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12 Best Plugins for Photographers in WordPress for 2021


As a photographer, you want to find a platform that helps you showcase your work in a way that is unique, yet easy to handle. WordPress is perfect for this, which is why so many photographers use it to build their websites. However, it can be a hassle to try and sift through all the available plugins for photographers that are available.

Not to worry. In this article, I am going to showcase some of the best plugins for photographers that are out there today. Some are paid, some are free, but all will help you build a better website and showcase your work in a beautiful way.

What Types of Plugins Are the Best for Photographers?

The answer to this question will depend on the person you ask. Some photographers will want to focus on look only, while others may want to focus on selling and optimization.

The truth is, there are several must-have plugins that everyone should have on their website. When you think of photography plugins, you want to expand out from gallery and photo-related plugins and also include optimization for photos, SEO, eCommerce, social sharing, and other related plugin types that will make your photography website pop.

The list below includes all of the above types of plugins for photographers. The ones you personally choose will be up to you, but don’t miss out on a solid plugin because you can’t build a photo gallery with it.

Once you have a domain name and hosting plan in place, you can start developing your website and finding photography plugins.

Let’s take a look at some of the be plugins for photographers that are available today.

Best Plugins For Photographers

1. Modula

Modula plugins for photographers

Modula is a modern and responsive WordPress photography plugin that will allow you to create and design amazing photo galleries to showcase your images. It works with all the major page builders that WordPress offers including Elementor.

Once downloaded, you will be able to create mobile-friendly and responsive galleries, watermark images, white-label items, add slideshows, use shortcodes, and have full SEO control over your galleries.

Modula is arguably the very best gallery-related plugin out there. If you are a photographer building a website, this plugin should be one of the first ones you explore.

2. Envira Gallery

Envira Gallery

Another one of the best plugins for photographers is Envira Gallery. This is another WordPress image plugin that can help take your images to the next level by showcasing them in custom-built galleries that are mobile-friendly and SEO-ready.

The plugin includes a drag and drop builder, gallery templates, an eCommerce store that is WooCommerce ready, social media integration, and watermark protection. 

And that is just a start as the Envira plugin offers so much for photographers that it has remained one of the most downloaded and bought photo plugins around.

3. Soliloquy

Soliloquy plugins for photographers

Soliloquy is actually made by the same developers that make Envira. That being said, this one is not meant to be as extensive and feature-rich as Envira. What it is meant to be is a plugin that allows photographers to create amazing slideshows galleries that they can display across multiple web pages.

Soliloquy even has a free version that is thorough and packed with features and functionality. You won’t find a better gallery and slideshow-related plugin for free on WordPress than this one.

4. WPVR

WPVR

Many photographers take pictures not only for art and personal gratification but for business. For example, a Real Estate photographer has to capture professional images for clients and then post them in a way that drives traffic and creates interest. That is where WPVR comes in.

This plugin allows photographers to upload images to their site and then create 360-degree views and virtual tours. This is a plugin that will not only make your work stand out but will also help you get more work in your industry because of what you are able to do.

The plugin has tons of customizations built-in, and you can create just about any type of virtual tour.

5. Easy Watermark

Easy Watermark plugins for photographers

The name of this plugin pretty much says it all. Easy Watermark makes it extremely easy to add your desired watermark to all the images you upload. The plugin makes the process even easier after you set it up, as all images are watermarked automatically in the spot you choose when they are added.

This means you don’t need to add watermarks to each image separately.

That being said, you can add watermarks separately as well. This is beneficial for different photo styles and sizes, as you will be able to place the watermark where you want it.

There is full support for PNG, JPG, and GIF. Text color, size, rotation, and transparency can all be customized. This is a fantastic WordPress image plugin to have on your site if you are a photographer.

6. Smush

Smush plugins for photographers

As I stated above in the opening few sentences of this article, not all relevant plugins for photographers need to be related to galleries or watermarking. Remember, one of the most important things to do for images and SEO on a WordPress site is to optimize them properly. 

Smush is arguably the most popular image optimizer out there for WordPress. They do have a pro version of the plugin, but the free version is very powerful and will automatically optimize your images when they are uploaded into your WordPress media gallery.

This plugin works to compress images properly while at the same time allowing all the image resolution and beauty to remain. This improves your overall page speed and helps with image SEO.

7. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

You may already be aware of this plugin, as it is one of the most popular and effective WordPress plugins around. Yoast SEO is a name that anyone who needs help with WordPress SEO knows.

It will also come in very handy for any photographer who wants to feature a heavy dose of high-quality images on their website.

The Yoast SEO plugin will make sure your images are properly optimized by helping you with the SEO side of image optimization. Need alt tags added or anything else? Yoast has you covered. Not only will it help you with your images, but it shows you how to build a fully relevant, search engine-ready website.

Give it a peak for all your SEO purposes and add it to your site as a must-have.

8. Wordfence Security

Wordfence Security plugin

There are a lot of really good security plugins for WordPress. However, Wordfence Security is one of the ones that go a step further and can help you protect the images on your site, as well as the rest of your content.

The plugin comes equipped with an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that was built from the ground up to protect your entire website. The plugin is constantly updated from the Threat Defense Feed and always has the newest security in place.

This includes the newest firewall rules, malware signatures, and malicious IP addresses. If you want to protect your website and your images, then definitely give Wordfence a look.

9. Sunshine Photo Cart

Sunshine Photo Cart

Yes, we have mentioned a few good gallery plugins already. However, Sunshine Photo Cart has to make this list because of the specific photography niche it serves. If you are an event photographer, then Sunshine should be at the top of your plugin list.

This particular gallery plugin shines when it comes to event photo management and related galleries. Once installed, you will be able to create an unlimited number of photo galleries.

You can also sort them by event, which makes it much easier for your customers to find what they are looking for.

Want to take it a step further with your galleries? Sunshine Photo Cart has a “private” feature that allows you to password-protect any gallery you want, leaving only the clients or specific people to view them.

Add in the watermark ability that prevents people from downloading photos and using them, and you get one of the best plugins for photographers out there.

10. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

Every WordPress website needs a solid caching system. It helps speed up your site, which in turn helps you rank higher in Google. This can also increase page speed load times. 

Furthermore, if you are a photographer that is dealing with a lot of images on a site, then W3 Total Cache is basically a must-have for you. Once installed, you will be able to increase site performance and reduce load times by leveraging features like content delivery network (CDN) integration and the latest best practices.

This plugin has over 1 million verified downloads and is compatible with any theme and plugin out there. Look no further than this one if you are looking for a total caching solution on your photography website.

11. BirchPress Scheduler

BirchPress Scheduler plugins for photographers

Face it, photographers need a fast and easy way to book appointments and fill their work calendar up. This is exactly what BirchPress Scheduler can do. It is a smooth, cost-effective plugin that allows customers to book appointments online right from your website.

This will save you a lot of time because you won’t have to take calls and schedule appointments yourself.

The scheduler is clean, smooth, professional, and mobile-friendly. Availability is based on the times and days that you add in and the rest is streamlined and hands-off. 

You can also sync your appointments to any of your calendars, as the plugin allows syncing to iCal and Google Calendar. Last but not least, the BirchPress plugin will also send out email notifications, reminders, and has the ability to accept payments online.

This is a must-have for all photographers trying to build their service and maintain scheduling.

12. Sprout Invoicing

Sprout Invoicing

Rounding out this list of the best plugin for photographers is Sprout Invoicing. Every photographer needs a smooth, clean, easy way to invoice clients and take payments without much hassle. While there are some other great invoicing plugins out there, Sprout is widely considered to be the best.

The plugin allows you to easily create and manage beautiful invoices in just minutes. No more wasting hours at a time trying to build your own invoices, send, track, and manage them. Sprout does all this and so much more.

A solid invoicing system should be a part of any photographer’s website and Sprout gives you all of that functionality and more right from the confines of your WordPress admin dashboard.

Building a Photography Site

Plugins are actually one of the last steps to take when it comes to building a photography website. However, it is a vital part of the process because plugins will give you added value and features, built right into your dashboard.

Remember, a lot goes into building a website, including hosting and a domain name. For that reason, you want to make sure all of the plugins you choose are relevant and helpful for the photography niche you are trying to pursue.

Conclusion

There are thousands of WordPress plugins available today (almost 60,000). Furthermore, hundreds and hundreds of them are related to photography. It can be a difficult process to sift through them all and find the best plugin for photographers.

All of the ones listed above are top-notch plugins that will give you a lot of functionality and the ability to showcase images the way you see fit. From gallery WordPress plugins to optimization and eCommerce plugins, the list has it all.

Go through some of these and pick your favorites. Once you get them up and running you can take advantage of all they have to offer. All of them extend functionality and allow a lot of creative freedom.



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8 Best Design Plugins for WordPress in 2021


WordPress is the most customizable CMS on the market due to the huge library of plugins. And it has some incredible design plugins that can help developers take their website to the next level. However, it is challenging to find the best tools with so many options available.

Today, I will share my picks for the very best design plugin in WordPress.

What is A Design Plugin?

A design plugin is a tool that allows developers to customize the front or back end of their website in a specific manner. This can be in the form of editing existing elements or adding new or enhanced versions of other WordPress components.

In truth, most plugins in WordPress will fit this definition. However, not all of them are design plugins.

What really separates these plugins is their ability to customize the appearance of your posts, pages, or certain visual elements in WordPress. And this is what this list will be focusing on. But, keep in mind that the viability of each plugin greatly depends on the nature of your website.

The Best Design Plugins

1. The Events Calendar

Events Calendar

Almost every single website runs an event of some kind, and some websites do it more often than others. In these cases, you need a plugin that will help you display your events and there is no better option than The Events Calendar.

It is the most popular events-focused plugin on WordPress with over 800,000 active installs.

With this plugin, you can build full calendars for all of your events that will display the name and time. And if someone clicks on it, they can also find out other useful information like the location (with a map) or how to participate in the event.

This plugin is perfect for business schedules as well. For instance, gyms may use the plugin to list their workout classes each week. And it works perfectly for clubs and organizations that run meetings or webinars. The best part, it’s free and ready to use after activation.

Benefits of The Events Calendar

  • Connect all event locations with Google Maps
  • View events on a daily basis with Day View
  • Add tooltips for all events visible in month view.

Price of The Events Calendar

2. Essential Grid Gallery WordPress Plugin

Essential Grid

Our first premium plugin on the list, Essential Grid Gallery WordPress Plugin, happens to be one of the best WordPress layout plugins on the platform. It specializes in adding customizable grids for posts, images, products, reviews, social media profiles, and just about anything else you can imagine.

It is the ultimate grid layout tool in WordPress.

This tool allows you to build a grid of any size or shape from multiple source types. For instance, you can use the plugin to display your products from WooCommerce or share your social media stream from any of the major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

What really makes this plugin the best for grid layout design is its customizations. It comes with plenty of templates that are easy to customize, but building from scratch gives you a myriad of options, like designing your own visual skin, and font options.

