80+ Tools For Online Business

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When I started writing this post I thought of only 10 items to share. Well…I fooled myself. Big time.

I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it I came up with a list of 51 tools and resources for online business. Things that I’m either currently using or have used in the last 18 months.

Took a break. Made myself a cup of coffee. Suddenly I remembered, “Hey! I know of another 20+ tools I’ve enjoyed”.

God help me.

I had to force myself to stop at 80. Rant over.

Before I continue, I need to clarify who this article is written for.

If you’re the founder of a startup, this list will give you dozens of stuff to try out and consider. If you have a small business or entrepreneur who wants an edge in the online space, then this is something you can chew on.

Please note: 90% of the tools I have personally used. I didn’t feel like doing a roundup of tools that I personally have never worked with. So feel free to share with me anything that you feel is missing. I will then personally go check out the tool and add it here if it lives up to my expectations :)


 80+ tools and resources are all grouped under alphabetical categories:


Advertising Platforms

Why use it:  Advertising allows businesses to quickly validate whether or not something will work over the long term. Advertising can be used as a testing platform as well as a growth mechanic. The two platforms below provide easy access into a global market and is highly cost effective if used correctly. I’ve used both of them to validate ideas, generate leads (lots of them) and drive eyeballs to my content.

googleadwordsGoogle Adwords (paid): There are roughly 11 billion searches on Google per month. That’s a helluva lot of people hungry for information.  Google’s Adwords program offers you the ability to tap into that opportunity. You can write and publish ads that display on the search results. The ads are triggered based on a keyword a user typed in – a keyword that you loaded into the system. You only pay when someone clicks on the ad. The system in reality is a lot more complex than that, but you get the idea. People who are searching for something are a lot more receptive to advertising messaging as opposed to someone just being served a banner. You’re not pushing advertising onto them. They’re searching for it. You’re pulling them in.


facebookadsFacebook Ads (paid): Facebook ads work very well for me. It’s great for lead generation when you have a proper lead generation page. You can be super targeted with your ads – really zone into your customer profile. If your business already have a Facebook Business Page, you can run specific ads to help you grow its fan base.



Business & Brand Protection

Why use it:  You’ve worked really hard to build your business, get it online, create great content and share it with the world. Then suddenly someone steals it or someone badmouths your brand.

plagiumPlagium (free & paid): Don’t let people rip off your content. If you suspect that someone might be plagiarizing your content, simply copy and paste it into Plagium OR click the “Submit URL” tab and run the page address. It will show you exactly who has copied your content.


googlealertsGoogle Alerts (free): A very handy alerts tool. Simply add your brand name and save your alert. Google will deliver the alerts to your Google account email address. This is a great tool to keep track of bloggers or other publishers talking about your brand.


tweetalarmTweetAlarm (free): Like they say on their website. It’s like Google Alerts for Twitter. Things can spread like wildfire on Twitter, and quick. With TweetAlarm you simply set the keywords or hashtags you would like to monitor (specific to your business off course) and set the alert frequency. TweetAlarm will make sure to not include tweets coming from your own account. Pretty nifty!


hyperalertsHyperAlerts (free & paid): What about Facebook! Thank heavens for HyperAlerts. Works pretty much the same as TweetAlarm. Simply add your business fan page to the HyperAlerts monitoring list and set your notification interval.


Cloud Storage

Why use it:  If you need to store data and have access to it from anywhere at any time, then cloud storage is the answer. It’s effective and cost effective. Top cloud storage players aggressively work around the clock to provide more for less. The below cloud storage services are what I use.

googledriveGoogle Drive (free 15gb): I’m a huge fan of Google Drive. I’ve got the apps installed on all my mobile and desktop devices. What I like most is that I can edit documents. Why would you use this? Well, if you travel a lot then then you can take your files with you anywhere. As long as you have a web connection. You get 15gb of free space and you can increase the size for a small fee.


onedriveOneDrive (free 7gb): Microsoft only gives you 7GB of free space. While it lacks in space it makes up elsewhere. It supports all major mobile devices – Android, iOS, Windows Phone and believe it or not…wait for it…Blackberry. Most impressive feature is the ability to collaborate across operating systems – it works with Windows and Mac. It lacks when it comes to integration with other 3rd party tools due to limited access to its API.


dropbox_001Dropbox (free 2gb): A household name by now for sure. The Dropbox desktop app is available for download on Windows, Mac and Linux. For mobile it’s available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Regardless of how big Microsoft and Google is, Dropbox is the only service that currently natively supports Linux. It also used to be the only cloud storage service to support Blackberry. That’s until March 2014 when OneDrive announced their app for BB.


