Humans have been using tools for more than 2 million years, either to do things that weren’t possible without tools (like cooking), or to make manual efforts easier (like moving large rocks).
Though the tasks have gotten significantly more complex and intellectual, today’s web tools fall into the same general categories, either enabling new tasks (creating infographics) or performing manual tasks faster and more easily (sharing information across multiple social networks and profiles).
Ever wish you could search for something by sketching it rather than using text? Send professionally formatted emails from your Gmail account? Easily develop optimized landing pages for marketing campaigns?
Find tools to accomplish those tasks and many more here in more than 20 of the best cool online marketing tools and reviews of the past year.
Cool Online Tools
Possibly the ultimate personal profile site, About.me provides a single place for building a (free and easy) personal home page, creating a central point of contact, marketing your business, providing easy ways to interact, telling your story, enabling people to connect with you socially–in short, it’s a vital component of online reputation management, valuable for consultants, business owners, authors, job seekers and others.
Ever wish you could search Google images by entering a quick sketch instead of a word description? This site does just that. The tool has some way to go before it becomes practical (it returned a diagram of a chemical formula when I clearly drew a picture of a Corvette), but it’s got potential, and at the least is an amusing way to spend some time.
Not new but still very cool, IFTTT lets you specify actions (e.g., send me a text message or create a Facebook post) automatically based on triggers you assign (e.g., publishing a blog post or uploading a photo). As Jim Dougherty notes in his review of IFTTT, the possibilities are limited only by one’s creativity. Short on inspiration? Corey Rabazinski provides seven tips on ways to use IFTTT here.
Designed for small businesses, the (free, though optional premium features are fee-based) Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard provides “a clear, consolidated picture of a business’s marketing results and reputation, making it easier to discover new insights and develop new ideas for growth.” Features include monitoring of and recommendations for search engine and directory listings; online reputation management feature that track 8,000 sources; and website traffic analysis.
Apply stylish predesigned templates, custom signatures and social media buttons to any mail sent from a Gmail account with drag-and-drop ease. Great for creating newsletters incorporating your blog posts and promoting social sharing. Reasonably-priced premium plans also include tracking statistics.
Even in the online era, fax technology remains vital—particularly for organizations in healthcare, financial services and government. How can you make sure your enterprise never misses an important sales order, prescription, contract or faxed document? FaxPing is a low-cost service that automatically “pings” fax machines or servers at regular intervals and alerts you by email and text if there are any problems.
Email is great for most types of files, but what do you do when you need to send someone a large, hi-resolution image or a video file? That’s where WeTransfer comes in; it enables you to easily send files up to 2GB size for free, or for about $10 per month, to send files as large as 5GB plus get extras like password protection and online storage.
SocialAppsHQ combines social media monitoring functionality with a social planner (for scheduling messages on different social platforms), social apps for creating viral campaigns, and social advertising tools. You can try it out with the free version before upgrading to the small business package ($30 per month) or agency offering ($100 per month).
Blurster is a social media marketing application designed for small to midsized businesses. Features include pre-scheduled, automated posting across social networks; engagement analytics; monitoring and alerts; and social sales prospecting tools. It’s priced at $10 per month with a free trial to get started.
Workface is an interactive tool that enables your website visitors to engage with real people from your company, based on a dynamic “directory” of your employees that can present different members of your staff based on the geography of the visitor, purpose of their visit, and other factors. It adds chat capabilities to your website, but so much more—Workface is to traditional web chat applications what the iPhone is the brick cellphones of the early 90s. Beyond chat, it also enables email, video chat, voice, and screen-sharing.
A free keyword suggestion tool that supplies alternative phrases from a base term combined with different sources such as general web search, shopping, news or video. Adding a letter after the term brings up even more suggestions, so a search on “web presence + a” results in suggestions such as web presence analysis, web presence architects and web presence audit.
Tools for Creating Infographics
5 Great, Easy to Use Tools for Infographics by Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog
Commenting that “An infographic is a great way to go viral, earn links and social media shares as well as to give your content wings by re-packaging it,” Ann Smarty reviews five tools that “pretty much do the work (of laying out an infographic) for you, and yet the end result is professional looking,” including Visual.ly and Creately.