All of this while using a drag and drop interface.

Benefits of Essential Grid Gallery WordPress Plugin

  • Gives you the ability to use grids on any type of content
  • It’s fully compatible with WooCommerce
  • Perfect for building YouTube video galleries

Price of Essential Grid Gallery WordPress Plugin

  • A regular license begins at $69
  • An extended license begins at $170

3. DragDropr

DragDropr

If there is one feature that has made web development beginner-friendly, it is the introduction of the drag and drop interface. The DragDropr plugin allows users to create web content on multiple CMS, including WordPress, using a drag and drop interface.

And all of the content it produces is fully responsive!

In fact, they have a variety of options so you can choose which content appears on certain screen sizes. After all, not all content that looks good on a desktop will look good on a mobile device. This also includes responsive sliders!

Now, you may be wondering how exactly this is possible. All of the changes you make are stored as HTML code, which helps improve your website’s SEO. It also has another beneficial side effect; you can freely change your theme without having it impact the content you created.

Benefits of DragDropr

  • Drag and drop products and choose which information is visible
  • Store all of your content as blocks, with 200 spaces available
  • Preview your content on any screen size

Price of DragDropr

  • Single Account plans begin at $14.90
  • Agency plans begin at $119
  • White Label plans begin at $198

4. Jetpack

Jetpack

When it comes to feature-rich plugins, none can match Jetpack. It handles your website’s security, traffic analytics, performance monitoring, content customization options, image optimization, backups, and plenty of other things. And it’s an all-in-one optimized package.

For this reason, it remains the most popular WordPress tool with over 5 million active installs.

While the plugin may not affect the front end of your website in a visual sense, it impacts just about every aspect outside of it. Therefore, it is one of the best tools for WordPress web designers, and the numbers don’t lie.

Jetpack is module-based. It has a ton of features, and not all of them are enabled by default. Instead, you will have to manually enable certain modules, but it’s as easy as flipping a switch. No other plugin can compare to Jetpack in terms of the number of features it offers.

Benefits of Jetpack

  • Monitor if your website’s uptime and downtime and send out email alerts during downtime
  • Adds Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) functionality
  • Allows your website to lazyload images on posts and pages

Price of Jetpack

  • A free version is available
  • Complete plans begin at $79.95
  • Security Daily plans begin at $19.95
  • Backup Daily plans begin at $7.95

5. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Many may not consider Yoast SEO a design plugin, after all, it specializes in SEO. However, I think it qualifies as one. And that is because it helps you design the very content you write.

Not only does it provide SEO tips while you create content, but it also shares readability tips. As a result, the quality of your written content will improve substantially.

While writing content, Yoast SEO will present writers with a checklist of things to keep an eye on for both SEO and readability. On the SEO side, this includes the number of internal and external links, keyword usage, meta description analysis, and header & subheader analysis to name a few.

For readability, the plugin analyzes the number of transition sentences, the percentage of passive sentences, keeps track of consecutive sentences, (sentences that start with the same word), sentence length, subheading distribution, and more. It’s an essential tool for any blog.

Benefits of Yoast SEO

  • Generates an XML sitemap to help search engines crawl through your website
  • Improves load times on your website
  • Supports over 15 different languages

Price of Yoast SEO

  • A free version is available
  • Yoast SEO Premium license starts at $89 per year

6. Duplicator

Duplicator

If you set up WordPress installations on multiple websites, you probably have your own way of base-building preferences. Thus, to help set up your core WordPress install for the umpteenth time, the Duplicator plugin is your best friend.

Of course, if you only have plans for running one website, you may not find the plugin very useful.

The purpose of the tool is to aid in site migrations when transferring from one webhost to another. For developers that regularly build new sites or subdomains, you can go through the process of setting up your desired base-build and then clone it.

Most seasoned developers will agree, the framework of your website is the most important part of your design. Hence, having a tool that lets you set it up the way you want in just a few minutes is a tool worth having.

As long as you need the same features in the first place.

Benefits of Duplicator

  • You can drag and drop your archives to the destination site
  • Compatible with cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox
  • Perfect for cloning your website to test new features on

Price of Duplicator

  • A free version is available
  • Personal plans begin at $69 per year
  • Freelancer plans begin at $89 per year
  • Business plans begin at $149 per year
  • A Gold plan is available for life at $799

7. WPForms

WPForms

Without a doubt, WPForms is the best form builder available in WordPress. It’s powerful, feature-rich, and easy to use. And let’s face it, just about every single website will need to create a form for one purpose or another.

Regardless of your needs, WPForms has you covered with over 100 pre-built templates to choose from.

First, you can choose to build your form from scratch or by using a template. You can then customize the form any way you want by using the drag-and-drop form builder.  And finally, you can add the form by using the WPForms block in Gutenberg. It’s really that simple.

In terms of customization, no other form builder comes close to WPForms as some of its best features include password-protected forms, adding signature fields, support for offline forms, and even create payment methods with PayPal and Stripe. The number of options available is staggering.

Benefits of WPForms

  • Integrates with page builders like Elementor
  • Protects against spam and integrates with reCAPTCHA
  • Display locations to users via forms

Price of WPForms

  • A free version is available
  • Basic plans begin at $79 per year
  • Plus plans begin at $199 per year
  • Pro plans begin at $399 per year
  • Elite plans begin at $599 per year

8. Social Media Share Buttons

Social Media

Social media is the best way to share your websites with others, but building a social media presence is not easy. It takes a lot of time, but you can help speed up the process by adding a social media button to your website, and the Social Media Share Buttons plugin is a perfect choice for the job.

It offers support for over 200 different social media networks, including all of the major platforms.

The plugin offers 16 unique designs for each social media icon and even supports multi-function buttons. This means that you can have a button not only to lead visitors to your social media account but also to have them like the page.

It also has support from both floating buttons and pop-ups. And you can even display share buttons at the end of your posts to help improve the rate visitors share them.

And you might think this sounds hard to implement, but it is very easy and should only take a few minutes.

Benefits of Social Media Share Buttons

  • All of the buttons are optimized for mobile
  • Display counters for your subscribers and followers
  • Add animations to social buttons

Price of Social Media Share Buttons

  • A free version is available
  • The premium version of the plugin starts at $29.98

Customize Your Website the Way You Want

Instead of paying thousands of dollars to a WordPress website designer to build your website, utilizing these design plugins can help you shape your website into anything. Over the years, web development has become easy enough that anyone can do it if they have the right tools.

And this isn’t an exaggeration. The number of small businesses building their own websites is soaring, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

WordPress is highly customizable due to its large library of plugins. And as you have seen, the tools are powerful, easy to use, and in most cases, free.

What plugins help you design your website and content?



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9 Best Lead Management Software in 2021


Abandoned carts, bad leads, unqualified leads? These are all reasons that you need to have excellent lead management software for your business. However, if you aren’t sure where to start, then finding the right lead generation software for your business can be a hassle.

In this article, I am going to introduce you to some of the best lead management software programs that are available today. These platforms will help you capture, convert, route, and nourish those leads.

Not only that, but they will give you all of the very best, most qualified leads available. Before we dig into the list below, let’s talk a little about lead management and the software you need.

What is Lead Management Software?

Simply put, lead management software is a system that combines a few different processes, allowing you to merge sales and assignments from start to finish. In other words, the software covers you in all aspects from the end quote all the way up to and through conversion.

The best lead generation software will also offer tools like reporting and comprehensive performance analysis. The platforms are designed to bring together important sales information in a matter of minutes instead of the hours it would take to do this process manually.

Not only does this type of platform allow you to perform functions in a very short period of time, but it also allows for critical data to be analyzed. In short, some of the most important data that the system analyzes include lead time, conversion rates, and win-loss ratio.

Basically, if you want to generate the best leads and close deals while at the same time being provided all the data and analytics tracking imaginable, then you need to choose a fantastic lead management software platform for your business.

Best Lead Management Software

1. Freshworks

Freshworks lead management software

It should be no surprise that Freshworks comes in on our list at number one. The entire system is built for sales teams that deal with tons of customers and leads.

The platform has amazing service and they have over 100,000 customers around the world. So, if you are looking for top-of-the-line, full automation at every turn, then give Freshworks a look.

Features

  • Contact and account management
  • Customization
  • Marketing email deliverability
  • Sales pipeline management
  • Sales sequences
  • Chat
  • Data security
  • Mobile apps
  • Sales and marketing activities
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Data administrator
  • SMS integration
  • Reports dashboard

2. Pipedrive

Pipedrive

Pipedrive can act as a fully independent personal sales manager when needed. As far as lead management software goes, they provide one of the very best platforms around.

That is to say, you can view your deals and priorities in different sales stages, giving you the full outlook of what might or might not happen with a potential client.

Features

  • Sales pipeline view
  • Goal setting and reporting
  • Google calendar integration
  • Contacts integrations
  • Mobile apps
  • Roles
  • Google Maps integration
  • Multi-language
  • Multi-currency
  • Email integration
  • Powerful API
  • Timeline views
  • Fully customizable
  • Simple import and exports functions for data

3. Monday.com

MOnday.comlead management software

Another familiar name in the world of CRM, lead generation, customer management, and project management is Monday. They haven’t been around quite as long as some of the other platforms on this list, but they give you a stunning platform.

To sum up, it has all the functionality and features you need to help your company generate and close high-quality leads.

Features

  • Easily collaborate with team members
  • Create custom notifications
  • Document management
  • Email updates
  • Assign tasks to team members
  • Easy onboarding
  • Upload files directly from Adobe
  • Reduce needed meetings and emails
  • Easily communicate about all tasks
  • Document achievements
  • Live comments on visuals
  • User permissions on certain data
  • Sync with Gmail and Outlook

4. Pipeliner

Pipeliner

Another one of the best lead management software platforms out there is Pipeliner. It provides a solid piece of automation software that helps boost adoption rates and ROI (return on investment).

They do this by using a combination of a highly visual interface, tons of customization options, and streamlined reporting capabilities. Most importantly, these reports can give you the data you need for informed decisions.

After that, everything may seem to click into place for customer retention.

Features

  • Drag and drop administration
  • Custom profiles and views
  • Template designer
  • Product catalog
  • Social selling
  • Notifications
  • Activity stream
  • Sales process mapping
  • Built-in help
  • Performance insight views
  • Dynamic organization chart
  • Auto-calculate fields
  • Sales task management
  • Multiple pipelines and views
  • Offline CRM

5. NetHunt

NetHunt lead management software

NetHunt is an affordable and powerful lead management software platform that easily attaches to your Gmail and Google apps. These integrations provide your business with essential customer relationship management.

The NetHunt platform provides amazing opportunity management modules to go along with their affordable pricing plans. So, they are definitely worth a look.