Consumer Demand Research Tools

Why use it:  Search engine giants like Google get millions of searches per day. They collect all of that data. You can validate your product ideas by looking at how strong the current demand is for the topics or interests around the product. You can also use it to gauge whether or not it’s worth spending money on advertising.

googlekeywordplannerAdwords Keyword Tool (free): Let’s say you have a computer repair business in Los Angeles and would like to know how many people are interested in that type of service. If you’ve signed up to the Google Adwords program, you get access to its keyword planner! The keyword planner has recently been updated to include trend data.


consumerbarometerConsumer Barometer (free):  This tool provides deep insights into how people in 39 countries  actually go about researching and purchasing different products and service throughout all channels – both online AND offline! The tool doesn’t spit out silly stuff either. Data and insights were collected via surveys and the sample size in each country had to be at least 2,500 people. Some more advanced countries had bigger sample sizes as can be expected. Oh and the data is updated every year. This is an incredible tool for any business owner or marketer who needs to understand where and how to position it’s marketing communication throughout the respective channels. An amazing piece of work.


statsgrokseGrok (free): Wikipedia is the biggest content hub on the web. It ranks number 1 for almost any keyword out there. Guess what, the stats on how many times each of those pages gets viewed are open to the public. A guys named Domas Mituzas put together a system to gather the access statistics from Wikipedia. Thanks dude! All you need to do is Google the keyword (don’t go too narrow) and take the name of the article and put it in Grok.




Contact Management

Why use it:  If you subscribe to the newsletter publications of thought leaders, wouldn’t it benefit your business to get in contact with those leaders, at some point? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to know which social networks they use? Off course all these things will be pretty damn cool to have. And now you can. Check out my favorite two tools below:

rapportiveRapportive (free): Imagine being able to see all the social media profiles information of your Gmail contacts? Sounds pretty rad right? That’s because it is. Rapportive is impressive, and you’ll notice it the very first time you use it. Simply install Rapportive to your Gmail. Open up a recent email sent to you and voila – suddenly all their information is available in the right sidebar. Where they work, their social media info and even a list of most recent emails exchanged between the two of you.


xobniXobni (free): Rapportive only works for Gmail. Xobni works for everything (includes Outlook), but at a price. There’s been some changes to the company recently. They’ve been acquired by Yahoo!. We might see Xobni getting a revamp and it’s features being bolstered.



Customer Research

Why use it: One of the most important steps before and during growth stages of a business is to VALIDATE your ideas, concepts or products. Without validation from real people, you risk building a business around something that doesn’t really solve a problem or there being a need for.


gutcheckGutCheck (paid): GutCheck allows you to do one-on-one interviews via video chat features – qualitative research! For businesses trying to validate anything, qualitative feedback is the best thing out there. Oh and they’re not expensive either. Way to go guys!


surveymonkeySurveyMonkey (free & paid): With SurveyMonkey you can build an online survey. The survey can be shared via link or embedded it on your website or Facebook page. Their free account allows you to ask 10 questions with 100 responses max per month.  One would use the self-service tool if you have an existing audience you can tap into. But what if you don’t? SurveyMonkey also have a global survey panel (50 countries) which you can tap into. Supply them with your targeting criteria, geo-location preference and how many responses you want, and they’ll spit out a quote for you. Pricing varies depending on your brief.


Design services

Why use it: I never went to design school. I don’t have the skills to design great websites or landing pages. I also like to boostrap by not spending thousands on design agencies. Luckily I found these two websites.

99designs99Designs (paid): It’s a competition marketplace where designers compete for prize money. The prize money is basically your ‘budget’. They compete against a design brief that you create. What’s great is that you get to see several designs before you pick your winner.


fiverrFiverr (paid): Pay $5 dollars and get someone to design you a logo, or maybe a book cover? Try Fiverr. I’ve used it for small jobs. Don’t expect world-class work for $5 though.



