When I sat down to write this blog post, I was assuming I’d do a little list of 5-10 top apps we use in our business. A few minutes into it, I was like holy cow we use a lot (my editor called me a nerd when she saw the list lol).
It’s true, this is a LOT… but, we’ve developed a unique stack that helps us out in a variety of areas and I thought we might share some of the amazing ones we found!
Every business app“Stack” will be a bit customized based on what you are doing, but maybe you’ll find a few helpful systems in here that can reduce some overwhelm and make your day just a bit easier.
We use Hubstaff as a time tracking application for our Team members, to control our billing cycles and also help us to understand where time in the company is being spent. It’s not so much about “controlling” the hours online as it is to keep everyone accountable and on track. Hubstaff has great price points, a simple technology that screenshots your computer, and an easy way to integrate in hourly amounts so we simply get our bi-weekly reports to send payments.
We’ve used a variety of time tracking and we continually come back to Hubstaff for their ease of use.
Trello has been my favorite Project Management / Kanban board system released and I’ve tried a variety. I know plenty of people who really push for Jira(and I’ve never really been a big fan of Atlassian products, but since they just bought them I might need to change that belief), but Trello has been a very easy to use solution (plus it’s free!) to integrate our Development, Operations, Marketing, and To do lists into.
We use specific categories (as an example here’s our development categories): Backlog, Weekly Sprint, In Progress, Customer buglist, Buglist, On staging Ready to test, Confirmed – Product Review, and Ready to be merged to Production.
We’ve also created a pretty big BACKLOG BACKLOG (lol) of large scale to do’s to keep the day to day boards a bit simpler and neater without the overwhelm of a million to do’s.
Pretty simple, but we use our Google Apps account to sync with Google Drive to create documentation, blog articles, spec breakdowns, and anything of key importance we want to share with the team. It makes it easy to add in/out team members, edit articles, and keep collaboration in one simple area.
This is pretty similar to Google Drive, but we do set up a Google Apps account for all our team, so that we can create Domain specific emails, security permissions, and the operations side stuff for our team. Creating team emails is not only a needed way to keep things internal in the company, but a big booster of energy for online team members, as it’s a definitely win for a bonding moment to the company. Make sure that all communications flow through this new email, so that one day you can redirect those emails into a new bucket and not miss a single thing. Creations of GROUPS makes it easy to also set up company specific email buckets for Marketing, Sales, Product etc.. for a very cheap price.
You’ll have to change a few mail side server things to make sure you get your email, but once it’s there it’s so easy to keep all company assets in 1 simple place.
This is our Key central hub for day to day communication. Definitely recommend you check out Slack and even get set up for their business account IF you are not set up already. The key thing here is like any communication platform is in the usage of the software. It can be very easy to get caught in chit chat for fun, so make sure to use it manage team communication at the RIGHT times. Wet set up a variety of different slack channels with different purposes to focus on key topics in there (and use threads as need to deep dive into those sections).
Our general channel is operational things or announcements and sub sections based on development, monitoring, updates, customer notification etcs…
Everything we try to do is then fed directly into Slack to make sure all notes/usage is kept in a central location.
This is our Development Repository that we use for our Demio Project. This serves as a Barrier for us in a few ways. One is a Failsafe for our Development project, so that we always have a backup of our code in a repo that is then pushed into a Production ready server environment. We can review code pushes, changes, fallbacks to old code, bring in multiple developers working on a single project (merges), and sync it with a staging or production branch.
All of these items give us more flexibility, scale, stability, safety, and ultimately protection for the company. We tie in all Merges/updates into Slack so we can even see what’s happening, by whom, and when.
As an automation tool, this is a must have in ANY online business’ arsenal in 2017. Zapier is absolutely amazing and really the key item that can tie ANY of these apps together. Zapier is an API base that connects apps and API’s together across the web. We do things like integrating Calendly + Active Campaign, Stripe + Active Campaign, Slack Integrations, Demio Integrations, Timed based automations (using their timers), and a whole lot more.
If you are not using it, I highly highly recommend you get signed up, even their delayed starter plans are insanely valuable to save you time and energy.