Features

  • Deal management
  • Multi-pipeline support
  • Call logging
  • Saved filters
  • Data import and export
  • Custom filter options
  • Email tracking
  • Merging contacts
  • Follow-up automation
  • Campaign analytics
  • Bulk updating
  • Template importing
  • Very customizable
  • Permissions settings
  • Custom user-roles
  • Zapier integrations
  • Google and Gmail integration
  • API capabilities

6. Method

Method

While something like NetHunt seamlessly integrates with Google, Method has its own popular integrations. It gives your business the ability to seamlessly integrate with Quickbooks.

This means you can get better more accurate estimates and faster sales processes. The platform is loaded with all sorts of customer service tools and lead management features.

Therefore, you want to take a close look at Method for all your lead management needs. Especially if you use Quickbooks.

Features

  • Real-time activity history
  • Custom reports, charts, and graphs
  • Custom screens
  • Multiple payment gateways
  • Quickbooks integration and synching
  • Time-track entries
  • Tons of customer data
  • Share docs easily
  • Assign roles
  • Customer service tickets
  • Ability to share calendars
  • Web browser access
  • Custom fields and tables
  • Customer payment portal
  • Method Integration Engine
  • Unlimited contacts per record

7. HubSpot Sales

HubSpot Sales lead management software

Want to sell more and make more while putting in less time? Sure, we would all like that. Well, HubSpot Sales says that they can help your business achieve exactly what you need.

With automated sales processes that are customizable and flexible, HubSpot Sales will help your business gain a lot of extra time and save money when you use their automation tools properly.

HubSpot is known for a lot of things, and lead management software is something they do very well. As a result, you’ll have access to an excellent system.

Features

  • Sales automation
  • Contacts
  • Inbox profiles
  • Calling 
  • Prospects
  • Custom reports
  • Templates 
  • Intuitive dashboards
  • Lead management
  • Pipeline management
  • Documents
  • Sequences
  • Meetings
  • Visitor tracking
  • Tons of integrations
  • Automated and personal
  • Easy follow-ups

8. Clickpoint Software

Clickpont Software

Clickpoint Software is an all-in-one sales lead management platform that says it will bring your business proven results within 30-days. The system is designed for sales teams that operate outside the office in field offices and contact centers.

The Clickpoint platform provides multiple communication channels from things like inbound call routing, email, and SMS. They have a solid system that is very popular and user-friendly, so give it a look.

Features

  • Power dialing
  • Transfer calls easily
  • Sales performance reports
  • Integration with lead providers
  • Email marketing
  • Roles and permissions
  • Call capture and routing
  • Mobile apps
  • Configurable sales workflow
  • Lead management
  • Detailed marketing reports
  • Pre-recorded voicemails
  • Pull lead dialing

9. Really Simple Systems

Really simple solutions lead management software

Rounding out our list of the best lead management software platforms is Really Simple Solutions. The name pretty much says it all here.

The platform is powerful and intuitive, but very easy to use for everyone involved. It provides users a full suite of sales, marketing, and customer support. It is ready to go right out of the box as well, so not much setup is needed.

Lastly, it is a scalable platform. To clarify, as your business grows, so does your system.

Features

  • Free customer support
  • Pipeline management
  • Web-to-lead forms
  • GDPR and HIPAA compliant
  • Self-service support hub
  • API
  • Tasks, events, and calendars
  • Accounting software integration
  • Integrated marketing module
  • Automated campaigns
  • Case management module
  • Two-way email integration

How to Pick the Right Lead Management System

Everyone has their own process when it comes to picking tools for a business. In the case of lead management and sales tracking software, a lot of the process will be the same as anything else. There will be a lot of personal preferences involved, and the final choice will have a lot to do with the exact things your business needs.

With all that said, there are certain features and tools that the best lead management software should always have. Make sure you look for these when you are making a final decision.

  • Process Optimization
  • Does it Have the Latest Features
  • Automation Standards
  • Is it User-Friendly
  • Customizable
  • Does it Improve Buyer Experience
  • Can You Scale Your Business Easily
  • Ability to Work Offline
  • Does it Integrate With Other Systems

These are some of the most important things to consider when shopping around for lead management software. If it does not have the ability to do some of the things above or comes with fewer features than you need, then you have wasted some time.

FAQs

Here are some other frequently asked questions that people ask about lead management software. Hopefully, these will also help you on your journey toward picking one.

Is Lead Management Software and CRM the Same Thing?

Lead management software and CRM are oftentimes bundled into the same grouping. Yes, they both offer a lot of the same functionality, which is why you see some of the same products listed as lead management and CRM.

That being said, there are actually some very striking differences. While both are essential tools to have for your business, they both slightly differ in the areas they specialize in.

When you are using a lead management system, you are given tools that allow your business to collect data, identify prospects, and close a deal.

On the other hand, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software requires your business to already have an existing customer database so it can manage and sell from there.

So the main takeaway? While both have similarities, one helps you find and close deals, the other helps you manage all the customers you already have.

Is Lead Tracking Software Important?

We did touch on this a little above. Short answer, yes. If nothing else, it takes care of so many processes that are important to your business. From tracking and organizing to managing sales leads, this type of tool can be crucial for business sales processes.

What Are Lead Tracking Best Practices?

You always want to make sure you are following best practices for lead tracking. Make sure to put in place the following:

  • Engage with Prospects
  • Utilize Lead Management Software
  • Know the Overall Value of Each Lead
  • Measure Efforts Everywhere
Who Should Use Lead Tracking?

Even though you can run a business without lead tracking, it is important to utilize the tool anyway and at least give it a trial run. I recommend using lead management software for any type of business, regardless of the niche or industry.

This is because even without a full sales team, the platform can still be very useful when it comes to getting leads and driving sales.

My Company Doesn’t Have a Sales Team, Can We Still Use It?

Lead management software platforms are built to work with businesses of all sizes, big and small. There are a lot of different choices out there. So, find one that works best for your particular business and size.

If you don’t have a sales team, then a tracking app may be what you need.

Conclusion

Lead tracking has been around for quite some time. However, it hasn’t always happened in the same way. To clarify, many businesses live and die by their ability to track, onboard, and close sales from lead generation.

Therefore, you want to make sure your business does not fall behind in this area. For this reason, having a solid lead management software platform is crucial. You can’t go wrong with any of the suggestions above on this list.

Subsequently, they will give you a great place to start and provide you with a ton of different features and options.

Go through them, try them out, and see which one works best for your particular business. If you don’t find one that fits what you want, then search around. You may find something more fitting.

Good luck on your journey!



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7 Best eCommerce Fulfillment Services for 2021


Continuing to grow at an unrelenting pace over the last few years, eCommerce has all signs point to it for getting stronger. If you run an online store, then you want to make sure you have an excellent eCommerce fulfillment service at your disposal.

This will make fulfilling orders and tracking those orders much easier for both you and your clients. In reality, eCommerce fulfillment has come a long way. In years past, you would need to manually fill all orders yourself and get them shipped out using a selection of different services based on needs.

Now, you can find an order fulfillment service and get them to do the work for you. This makes the entire process of ordering and shipping online smoother for all parties involved.

What is an eCommerce Fulfillment Service?

All successful eCommerce businesses have one singular thing in common: a top-of-the-line eCommerce fulfillment service taking care of their needs.

You might have the very best product on the market. Your product may be in-demand and as popular as ever. However, without eCommerce fulfillment, all your hard work and setup can go right down the drain.

Simply put, eCommerce fulfillment is the part of your online operation that delivers products to your customers. If this part of the process does no go smoothly, then it can really upset both you and your customers.

Fulfilling an order properly can be tough unless you have a process that gets it done right.

This is arguably the most important part of your business. You have an amazing website, your products are excellent, all your payment gateways are set up, but you are still fulfilling orders manually.

That is not a situation you want to be in, especially if you have a lot of orders coming through.

Today, I am going to introduce you to some of the best eCommerce fulfillment services that are available. Using one of these will help you create an excellent process for your online store.

Best eCommerce Fulfillment Services

1. ShipBob

ShipBob ecommerce fulfillment service

With warehouses located around the country and a direct-to-consumer shipping process, ShipBob comes in at the top of our list of the best eCommerce fulfillment services out there today. The service uses connected technology to power its network.

This helps your business improve transit times and reduces overall shipping costs. Both of these are aspects that you and your customers will be grateful for.

The system is pretty intuitive and easy to set up. Simply connect your online store, import all of your company products, and then send your inventory numbers to their network of fulfillment centers.

ShipBob stores all your inventory safely and ships it to customers as soon as they place an order. With a high satisfaction rate and an excellent standard for customer service, ShipBob is definitely an eCommerce fulfillment service you will want to take a look at.

Features

  • Inventory management
  • Order management
  • Advanced filters
  • Advanced analytics and reporting
  • Returns management
  • No pick and pack fees
  • Flat-rate receiving
  • Batch fulfillment
  • Efficient management

2. Rakuten Super Logistics

Rakuten Super Logistics

Rakuten Super Logistics is probably best suited for bigger enterprise companies. However, nothing stops you from checking it out and seeing if it suits your current setup as well. They offer shipping, packing, and marketing to all their customers. 

The marketing aspect is what sets them apart, as they are one of the only eCommerce fulfillment services that integrate actual marketing into the rest of the service.

While they do not have as many service centers as some of the other choices on this list, the 12 they do have across the nation allow them to offer business shipping as fast as one day.

They also cater to shipping locally and internationally. So if you ship to international customers, then Rakuten has you covered.

Features

  • Technology tools
  • 100% accuracy
  • 1-day order fulfillment
  • Personalized client support
  • Integrated marketing services
  • Specialty fulfillment centers
  • Kitting services
  • Subscription box services

3. FreightPros

FreightPros ecommerce fulfillment service

Another one of the best eCommerce fulfillment services out there today is FreightPros. They are perfectly suited for small businesses and provide very affordable prices and excellent customer service. 

The service provides users with a wide variety of tools that will allow for easy user management that includes the ability to manage shipments directly and be more of a part of the process when appropriate.

Again, FreightPros is perfect for a smaller business because they give you the freedom to process very small and very large orders. For example, they will ship a single item the same way they would ship bulk and large orders. 

The service provides a guarantee on how they track the shipment process as well. You will be more comfortable with the process because of the detailed tracking and updates provided from pickup to final delivery.

Features

  • Quickly catches delivery issues
  • Personalized messaging
  • Pricing suggestions
  • Handles the entire process on behalf of the client
  • Excellent customer service
  • Cost and value
  • Perfect for startups
  • Simple onboarding process
  • Intuitive management systems

4. Simpl

Simpl

Simpl has built its entire system based on maintaining the trust of online sellers and major online shopping services. The platform is very easy to use and provides customers with excellent logistics and order fulfillment solutions.

Whether you have a few items or a warehouse of inventory, the Simpl solutions have you covered.