Email Marketing Automation

Why use it: Building an email subscriber list is without question the most important thing for growing your business. Email is king. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Email still dominates the world. It’s our primary form of contact. However, an email subscriber list is only good if you keep in contact with them. Doing it manually will kill you. That’s why services like the below exist – to make it easy. The three listed below I have personally used.

getresponse Getresponse (paid): Probably the leader in the market right now.  GetResponse gives you everything – signup forms, beautiful landing pages, email template creation, spam tests, top notch delivery rates, a friggin mobile app and a whole lot more.  I use their service and I love it. Best damn purchase I ever made.


campaignmonitorCampaign Monitor (paid): Also one of the best out there. Pricey though. Some of my clients use this and I’ve had an opportunity to play around with the backend on many occasions. Very easy to use! They also have great integration capability. Lightning fast support.


mailchimpMailchimp (free & paid): A first-in-class for sure. A bit on the pricey side once you go over the free plan. Did I say free? Yes, they have a free plan! You get your first 2000 subscribers for free! If you are starting a business and need to keep costs down, then go with their free account. It’s the perfect place to start in my opinion.


aweberAweber (paid): Confession! I have never used Aweber before. There are tons of people who use it and love it, especially marketers – die hard fans. Aweber, being so popular and all, probably has the most app integration capability amongst all the email solutions.


Images and Photos

Why use it: Having stunning visuals for your website, blog and product content is key. If you’re trying to differentiate yourself from your competition, this is where you can get the edge quickly – by making sure you have stunning visuals across your marketing touch points. Below are the 3 services I use regularly.

istockiStockphoto (paid): I use iStockphoto most of the time. It’s got a massive database of quality stock photography with thousands being exclusive to iStockphoto. You can grab a



dreamstimeDreamstime (paid): Sometimes if an image is too pricey on iStockphoto, I find it on Dreamstime.



photopinPhotoPin (free): A search engine for finding creative common photos. If you don’t want to splash out money on images, this is a great site to start with. When you do a search for images you’ll notice the first 2 rows on the results page are actually sponsored results. That’s because PhotoPin is an affiliate for Shutterstock – another stock photo supplier.


dotspinDotSpin (free & paid): Instagrammers also known as “Igers” have an eye for beautiful scenery. They take pretty pictures and share it with the world. Then someone came up with the idea of DotSpin. A place where Igers can sell their photos and the author doesn’t have to share who took it. Neat thing is, if you’re prepared to give the author credit you can use the pics free of charge.


Image Capture & Editing

Why use it: When working in a team, sometimes the writing can’t get a message across like a visual. Screen capture tools allow you to do just that. Without them, my days would be half as productive as they are now. Imagine ‘editing’ on the other hand is a whole different thing. I like to edit images. I don’t have formal design training, but I have spent countless hours in my earlier years learning tips and tricks. Because of that I can make a lot of quick iterations for my website without paying a designer to do it for me. Having said that, if it’s a huge job I outsource it.

snagitTechsmith Snagit (free trial): If you’ve never heard of SnagIt before, your life is about to change. Taking screenshots, editing them and putting them into Powerpoint, Word or your website content management system is a massive headache. People who still use Microsoft Paint to do this don’t know what they’re missing. It even has built in video capture. If that’s not enough, it even comes with a free app called “Techsmith Fuse”. With Fuse you can push any image to your SnagIt desktop editor in a few seconds.  Free trial available.


jingTechsmith Jing (free): This is a lighter version of Snagit. It doesn’t come with an editor, but it has super fast screenshot and sharing features. Making a screenshot and copying the image to your clipboard is lightning fast. Still beats paint by a zillion miles.


picpickPicPick (free): It’s like a swiss army knife. It can do screenshots pretty well and has an editor almost similar to SnagIt. Neither it’s screenshot nor editing capability is as good as SnagIt, but it’s a pretty good free option.


photoshopAdobe Photoshop (free trial): This is the KING of image editing software. The majority of epic designs you see today were most probably made in Adobe Photoshop. There are tons of tutorials on the web on how to do crazy cool stuff with Photoshop, but be warned, Photoshop has a bit of a learning curve.


gimp1Gimp (free): An open source (meaning free) editing tool with many similar features to Photoshop. Has a steep learning curve, so you’ll have to Google many ‘how-to’s’ when trying to do something in Gimp.



Landing Page Optimization Tools

Why use it: The goal with having a website or landing page is to have people who land on it, take action. Regardless of what the action is, you would want as much of it as you can get, aka your “conversion rate”. When I was doing affiliate marketing in 2003 I used to build loads of landing pages and drive Google Adwords traffic to them. I used to ‘split test’ the different pages. I had hundreds of pages on my server. Do you have any idea how much work and time it took to do split testing in the past? Today you won’t have that problem. I use the tool below to get the job done in minutes.

vwoVisual Website Optimizer (free trial):  Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) offers you the ability to run split tests on your landing pages. The genius thing about VWO is that the variations of your pages are not hosted on your website. It’s actually done inside VWO! It’s all done with fancy javascript manipulation. If you are going to do any form of paid advertising, you want to make sure that your landing page is optimal for conversions. Return on investment is what you’re after, right?


