As a business owner, you don’t want to play around with technology. You want to find something that works, stick with it, and continue running your business. Simple and efficient processes are key, lead generation is mandatory, and effectively sharing your message on social media is a must. That’s where you need to be using the best business productivity tools.
What I have compiled here are five tools that can help you achieve those goals. Some are free and some are paid, but all of them are worth it. Each one robust and easy to use, the list includes a lead-generation tool with micro-targeting on LinkedIn; a landing page creation tool that, if applicable, integrates seamlessly with both WordPress AND GoToWebinar; a social media management tool that enables you to schedule posts in the future as well as engage with followers of all platforms from one single dashboard; a free video creation tool for generating how-to and screenshare videos; and an email efficiency tool that will replace your task manager.
Sound good? Let’s jump right in.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator – The Ultimate Sales Productivity Tool for Social Selling
With my B2B sales background, it should come as no surprise that LinkedIn was my first social media love. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, and for years, I only used the free network version. But recently, I have found the company’s paid sales version to be a huge time-saver and thus it fittingly is first to bat in this best business productivity tools list.
I first started using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to assist with a Japanese client that had no brand recognition or following in their target market of the United States. Like any company, this one needed social media marketing; however, a B2B company also needs social media selling. And what better way to find business contacts than on LinkedIn.
You might ask, So, why don’t I just use LinkedIn for free to search for prospects and send emails? Allow me to explain.
First, LinkedIn (aka the free version) has search limits; after you have performed a lot of searches, you will start seeing about three results per search. Sales Navigator provides advanced lead and company searching without limits. From a searching perspective alone, Sales Navigator makes it so much easier and quicker, and that’s half the battle.
Second, the free version offers just a handful of search filters. Sales Navigator has even more to truly enable micro-targeting, and you can save the filters. Here’s an example: I want to find people who are marketers at Microsoft who work in Seattle. Yes, I can do this on the free version. But with Sales Navigator, I can pinpoint further: Only return to me people who have posted on LinkedIn within the past 30 days. Immediately, I am able to find active users, which increases the chances that someone is going to open and read my message.
Third, the free version has InMail limits—and by limits, I mean none. Sales Navigator starts with 20 InMails per month and, depending on your subscription plan, increases to 50 InMails per month. In addition, you’re able to see which leads or profiles you’ve already viewed and/or messaged, save company names, and set up alerts for changes on leads. If, for example, one of your leads has a job change, you’ll receive an email and then quickly engage.
Like anything else, if you’re investing in your business to be successful in social media—particularly in B2B sales—LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a no-brainer. And if you’re only doing B2B social media marketing without doing any social selling (and trying to reach out one-by-one on LinkedIn), you’re really missing out on a huge opportunity.
In fact, for some small B2B companies, I would almost—not entirely—recommend that social selling comes before social media marketing. That’s because social selling gives you the ability to micro-target, receive immediate feedback, and very quickly see what works (and doesn’t). Social media marketing, from a B2B perspective, requires you to create and publish a lot of content that, at the beginning, doesn’t get much engagement until you build up a community. And if you’re trying to generate at least $1,000 per month from LinkedIn Sales, an $80 investment per month is nothing.
Pricing: Paid plans start at $79.99 per month, all with free 30-day trials
Leadpages – Efficiently Create and Manage Your Landing Pages for Marketing Productivity
Years ago, if you wanted to run a webinar through GoToWebinar, the tool offered a standard landing page without the ability to customize, automate, or add attendees to your email database. Naturally, I was always in search of a tool that could let me easily and efficiently create a good landing page. And about five years ago, I found it, and I haven’t ever looked back.
Leadpages is one of the best business productivity tools because it makes it really, really easy to create a landing page, customize it, and integrate it specifically with GoToWebinar (which I use) as well as many others. Yes, there are many other tools for creating landing pages, but it’s hard to go wrong with Leadpages—especially with more than 160 free templates available.
A common question regarding landing page tools revolves around WordPress—if your site is on WordPress, why would you need a landing page tool? The idea is that you create a landing page, which is hosted in the cloud on the Leadpages server. With the Leadpages WordPress plugin, you’re basically creating a URL or slug, which goes to the Leadpage database in the cloud and asks, “Which page do you want to display for that URL?” It’s truly a one-minute setup, and then all of your pages are showing.
For more advanced WordPress users, caching can be an issue at first. But, like most things in WordPress, the issue can be solved with a plugin.
What I find so helpful about Leadpages is that you can create one lead page but have different URLs for it. That’s A/B testing at it’s finest. What a cool technology! Needless to say this is one of the best business productivity tools for marketing that you will find!