Excellent when it comes to eCommerce businesses, Simpl will provide you with all the essential tools needed for the entire process. Manage inventory, orders, returns, and reports all at your fingertips in an intuitive dashboard that is easy to navigate and use.

If you are looking for a trusted solution that allows you to easily connect your stores, download details for your new products, and sync your existing ones, then the Simpl service is definitely one to look at.

Features

  • Automation rules
  • Powerful integrations
  • Real-time inventory processes
  • Robust order management
  • Integrations with Kickstarter, Groupon, Indiegogo
  • Easily manage SKUs
  • Track shipping, received, and returns
  • Connect to Shopify, Magento, eBay
  • Track all warehouse quantities

5. ShipMonk

ShipMonk ecommerce fulfillment service

Another order fulfillment platform that is designed and tailored toward eCommerce is ShipMonk. The platform is designed to make order fulfillment as stress-free as possible. They do this by offering an intuitive system based on four main modules that are used for managing inventory, orders, shipping, and warehousing.

The service also provides a fantastic order management portal. This portal gives you a way to be more hands-on and manage the overall customer experience that is provided by ShipMonk. They also provide shipping processes that are handled by all major carriers through partnerships they have with each one.

The system also integrates with Amazon, which as we know is a major player in basically everything. You can tie it in with Fulfillment by Amazon and take advantage of Amazon Prime seller status. 

Features

  • Inventory management
  • Shipping discounts
  • Subscription box fulfillment
  • Custom packing procedures
  • EDI compliance
  • Flexible shipping options
  • Crowdfunding fulfillment
  • Proactive exception handling
  • Shipping calculator
  • Automated SKU mapping and bundling
  • High-touch customer service
  • Special projects
  • Branded order tracking

6. WhiteBox

WhiteBox

Fulfillment features, shipping solutions, and storage fees, all wrapped up into a single solution. That is exactly what WhiteBox is. Not only does this platform cater to a smaller business, but when and if you need to scale, then you can do so very easily with WhiteBox and reach more customers on a global level.

This solution does two major things a little differently than the other solutions on this list. First off, they eliminate all unnecessary costs and try to eliminate excessive fees that other platforms may charge. However, they do charge an onboarding fee of roughly $3,000 (as of this writing) and 10% of total sales.

So, you can see, little-to-no fee, but more of an upfront cost. Either way, the solution provides all the tools you would expect from a top-notch eCommerce fulfillment service. Definitely take a look at WhiteBox if you are trying to cut fees while still accessing amazing tools.

Features

  • Forecasting and predictions
  • Quality control
  • Kitting
  • Stock maintenance
  • SEO-friendly product listings
  • Ability to market products
  • Improve listings with built-in tools
  • Solid customer support
  • No additional fees

7. Fulfillment by Amazon

Fulfillment by Amazon ecommerce fulfillment service

Rounding out our list of the best eCommerce fulfillment services out there today is Fulfillment by Amazon. Also known as FBA, they give anyone the ability to easily sell products across the Amazon platform. 

This fulfillment service is best for businesses that sell smaller items, as fees are determined by size and weight. This service is also excellent if you sell across multiple channels.

Where Fulfillment by Amazon really excels is in the inventory area. Whether you sell few or thousands of products, you are able to gain access to Amazon’s logistical capabilities and a global network of warehouses.

This is perfect for taking care of the bulk of fulfillment work needed.

With fast processing, even faster delivery and shipping times, climate-controlled warehouses, reliable returns and refunds, and world-class customer service support, FBA may be exactly what you are looking for.

Features

  • Multi-channel selling ability
  • Shipping discounts
  • Excellent customer service
  • Top of the line return policy
  • Excellent customer experience
  • Huge warehouse network
  • Tons of productivity apps
  • Third-party integrations
  • Over 140 warehouses worldwide

What to Look For When Choosing an eCommerce Fulfillment Service

If you have a successful online store, then chances are you definitely want to have access to a fulfillment expert. That being said, you might be a little confused as to what to look for when it comes to making a decision on an eCommerce fulfillment service.

Of course, you have to account for personal preference as well as what your business needs. However, here are a few things to look for that all of the best eCommerce fulfillment services should have.

  • Solid Range of Services
  • Cost Transparency and Fair Pricing
  • Scalability
  • Start-up Friendly
  • An Easy Onboarding Process
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Proper Integration and Third-Party Services
  • Intuitive Management Dashboard

Again, you will definitely be drawn to one platform or another based on personal preference. However, the items above are things you want to have in place no matter what eCommerce fulfillment centers you use.

Fulfillment Services FAQs

So, now that you have a solid list of services to look at, you may still have a few questions that need to be answered. Here are some very common ones and the answers to them. These should help you make your way to a final decision.

What is 3rd-Party Fulfillment?

When we talk about a 3rd-party, what we are saying is that you are outsourcing that part of the production to someone else. In this instance, you want a 3rd-party fulfillment service to take care of filling and managing all final orders that come through.

What Does a Fulfillment Center Do?

This is usually an A-Z process for shipping and fulfilling orders. These fulfillment centers basically take care of everything for you. They store products in their facilities and manage all inventory, warehousing, and shipping. Not only does this mean that the “after-sale” process is taken care of, but it also gives store owners a place to easily store all their products.

How Does a Fulfillment Service Work?

The process is pretty simple really. When a customer places an order and pays, the chosen order fulfillment center receives all the necessary information to go through the process of fulfilling the order. Most all fulfillment companies go through the same process when they receive an order. The process includes:

  1. Receiving the Order
  2. Finding the Items
  3. Packing the Products
  4. Shipping the Order
  5. Notifying Customers of Order Status
Are Fulfillment Centers and Distribution Centers Different?

There are actually two main differences between the two. Distribution centers are focused more on the business aspect and less on the location of things. Fulfillment centers store all inventory and ship your products to customers everywhere, while distribution centers handle shipping and selling but don’t ship to retailers.

How Does a Fulfillment Service Make Money?

There are several fees involved with this process and each fulfillment center gets a part of all of these fees. Long-term storage fees are where the bulk of their money is made. That being said, they also make money on other fees like:

  • Setup Fees
  • Weight Fees
  • Packaging Fees
  • Returns and Processing
  • Account Management
  • Customer Support
  • Reporting
  • Technology

Additional one-time fees for other items may also help these centers make money. This could possibly include things like cancellations, SKU labeling, barcoding, credit card processing, marketing inserts, and assembling products.

Conclusion

Having a solid eCommerce fulfillment service will make the entire ordering and fulfillment process easier, faster, and more user-friendly for both yourself and your customers. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of situation here. The platform you chose will be based on business needs and personal preference.

Any of the eCommerce fulfillment services from the list above are a solid choice and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Give them all a look, do a little research, try them out if they have free trials, and see which one works best for you.

Before you know it, you will have found a setup that is perfect for your business. Good luck on your journey!



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7 Best Writing Apps in 2021


The days of writing down stories on paper or using a typewriter are over. For the last two decades, writers have utilized writing apps to improve the content they create and make it easier to assemble large pieces of content. And in this time, a lot of writing software and apps have come into existence.

That’s why today, I am going to share the best writing apps to use in 2021.

What Are Writing Apps?

Writing apps are applications that allow users to create documents by using a word processor or provide helpful insights into your writing. The type of software a writer uses depends entirely on their trade.

After all, writing is a very broad term.

For instance, a screenwriter is not going to use the same tools as a novelist.

Of course, writing apps are not exclusively word processors. They can also include writing analyzers that help point out mistakes or make specific recommendations to your writing. In many cases, they can even be a combination of the two.

And in recent years, distraction-free writing tools have become very popular. Writing takes place on a computer, which means that you have access to the internet. Some of these tools can disable popular distraction websites like YouTube or Facebook to help you stay focused.

The Best Writing Apps for 2021

1. Final Draft

Final Draft

Have you ever wondered what kind of software screenwriters use in Hollywood? If so, you are not alone. And while there are quite a few to choose from, Final Draft has been the industry standard for decades.

In fact, Final Draft claims they are used by 95% of film and television productions.

So what makes Final Draft the industry standard in Hollywood? Its toolset is specifically made for screenwriters. It can keep track of individual character lines, traits, the scenes they appear in, and much more. Without these types of features, you would have to vigorously re-read the script and keep detailed notes.

It is also important to mention that it has been around so long at this point that its file type, .FDX (for versions 1 through 7) and .FDR (version 8 to current), are the only ones these companies accept.

Thus, even if you choose to write it on another piece of software, you are still going to need to convert it to the right file format.

Benefits of Final Draft

  • View the dialogue of individual characters in a few clicks
  • Easily export and share files to help you find the right buyer
  • It is available on mobile devices

Price of Final Draft

  • The Teacher/Student version is available for a one-time purchase of $129.99
  • Final Draft is available for a one-time purchase of $249.99

2. Scrivener

Scrivener

There is a lot of book writing software to choose from, but standing firmly at the top is Scrivener. This software was built by writers for writers, and it really shows. It has hundreds of options that are strictly for novelists.

Of course, the software can also be used for screenwriting and other trades.

Scrivener stands at the top due to its design philosophy. Most word processors on the market fail to make it easy to move large pieces or chapters of a novel around. This isn’t a problem in Scrivener.

It utilizes a drag and drop design that allows you to move any part of the novel.

One of the most useful tools, especially for long novels, is the analysis it offers. For instance, it can detect words that are being used too frequently. This can dramatically increase the quality of your work by using a broader vocabulary.

Benefits of Scrivener

  • Keep track of all of your research and notes while you are writing
  • Choose the exact size every piece of your novel will be
  • Create a corkboard to improve your planning

Price of Scrivener

  • Educational licenses of Scrivener are available for a one-time payment of $41
  • Standard licenses of Scrivener are available for a one-time payment of $49

3. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word

Let’s face it, everyone knew Microsoft Word would be on the list. It is the go-to word processor for over 1.2 billion people around the world. It could only achieve this popularity if the service was amazing, and news flash, it is.

And if you are a student, this software, along with the entire Microsoft Office Suite, is free.

The reason Microsoft Word continues to be the top writing program around the world can be attributed to many things. Yet, without a doubt, the biggest factor is the range of content you can create.

School reports, research papers, novels, scripts, resumes, and just about any other form of written content can be made in Word.

It accomplishes this by providing users with a huge library of pre-built templates and by utilizing a simple interface that anyone can learn. However, while Word is a jack of all trades, it will typically fail to get better results than writing apps designed for specific trades.

Benefits of Microsoft Word

  • Users can take advantages of thousands of tutorials and detailed guides from Microsoft
  • Converts PDF documents to Word documents in seconds
  • Virtually every business uses Microsoft word, so there are no compatibility issues

Price of Microsoft Word

  • Free for students
  • Available as a standalone product for a one-time purchase of $139.99
  • Included in the Microsoft 365 subscription for $6.99 per month

4. Google Docs

Google Docs

When it comes to free writing apps, none can match the functionality and practicality of Google Docs. In fact, it still has a place in the writing process if you utilize another piece of software due to its collaboration tools.