optimizelyOptimizely (free trial): I have no experience in Optimizely. What I can tell you is that it’s a direct competitor of Visual Website Optimizer. Optimizely also offers a product whereby you can run split tests on your web pages without actually making any code changes to the page itself. I created a trial account once and I’m disappointing that I didn’t take enough time to review the service. My agency only used Visual Website Optimizer and I’m well aware that Optimizely is a direct competitor. From what I have read elsewhere, users seem to feel that Optimizely is a little easier to use (less complicated). There are some reports that at some point the Optimizely script was sometimes problematic on commerce checkout forms, but this is likely resolved now.


clicktaleClicktale (free & paid): This is not a split testing tool. Clicktale is a high end onsite user experience analytics tool. It’s got really advanced click tracking, heat mapping, scroll mapping and form tracking tools that can tell you exactly where blockages or usability issues are on your page. A tool like Clicktale can identify problems easily. You can then test the potential solutions with tools like VWO or Optimizely!



CrazyEgg (free trial): CrazyEgg is also a user experience analytics tool, but in my opinion a little less advanced than Clicktale. For the beginner to novice user it’s perfect though. Also it’s far less expensive than Clicktale when it comes to recording and processing big chunks of data.


sessioncamSessionCam (free & premium option): Very different to all the above tools, but have some similar features.. Here you actually get recordings of how your visitors browsed your website. You read that right – you actually see how their mouse moves around the page. It’s got some flipping rad features like zooming in on form submissions. It can also show you how people used your site on a mobile phone. Some similar features include heat mapping, scroll mapping and aggregated reporting data. They’ve got a free account. Get it now!


Lead Generation Tools

Why use it: To build a big email subscriber list, the landing page and it’s forms need to look shit hot. Simple as that. You can’t screw around with crappy looking pages. You will just be pouring money and time down the drain. Get it right with the 2 tools I use:

leadpagesLeadpages (paid): To build your subscriber list you need an effective capturing tool. Email automation tools don’t have the best looking capture forms. In walks LeadPages. All the top publishers are using LeadPages. And now I have too. Leadpages have stunning lead generation pages available. It integrates with tools like GetResponse or Mailchimp with a few clicks. You can also build really good looking lead generation popovers. It’s all hosted on your site or can be hosted on Leadpages.


hybridconnectHybrid Connect (paid): This is a plugin for WordPress that I recently discovered. I’m very pleased with the purchase. Hybrid-connect is different to LeadPages. While LeadPages is superior when it comes to creating lead generation landing pages, Hybrid-connect excels at creating optin-forms & widgets. It’s super easy to set-up – if you’re on WordPress of course.


Note taking

Why use it: Your browser bookmark bar is not a note taking tool. If you like researching ideas or pulling together information for a project, you need a proper tool to keep it all together in an organised manner. Evernote is perfect for this…

evernoteEvernote (free + paid): Evernote is a free app that allows you to collect information into a virtual notebook. It syncs across all devices – desktop and mobile. So you can make notes anywhere, any time. They also have a browser “web clipper” that allows you to note down web pages or parts of it. There are a ton of handy features.


Password Management

Why use it: Agggh!! There is nothing so frustrating like forgetting your password. Most of us have learned not to use the same password on every site. Cause hackers, you know. I’m also forgetful. And I have too many email accounts. Life was tough until I discovered LastPass.

lastpassLastpass (free + paid): With LastPass you can save all different your login details. It also centralises all the information in your LastPass account. Don’t worry, the data is completely encrypted therefore not even LastPass knows what your details are. Only you know. LastPass has a browser plugin which makes filling in forms with your personal details as easy as clicking a button. This is a must have tool if you spend a lot of time online.


SEO Tools & Training

Why use it: If you’re not ranking well in the search engines for your chosen keywords, then you’re losing out on a lot of traffic. Having a high ranking for core terms also solidifies your brand with the viewer. You are immediately seen as an authority on the subject. No business can afford not to be on the search engines.

distilleduDistilledU (paid): The number 1 place to learn SEO.



seobookSEO book (free & paid): If you’re not hiring someone to do you SEO, then you have to tackle it yourself. They also have a huge range of  free and paid SEO tools. Many of those free tools are the bread and butter of many good SEO practitioners.


mozlocalMoz local (paid): If you’ve ever done SEO to get local listings, you’ll know it takes a lot of time. Moz makes this easy with their Moz Local product.



buzzstreamBuzzstream SEO Tools (free & paid): Another great selection of free and paid SEO tools to speed up your optimization efforts.



opensiteexplorerOpen Site Explorer (free & paid): If you know SEO, you’ll know how important inbound links from other authority websites are to your SEO rankings. Open Site Explorer can give you a view of all the inbound links, how authoritative they are, what anchort text was used and lots more.



authoritylabsAuthorityLabs (free trial): Keeping track and monitoring the search engine rankings of your money keywords is important. What’s even better? Keeping tabs on your competition!