Pricing: Paid plans start at $37 per month, all with free 14-day trials
Agorapulse – The Ultimate Social Media Dashboard for the Ultimate in Social Media Marketing Productivity
Of the best business productivity tools mentioned here, this might be the ultimate time-saver.
NealSchaffer.com has more than 1,000 blog posts that have been published since 2008. That’s a lot of evergreen content. The ability to leverage that content is very impactful because it lessens the burden of needing to create or curate more content. Agorapulse provides that ability through its Queue Categories feature, and it’s what made me go from an occasional user to a heavy user this past year.
At its base, Agorapulse is a social media management tool that enables users to schedule content and get reporting on it. But digging deeper, Agorapulse seamlessly enables finite control over publishing evergreen content—any day of the week, any time of the day, even down to the number of times content publishes. I haven’t found another social media management tool that offers this critical feature.
Another element of Agorapulse that is extremely helpful is called Social Inbox, and it enables users to engage with followers on all platforms from one place. Respond to comments on a LinkedIn post, share a comment on a Facebook post, like a comment on an Instagram post—all from one dashboard, not logging in to each account. In addition, the comments are in line, not hidden in a new comment like some of the other social media management tools. It’s a very eloquent solution, especially for those managing multiple profiles. Also, users can monitor comments on Facebook ads, which is very helpful.
All of these features are why I use Agorapulse—coupled with the fact that it’s robust, it’s stable, it’s constantly innovating, and, frankly, it works.
Loom – Easily Create Videos and Screencasts for Free
Video has become increasingly important as a marketing medium, so it should come as no surprise that one of the best business productivity tools making this list is one that will help you efficiently create videos: Loom.
A tool that records your entire desktop, processes the video, provides you with a link for sharing (or emailing or downloading), and is free: Welcome to Loom. An extension for Google Chrome, Loom is simple to use and it works. Imagine being able to record a quick video, explaining how to do something a little more complex than you can type at the moment. Loom enables just that.
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Loom is now beginning to roll out a desktop version, which is already proving to be very robust. The Chrome extension alone still works very well. Either record your tab within Chrome, showing your face talking in a smaller window; or switch to a program like PowerPoint, and Loom records the entire screen. No need for a heavy app—just a Chrome extension and the ability to use your computer’s video camera and mic.
(Hey, if you’re a big Chrome extension user, check out this post on the best Twitter extension for Chrome)
Loom can be a great tool to create videos for YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Create a quick how-to video with a screenshare, for example. And if you want to enhance the video with another program, adding an intro and outro, you can. It’s a great tool, and it’s absolutely free, so there’s no excuse not to try it out.
Boomerang for Gmail – The Ultimate Gmail Business Productivity Tool
I’m an email person, and my inbox is my work dashboard. If someone DMs me on Twitter about doing business together, I’ll still ask them to send me an email because I don’t want to lose track of the DM. But managing an inbox can be difficult. That’s where Boomerang for Gmail comes in; it’s a very easy email efficiency tool.
I use Boomerang in a few different ways, but here’s a great example:
- I receive an email request for a quote from XYZ Company.
- I’ll respond with the quote and ask for a decision timeline.
- XYZ responds that decisions will be made in a week or so.
- In Boomerang, I will set the email to return to me in a week—but only if XYZ hasn’t reached out to me first.
- In a week, I haven’t heard from XYZ, the email appears in my inbox, and I can reach out to check in.
Look at that control! I don’t need to use Google Calendar or another task manager; I just have Boomerang email me. I also use the tool to track things that I’d like to keep on my radar, things that aren’t necessarily important. Boomerang will remind me in whatever timeframe I provide.
Boomerang has another feature that I haven’t used as much: Inbox Pause, which stops email from coming into your inbox. All of the masters of efficiency say to stay off email except for a few times a day. I use another tool, SaneBox, which is very similar to Inbox Pause but incorporates a bit of AI. SaneBox keeps messages out of my inbox if it thinks that the email is not important to me and stores the messages in a separate folder. Then, I get a daily or even weekly digest with a list of those emails. In short, both tools accomplish the same mission: Enable you to have strategic thinking or working time without constant email interruption.
And overall, Boomerang is quite robust and comes at a very inexpensive price.
Pricing: Free plans available; paid plans start at $4.99 per month, all with free 30-day trials
Keep in mind that for every tool that’s available, you’ll be able to find several alternatives. However, these are the best business productivity tools that personally help me and improve my efficiency and productivity. I hope you find them to do the same for you. And if you have a favorite productivity tool that I haven’t mentioned, please share it in the comments.
If you’re a video person, please check out the recorded Facebook Live video below!