In truth, most dedicated writing apps were created for a sole writer. This can be a problem if you hire an editor.

Google Docs solves this problem entirely by allowing users to share documents at a moment’s notice without any limits on the file size. It is hands down the best writing app for any form of collaboration or partnership.

Another huge advantage is that Google Docs is cloud-based. Thus, if your hard drive fails, you have nothing to worry about with Google Docs. You get 15 GB of storage for free with Google Docs and more is available in the paid plans.

Benefits of Google Docs

  • Allow others to read your work without editing it
  • Access and edit your files on any device
  • Import and export a wide array of file formats

Price of Google Docs

  • Google Docs is available for free
  • It is also available within the Google Workspace subscription starting at $6 per month

5. ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid

Even with the best writing software in hand, it’s useless if the quality of the content your produce isn’t great. Instead, you can enhance your writing by using the ProWritingAid tool. It helps writers avoid the common problems that all writers face.

And the better your writing skills appear to customers, the more money you’ll make.

Unlike other grammar checkers, ProWritingAid focuses on improving the flow of your writing. For instance, one of the biggest problems new writers fall into is the usage of past tense phrases. While there are cases in which you may intend to use one, the vast majority are often unintended, and this tool can track them.

Another big factor it focuses on is connecting your writing. The use of transition words and phrases is crucial when you are connecting ideas together. Without transitions, you might as well switch to bullet points.  The tool will offer helpful tips and insights to improve the flow of your writing.

Benefits of ProWritingAid

  • Replace weak verbs with strong verbs for a broader vocabulary
  • There are 20 different analysis tool to help improve your content
  • Get access to a thesaurus while writing

Price of ProWritingAid

  • Monthly subscriptions start at $20 per month
  • Yearly subscriptions start at $79 per year
  • A lifetime subscription is available for $399

6. Grammarly

Grammarly

Grammarly is a digital writing assistant that is compatible with some of the most popular applications and websites. It will display writing mistakes and recommendations to you in real-time, and it is constantly being updated to have the most up-to-date vocabulary.

It is available for Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, and works on mobile devices.

Many know Grammarly for the wonderful and free Google Chrome extension. However, most are unaware that Grammarly has a dedicated writing app for Windows. You can type full documents from scratch or import documents for proofreading.

Grammarly is probably the best tool for bloggers and web developers. Its Google Chrome extension is compatible with the text editors of CMS. For instance, it is fully compatible with the Gutenberg editor of WordPress and many others.

In fact, some of the writers here at GreenGeeks use the Grammarly Chrome extension while writing our content.

Benefits of Grammarly

  • Vocabulary is updated regularly and faster than any other grammar/spell checker
  • Mistakes are easy to find thanks to the red underline
  • It can locate redundancy in sentences to improve the readability

Price of Grammarly

  • A free version is available
  • Premium plans start at $11.66 per month
  • Business plans start at $12.50 per month per member

7. Blog Idea Generator

Blog Idea Generator

Last but not least, the Hubspot Blog Idea Generator is a terrific tool for creating new ideas. Even the best blogger out there can hit a wall when it comes to content planning. However, with this tool, you can create weeks worth of ideas in minutes.

And this tool is completely free to use.

The tool is greatly successful because of its simplicity. Users simply need to enter a series of nouns into the text box, one at a time. Afterward, you simply click the button and the tool will generate 5 blog ideas based on your keywords. It’s that simple.

Yet, it is worth mentioning that these ideas can be very similar to one another. Notwithstanding, this is only a problem if you don’t sign up. Instead of the five free concepts, it will generate over 250 blog ideas using the same method.

Thus, you will get a great variety of ideas. Just keep in mind all of them may not be applicable to the topic.

Benefits of Blog Idea Generator

  • Build a full list of topic ideas in minutes
  • There is no limit on the number of uses
  • You can enter as many nouns as you want

Price of Blog Idea Generator

What Separates Writing Apps?

So the real question for many people is why can’t I just use Microsoft Word for everything?

It’s true that Word is a powerful word processor that should never be underestimated. Yet, it pales in comparison to writing apps and software that were designed specifically for certain groups. For instance, writing a play on Microsoft word versus  Scrivener is night and day.

Scrivener is used professionally to write scripts for movies, plays, and even video games. It has the tools and formatting options that these writers need to get the job done. Microsoft does not.

Yet, if your willing to spend a lot of time with formatting in a more generic word processor, it’s not impossible to get similar results. The real difference between these tools is the amount of time you need to spend and the convenience each one provides.

Find What Works For You

Everyone is different, and the writing app you use is no exception. Sometimes you may even prefer older versions of software to the new ones. Most famously, George R.R. Martin actually uses the WordStar 4.0 word processor from 1987, although maybe this explains his writing speed.

Either way, everyone has their preference.

If your write professionally, look at what others in your industry are using. Most of the world may only be aware of Microsoft Word, but it is often avoided by professional writers. It simply doesn’t offer the special functionality some writing professions require.

Thus, be sure to experiment and find what works for you.

Which writing apps do you use?



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9 Best Online Learning Platforms for Business


There are a lot of great online training platforms available today that will allow you to more easily train your employees. These are especially helpful if you need to organize seminars, lectures, online courses, or workshops. Online learning for business has never been more popular.

In years past, you may have had to pay a huge amount of money to a third party in order for them to properly train employees on certain matters. However, with the emergence of online business training platforms, there is now a way for you to do all of this in-house.

Yes, you might have to put some work into getting all the material and information together, but once it is done, it will save your business a lot of money on employee training.

Today, we are going to go over some of the best online learning platforms for business. These will allow you to better train your employees on company matters and also save you a lot of money over time.

See, one of the main successes of modern organizations is measured by how fast their employees can attain new skills and learn new information quickly. While there are dozens and dozens of online course platforms, I am going to break it down to some of the best out there. 

What is an Online Learning Platform?

Also know as eLearning platforms, online learning platforms are information systems that schools, universities, and corporations use for teaching and training. This concept has been around a while, and over the past few years, it has become extremely popular in the business world as well.

There are actually a few different types of online learning platforms. All incorporate the same concept of making it easier to train and teach, but all of them may be used for slightly different situations. They include:

  • CMS (content management system)
  • LMS (learning management system)
  • CSCLS (computer-supported collaborative learning system)
  • KM (knowledge management)

These are all different types of virtual communities filled with students, tutors, and professors. To get more specific, today we want to focus on the company side of things and explore online learning for business.

For that reason, we will view the platforms below in the LMS category, simply because even though they are modeled for businesses, they are still relevant learning management systems.

Let’s take a dive into some of the best online learning platforms for businesses that are available today.

Best Online Learning Platforms for Business

1. iSpring Learn LMS

iSpring learn LMS online learning business

iSpring Learn is a cloud-based LMS that is very easy to use, yet full of functionality. It will allow you to easily create and deliver training programs for your employees fast and efficiently. 

The system covers an array of training needs. Some of the main focus includes new-hire onboarding and the ability to build complete, complex, step-by-step programs that will help provide ongoing training for employees.

All in all, you will be pretty hard-pressed to find a better online learning platform for business. Aside from all the above, iSpring also provides an excellent reporting engine, perfect user experience, and a mobile app for both iOS and Android users.

Features

  • Learning tracks that make it easy to build
  • Built-in authoring tool
  • Create adaptive eLearning courses right from your browser
  • Integration with the iSpring toolkit
  • Advanced reporting system
  • Integrates easily with Zoom
  • Simple, easy-to-use interface
  • Gamification
  • Amazing technical support

2. TalentLMS

TalentLMS

If you are looking for an intuitive system that is cost-effective, then look no further than TalentLMS. The system gives you everything you need to train employees properly and also features eCommerce and Zapier integration.

This online learning platform will give you all the basic tools necessary to create presentations, videos, packages, and just about any other type of content imaginable. TalentLMS is also very good when it comes to social learning, as they will help both your learners and trainers stay in touch very easily.

Features

  • Built-in tools for creating simple courses, quizzes, and surveys
  • Switch between user-roles quickly and easily
  • Integration with webinar services
  • Individual URLs available
  • Custom designs
  • Custom reports and scheduling
  • Multiple integrations with web services like Zapier

3. MindFlash

MindFlash online learning business

MindFlash is another one of the very best online learning platforms for business out there today. The platform allows you to customize all of your course content, putting you in total control of the entire thing.

From creating PowerPoint presentations to videos and documents, the system is loaded with functionality and provides the ability to easily track the performance of all trainees.

One of the more eye-opening features that MindFlash provides is the ability for scalability when you need it. With three tiers of use, you can move all the way up to the pro level and scale out if needed. The social integration features are also very good and the system comes with a free trial.

Features

  • Train not only employees but also external stakeholders like contractors
  • 2-week free trial available
  • Excellent customer support
  • Adheres to SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) standards
  • Course creation
  • Online learning management
  • Reports galore
  • Intuitive dashboards for everyone

4. Docebo

Docebo

If you have a need for both formal and informal learning, then Docebo is probably an online learning platform for business that you will want to look into. The platform will allow you to easily upload all sorts of different content types including SCORM and xAPI courses.

It also and has a simple built-in content editor. This allows for HTML page creation from both text and media. The Docebo system comes complete with a powerful AI, which analyzes all content that is upload and tags it with keywords.

Last, but not least, Docebo provides freedom to create what you want, but unlike some other platforms, it also gives you access to ready-made courses that have already been created by professional course developers.

Features

  • Advanced content management
  • Built-in quiz editor
  • Create and share learner-generated content
  • Localize user portals to over 40 language choices
  • Ready-to-go courses
  • Custom reports
  • Over 30 available integrations

5. SAP Litmos

SAP Litmos online learning business

Another cloud-based online learning platform that employees and trainers can access through desktop or mobile is SAP Litmos. It has over 1-million users and has built this type of a following because it provides a built-in dashboard that is simple, easy-to-use, and very powerful.

The platform also offers a 2-week free trial. This way, you can get to know the setup, the system, and figure out how it all works and operates before you make a final decision. Finally, you will also be able to monitor all sales activity by connecting it to Salesforce.

Features

  • Intuitive design
  • Free trial
  • eCommerce option
  • Track all sales 
  • Fast onboarding
  • Robust analytics
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • Universal accessibility
  • Engagement and adoption

6. Adobe Captivate Prime

Adobe Captivate Prime

With advanced social learning capabilities, skill management, and extensive reporting, look no further than Adobe Captivate Prime when searching for an online learning platform for business.

The Adobe LMS stands out because it allows admins to create and manage external groups. This means that the process of training someone outside the company, like a partner, is easy to handle.