Why use it: Writing out a complex tutorial is a real pain. In 2006 I used Camtasia and Articulate E-learning suite to create a huge library of affiliate marketing training video tutorials for my students. With limited knowledge I was able to produce high quality videos with built in questionnaires which the students loved! Below are the top tools in the market today.

camtasiaCamtasia (free trial):  If you want to create professional looking screen recorded video tutorials, then Camtasia is what you need. I’ve used Camtasia for a long time and I can say that it’s easy to use and produces really good looking screen recordings.


articulateArticulate’s Storyline (free trial): Build interactive learning courses that are coupled with questionnaires. Overlay your course slides with your own audio and annotate with special character packs. This is the most intuitive and advanced e-learning authoring tool on the planet. Will set you back roughly $1,500, but it’s flipping awesome.


screenflowScreenflow (free trial): Screenflow is like Camtasia, but made for Mac users only. Many Mac users who have used Camtasia say that Screenflow has the edge. Definitely check this out if you’re on a Mac. I’ve never used it, but hear great things.


Social Media Image Creation

Why use it: Have you noticed how many pretty images with inspirational quotes are being shared on social media? I bet you have. Thing is, people love them. People engage with it. Myself and many other business owners realise this. I have been posting visual inspirational content to my audience and can see the difference in engagement immediately. The idea is to build engagement habits so that when you do post something like a link to an offer that they will be more receptive to your message.

shareasimageShareAsImage (free & paid):  The guys from ShareAsImage saw this and created a platform that allows you to do just that. Choose from beautiful images, or upload your own, overlay your text and export in a second . You can even add your logo. Really simple. Super intuitive.


canvaCanva (free & paid): If you need more features, Canva will do the trick. Canva offers you the ability to design on different size canvasses. You can upload your own images or choose from a massive library.



piktochartPiktochart (free & paid): If you think pretty pictures with quotes get shared a lot, think again. Infographics are king when it comes to shareable creative. I’ve never used Piktochart, but many of my blogger buddies use it and they swear by it. Give it a go and let me know how it goes!



Social Media Tools

Why use it: Look if you’re like me, you don’t want to spend all your time on social media. Problem is, there are SO many places where my audience is. They’re scattered all over. In past I had to spend time on each platform separately. Thank heavens those days are over. Now there are tools that help schedule posts as well as display all the conversations in one hub.

hootsuiteHootsuite (free & paid): Hootsuite makes this really easy. In my opinion, Hootsuite is the best choice for any business starting out on social media or even aiming to increase outreach on the networks. It’s relatively simple to use and the free version has more than enough features for most.


Buffer App (free & paid)
: By far the easiest tool for scheduling your posts.



twitterfeedTwitterFeed (free): I’ve been using Twitter feed since 2008 and I don’t plan on stopping. TwitterFeed allows me to take the RSS feeds of my blog and other publications and feed them through to my social profiles. What ends up happening is that my social media profiles automatically share high quality content at certain intervals. This tool is huge time saver.


Spy Tools

Why use it: Your competitors are trying just as hard, if not harder than you, to improve their position in the digital space. You cannot afford to fall behind. I’ve used spy tools for my clients to scope out their competitors and it helped me structure a strategy to beat the competition. A spy can’t be a spy without his/her tools. Gear up!

adbeatAdbeat (paid): Use AdBeat to gather intelligence on your competition’s Google and other display campaigns. Adbeat supports the most comprehensive list of ad networks out there. They can pretty much tap into any market globally. Powerful tool at a cost effective price might I add. Starts at $99 per month for Google only.


adgoorooAdGooroo (by quote): We’ve used this for many of our clients. It provides very rich intelligence on competitor paid and organic strategies, exposes weaknesses and highlights opportunities.  From the invoices I have seen gone out, I can say the pricing for AdGooroo isn’t cheap. I think at the time it was between $2,500 – $5,000 per month for two of our clients combined. Don’t take my word for it. Consider getting a quote from them.


socialadninjaSocialAdNinja (paid): They have a huge database of over 400,000 Facebook social PPC ads. You can get access to data segmented by gender, age, relationship status etc. or search by keyword. The whole goal of this service is to help you identify better opportunities in and around Facebook PPC ads. This is definitely the place for people who do a lot of Facebook advertising and who don’t want to waist money ‘testing’ on their own.



