ll want to set a calendar reminder to do so. What I like to do is grab a link to the first dashboard I want to view (like my ultimate social media dashboard)…
…and add it to a daily task in Remember the Milk.
You don’t have to do these specific things, but you should make it a point to regularly use your tools.
Review, and review often.
If you find you’re not regularly using a particular tool based on difficulty or lack of usefulness, then it might be a sign you need to choose something new. Or, at the very least, time to cancel your account and save some money until you find something new. For this, you might want to set a monthly or quarterly reminder to review all of the tools in your toolbox to see if you are still using them and still getting what you need out of them. If not, go back to the beginning of this post and start the selection process over again. This will ensure that you are always getting value from the tools you choose for your business.
How do you find great tools for your blog or business and then ensure you are always using them?