Where Adobe Captivate is different than the other platforms on this list is in the authoring section. The platform does not actually provide any authoring features to create content. To do this, you will need to add another authoring tool.

However, what they do is provide you with a full library of shelf courses that you can purchase and use to train employees.

Features 

  • Robust reporting engine with scheduled reports
  • Extensive social learning features
  • System is built to increase learner engagement
  • Manage external learners only
  • Create multiple versions of content in different languages
  • Tons of third-party integrations

7. CourseMill

CourseMill online learning business

Finding a place on our list is CourseMill. They allow you to create unlimited courses and provide advanced tracking and reporting to go along with that. You will be able to access beautiful visual charts that track everything imaginable.

Easily notify your employees or other learners about upcoming courses, trainings, and other important updates right from the intuitive system. The notifications that are sent out take the form of emails and will have course and training links built right in.

Features

  • Fully-functioning notification system
  • Instant messaging feature
  • Automate all enrollment and employee training
  • Self-paced eLearning experiences
  • Manage compliance
  • Sell eCommerce courses
  • Formal and informal learning
  • Dashboard creation and customization

8. eFront

eFront

One of the newer opine business platforms for learning out there is eFront. It makes our list because it offers a ton of tools and features and it offers scalability, customization, efficiency, and reliability. It is fully user-intuitive and is also packed with Gamification features.

As far as content goes, the eFront platform adheres to all industry standards and provides you the ability to customize and design all sorts of courses and materials. From ethics in the workplace to business management training and more, this platform has you covered. Give it a look.

Features

  • Private cloud hosting
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Content friendly
  • Assessments engine 
  • Surveys engine
  • SCORM and TinCan
  • Assignments
  • Re-usable content
  • Full courses marketplace

9. Absorb LMS

Absorb LMS online learning business

Rounding out this list of the best online learning platforms for business is Absorb LMS. It is an intelligent, multi-purpose online learning platform that is both easy to scale and fully configurable. The system is available as both a hosted option or an on-premise alternative.

Absorb makes it very easy to create and distribute training courses and they also have a ton of automation features built-in. Optimize all your content in over 20 languages and make employee training easier than ever with this platform.

Features

  • Assembly tools for everything
  • Ability to embed YouTube videos
  • Hosted solution or on-premise solution
  • Very powerful AI
  • Learner engagement
  • Smart administration
  • eCommerce
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Mobile app
  • SCORM compliance
  • Content libraries
  • eSignatures
  • Tons of integrations

How to Choose an Online Learning Business Platform 

Since there are so many virtual training programs out there, it can be difficult to figure out how to choose one. You need it to fit your business needs, probably be fairly priced, and give you all the tools you need to get what you want.

There are basically three other things to consider when choosing an eLearning platform to train your employees. Yes, personal preference and needs are a big part of it, but don’t forget about the following.

Academic or Corporate

Both of these types of platforms will allow you to automate a lot of different training processes. You will also be able to provide access to learning materials online, so employees will be able to access those when needed.

That being said, there are some major differences between the two. Things like organizational structures, scheduling units, and tracking and assessment systems will be laid out and act differently depending on the platform.

Make sure you have a hold of the right one for your business.

Industry Specific and Use Cases

There are probably going to be a lot of instances where you need the online learning business platform you choose to be very industry-specific. With that, you will need some use cases in place as well.

A good example of this is the health industry. If your business is tied to healthcare, then you want a learning platform that can be integrated with a hospital management system, HIPAA, and ACCME web services.

Of course, this is just an example, but you see how this can be a major factor in the final decision made.

Use cases are another aspect to consider. Will the online learning business platform you choose be able to handle everything you need? For example, is employee onboarding or peer-to-peer management training vital?

Features and Tools 

Make sure the platform you choose has the specific tools and functionality you need. Perhaps create a list of things that are a “must-have” for your business and setup. Use that list and compare it to what you see from the platforms above.

If you can match up everything you need to a specific platform, then you are good to go.

Conclusion

Virtual training platforms are all the rage right now. If your business is looking into something like this, then you can’t really go wrong with any of the online learning for business platforms that are listed above.

Sure, the one you choose will be based a lot on personal preference and specific business needs. However, the list above is filled with solid candidates and this should give you a starting point at the very least.

Try some of them out, demo them, see with one works best for your specific needs. Before you know it you will be training your employees quicker, easier, and cheaper.



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6 Best Membership Management Software for 2021


By default, websites are open to everyone, but some might want to be more exclusive and limit access to members. Clubs, organizations, or even a local golf course may need this. To do this, you are going to need membership management software and there is no shortage to choose from.

Thus, I have constructed a list of the best membership management software in 2021.

What is Membership Management Software?

Membership management software provides the functionality to manage and support an association’s member list. This includes storing member information, collect payments and donations, granting access to private storefronts, generate polls and surveys for members, and much more.

In the past, all of the important information would be stored in a large spreadsheet. It was a nightmare for large organizations.

However, today, most membership management systems are cloud-based and extremely easy to use for both large and small organizations alike. And they provide both developers and members far more options when it comes to interacting with a website.

For instance, many of these tools allow you to set up custom UIs for certain members. This is particularly useful for organizations that may have very large donors, as it is a great reward.

It also helps the members feel like they belong to something bigger.

Here are some of the best membership tracking software to use in 2021:

The Best Membership Management Software

1. Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot is one of the best membership solutions on the market. It’s easy to use, automates simple tasks, sets up quick registrations, looks professional, and much more.  And it’s extremely affordable with a wide variety of plans to choose one.

Each one offers the same features, but the number of members is different. And there’s even a free plan available for up to 50 members!

Wild Apricot truly is the one-stop shop for any membership website. The management software allows you to simplify member acquisition, automate membership renewals, set up administrator privileges to the necessary staff, promote events and special offers to members, and so much more.

It even includes a full website builder. The website builder utilizes a drag-and-drop interface and allows you to pick from 50 themes that can easily be customized with your brand’s name and logo.

Thus, not only can it help you manage your memberships, it can help you get started.

Benefits of Wild Apricot

  • Send out emails and newsletters that are custom branded
  • Create specific groups and send out custom messages and notifications to them
  • View all event attendees from your mobile device

Price of Wild Apricot

  • A free plan is available for up to 50 members
  • Personal plans start at  $40 per month for 100 members
  • Community plans start at $90 per month for 500 members

2. Zen Planner

Zen Planner

Zen Planner is focused on providing fitness websites with the tools they need to manage their members. And it does an excellent job at providing a unique lineup of tools for gym, yoga, and martial art websites that keep members engaged.

Just keep in mind that many of the tools will not be useful if you do not run a fitness business.

One of the best parts about this software is that it knows how to keep members happy. And happy members don’t quit! It does this by providing key information like skill and belt training and progress alongside many other specific, but customizable options.

All of this is fully automated by the software and members can view the information from both a desktop or their mobile device. And you can also expect more common features like automatic billing and a great selection of reporting tools.

Benefits of Zen Planner

  • You are not charged for inactive members and can change your plan to meet your needs
  • Individual apps for both staff and members are available
  • Marketing tools are available to help you reach out to new customers

Price of Zen Planner

Each plan is based on the number of members you have. Here is the breakdown:

  • 0-50 members cost $117 per month
  • 51-100 members cost $1157 per month
  • 101-150 members cost $197 per month
  • 251+ members cost $227 per month

3. Glue Up

Glue Up

Glue Up is a terrific choice for any website looking for powerful membership management software. It provides a robust list of features to help you manage, engage, and grow your membership list, and they are all easy to use.

And it even provides a mobile app for both your staff and members.

This tool allows users to manage renewals automatically, create event pages, run as many events for members as they want, handle all membership emails and newsletters, allow one-on-one communications between members, and so much more.

Arguably the best part of this software is the mobile app. You can do just about everything the desktop client offers and more. For instance, you can scan tickets on your phone, which is an excellent tool for employees to take advantage of.

Dedicated hardware could cost you quite a bit, but everyone has a smartphone.

Benefits of Glue Up

  • Integrates seamlessly with your social media accounts
  • Create custom registration forms for each event
  • Send out automatic reminders to customers about billing

Price of Glue Up

  • Glue up does not make its pricing public. Instead, you will have to contact them for a quote.

4. GrowthZone

GrowthZone

If you’re looking for powerful membership directory software, look no further than GrowthZone. It has every feature a members-only site needs and most importantly, it’s easy enough for anyone to use.

And even the analytical tools are easy to read because they provide multiple options to view the same data.

Its powerful toolset includes a database directory to view all member information, mobile apps for both members and staff, event creator with integration options for Zoom,  allows you to process both one-time and reoccurring payments, and send out emails.

But, this is only a small glimpse of what is possible.

One of the best parts of GrowthZone is the excellent support you receive. You can contact the support team via live chat, email, or call them on the phone 5 days a week. This level of support really stands out when compared to other membership management software and can help beginners out immensely.

Benefits of GrowthZone

  • Group members and contacts into lists for different messaging options
  • Use the phone app to scan business card for contact details
  • Eliminate duplicate data in the directory automatically

Price of GrowthZone

  • Essential plan starts at $149 per month
  • Premier plan starts at $299 per month
  • Pro plan starts at $449 per month
  • Enterprise options are available upon request

5. MemberSpace

MemberSpace

MemberSpace is another excellent option to choose if you want to add a members-only section to your website. It allows you to customize the appearance of these sections for members and determine the price you will charge to join.

And regardless of the plan you choose, you can have an unlimited number of members.

It supports 12 different CMSs including the most popular, WordPress.  You can seamlessly transfer between any of the supported platforms. On top of this, there are a host of other features like adding forums to your website or sending out emails to members only.

It is important to highlight the one downside of MemberSpace, which is the transaction fee. It starts at a 4% fee on top of the Stripe transaction fee. However, the transaction fee is lower as you get more expensive plans.

The most expensive plan, which is still quite reasonable, has a transaction fee of 0.5%, which is much better.

Benefits of MemberSpace

  • Great customer support via email
  • All of the membership management happens on your website
  • Migrating from one CMs to another is a free service

Price of MemberSpace

  • Just Starting plan begins at $25 per month
  • Growing Business plan starts at $50 per month
  • Thriving Business plan starts at $100 per month
  • Unlimited Business plan starts at $200 per month

6. NationBuilder

NationBuilder

While NationBuilder is more about finding new members than managing them, it still offers tools for both. And in some cases, growing your membership list may be more important than managing, especially for new businesses.

And with the free trial, you can give it a try without spending a penny.

Since the focus of this tool is to grow your membership list, you can expect to find a toolset that complements this goal. For instance, you can use dynamic data to personalize the emails you send out.

And you can filter and group individuals that may respond better to different messages with the segmentation feature.

You can also create event pages in minutes by using the pre-built templates. In some cases, all you will need to do is personalize it and change a few values before it’s ready to go. And the mobile app ensures that you can interact with members on the go.