Team Collaboration Software

Why use it: I can write an entire book about team collaboration. Time and time again I witness how companies’ service levels deteriorate over time because teams grow bigger and communication problems arise. As a result, customers and clients are unhappy and the poor line managers or client service people have to eat it all. If only they knew how use team collaboration software!

konaKona (free & paid): For personal and small group collaboration. Kona is simple, intuitive, can manage different size teams, mobile integrated and it’s free. In 2013 a poll was ran on LifeHacker and Kona came out on top amonst user satisfaction.


asanaAsana (free & paid) : An enterprise-level team collaboration system, yet simple enough for individuals or small teams. Asana is used by some of the most popular startups around the world. When I first used it I was amazed at how quickly I was able to find my way around. It’s remarkably intuitive for such a robust system.  You can get a free account for up to 15 people. Any more and you pay.


liquidplannerLiquidPlanner (free trial): Powerful collaboration and project management system. I was most impressed by its Task Schedule Planner. It also has built in estimation for task completion dates. LiquidPlanner is the definite answer for when your projects are BIG and complex.


podioPodio (free & paid): It’s got it all and then some. Project management, team collaboration, workspaces etc. But the most impressive feature of Podio is that something called it’s App Builder. You can build your own team workflow (no tech skills needed). If you are sales manager with a team of 8 people, you can create workflow under which your team needs to operate. You can optimize the workflow too.


centraldesktopCentralDesktop (free & paid): This is the mac daddy. The big boss. If your organisation has the money, check out CentralDesktop. I got the guys from CentralDesktop to demo their product to us last year and I was blown away. It had everything you could ask for from a project management and team collaboration platform. It’s something special. Comes at a hefty price though.


Time Tracking

Why use it: Recording the time you spend on tasks are very important. By comparing the time spent on something versus the benefit gained, you can optimize. This is why time tracking in organisations is a growing concern and necessity across the globe. Even more so for Entrepreneurs and work from home folks. But make sure you get the right tool for the job. Check out the 3 tools below.

klokKlok (free & paid): Klok is a pretty straight forward time tracking app. I find it very intuitive and easy to use. The reporting is also very useful.



timecampTimecamp (free & paid): Most time trackers use a manual stop-start. For most people that is perfect. For some it’s not. Some people who jump around between tasks every minute, need something that automates the process. Timecamp is perfect for those scenarios.

timetrackerCreativeWorx TimeTracker (paid): I have not used CreativeWorx TimeTracker but it seems like it’s going to make a big wave. It’s got automated tracking, but it shares similar features of Klok. Best of both worlds.


User Experience Research

Why use it: Your paid and social marketing can only do so much. Once a customer lands on your website or landing page, you hope they convert. What if you could ask your website visitors to tell you exactly what they were expecting to get from your website?  Below are 2 tools my clients have used. They work extremely well for gathering data on visitor ‘intent’.

qualarooQualaroo (paid): If you want to improve the conversion rate on your website, start analyzing the ‘intent’ behind people’s visits. Qualaroo is a tool that allows you to understand what your visitors actually want and what’s stopping them from achieving it. This non-intrusive technology runs on your site in the form of a survey box. Many of the companies I have worked with love the data feedback.


iperceptionsiPerceptions (free & paid): Also an on-site customer experience survey tool. Their approach is different. With iPerceptions a user receives a popover when first visiting the site. The popover starts by asking you whether or not you would like to participate in a satisfaction survey when you are done browsing the site. If you choose YES, you will receive an exit survey. Response rates aren’t bad!


Video Calling / Video Conferencing 

Why use it: As much as we all hate meetings, they are very necessary. Face-to-face meetings will always trump calls or email. There’s something else about talking to someone face-to-face. If you are working with people who are on the other side of the country or world, then why not get them on a video call?

hangoutsGoogle Hangouts (free): Use Google Hangouts to turn any conversation into a video call with up to 10 friends. You can share web cams or your can share your screen.  I love Hangouts because it’s easy to use, it’s built into a social network, it’s fast and coolest of all, it’s free.


skypeSkype (free & paid): Skype has been around for a while now, so chances are pretty good you are familiar with it. But did you know it has a group call feature? You can add up to 25 people to a group call.  One really nifty feature of Skype is that you can use your Skype credits to dial people into the call who don’t have Skype (from their mobile or landlines).


