Our business and many of our clients businesses use Google Apps. It has all the power of Gmail in a professional package. For only $5/user you get Gmail (which we run six different email accounts out of each user’s account), Google Calendar, Drive, Sheets (their version of Excel), Slides, Sites, and Hangouts. This is a small investment for such a power suite of tools!
You can run all your email through your Google Gmail account, so you’ll have them all in one place for easy sorting and responding.
Cost: Free trial with this link and $5 per user per month afterward
Skype is an incredible online communication tool that allows you to video chat, phone chat, or text chat with people all over the world. As a free service, Skype is the gold standard for doing work internationally. I pay a small monthly fee to use Skype to call anyone in the US for free. Of course, I can do this with my cell phone, but with Skype, I can use Pamela and my headset on my computer to record calls for podcasts or business meetings. This makes it easy to make calls while traveling – especially when cell service is bad, but Internet access is available.
Cost: Free, but can add additional calling features.
Pamela for Skype
This is a free, reliable and easy to use audio and video recording software. Features include Skype call recording, Skype video recording, Skype chat recording, Skype call scheduler, record calls automatically, mono/ stereo recording option, Skype conference call manager, create cool mood messages, answering Machine, play sounds during calls, auto chat reply, birthday reminders, email forwarding, contact personalization and blogging & podcasting.
I use Pamela to record my podcast episodes through Skype and sometimes phone calls with people who seem to forget what we talked about.
Cost: Free trial and 24,95 € after that (which is about $28 US)
Google Hangouts is a feature of Google plus. Hangouts allow groups of up to ten people to video chat at the same time. Hangouts is available on the computer, as well as on Android and iPhone. Hangouts also allows users to broadcast a live stream to the world, as well as allowing users to tune into these live broadcasts. Unique features include screen sharing and file sharing between chats. Google Hangouts is a valuable tool for businesses with employees across the world.
Zoom has quickly become my new favorite communication tool. My team and I use Zoom daily to run client conference calls, team meetings, and Mastermind Groups. Zoom has all the features we were looking for in a video conferencing software. Users can use video, use a phone, use a computer or cell phone, and they even have apps for both Android and iPhone users.
The screen share features on Zoom are also incredible. This allows me to teach my coaching groups and Mastermind Groups all over the world. The picture is crystal clear, and the sound quality is excellent. As a paying member, you can have an unlimited number of meetings and no time limit on the duration of the calls. This makes scheduling, recording, and sharing the calls a breeze. I can’t say enough about this software!
Cost: Free and $14.95+ for more features
“Send Better Email,” is the slogan for this company. The site is essentially an email marketing service provider. It has 7 million users that collectively send over 10 billion emails through the service each month. MailChimp helps you email the right people at the right time. Send automated emails based on customer behavior and preferences. Get started with prebuilt Workflows or use the built-in segmentation and targeting options to build custom rules. Get in-depth reporting on how each of your automated series is performing. These tools help you learn more about your customers and send them timely, relevant content.
Cost: Three package options: all vary by number of subscribers, the number of emails sent per month, or number of email credits purchased.
Cost: Free for up to 2,000 subscribers, prices go up after that
Ontraport is our email client of choice. Ontraport has a lot of features, and, therefore, it can be more complicated. We like its ability to tag clients, allow for payment, send emails when payment is due or declined, categorize people based on behaviors, and automate rules. Ontraport has services similar to LeadPages where you can create landing pages as well as send actual snail mail to clients. It truly is an all-in-one communication management service.
Ontraport takes communication a step further by offering SMS and snail mail services. When I talked to one of their VP’s about the product, she told me “if you can think it, the platform can most likely do it.” That’s confidence in your product, and although we haven’t found this to be the case completely, we haven’t had a lot of problems.
Write emails once and set them to send to your clients at designated times during their journey and how they interact with your emails and website.
Cost: $299 / month
HipChat is a great tool for businesses to communicate. It’s a chat service built for companies that combines the power of group chat and simplicity of IM with the administrative controls that companies need.
Our team uses Hip Chat to communicate in effective ways. We’ve created private rooms for management and a room for everyone on the team – a virtual water cooler of sorts where everyone can talk and share links. This creates a fun and personal atmosphere amongst the team. You can also send files quickly and easily to each other or to an entire team for review.
