6 benefits of using CRM software for small businesses

Businesses of all sizes consider CRM software as a near-vital tool because of its ability to make communications more consistent, efficient and relevant.

CRM (which stands for “customer relationship management”) software gathers customer interactions in one central place to improve the customer experience and overall customer satisfaction. Simply put, it helps businesses manage, track and organize their relationships with customers. CRM software stores customer data, such as user behavior, how long someone has been your customer, any purchasing records and potentially notes on sales interactions. This data can then be used to optimize your digital marketing strategy and processes. 

Because this type of software tracks the behavior and actions of your current and potential customers, it can then guide that consumer through your sales funnel, depending on how you decide to set it up.

It simply makes all of your customer interactions that much more effective. So, it’s not surprising that about 91 percent of companies with more than 11 employees now use CRM software.

Not convinced? The following are six benefits your small business can have by using CRM software.

Improved customer service

At the heart of CRM software is the intention to improve business-to-customer relationships.

Your CRM manages and organizes all your contacts while gathering important data points, such as demographics, purchase records and previous messages across all channels. This information is then easily accessible to anyone on your team who might need it, which ensures that your customer service representatives can easily understand every customer they interact with and reference past interactions, which provides a better experience for the customer.

In other words, access to relevant customer data empowers your customer service representatives to earn greater customer satisfaction.

Check out our six ways to improve customer responsiveness to boost your customer service even more.

Increased sales

Because CRM software can streamline your sales process with automation of key tasks and analysis of sales data within the same place, this can clearly help increase both your sales and productivity.

Lead nurturing, for example, can be an arduous and complicated process, but your CRM software can automatically manage this process, while also sending your team alerts for when they should reach out to the potential customer. You can then ensure that you’re getting the right messages out to each contact based on his or her buyer behavior and actions.

It’s all about establishing a step-by-step sales process that can easily be tweaked along the way as needed to optimize for sales.

See our 16 tips to help increase your sales conversion rate for inspiration.

Boost your customer retention

Customer retention is incredibly important for your business. Just a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to at least a 25 percent increase in profit.

Customer retention is about maintaining your current customer base and increasing loyalty by offering better products or services and other benefits.

You can use your CRM software to encourage repeat business from your customers by leveraging your CRM’s automation features and behavior tracking to identify both issues and opportunities with your customers.

Check out our six tips to improve your business’s customer retention rate.

Contextualized data

It’s one thing to have analytics, it’s a whole other thing to have context with your data. That’s the power of CRM software, which typically offers built-in analytic capabilities so that you can better understand the data available with actionable steps that you can take.

Metrics include click-through rates, bounce rates and demographic information, among others. These all can help you judge the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns and pivot as needed. And the visualizations of data that many CRM software options provide can help as well.

Better productivity and efficiency for your team

Because CRM software uses automation technology, menial tasks (such as email drip campaigns) no longer have to be handled by your and/or your team. That means that you can then focus on other tasks, such as creating content.

CRM software also helps ensure that no tasks slip through the cracks. You can rest assured that all important emails are always sent to the right people.

Organization leads to better customer segmentation

Having a list of even just a few hundred contacts can be unwieldy and overwhelming. This is especially so if you have thousands of contacts.

CRM software can automatically segment your contact lists based on the criteria you set so that you can find and message the ones you want at any given time. Sorting can include gender, age, location, buyer stage and so on.

It’s all about getting the right message to the right person at the right time. 

In conclusion

Clearly, CRM software can help streamline your customer interaction and sales efforts. Make sure that you thoroughly research available CRM options before committing to one. What features do you need? How much does it cost? Is it user-friendly?

As you’re exploring possible CRM software for your small business, consider leveling up with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

16 of the best websites to find quality stock photos

The right visuals for your brand speak volumes, and stock photos can play a part in that.

But design and visual content is the biggest challenge for about 24 percent of content marketers.

Using the right website to search for and discover quality stock photos can help. Stock photos are created by photographers that are available for use by others.

Many stock photos are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under the creative commons public domain, so you can copy, modify and distribute them without asking for permission, even for commercial purposes. But some stock photos do require attribution, so make sure that you keep an eye out for any usage restrictions or requirements.

Check out our five tips to select stock photos that aren’t obvious stock photos (or cheesy, in other words).

The following are 16 of the best websites that you can use to find quality stock photos. (And most of these are free to use.)


One of the more well-known stock photo websites, Shutterstock offers more than 250 million high-quality, licensed images. It also adds about 200,000 more images daily. But Shutterstock is more than just photos. It also has vector images, editorial pieces, music, videos and more.

Shutterstock is available through such applications as PowerPoint, and you can also create social media posts with built-in editing tools.

Monthly plans start at $29 per month and increase in price as the number of monthly downloads increases. Pre-paid photo packs also are available if a full subscription does make sense for your business. A free trial is available as well.


StockSnap.io has thousands of stock photos organized into different categories for easy access, as well as a search function to dig deeper. 

The website adds hundreds of images on a daily basis.

It shows each photo’s views, like and downloads so that you can get a sense of how commonly used any particular image is (so that you can ultimately use images that are not so popular and feel unique to your brand). This is a free website for you to use.