Web Analytics Tools

Why use it: Your website is an indispensable part of your marketing mix. It’s arguably the most important thing when it comes to your online assets. To grow your business it’s important to understand how your marketing efforts are paying off. Web analytics tools can give you insight into how you are doing. It can tell you where your visitors are coming from; how many of them visited your site; what they found most interesting; what they didn’t find interesting and much much more. Not having analytics installed on your website is a massive mistake. Get it!

googleanalyticsGoogle Analytics (free): By far the most well known, most widely used web analytics platform on the web. Google analytics is completely free. Over the years it has grown into a beast. If you know a bit about web analytics then give Google Analytics a try. For most people GA is a bit too complex. If that is the case, check out the next tool on this list.

clickyClicky (free & paid): I have recently installed Clicky on my website, alongside Google Analytics. Clicky really impressed me. It’s super simple, it collects really deep, insightful data and it’s also free. Well, if you get more than 1 million page impressions per day, then Clicky will start charging you.


kissmetricsKissMetrics (paid): A tool that isn’t entirely a web analytics tool. It’s more like customer  analytics. The data is incredibly in-depth. Kissmetrics can give you data around the lifetime value of your customer. They’ve given business owners the ability to see into the future – sounds kind of lame I know. Let me put it this way. Kissmetrics tracks the data of unique users, aka a person. If you buy from a business once (and you like the experience), chances are good you’re going to do that again.  Imagine you buy from a business 4 times a year. Their web analytics don’t know the journey YOU took. They only know, from looking at their sales records, that you purchased 4 times. Kissmetrics however can shine the light on your purchase behavior rather. That is the type of data that can help a business optimize it’s funnels to improve bottom-line. Powerful stuff.


Website Creation

Why use it: Without a website you don’t have a central presence online. It’s the one place on the web where your brand can stand on it’s own. It’s where your brand has a voice. Your website is an asset. Your business own it. I’ve seen businesses start their online presence with a Facebook profile. Look where that got them now. Facebook’s recent algorithm change had a huge impact on business pages. Businesses who didn’t build an audiece via their website or blog are now in big trouble.

wordpressWordPress (free): GrowthNerd is built on WordPress. If you’re trying to get your business online, WordPress is the perfect CMS for the job. It’s robust, feature-rich, scaleable and it’s free. There are loads of premium WordPress themes available. Just Google “wordpress premium themes” and you’ll find a gazillion to browse through.


squarespaceSquareSpace (paid): If you don’t want to get into all the technical setup of your website, then check out SquareSpace. They make it really easy for a business to get a web presence. It won’t look crap either. They have some awesome templates, plus your website will be mobile responsive. It even comes with built-in e-commerce functionality, making it easy for you to sell your stuff online. You won’t have the same level of customization available to you like on WordPress, but heck…most people don’t need to go that far. I have to confess, I have not used it. I have watched an episode of Small Empires on The Verge about SquareSpace. They showed the ins and outs of what makes it good.


Writing Tools

Why use it: If you’re like me, you probably hate the writing process. Constructing great content isn’t easy. I find myself doing lots of digging around the web to validate certain things. That means me having to open 20 chrome tabs and noting down things in notepad or word. That’s all in the past now thanks to these 2 writing tools.

scrivenerScrivener (free trial): It’s a complete writing studio. A writer’s dream. It makes the process of writing so much easier because it helps you organise your writing. It also has a ‘distraction free’ mode for writing. It’s fit for any type of writer, whether you are a blogger, journalist or even book writer. Scrivener is definitely one of my most used apps.


stylewriterStyleWriter (free trial): The one thing Scrivener cannot do is make you a better writer. You see, writing is an artform. The key to getting your message across to your audience is to write in plain English. People hate reading complicated words and phrases. StyleWriter helps to improve the readability of your writing and I must say, it’s probably the best software I’ve come across for doing this properly.


Website Hosting

Why use it: Choosing the right hosting provider is really important. There are many companies out there that make loads of promises, but never deliver. I’ve tried countless of hosting providers over the years. I actually fired a host in January because of poor customer service. It’s a dog eat dog world out there. Luckily for you, I’ve shortlisted the hosts I think are awesome.

bluehostBluehost (paid): 5 years ago Bluehost was a nobody. Today they are one of the top 5 best hosting companies. For $4.95 per month you get Unlimited domains, Unlimited websites, Unlimited storage, a free website domain name, automated backups, and loads more.


hostgatorHostgator (paid): As far as I’m concerned Hostgator is right up there with BlueHost. From my experience I can say Hostgator has really good support. They also have similar package than BlueHost.Please note: GrowthNerd is not hosted with any of the above. I’ve chosen the leading local host in South Africa as I wanted my server location close to me.