10 Free Tools to Create Infographics by Web Marketing Today
Writing that “Infographics are fun, creative, data-visualization tools that can help businesses express facts and statistics about their products, markets, and services. They can spread quickly if well done — shared across social media networks at a tremendous rate,” Kevin Webster reviews 10 free tools including Infogr.am and Google Fusion Tables for creating infographics.
20+ Tools to Create Your Own Infographics by Hongkiat
If you didn’t find what you need in the lists above, Kay Tan provides brief, illustrated reviews of some of the same tools plus more than a dozen others here for communicating your messages visually through infographics, including Piktochart , Easel.ly and Venngage.
Reviews of Cool Online Tools for Social Media, Blogging, Twitter, Video and More
Neil Patel reviews 17 social media tools worth a look, among them EditFlow for managing teams of writers or content producers; TweetLevel for monitoring conversations on Twitter based on hashtags and identifying key influencers; and Rapleaf , a nifty application that displays social profile information about any newsletter list.
SEO Audit Tool Highlights Flaws In Social Metrics by MediaPost
Laurie Sullivan reviews website audit tool 360iTIGER, which “monitors social media shares supported by Facebook Likes, Twitter tweets and Google +1,” but “also points to shortcomings in social metrics across Facebook, Twitter and Google +1″ such as the difficulty in tracking tweets and shares of the same content that use different shortened URLs.
Need Blog Images? Compfight Is a Handy Way to Search Flickr by V3 Integrated Marketing
Shelly Kramer writes that “while Flickr’s Creative Commons image library is a great, free resource for blog post images, sometimes I get lost in there. Not to mention have trouble finding just what I’m looking for.” The solution? A tool called Compfight which uses Flickr’s API to search its database of images and provide visual results based on your search terms.
Laura Hazard Owen reviews Doodle.ly, a tool that the company’s founders hope “will find a place among content-sharing sites like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest,” which “lets users create hand-drawn art, sketches, notes and doodles from the web or a free iPad app, then share the work on the site and on social networks.” She notes that the site currently has “a lot of bad drawings” but that social and rating tools should help users sift through the chicken scratches and find the good stuff.
PinAlerts Tracks What’s Being Pinned at Your Website by Business2Community
Joan Stewart reviews PinAlerts, a free tool that works “sort of like Google Alerts…(PinAlerts) will email you every time your website receives a new pin on Pinterest. You can decide how frequently you want to be alerted: daily, weekly or as it happens. The emails include a link to the latest pins with a description.” If you create infographics or any sort of interesting, original imagery for your blog, this is a handy way to keep up with how those images are being shared.
What Apps do you use on a Daily Basis? by SteamFeed
Gerry Michaels discusses his favorite, can’t-live-without tools for web browsing, social media management (e.g., Hootsuite and Buffer), social networking, content curation (Triberr, Scoopit and Google Reader), mobile and more. Though since Google Reader has now been discontinued, you may want to explore alternatives such as Feedly.
5 Landing Page Optimization Tools for Small Businesses by Small Business Trends
Tom Demers writes that small businesses need to have three things before they even start to be concerned with conversion optimization: a way to accurately track conversions, sufficient traffic to provide meaningful data, and ideas about what to test. With those three items taken care of, he then reviews five tools to help implement conversion rate testing and optimization, such as Optimizely and Unbounce.
Looking for great content curation tools? Here are my favorites! by Creative Ramblings
Cendrine Marrouat lists her 25 favorite tools for finding content worth sharing and curating content, among them Atomic Reach, Paper.li and RebelMouse. She also offers a handful of tips for creative curation, such as “Give it a little narrative. I call this contextual curation.”
5 Free and Effective Video Marketing Tools by Business2Community
Contending that “video is taking over as the preferred medium for brands looking for a better way to connect with their audience…According to comScore, 64% of website visitors are more likely to buy a product from an online retailer after watching a video,” Abel Velazquez reviews five free video editing tools including Windows Movie Maker and Animoto.
What are your favorite tools to use? Please leave a comment below!
*This is a guest article by Tom Pick*