We don’t take advantage of the video chat and screen sharing features in the paid version as we simply haven’t had a need to use them with all the free features on Google Hangouts, but if you’re looking to streamline your software, then it is a useful tool.
Pro Tip: Create your own animated emoticons that reflect the culture in your company. This allows you to bring the chat to life and add energy to the conversation. We use fun, and funny, emoticons when celebrating a milestone or just to lighten up the mood of the group and get everyone smiling.
Cost: Basic: Free Group chat, basic messaging, file sharing, unlimited users, and integrations. Plus: $2/user/month with video chat, screen sharing, file sharing, unlimited users, and integrations.
MightyText is an SMS and MMS instant messenger used for Android users so that one can send a text from any device. Send and receive text messengers from your current computer or tablet using your Android phone number, and it syncs with your phone’s inbox. MightyText also allows a user to easily store photos and videos from their phone to their computer and edit/apply Instagram-like filters. Other features include viewing multiple conversations simultaneously, texting from Gmail, getting alerts of the synced phone battery life, as well as, call notifications.
In all honesty, my original use of MightyText was out of pure jealousy of my iPhone counterparts who were able to text from their laptops. I don’t like texting from my phone – just too cumbersome. Texting from MightyText isn’t perfect. I find that about 80% of texts go through, but it’s so much easier for me and I find that I send 10x the number of texts, which allows me to keep in touch with friends much more easily.
Contactually is a customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps manage a company’s interactions with current and future customers. This technology helps you and your team to gain business from your existing network of relationships by organizing automating and improving your communication. Contactually uses your major communication channels, like email, phone, social media, etc. to help you connect with the right people. Contactually also provides template tools to help you streamline your follow up process with multiple people.
I use Contactually to keep in touch with friends, family, and business contacts.
Pro Tip: When you start out, create a Word document or spreadsheet listing all the possible labels of your contacts and what those labels may mean. For example, one of my contacts might be in the fitness industry, be a business owner, a member of my Platinum Mastermind Community, and someone who loves soccer. I can apply all those labels to their contact, and when I want to send a message to someone in either of those groups, I can use the labels as a filter. This makes keeping in contact with an extensive network much easier. It’s easy to run into the problem of having multiple labels for the same category if you don’t take time to plan ahead of time. For example, I had a label fitpro, fitness professional, and personal trainer. All those are different for me, but when I’m working on the fly, or have someone else on my team managing my contacts, it ‘s hard to distinguish who’s who.
Cost: Free trial with this affiliate link $29/mo (what I use right now) to $99/mo
I’d like to think that I have a good grasp of the English language – I’m a native to the US, have a college degree, owned a magazine for many years, and write often. I’d like to think that anyway. I tried Grammarly’s free service on my Chrome browser after hearing about it from a friend and fellow writer. To my surprise, the Chrome app found typo after typo on emails and social media where I would typically whip something out and just press send. The app forced me to stop and reconsider what I was writing. Besides just a spell checker, Grammarly checks your grammar, sentence structure, style, and in the premium version (which I HIGHLY recommend) it offers vocabulary enhancement and a way to check for plagiarism.
What’s even better is that this is not only a Chrome app, but Grammarly also has an add-on for Microsoft Word, which I’m using now to write this book. You, the reader, would have been forced to read the same words over and over again as I apparently don’t have much originality to the way I describe the use of software programs and tools.
Cost: Free for basic and $29.95 /month for premium plan (which I recommend)
SlideShare allows you to easily share and find slideshow presentations. This sharing option is great for those that speak regularly and want to share their presentations with their audience, or the masses. Since this site is crawled by the search engines, savvy marketers use it to promote their goods and services as well. It’s also a good place to conduct research. Now owned by LinkedIn, SlideShare also is used for lead generation. In fact, they have a slideshow about that.
Survey Monkey makes creating surveys to send out to your audience easy and seamless. Their interface is intuitive and allows for a multitude of survey options – some free and some paid. Our team will use these surveys for market research, lead generation, or even to find out where our next company party should be held.
Cost: Free and paid version starting at $25 + / month