DreamHost (paid): I have not hosted with Dreamhost before so sorry, I cannot really comment on them from that perspective but rather from what others are saying. Voted by many as the best host in 2013. Dreamhost gives it’s customers a heck of a lot of value for money. Just check out the features and additional ‘freebies’ you get from signing with them.


asmallorangeasmallorange (paid): They’ve been voted one of the top 5 webhosts in the world by the LifeHacker community. Personally, I think it’s because of their customer support. It’s flipping epic. Their prices are very competitive and they have a product specifically for bloggers. Definitely check these guys out.


Please remember that technology is not the end in itself, but a means to an end. Using 3rd party technology won’t make your business great. Use technology to discover, enhance and improve your business and processes.  If you have a good business model and are fulfilling against it, technology will amplify your bottom line. I hope you enjoyed this post and at least found one tool or resource that will help you and your business!

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Comments 28

  1. Pallav Kaushish (@pallavkaushish)

    Awesome article Reinhardt. I was aware of almost 80% of them but thanks for the other 20%.

    Also, I would like to add some more tools to your list –

    Password Management – SmartSignin (https://www.perfectcloud.io/smartsignin.html). It makes my day a lot less frustrating. :)

    Spy Tools – BuzzSumo (http://app.buzzsumo.com/) – Awesome tool.

    Time Tracking – RescueTime (https://www.rescuetime.com/)

    User Experience Research – WebEngage (http://webengage.com/) – Cheaper than Qualaroo.

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      Hey Pallav

      Thanks for taking time to comment!

      Thanks so much for the additions. I’ll create a section at the bottom of this post for contributions by readers. The more the merrier! :)

  2. Andreea Mihalcea

    Great roundup, Reinhardt!

    There are some tools I’ll add to your list:

    - User Experience Reasearch: UserTesting (http://www.usertesting.com) – it recruits participants for you, conducts tests to gauge the tasks you specify, and delivers the goods via video in just one hour.

    - Web Analytics Tools: Coastics (http://www.coastics.com) – it connects to Google Analytics and creates daily/weekly/monthly summary emails formatted to look good on any mobile device. Busy executives no longer have to “fly blind,” and can check business metrics while sipping their morning caffeine.

    I’ll also add a new category, Raising Money. Some tools here:

    - AngelList (https://angel.co) – a platform matching startups and investors; you can raise money online, or get in touch with investors on the platform and then move the raising money process elsewhere

    - TrustLeaf (https://trustleaf.com) – they help small businesses raise money from friends & family (which comes before crowdfunding)

    - SeedKicks (http://www.seedkicks.com) – a platform helping with (equity) crowdfunding for startups

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  3. Krystian Włodarczyk

    Nice stuff. I really liked the article, but I feel that the information about the tools is very basic (especially SEO and Writing tools part). Big room for improvement, but I’m aware that you’re not able to test them all.

    Btw. It would be great, if you could check out our tool as well (positionly.com :)

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      Hi Krystian!

      I must admit, I could have probably done a more in-depth write-up on each tool. Like you’re saying, the overview of each tool is a quick basic overview. The list includes 90% of tools I actually used.

      As for SEO and Writing tools – I’m all ears brother! :) Other than http://positionly.com (which looks very interesting), what other SEO and Writing tools would you recommend for small business and startups that don’t cripple the bank but are still top class?

      Looking forward to your suggestions!

      1. Lilia Tovbin

        I would recommend SheerSEO – it has low-cost plans and a couple of nice features I haven’t seen on any other SEO tools I use:
        - in addition to keyword rank, they actually track the URL of the result page – might seem redundant but is very helpful in case your assumption is wrong (ex: homepage outranks the page you want to rank for a keyword/phrase)
        - a historical graph for both Facebook and Twitter engagement, in addition to totals

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  4. Lilia Tovbin

    Great post and list Reinhardt!

    I like that you took the time to write a little something about each tool and didn’t just post a list. Super helpful and thoughtful.

    A section with user suggestions sounds like a great idea too.

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  5. Mitchell Abdullah

    I’d love to also add AddShoppers to this list. It would fall in between social media tools and analytics. The entire goal behind AddShoppers’ core suite of tools is to help ecommerce sites track and manage the value of their on site social. For ecommerce and other sites alike, it also hosts features to increase follower counts and manage retargeting advertisements.

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  6. Laure

    Hey, great article. It seems so comprehensive! You will probably also want to check out live chat, a great way to find out directly if your customers are happy and have pain points, as well as a quick way to solve problems. Olark (olark.com) is one of the most popular for SMB, and there are many others.

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