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10 Tools for Running Your Business in the Cloud

The introduction of Cloud services and Web apps has significantly lowered the barriers to starting and running a marketing team or business. Get an expert's advice on how to help your business market faster, with a lot less stress.

By
Diane S. Thieke,
June 12, 2013

 

The introduction of Cloud services and Web apps has significantly lowered the barriers to starting and running a marketing team or business. Everything from Web development to accounting is now more accessible to nonprofessionals and do-it-yourselfers.

Marketers in businesses large and small benefit because common tasks are now widgetized or automated, so that it’s possible to focus developers and designers on higher value endeavors. New collaboration tools make teamwork more efficient and effective.

What’s more, the Cloud enables seamless access to your administrative and creative work from any device in any location.

Here are 10 amazing tools that will help you get to market faster, with a whole lot less work and stress.

  1. Evernote is one of my favorite tools. It’s a cross between a notebook and a scrapbook. Use it to organize your thoughts, clip and save articles from the Web, and take notes during meetings.

  2. With Apple iCloud and Dropbox, you can store documents in the cloud, making your work accessible from everywhere. I’ve moved seamlessly from laptop to iPhone on the train to iPad in a meeting – without missing a beat.

  3. Wordpress now powers half of the world’s top blogs. This content management system is primarily a blogging platform, but is flexible enough to create a unique, customized website for your business. It’s also very easy to use. Anyone comfortable with Microsoft Word can publish to your website, so it’s perfect for teams. There are two versions: .com and .org. Wordpress.org allows for greater customization and is more flexible, so it’s better for businesses. Wordpress.com, with its off-the-shelf themes, is perfect for your weekend blogger.

  4. Rackspace. Several services will host your website and email domains. I’ve found Rackspace to be very reliable with good security.

  5. Wishlist creates a subscription paywall for your content on your Wordpress blog. This is a great way to monetize those ebooks or courses.

  6. Storyboardthat.com is an automated tool that creates storyboards. Use it for creating advertising, mapping out thought-leadership pieces, planning video or commercials, or even marketing campaigns.

  7. Google offers a range of free tools that improve team collaboration and website performance. Google Docs and Calendar improve team efficiency. Google Hangouts offer instant video conferencing, which is perfect for dispersed teams. Google Analytics, Adwords and Keyword Insights are essential for improving your SEO.

  8. Skype provides both video and teleconference calling for a low fee. It’s a bit more secure than other free services, and the call quality is good. An added benefit is that you can dial landlines and cell phones and make international calls all for a low monthly fee that’s far less than your major carrier.

  9. MailChimp, MadMimi and other email vendors simplify email marketing with dozens of attractive newsletter templates and list management features. They also help keep you avoid violating CAN-SPAM laws by automating unsubscribes.

  10. Freshbooks is a basic accounting and bookkeeping program that even a math-hater will love. It allows you to track time (and therefore assess productivity), create estimates and invoices in a snap, manage your expenses by downloading directly from your credit card, and create profit and loss statements for your tax accountant.

There has never been a more economical time to be an entrepreneur, small business owner, or marketing professional. This list is just a sampling of the many great services emerging on the Web to automate tasks and streamline operations. What other tools are you using?

Diane S. Thieke is the president and founder of Simply Talk Media, a digital media marketing consultancy. With more than 25 years in digital media and technology, she helps clients build stronger relationships with their customers and communities, using both social and traditional channels. Follow her on Twitter at @thiekeds or visit her blog at www.simplytalkmedia.com/blog.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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