Access hundreds of thousands of free stock photos for any need on Pexels. Images are hand-picked from user uploads, as well as other sources. The intent is to offer the best of the best.

Its stock photos are tagged, which makes them easily searchable. You also have a variety of sizing options when downloading, including custom sizing.


Unsplash is unique in the sense that you’ll likely find stock photos there that you won’t find elsewhere. 

All images are free for you to use however you like without attribution because contributing photographers are essentially donating them to Unsplash for open usage.

The website releases 10 new stock photos every 10 days.

Getty Images

You may have already heard of Getty Images, which is a high-profile website with more than 200 million image, video and music assets (and more) that can be used for advertising, graphic design, print and online.

Once you find a stock photo you want, you’ll see multiple sizing options that vary in price. A single image can cost as much as $499, depending on the size.

Getty Images also offers a variety of tools, content and services for you to explore. If you’re interested in more than one-off image purchases or photo packs, you can request a demo from their team.


Pixabay offers more than 1.6 million stock photos for you to choose from. The website is easy to use, and you can filter based on image type as well.

It also offers free video content for you to use and is entirely free.


If your brand centers around food in any way, you’ll want to check out Foodiesfeed. It features detailed food images.

Foodiesfeed has more than 1,300 stock photos that can be filtered by food types and other tag characteristics. You’ll also see related images as you view an image to help you discover more. This is a free website to use.

New Old Stock

New Old Stock features old, vintage photos that are pulled from the public archive via Flickr Commons. This is a great website to peruse if you’re looking for throwback stock photos that can bring a sense of nostalgia to your content.

It’s also a free website to use.

Death to Stock

Death to Stock bucks against how complicated it can be to find the right stock photos by offering a photo library membership that has curated images.

The website subscription costs $12 per month for small businesses, $21 per month for agencies and $399 per year for partners. Death to Stock features more than 3,500 photos, as well as hours of video footage that can be used.


You can access millions of free, high-quality stock photos through Vecteezy. You also will find vectors, illustrations and 4K stock videos.

Most of the resources are free to download, but Vecteezy also offers premium resources through a subscription that starts at $9 per month.


Reshot gives you access to icons and vector illustrations that you can use in various projects. You can even download the format you need, including SVG, PNG and more.

Everything is free to use on Reshot.


A great feature of NegativeSpace is the ability to filter stock photos by color, which can be very helpful. Otherwise, the website offers new and free images every week for personal or commercial usage.

You also can sign up for NegativeSpace’s email list to get the latest stock photos delivered to your inbox. This is a free website to use.


Kaboompics has stock photos and features that are great for lifestyle and interior design brands. It features more than 12,000 free images than can be downloaded in several different size options. 

In addition, you can download a color palette that complements your selected stock photo, and you can view images that match the photoshoot and download those related images as well. This is a free website that you can use.


Looking for a huge selection of stock photos? StockUnlimited has more than 1 million stock photos, vectors, icons and even fonts and templates with their subscription plan.

The website offers more than two dozen categories that include wildlife and beauty, among others. StockUnlimited adds thousands of new images every week.

The subscription costs $19 per month, $79 per year or $169 for three years. There also is a Download Pack plan, where you can download a particular number of assets for a fee.


Picography prides itself on well-organized free stock photos. You can browse the most popular search terms of the day, enter your own search query or explore the variety of categories available.

This website is entirely free to use.


If your brand is seeking visuals that are more on the artistic, emotional side, consider Fancycrave. You can browse by category, whether its their free or paid stock photo options.

Fancycrave also offers a robust blog that typically features tips and advice on a range of topics that could assist your next project.

You can use the free section of the website, but if you want more, the $9.99 per month subscription gets you instant access to 41 premium collections and more than 2,250 stock photos, with more than 50 new photos added monthly.

In conclusion

The beauty of stock photo websites (the free ones in particular) is that you can explore without any sort of commitment until you identify the best sites for you. It’s important to bookmark what you like the best but also know that you don’t have to use just one.

As you begin to explore these stock photo websites, consider optimizing the digital marketing process that you’re using those images in. This includes email marketing, landing pages, as well as automation, audience segmentation and enhanced targeting capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

9 of the best social listening tools for brand marketing

Social listening offers marketers a huge opportunity to learn from and engage with customers and potential customers online.

In the simplest sense, social listening is essentially audience research. You monitor your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback, mentions of your brand and discussions surrounding specific keywords, topics, competitors or industries that are relevant to your brand.

Learn more about social listening, as well as nine tips to leverage it to gain customer insights.

The right tool can make the social listening process more efficient. Keep in mind that many broader social media management tools include social listening capabilities. The following are nine of the best social listening tools that can help you be successful in your efforts.

Sprout Social

This comprehensive social media management platform offers powerful solutions for social listening and more. Sprout Social features include:

  • An integrated social listening tool that uncovers trends in social media conversations, teaches you about your audience and gives actionable insights.
  • The ability to monitor and engage across social media networks.
  • A single Smart Inbox for all direct messages across networks.
  • Easy-to-understand social analytics.

Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial. Paid plans start at $89 per month.