Benefits of NationBuilder

  • Set up different permissions for volunteers and staff members
  • All data can be viewed in real-time
  • Create fundraiser pages and collect donations and membership fees

Price of NationBuilder

  • Starter plan begins at $29 per month
  • Pro plan starts at $139 per month
  • Enterprise options are available upon request

When Do I Need Membership Management Software?

So the big question for most is when should they purchase membership software?

It truly depends on the size and type of organization you plan to start. For instance, if you were running a golf course membership, members would expect a great user experience, after all, golf isn’t cheap.

Even if you are just starting out, having the right feel is critical for growth.

On the flip side, if you were opening a local gym, members probably wouldn’t expect anything super fancy. Thus, it really depends when you feel storing member information on a spreadsheet becomes too much of an inconvenience for the business.

That said, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and extra work by adopting a piece of software early.

Most of these will include a feature to collect payments, membership dues, and even donations from members. Thus, it can help you stay on top of finances and avoid going down a long list to make phone calls about overdue payments.

Make Members Feel Special

The most important part of any organization with members is making them feel special. Adding personal touches to their login, placing their name on a members page, inviting them to member-only events, and other activities are crucial to a membership site.

And if you don’t manage to make them feel that their membership is justified, then you probably just lost a member.

What membership management software do you use?



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6 Best Time Tracking Software in 2021


Many business structures charge customers by the hour, which makes tracking the amount of time you spend critical to doing business. Customers want receipts with this information included, thus you are going to need time tracking software.

And like most of the software industry, there is a lot of competition to choose from. Therefore, I have assembled a list of the best time tracking software in 2021.

What is Time Tracking Software?

Time tracking software allows businesses to keep track of when their employees carry out specific tasks. This information can be vague and simply record the number of hours at work or be extremely detailed and include every task carried out in a specific amount of time.

The versatility of the software really depends on the needs of the business.

Most of these tools come with a time tracking app that allows employees to update their timesheets on the go and can even have punch-in/out functionality. Or, the app can simply show when an employee is scheduled to work.

And over the years, additional functionality has been integrated with traditional time tracking tools. For instance, some of these tools will allow you to calculate hourly wages, while others have integrated project management software into them.

Overall, most businesses have some form of time tracking software in their business, but the functionality can vary greatly.

The Best Time Tracking Software

1. Quickbooks Time

TSheets

QuickBooks Time (formerly known as TSheets) is an amazing piece of time tracking software that is strictly dedicated to time tracking. This software is browser-based, thus it can be accessed on any device and even has a dedicated mobile app, which many businesses require.

In addition, it fully integrates with QuickBooks and other Intuit products.

For many businesses, the mobile app is crucial for day-to-day activities, and Quickbook Time understands this. The mobile app can be used to not only allow employees to punch in and out on the go, but also track their position when they are on shift.

The biggest appeal of QuickBooks Time is the UI. It is, hands down, the best-looking time tracking software on the market and utilizes color-coding to make everything clear. It also alerts employees whenever new schedules go live or if a change was made.

Benefits of QuickBooks Time

  • See who’s working or on shift at a glance
  • Set it up to generate payroll reports and export them in multiple formats
  • View the number of hours employees are working in real-time

Price of Quickbooks Time

  • The Premium plan starts at $20 per month plus $8 per user
  • The Elite plan starts at $40 per month plus $10 per user

2. Toggl Track

Toggl Track

Believe it or not, there are amazing free time tracking software available, and Toggl Track is one of them. While there are paid packages available for those that want a more robust option, the free plan includes everything you would expect from a time tracking app.

Thus, it is the perfect option for start-ups looking to save a few bucks.

One of the biggest appeals of Toggl Track is its integration capabilities. With it, you can connect with over 100 of the most popular business tools on the market. Some include names like Asana, Slack, WordPress, Gmail, Zoho, Google Docs, Zendesk, and many more.

Toggl Track really excels at web-based work. For instance, with the Google Chrome extension, you can begin a clock the moment you open the browser. It even has a feature that will remind you to take a break at scheduled intervals to increase your efficiency.

Benefits of Toggl Track

  • Allows you to set required fields to ensure all of the information is entered
  • Send out an email notification to employees who have not submitted their times
  • The mobile app is can keep you connected on the go.

Price of Toggl Track

  • The Free plan supports up to 5 users
  • Starter plans begin at $9 per month per user
  • Premium plans start at $18 per month per user
  • Enterprise options are available upon request

3. Hubstaff

Hubstaff

When it comes to small to midsize businesses, Hubstaff is one of the most used time tracking solutions. It has a powerful time tracking toolset, it’s affordable, and offers additional functionality like HR and payroll support.

It is worth mentioning there is a free plan, but due to the limitations, it’s not enough for a small business.

One of the most important features of Hubstaff is the proof of work feature. Making sure your employees are getting work done is important, and has been a major concern during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Hubstaff allows employers to capture screenshots from an employee’s computer.

This ensures you can see exactly what employees are looking at during specific times and the event interval is customizable. As a result, employees are less likely to take a break and look at Facebook on the clock.

Thus, not only does this help you track time, it helps you ensure that the time is being spent productively.

Benefits of Hubstaff

  • The phone app supports geolocation to keep track of employees (on shift)
  • It’s easy to set up a teams schedule
  • Keep track of project spending and progress

Price of Hubstaff

  • Free plan available
  • Basic plans start at $7 per month per user (min 2 users)
  • Premium plans start at $10 per month per user (min 2 users)
  • Enterprise plans start at $20 per month per user (min 2 users)

4. Harvest

Harvest

If your looking for a better time tracking solution for small teams, look no further than Harvest. The tracking app was designed for collaborative projects and allows you to manage the time spent on a project, how funds are spent, estimated time remaining,  and share confidential reports in one location.

And all of this is available for an excellent price.

Speaking of price, if you are planning a solo project or simply work alone, a free plan is available. And it even offers the same functionality, but only supports one user. Regardless of the plan you choose, you can access Harvest on both a web-based app and mobile device.

If you are interested in also using Harvest for a regular team schedule, you will need to purchase Harvest Forecast. This will allow you to easily build staff schedules for your business and fully integrate them into the regular Harvest app.

The difference is that one is intended for project time tracking and the other for schedules.

Benefits of Harvest

  • The interface is simple and easy to use
  • Integrates with other apps like Slack and Asana
  • All schedules are color-coded

Price of Harvest

  • A free plan is available for 1 user
  • The Pro plan is $12 per month per seat

5. Time Doctor

Time Doctor

Another excellent choice to consider is Time Doctor. This software allows you to handle time tracking for both projects and business schedules. And it also provides multiple schedule view options, which can help you spot gaps in a schedule.

And most importantly, it makes sure that employees stay on track.

With many companies switching to remote positions for the first time, as a result of Covid-19, one of the biggest concerns is efficiency.  Time Doctor allows you to send notifications when the software detects a time-wasting website like YouTube or Facebook.

Thus, not only are you tracking time, but ensuring it’s time well-spent. It is worth mentioning that you must download either the desktop app or the Chrome extension to begin recording time.

The phone app also supports GPS tracking, but alternative platforms do this better.

Benefits of Time Doctor

  • The app allows you to create invoices
  • Setup is extremely quick with an estimated time of 10 minutes for admins and 3 min for employees
  • Prevents employees from overlapping time

Price of Time Doctor

  • Basic plans start at $7 per month
  • Standard plans start at $10 per month
  • Premium plans start at $20 per month

6. RescueTime

RescueTime

Closing out our list is RescueTime, which is equal parts time tracking software and work monitoring app. It’s simple, employees download the RescueTime app onto their device and it logs their computer activity when active.

However, it should be noted that this is more for individual use than business-wide.

It labels every website and program opened as either productive or very distracting. For instance, Facebook is listed as very distracting and it can even be set up to block websites that are considered as such.

And in the hands of a distracted business owner, the tool is worth examining.

However, keep in mind that some jobs may actually interact with social media websites as part of the job. Thus, you could get bad data if the websites are not business-centric. This tool also integrates with Google Calendar.

You can also schedule focus time while using the software.

Benefits of RescueTime

  • See a breakdown of productive time and distracted time
  • Send the reports to employers to receive payment for the time
  • Works in your computer’s background

Price of RescueTime

  • A limited version is available for free
  • Premium plans start at $12 per month or $78 per year

Your Time Tracking Solution Is Unique

Like most types of software, the best choice for your business is unique.

For example, the needs of a small retail store will be very different from a law office. Lawyers charge by the hour and need to document the time they spend researching and preparing a case. Whereas a retail store would simply need to record the number of hours employees work.

However, while the needs are different, they both need a time tracker that meets their demands.

Thus, before you begin looking at time-tracking solutions, you need to understand what your business requires. To find out, look at the structure of the business, the number of employees, any legal requirements you need to adhere to, and how your time is being spent.

Save Time with Time Tracking Software

Many new business owners try to avoid software whenever possible, and this is a huge mistake. Software is designed to save time and make everyday business easier. Yet, in an attempt to cut down on initial costs, it’s typically avoided.

It is entirely possible to create a timesheet using simple software like Excel, but that can eat up hours of time and requires manual input. This is time that could be better spent analyzing your business to discover new opportunities or solve existing problems.

Virtually, all businesses use time tracking software and the prices are quite low. Thus, there’s no excuse to not have one.

What is your favorite time tracker app? Has using a work time tracker saved you time?



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Avoiding Issues and Steps if There Is Trouble


There is no such thing as too much security for any website. In this webinar, Marco Berrocal goes over the vital elements of keeping your website safe and secure. And most of these elements are very easy to implement immediately.

WordPress Security and What You Can Do

In a previous WordPress security video, Marco went over much of how to keep your site protected from hacks and malware. However, no system is absolute. And even the most secure systems may get attacked.

Today, he’ll go over the steps necessary to get your site back up and running as quickly as possible.

Always Have a Backup

Never underestimate the value of a good backup. It can help you in the event of hacks, malware, or even if you just made a mistake in coding. Instead of downtime, a backup will get your site back up and ready for traffic in no time.

In this video, Marco goes over several backup plugins that work exceptionally well and how to recover from a disaster.

Put the Site in Maintenance Mode

Maintenance Mode is quite valuable for WordPress. It lets users know that you’re working on a problem and lets Google know your site is still live. Otherwise, Google may think the pages are defunct and you could lose SEO value.

And the last thing you want is for visitors, both human and search engine bot, to experience the site after a hack or malware infection. In fact, Google will remove your pages indefinitely until it doesn’t detect the issue.

Locate the Hack or File in WordPress

In this video, Marco shows some of the best ways to find hacks, malicious files, and other exploits on your website. Some of the best tools are free, but it’s probably worthwhile to consider paying for premium services.

It really depends on how severe the problem is for you and your visitors.

