Record-low unemployment has left many marketing jobs unfilled. Most marketers feel stressed out because of the extraordinary workload they’re experiencing.
Never fear! We’ve researched the top tools, apps, and tips that can make marketers more efficient, which can help reduce the extraordinary stress so many are working under. Most of the suggestions on the list are simple and inexpensive steps you can take to make things easier, not significant systemic changes that could stress you out more.
1. Doc Your Day
Sometimes the best way to get organized — and get through your day more smoothly — is to write down what you plan to do that day first thing in the morning. It forces you to think through what you can realistically accomplish. Writing makes you confront the limitations of time and workload. Consider categorizing your work as must get done, should get done, and nice to get done. It will help you understand how much you’re actually completing each day.
If you can’t afford the time or money to adopt new systems or software, this simple no-cost tactic could be just what it takes to make you and everyone on your team more efficient and productive.
2. Google Trends
Are you spending too much time searching for content topics and other marketing inspiration? Google Trends could be your one-stop-shop for identifying what topics and areas of interest related to your business are trending now and could be in the future. This is an example of how Google’s all-knowing powers could be of value.
Airtable combines spreadsheet and database technology to make the tedious task of editorial calendar planning fast and easy. It’s a must-have for over-stressed content marketers.
When you first experience it, you may think: What’s the big deal? It seems like a spreadsheet.
However, you can program columns and cells to hold pre-defined tags, checklists, and even files. This added functionality takes it far beyond most spreadsheets and scheduling tools.
Proofreading is time-consuming, and mistakes still get missed. Grammarly is a relatively good tool to help with some of your proofreading tasks. It’s not perfect, but it will catch many common errors that often get overlooked.
Is your business in a field where demonstrating thought leadership is essential to attracting new clients? Consider joining some Quora groups where you can do just that. You answer questions other people ask to help demonstrate your expertise in what you do. You can even share content on your website through the platform to support your responses. Quora can be far more efficient than other forms of social media marketing. Make sure you never “sell” on Quora, or you could get kicked off the platform.
Do you find yourself spending too much time using and customizing prospecting emails? Mixmax could be an excellent solution for you. It’s a Gmail extension that automates many tasks, including:
Sending several suggested meeting times via email, and when the recipient selects one of the times, the service automatically sends both parties an invitation. Mixmax allows you to eliminate having to use separate scheduling software for making appointments.
Set up email triggers so that it will handle automated replies and other tedious tasks.
Embed surveys and polls into emails.
Send automated due date reminders.
While not the most powerful tool on this list, it will help make a lot of time-consuming marketing email tasks fast and easy to do while adding capabilities you may not have.
Do you always need to use Photoshop or Illustrator to create professional-quality images? Probably not. You can save time and effort by using a simpler tool like Canva for things like blog and social media images. You can then reserve the use of graphic designers and higher-powered design software for things like websites, brochures, posters, and other high-profile marketing efforts. Sometimes using the right tools for the proper purposes is the best way to gain efficiency.
FollowUp.CC does one thing, but it does it well: It makes it easy to set up all kinds of reminders in a single place. This is a very valuable tool for busy marketers who find themselves forgetting things.
Use it to set reminders for things like:
Visiting a website at a later date
Following up on an email
Checking an email in your inbox when you have more time
The FollowUp.CC app sits on your screen, so it’s always easy to record reminders. The app even uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine when an email merits a reminder. If you’re feeling forgetful, FollowUp.CC could be an excellent tool for you.
Asana can be a little dense and clunky, but it’s an excellent tool for improving efficiency.
Asana is a project management and communication app. Many marketing organizations value it because it becomes their single source of truth for what’s going on and what needs to get done at any time. You can share content, schedule deadlines, get reminders, offer feedback, and more. Part of what makes Asana challenging to use is also what makes it so valuable. It’s your single source for all things related to doing marketing and communication work. Unlike other solutions that handle parts of the creative development process, Asana does almost all.
10. Google Drive
If a tool like Asana is too expansive and expensive for your organization, consider using a simple central filing system like Google Drive. It’s a single place for everyone to store and share all types of files, including documents and spreadsheets. Centralizing your file storage and sharing will go a long way toward reducing time wasted searching for things.
A Hootsuite subscription can be costly for many businesses, but it is the ultimate tool for streamlining your marketing function. Its capabilities include:
Social posting and monitoring across all channels
Checking marketing campaign effectiveness
And much more.
If you’re serious about streamlining your marketing function, Hootsuite could be the right app for you. You might be able to afford it by eliminating some of the other tools you use now that Hootsuite can replace.
Do you and the people on your team find great content that could inspire your content marketing efforts, only to lose track of it? Evernote has been around for a while, and the concept behind it is pretty simple. It provides an easy and efficient way for everyone on your team to save marketing (and other) ideas and content inspiration. It will save you time when you need to create something new.
Do you have a lot of copy that you type repeatedly? TextExpander could help speed your writing process. Use it to auto-populate text you use regularly. Examples include:
Company boilerplate and legalese
Job description bullet points
Project milestones and descriptions
You assign each piece of text an abbreviation or code. When you type it, the app auto-populates your packaged text. Every keystroke you skip saves you time. If you type thousands of words a day, TextExpander could save you a LOT of time.
14. Contact Sync Up
Do you constantly search for email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal and contact information? Why not use the capabilities built into your smartphone and electronic devices and most tech platforms to sync up your contacts? You can then group them into categories like work, personal, client, employee, or anything that makes sense — or provides time-saving value — to you.
15. Change Out Your Background Noise
What you listen to while you work can significantly impact your efficiency and creativity. Instead of working to music you love, the news, or podcasts, consider something more neutral to keep you focused on your work or turn off the disruptive background noise altogether. Even better, find one of the playlists or stations available through most music sources that will help you stay focused on your tasks.
In the same way that tracking your calorie intake can help you eat better and lose weight, monitoring how you use your time can help you become more efficient.
RescueTime tracks how you spend your time while on your devices and offers suggestions for improving your productivity. It will show you things like how much time you waste on social media, how you can use email more effectively, and the best hours for you to take on specific tasks. You can try out RescueTime for free with a limited-time trial, and if you like it, the monthly subscription cost is minimal.
Consider starting your mornings and afternoons with brief meditation sessions. Leverage an app like Headspace to guide you through. It will help clear your mind from that morning’s family feud, the latest social media disruption, or the phone call from your mom so you can focus entirely on your work. If you find meditation works for you, you might want to use some of the music, and other background sounds available through the apps throughout your day.
Alarmed and similar products use GPS (global positioning systems) to deliver scheduling reminders. It allows you to keep a single calendar to manage all aspects of your life, but you’ll only see reminders based on your location. For example, you only see work reminders at work, personal appointments at home, and shopping lists when at the supermarket.
19. Block Site
Sometimes certain websites and social media platforms are too powerful to ignore. That’s where Block Site comes in. It allows you and the people you work with to block websites that cause distractions, either during business hours or all the time. You’ll be amazed by how much extra time you’ll gain each day if you can’t access Reddit or Facebook for eight hours.
20. Google Analytics
If you do one thing to improve your marketing efficiency, become a Google Analytics ninja. It will help you understand what’s going on with your website to optimize it. It doesn’t make sense to churn out marketing content and campaigns if users aren’t doing what you need them to do on your website.
We’ve presented a lot of ideas in this article. Don’t let it leave you feeling overwhelmed. Try one out and see how it goes. It will likely give you time to try out more and more of them.