Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Brian Keith May

Resources

On a daily basis, there are dozens of different tools that I use to run my business and many more that I have previously used that are also very good, but I just do not have a use for now. I put this list together as a resource of the tools that I recommend. As things change, I will try my best to keep this page up to date. Some of these tools are free and some are paid. Feel free to choose the tools that work best for you and please do not pay for tools that you do not have an immediate need for. If you think it is something you will use in the future, purchase the tool at the time that you will need it.

Webhosting

  • Blue Host – I have several hosts over the years and the two that have proven to be the best have been Bluehost and Hostgator. Honestly, not much difference between the two. Both services have very strong customer support systems and are very reliable. I used 1&1 for a few years and there were just too many headaches and incompatibilites with WordPress that I had to move my domains. I am now split between Hostgator and Bluehost and no problems. I used a shared hosting solution which is plenty for most web entrepreneurs. If you need a dedicated hosting solution or outgrow the shared solution, you will know when it is time and there are plenty of providers out there. Bluehost and Hostgator will be fine for more than 97% of websites.
  • Hostgator – Please read Bluehost description above as I covered both services in that review.

Here is a video of my comparison of Blue Host and Hostgator.

E-mail Autoresponder

  • Aweber – Aweber is a quality solution for e-mail marketing with auto-responders. It can be used for broadcast messages like newsletters, but in my opinion auto-responders is the best functionality. Pricing starts at $19 per month and increase incrementally over 500 subscribers. This is great for beginners or even advanced marketers that know they will not use all of the bells and whistles of some of the other solutions like shopping carts, lead scoring, and list segmenting. If any of those extra features are needed, then Aweber may not be the best solution. I have used Aweber of several sites for over three years and have been very happy. One important aspect of e-mail marketing that must be considered is e-mail deliverability. Even if you get better pricing with another solution, make sure that the e-mail deliverability is also high which Aweber performs very well.
  • Infusionsoft – I put Infusionsoft into the e-mail auto-responder category, but it really could also fall into the CRM category because it is so much more than just an e-mail auto-responder. Infusionsoft is a marketing automation platform that allows you to continually improve your marketing efforts based on the actions of your subscribers. You can set very complex rules on how to handle subscribers after they click certain links, open e-mails, or make purchases. This will help to make sure that the right message is being targeted to the most responsive audience. The pricing for Infusionsoft is much higher, starting  at $199 per month, but with features like shopping cart and lead scoring it is worth the investment.

Search Engine Rankings

  • Authority Labs – Authority Labs is a software service that tracks keyword rankings across your domains. In my full Authority Labs Review, I detail several reasons why I believe Authority Labs is the best in the business. Outside of a small issue with exporting time, which has greatly improved, but is still not great, most users will be very satisfied with the quality of the Authority Labs service. There is a cost to the service, but it is cheaper than most other similar software services.
  • Raven Tools – Raven Tools is an excellent program for automated reporting for social media, SEO, PPC, and Google Analytics. I do not use Raven Tools at this time because for about a year, they did not support keyword rankings which greatly reduced the value of the service for me. In the last few months, they have added ranking data back to their dashboard which is makes it extremely valuable again.
  • Rank Checker by SEOBook.com – Rank Checker is a free tool from Aaron Wall at SEOBook that is great for checking ranking data quickly. It is a Firefox plugin and he gives it away free. The plugin is very good for Google ranking information, but has had some accuracy issues with Bing and Yahoo over the last several months which I am sure Aaron and his team are working to quickly repair. Even if you use a paid tool, it is worth it to use Rank Checker as a cross reference since there is not anny cost.

Collaboration

  • Join.me – This solution has been a huge time-saver in problem solving and work collaboration. It has a free option that works perfectly for screen sharing and working together. This is what I use when someone is trying to explain to me what they are seeing or if I want them to see what is on my computer. This is much easier than going through the process of creating a Gotomeeting.
  • Dropbox – Dropbox is cloud storage that works very smoothly with your computer. You just setup a folder on your machine and it automatically syncs that folder in the cloud so that you have a backup. It is also great for file sharing between multiple people as you can grant permissions to different people for different folders. IT is free up to 10GB and starts to cost after that. I have tried Google Docs and Dropbox extensively and Dropbox wins by a land slide for me. Just much easier to use and used by many more people so there is less of a learning curve.
  • Google Docs – Not going to spend much time on this option as I use it because many people share information with me through Google Docs, but I am not really a big fan of Google Docs. I think that there are too many restrictions and lacks the functionality to really replace Microsoft Office for me. It is great for sall files and images, but really stuggles with advanced fornulas and functions.