Contact Your Webhost

It’s your responsibility to make sure your web host knows there is a problem. In many instances, they may even have a solution.

At any rate, getting the host involved can help them protect other users while making sure your issue is isolated. Then, you can relax a bit knowing that the chances of a re-infection are much lower.

This is because some malware can quickly jump from one site to another on the same host server. So, if you clean it today, the same malware could easily come back.

Restoring Your Files After Fixes

Once you’ve cleaned and repaired the website, you may have to restore data. This isn’t nearly as tough as you might imagine, especially since a lot of tools are automated today.

Marco will show you how to easily do this and get your site back online.

Reset Your Passwords

Although you may have cleaned and fixed the problem, there’s no telling if a hacker or bot has your login credentials. To prevent the issue from happening again, it’s always best to change your passwords.

Use something incredibly complex and store them safely in something like a password manager app. This way, you can create something heavily difficult without worrying about trying to remember it.

Good Security is Never an Absolute

The online world is constantly in motion and ever-changing. You can implement the best possible practices for security and still become a victim. All you can do is limit your exposure and know how to recover when things go wrong.

Luckily, Marco can help you keep things in check and prevent a malicious file from ultimately destroying your hard work.



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6 Best Marketing Automation Software in 2021


If you want to effectively fuel marketing campaigns of all sorts for your business, then it is probably a good idea to look into automation tools. Don’t worry, you won’t be the first to look into marketing automation software. Over 51% of marketers are investing in this type of software to help drive traffic and make connections.

There is a lot of upsides that good automation tools can provide. You will be able to personalize content based on insights, produce better social media posts and marketing emails, and boost conversions. 

It really doesn’t matter what size your business is. If you are interested in all of the above and more, then it is time to explore some of the different marketing automation tools that are out there today.

Before we jump into our list, let’s talk a little about what is exactly marketing automation.

What is Marketing Automation Software?

Marketing automation software is a tool that automates actions and tasks that are related to marketing. This type of tool can streamline marketing workflows and help measure the overall success of campaigns that are related to marketing and the strategies that go with them. 

The best marketing automation software will provide you with a central, easy-to-manage database that will have all your interactions and information right in one place. In turn, this helps create timely, efficient, and conversion-boosting marketing campaigns across several different types of platforms.

Marketing automation tools will give you access to a number of different instruments and features. You will be able to optimize email strategies, leverage social media, access CRM tools, and much more.

That being said, there are some things to consider when choosing if an automation tool belongs in the marketing automation category. These include:

  • Ability to automate two or more of the following: email, social media, SMS, digital ads
  • Provide advanced marketing capabilities like A/B testing
  • Provide a central marketing database
  • Allow marketing campaign targets
  • Ability to contact targets across multiple channels
  • Generate styled forms and landing pages
  • Provide solid analytic tools

These, along with other marketing strategy tools, can help you build a more complete marketing strategy for your business.

Best Marketing Automation Software

1. HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot marketing automation software

HubSpot, or the HubSpot Marketing Hub, is one of the most well-known marketing platforms around. Why? They offer a slew of tools that are both free and paid. While some of their paid tools are more on the expensive side of things, there is no arguing the features and results they get.

The marketing hub that is provided by HubSpot is one of the most intuitive around. It provides users with a straightforward, easy-to-use solution for their small business. 

The platform offers 24/7 customer support and you can expect full personal onboarding, training, consultation, and tech support. They also offer a ton of ongoing training and other educational opportunities that are both free and paid.

All in all, you are going to have a hard time finding a better marketing automation platform than HubSpot.

Features

  • Easily publish attractive, strong content
  • Build solid CTAs
  • Strong search authority and SEO integrations
  • Ad tracking and management
  • Create trackable interactions
  • Social media management
  • Video hosting and filing
  • Live chat

2. Marketo

Marketo

Another one of the best marketing automation software platforms around is Marketo. They are also one of the best known as well. While the platform may seem a little dated to some, they still offer all the functionality that newer platforms do and more, and they do it at a very reasonable price.

They are very similar to ActiveCampaign, which we will talk about below. This platform provides pre-built dashboards for you to get around, and their analytics reporting is superior to just about any other you will find.

If you are looking for a really good platform that promotes alignment of marketing with sales campaigns, then give Marketo a long look and see if it has what your business needs.

Features

  • Ad targeting
  • Engagement data for prospects
  • Account discovery
  • Predictive audiences
  • CRM integration
  • Channel content and engagement performance
  • Mobile engagement
  • Data security and privacy
  • Drive leads and matches buyer experience 

3. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign marketing automation software

I told you we would talk about ActiveCampaign, and here we go. This platform is perfect and usually preferred by smaller businesses. The platform for marketing and campaigns is about as easy to use and intuitive as you will find.

The platform offers quite a bit of pre-built engagement tools that offer users the ability to save a lot of time. Some of the more popular pre-built tools include workflows, training, support, and social media options. 

If you have someone running your marketing department that is more visual, then ActiveCampaign is a good choice in this area as well. It includes a built-in segmentation feature that will help you deliver targeted content to all the right clients.

Features

  • Site tracking and visitor tracking tools
  • Event tracking
  • Monitor apps, memberships, and portal interactions
  • Built-in automation goals and drop-off patterns
  • Automation map for connections
  • Find top-performing channels easily
  • Test all customized content for automation control
  • Fast setup
  • Intuitive interface
  • Visually appealing
  • Very affordable

4. MailChimp

MailChimp

Making our list next is MailChimp. You may know them for their email marketing solution. However, at this point in time, the platform offers so much more, including some excellent automation tools that can help your business in the marketing department.

The platform boasts award-winning software, pre-built management tools and templates, a long list of directory experts to help you with whatever you need, and over 250 third-party app integrations.

If that wasn’t enough, MailChimp also offers one of the best free marketing automation software platforms around. The free service gives you access to a lot of functionality. That being said, you will end up paying for all of the higher-end features and tools.

Features

  • MailChimp customer journeys
  • Deliver on-brand messaging
  • Transactional email
  • Behavior automation
  • Date-based automation
  • Track anniversaries and other important client dates
  • RSS to email
  • Up-to-date content with post sharing
  • Pre-built templates
  • Retarget purchases and loyal customer functionality 

5. SharpSpring

SharpSpring marketing automation software

Another pretty recognizable marketing and automation solution is SharpSpring. It is most desirable for clients that want a complete sales and marketing solution for their business. Many choose to separate the two, but if you don’t, then SharpSpring is a platform you want to take a look at.

The platform is packed with a ton of great features and automation that you can take advantage of. Tools like cart abandonment, data and third-party integration, dynamic landing pages, and multi-device capacity are all solid pieces of a puzzle you will have access to if you choose to go with this marketing system.

SharpSpring is a little bit higher priced than some of the other entries on this list. When you combine the tools provided with the sales and marketing duo integration, though, then the price becomes a little more understandable.

Features

  • Visual automation
  • Intuitive builder that maps customer journeys
  • Lead nurturing
  • Drip campaigns
  • Responsive messaging from behavior data
  • Customer metrics for sales teams to use
  • Generate accurate behavior segments
  • Buyer personas and custom templates
  • Direct updates via email and SMS 
  • Customized workflows and lead filters

6. AutoPilot

AutoPilto

Rounding out this list of the best marketing automation software is a platform called AutoPilot. Simply put, they offer a simplified, easy-to-use platform that is intuitive for users and runs well with other integrations and programs. 

The ease of use and the affordability of the platform make it very attractive for all types and sizes of businesses. You won’t need to spend thousands on employee training either, as the system is very straightforward and requires minimal instruction. 

Perhaps the only downside of AutoPilot is capacity. While it is feature-rich and simple to understand, bigger companies may want to look at something above on this list, as scalability may be limited.

Features

  • Visual workflows
  • Drag and drop templates or build from scratch
  • Email marketing based on time, behavior, and interest
  • Integrates with Slack, Trello, Facebook, Google Typeform, and more
  • Native CRM integration
  • Monitor all performance and customer data

What to Look For When Comparing Marketing Automation Platforms

There are a few things you want to look for and be wary of when you are going through the process of choosing a marketing automation platform. Yes, a lot of your final decisions will be based on personal preference and overall business needs. 

The most important thing here is to take your time and do your research. That being said, here are some things to consider.

Overall Cost

Most of the best marketing automation software is priced fairly. This is because a lot of them are based on a sliding scale that allows you to pay for only what you use.

That being said, there is usually an extra cost involved with certain add-ons and training. However, over time, if you stick with a plan, then you can definitely keep pricing fair and affordable.

Platform Usability

Since marketing automation and all that it comes with is both complex and important, the usability of the platform should be at the top of your list when you are making a decision.

Basically, you want the platform to be powerful yet intuitive and easy to use and understand. Not only will this make using it easier, but it will also save you money on employee training in the long run.

Third-Party Integrations

This is arguably the most important thing to look at when making a choice. How will the marketing automation software you choose integrate or allow integrations with other third-party apps and platforms you use to run your business?

If the right integrations are not available, then it is probably going to be a deal-breaker right from the start.

Other aspects of the software you want to make sure are not deal-breakers for purchase include things like:

  • CRM and Sales Capabilities
  • Email Capabilities
  • Content Capabilities
  • eCommerce Capabilities
  • Social Media Capabilities
  • Training and Setup

Why Should You Use Marketing Automation Tools?

Bottom line? Using marketing automation software will allow you to focus on the creative solution process instead of focusing on the heavy lifting of marketing and automation. Most of the best platforms will also help you reduce overall costs by quite a bit.

Because lead marketing, emails, social media, and other content marketing strategies are all put on auto-pilot, manual labor (both in hours and in cost) will go way down. 

Both lead management and prioritization can be handled in a more effective manner allowing for a better ROI. Perhaps the best part of marketing automation tools is that they can help hold your entire marketing team responsible. 

It does this by tracking overall employee performance with concrete data points. This, in turn, allows you to adjust and put together the best business strategies possible.

Other key issues that are solved by using marketing automation platforms include:

  • Ability to create more targeted content
  • Create well-informed content
  • Provide a message direction based on real-world customer data
  • Customize messaging across a certain customer base
  • Less manual entry
  • Reduce staffing and labor costs

So again, make sure you do your homework. All of the above are crucial points of business and should be handled as such. When you automate your marketing efforts properly, it leads to more sales and conversions in the long run.

Conclusion 

If you want to maximize your budget, streamline marketing content on multiple social platforms, track employee productivity, and create actionable content that drives sales, then you definitely want to take a look at some of the best marketing automation software available today.

The ones on the list above are all solid choices and they will all provide you with all the tools necessary to be successful. Take a look at them, try them out, and see which one works best for your business. 

Every business is a little different. However, the list above should have a little something for every business, whatever the need may be.

Before you know it, your business will be driving high-quality marketing campaigns that are hitting your niche audience perfectly. Good luck with your search!



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