We’ve honestly found some SUPER talented amazing employees and contractors on Upwork, so I never want to discount this resource. From our entire testing team (consisting of over 30 contractors who run a weekly test webinar with us) to some of best talented team members, we’ve scoured the deep network of Upwork. The key goal here is in FILTERING talent out and making job posts that really bring forward the best talent. Most of the time the great people on Upwork are not actively looking, so that means you need to get into headhunting mode and search then reach out to applicants, but if you can take some time… you’ll be surprised at the great talent you can find! (Remember to use this hiring and culture process to get started).
LinkedIn has been a big win for us in terms of finding and recruiter great candidates for positions. Along with WeWorkRemote.com (not an App, but great resource nonetheless) this is a great application to upgrade to, to search and find great candidates. The key goal here is selecting and thinking of great keywords, as well as, a great reachout email that really gets candidates excited or interested in your position.
This is a great application to get contracts rocking and rolling without any pain of handwritten signatures anymore. We integrate with Google Apps accounts and have templated contracts already written (employee contracts, vesting schedules, offboarding contracts, etc…) to make sure that we can easily go through any pending legal or HR process that needs to be done. A quick easy win and you can do up to 3 for free!
As a CRM/Autoresponder – Active Campaign has been a simple and easy choice for us so far. We’ve also been super impressed by DRIP and MarketHero (both showing great automations and flexibility), but honestly we’ve been so dug into ActiveCampaign that it has made it bit harder to move into another application. That being said, since we are set up in Active Campaign we’ve worked hard to create great email automation.
The integrations with our marketing applications has been a breeze using zapier (or Demio Automations) and have even added website specific automations, based on what users are doing on our website using their new Website Script.
We moved from Infusionsoft years ago, and honestly have not looked back!
Having a landing page software application is a HUGE need for your marketing stack and you have plenty of options to choose from. From Leadpages, Instapage, OptimizePress, Thrive Themes, to a variety of others you’ll never run out of variance. Clickfunnels has been our recent platform of choice for our Campaigns since they are so easy to set up, duplicate, and see our metrics.
We then use the Clickfunnels WordPress plugin to them add them to our marketing landing page subdomain for advertising campaigns, lead generation, or promotional campaigns.
For scarcity driven campaigns, there’s no better application to use than Deadline Funnel. This countdown timer can be eased in Emails, Landing pages, Demio (coming soon perhaps?), and evergreen campaigns to track your urgency driven marketing with a strategic uniform timer.
Scarcity is by far one of the STRONGEST methods of objection overcomes and this tool will give you the best coverage across all devices and platforms in just seconds.
For our opt-in and checkout pages, we know the power of social proof to increase sign up, register, and checkout so we’ve always put a major focus on listing testimonials when we can. When we found the tool from the Proof team, we knew we had a winner. Proof automatically displays REAL user info from a webinar sign up, opt-in form, or purchase and we can list it on our website to increase trust and boost our conversions at checkout.
It’s been an absolute MUST-ADD to your marketing tool kit.
Along with the Google App set up for our internal operations, we use Google Analytics to track website, app, and event usage using the Google Analytics platform. With it’s new Demographic and age range settings, events, conversions, and source tracking it’s a great way to see all your tracking in 1 area.
If you want to get a bit deeper with tracking by traffic source or campaign and you’re a bit overwhelmed by Google Analytics, you an also take a look at Improvely for conversion based metrics directly related to a specific funnel.
Mention has been a great add on to our Social Marketing Toolkit, by alerting us to keywords on Social media related to topics. For our initial social outreach strategy that was connecting on a variety of keywords including things like: Webinar Platforms, Best Webinars Platforms, Webinar Software, Demio, What Webinar software, etc…
We could then reach out to potential people to have conversations and at the same time see customer or testimonials being shared around social media.
We’ve used BuzzSumo to find and create social lists of Influencers on Social for following and engaging with as well as sending advertising too. We’ve been able to create unique and powerful influencer lists to then run our content to in order to stay topical across the board.
BuzzSumo can also be used to find trending topics on social, find key influencers on Social, and follow do some competitive research.
One of our Favorite companies, like ever. Wistia is absolutely amazing from it’s user interface to it’s ease of use, it has become the best video marketing platform on the market and whenever we are using anything related to video we are uploading into Wistia.
They have main it so easy to upload, host, and share marketing and business videos in a secure area. With great hosting plans and plenty of marketing automations you can do, you’d be foolish to host anywhere else!