Webinar

  • Gotomeeting.com – Gotomeeting is one the two major online meeting and webinare platforms. I have not had any issues with this service and it has been a tremendous time saver as I can meet and present to peope all over the world without needing grab a flight every time. I can host back-to-back meetings without any travel time. By this point, I would assume that 95% of the people reading this have already used Gotomeeting as either a presnter or a observer so this serves ore as a reminder than a recommedation.

Keyword Research

  • SEO Book Keyword Tool –  There are thousands of keyword tools on the market, but SEObook is one of the best because of it’s ease of use. I could be slightly biased because it is also one of the older solutions and many of the options that have come after their tool have simply been copy cat solutions. In addition to giving good idea, ther is functionality to make keyword combination, modifiers, and match types which are huge time savers when working on pay-per-click marketing.
  • Wordtracker – Wordtracker is also a good resource because it does a valuable drill-down on keywords so that you can build campaigns and your strategy around not just the main keyword that you want to rank for, but also subsequent searches that will move you further down the conversion funnel where people are searching for terms with more intent on making purchasing decisions.
  • Google Keyword Planner (Formerly Keyword Tool)  – This is a good update for the Google Keyword tool that offered a lot of keyword options, but honestly had become very stale and had estimates that were innacurate. This new tools ties the keyword recommendations closer to high volumes and related searches.

Landing Pages

  • Unbounce – With a lot of built-in, easy-to-use templates, Unbounce is a great solution for launching landing pages quickly. It also integrates directly with Google Analytics and most of the e-mail marketing providers which makes it easy to use. It also partners with Visual Website Optimizer for on-page testing and improvements.
  • Lead Pages – Honestly, I have not used this solution yet, although it is one of the most recommended solutions in the industry right now. I read through all of their information and was close to making a purchase, but decided that it was not worth the effort and learning curve to switch from my existing pages on a variety of different platforms and CMS’s. This recommendation is merely based of the recommendation of the service by so many others.
  • Optimize Press – This is a one time fee versus a monthly fee for the other two recommended solutions. This software is regularly updated and very easy to use. With dozens of different templates to support sales pages. e-mail capture, and direct sales, there is an easy solution for all.

Analytics

  • Google Analytics – Free tracking tool that is easily the best around, even better than the high-priced paid solutions. It offers all of the bells and whistles to track any online action ad measure results. You can use it as simply as you want to just track visits and pageviews or you can go as deep as needed for attribution modeling, funnel development, and e-commerce tracking. With the added option of inputting marketing cost data and revenue, this is a full solution that is needed for analytics measurements.

Outsourcing

    • Odesk.com – There are several sites for finding freelance workers and my experience with Odesk.com has by far been the best. I have used both hourly and project workers and what I like the most about Odesk is that I hire a contractor for hourly work, they must be logged into the system to record hours. While they are logged into the system, there are random screenshots being taken of their screen so that I can ensure that I am receiving their time and attention while they are charging me for their time. This also helps to coach up contractors if there are errors or breakdowns in process. This also could just be my experience, but there seems to be higher quality workers on Odesk and my quess is this is due to the many available tests that workers can take to qualify themselves. When I am searching for an contractor, I narrow the field by using criteria of tests passed, hours worked, and overall rating. This quickly narrows the list to a manageable number of people to review and talk with. Odesk.com is a great resource for supplementing your workforce or finding skilled workers to complete important tasks.
    • Fiverr.com – I have been totally blown away with Fiverr.com and what people are willing to do for $5 (get your mind out of the gutter). I have used Fiverr A LOT. From having custom voicemails recorded to link building and graphic design. The people on Fiverr are good and there is no haggling over fees or turnaround time as that is all set before you even talk with them. There are addons for each job that you can purchase, but typically not needed to get a quality results. I have purchased the addons when the situation required it, but most of the my purchases have been just for the base job. Take a look around Fiverr.com and I think you will also be pleasantly surprised how far your $5 can go.

Blogs To Read

  • Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs To Read
  • Top Search Engine Marketing Blogs To Read
  • Top Entrepreneur Blogs To Read

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.