All of our Sales and Customer demos are planned right through Calendly. We’ve set it up directly into the Demio calendar and organized the link right on our website so prospective customers can easily choose a date/time to meet with me one on one. With these Demo’s we’ll then go through and create a Demio Meeting to get together.
Using Zapier, we then Zap the user into our CRM (Active Campaign) and fire off specific day timed automation emails to them prior to the event to prepare them for what’s upcoming.
It’d be weird if we owned a marketing and sales platform and never used it in our own marketing stack, right? Demio is a HUGE piece of everything we do from 1-on-1 Demos, Sales Webinars, Lead Generation Campaigns (with like live replays), Monthly Live Q and A, Team meetings and even our Free Live Demio Discover Show (check it out here).
This has become a staple in our toolbox across the board and the ease of integrations has made it invaluable to our lead generation campaigns. You’ll definitely want some way to connect with your audience easily, and Demio makes it so!
Thinkific (or Wishlist Member)
We’ve typically hosted our Membership Site (The Demio Academy) inside of Wishlist Member + WordPress for years, but it’s such a pain to set up and get going. Then when you are done, you don’t have an easy way to set up quizzes, surveys, and keep progress going. So we’ve started working with the amazing team at Thinkific and moving our entire membership area into Thinkific.
If you’re doing anything with a membership area, definitely check out how simple it is to get set up and running at Thinkific.
This is our API monitoring applicaiton that we tie directly into Slack. We use this make sure our API is consistently operational and not running into any pending bugs/issues that need to be addressed. We’ll tag in a Monitoring Channel that can be used and then @ tag our key engineers who need to take a look when it’s in key moments.
For anyone using a NODE based application, I highly recommend the guys over at Keymetrics. They’ve done an amazing job with their Application monitoring service which shows our engineering team the exceptions that may be calling issues or bugging out. We tie these major alerts directly into Slack in a special Node Monitoring channel to keep a close eye constantly on what may be happening. We can react in real time to any issues and make sure we’re always operational.
AmazonS3 / Elastic Beanstalk
Besides the internal architecture structure, we use AWS for a variety of key items on development from Recording uploads, account info, profile picture, recording graphics, internal marketing promotions, and even run our own internal logging stack in here. This allows us to scale out as we need with logs and files and then scale it down the next month. This also gives us the safety to run specific items without worrying of crashing or losing specific items.
Sentry is another logging application we use to run logging and alerts for any PHP related issues and exceptions. As there are SO many small things that can fire here, we typically make these in rank of priority and will then post them into Customer Bug tickets if a problem persists. This helps us watch and check what’s going on directly inside of user accounts from a bug list area as well.
Godsend. That’s the only way I can really add a note here for Stripe. ABSOLUTELY Love what they have done and their new UI updates makes it even easier to use. Stripe was really created for developers, so their API and integrations with systems has never been easier. Whether its upgrading users in their accounts and prorating the amounts on demand, to simple CC updates, integrations with reporting dashboards, and even integrations into risk mitigation systems like Recurly – Stripe is created for the modern business.
They do often have some issues with international payments and I’ve seen high failures from free trials, but a matured account will slowly start doing better. Use a system like Baremetrics to integrate and help find where the issues are with CC and recouping costs.
Absolutely highly recommend, Baremetrics and the amazing platform Josh Pigford has put together over here. This is a running metrics dashboard that shows you in real time the stats that matter most to your business from: MRR, Net Revnue, Churn, ARPU, LTV, Revenue Churn, New Customers, Re-activations etc…
They are constantly adding in new features and updates to make it even easier to run / view the financials, run forecasting, or even get Trial Insights to get a running update of trial conversions at ANY Time. Plus their UI is gold!
Running your books can be a HUGE mental suck (especially if you’re like me and you’re not good at staring at Spreadsheets for hours on end). Bench makes it so simple by creating very secure API connections with your banks / merchant accounts (like stripe) to run automatic bookkeeping services for you, offering P/L and Accounting worksheets at any time. They’ve created a solid “Product as as Service” (PaaS) business with Accountants behind the scene who can reconcile your accounts or do consultations with you monthly to review the numbers.
Plug your CPA or CFO directly into bench and get the reports when you need them for better projections or tax related needs! Voila!