Another comprehensive social media management tool, Hootsuite provides a single, customizable dashboard so that you can view and respond to all your social media messages, comments and mentions across multiple networks. Other features include:

  • The ability to share and schedule engaging content for your social media profiles within the application.
  • A single inbox where you can address incoming messages and deliver timely replies.
  • Multiple social network integrations that can be viewed within the interface.
  • Easily monitor mentions and directly respond to them.
  • The option to customize paid social media campaigns with the Boost tool.
  • Customizable analytics reporting.

Hootsuite offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at $49 per month (but a 30-day free trial is available as well).


Falcon.io is an all-in-one social media management tool and customer experience platform for medium-or-larger-sized businesses. This means that you can schedule, engage, listen, advertise and more. Other features include:

  • A single dashboard for social listening, publishing, engagement, reporting and audience data management.
  • The Engage inbox, which manages all private messaging channels, including WhatsApp.
  • Custom response templates for FAQs.
  • The ability to direct specific external messages to internal team members to collaborate on solutions.

Falcon.io offers a free 14-day trial. Paid plans start at $108 per seat per month.


Buffer considers itself an omnichannel experience for your social media marketing. It helps you find the conversations that matter most and join in. Buffer’s other features include:

  • Smart alerts using machine learning let you know at a glance if a post has questions, negative sentiments or comments about a purchase.
  • Scheduling and publishing tools to help you plan effective social media campaigns.
  • Reports and analytics tools that help you measure engagement and audience behavior.
  • A Story-monitoring tool that records and analyzes your Stories on Facebook and Instagram.

Buffer offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at $5 per social channel per month (but a free 14-day trial is available as well).


A tool that prioritizes deeper insights is BuzzSumo. You can more easily identify which types of social media posts generate the best results among your audience. In fact, you’ll get recommendations on when you should post and the ideal length of a post. Other BuzzSumo features include:

  • Organization of shared content in order of significance with the Curation tool.
  • The ability to discover relevant influencers for your brand.
  • A significant data analytics suite.
  • A Content Ideas Generator to help you brainstorm new content for your audience.

BuzzSumo offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at $79 per month (but a free 30-day trial is available as well). You also can save by paying annually.


Mention can track content sources across 42 languages to monitor for brand mentions throughout the globe. Of course, you can filter for what matters most to you. Mention’s other features include:

  • A competitive analysis tool that helps you compare your brand against two or more competitors.
  • A crisis management tool that allows you to effectively manage any uproar or crisis situation on social media.
  • The ability of team members to alert each other within the interface.
  • Comprehensive analytics.

Mention offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at €29 per month (or about $31 per month). Free trials also are available for the paid plans.


With a heightened focus on social listening, Awario tracks keywords in a number of languages. You get everything you need to monitor and respond to comments while building relationships with your target audience on social media. Other Awario features include:

  • A Social Selling feature where you can identify posts that request a product recommendation similar to yours and/or any posts about issues that users are having with products sold by your competition.
  • Tracking the growth in the number of your mentions and their collective reach and sorting mentions by positive, negative, and neutral with sentiment analysis, 
  • Identifying top influencers by social media network.

Awario offers a free trial. Paid plans begin at $24 per month when billed annually.


Agorapulse is a complete social media management software intended to help you leverage social listening and get deeper audience insights. You get a single, unified inbox, as well as the ability to publish on multiple social media platforms. Other Agorapulse features include:

  • Unlimited saved searches where you can discover new feedback and customers.
  • Labeling any important posts, competitor activity and customer feedback for easy retrieval and response.
  • Managing Facebook and Instagram ad comments in chronological order.

Agorapulse offers a free 15-day trial. Paid plans start at $79 per month when billed annually.


Beyond a social listening tool, Brandwatch is a consumer intelligence platform. It offers an AI analyst, which can automatically bring insights to the surface and save you time. Other Brandwatch features include:

  • Auto-segmentation.
  • The ability to analyze images.
  • Data that helps you fully understand how people aren’t just talking about your brand but how they’re displaying it in images, too.

Brandwatch offers a free demo. Paid plans begin at $800 per month, so it might not be the right fit for small businesses (depending on your budget).

In conclusion

Ultimately, deciding on the best social listening tool comes down to your goals and budget. Make sure you take advantage of any available free trials as needed, or dip your toe in with a limited free version of what seems like the best fit for you. You always can upgrade your plan later.

While you’re at it, make sure you understand the difference between social listening and crowdsourcing.

As you’re exploring these social listening tools, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

11 of the best free GIF-maker tools

GIFs have only increased in popularity across the internet.

In fact, they’re used by about 21 percent of all the websites. In addition, about 63 percent of Americans are GIF users, and one in five Americans can’t get enough of them.

GIFs are typically a short piece of muted footage that include some text (often as a punchline of sorts). Consider them between a photo and a video, where they require less time to load and view than videos but can be more expressive and engaging than photos.

This is because: 

  • Users can express their emotional responses quickly while chatting in texts, comment threads, etc.
  • A sense of identity can be expressed through the pop culture references used.
  • It’s all about the world’s meme culture online.

Thinking about making your own custom GIFs? The following are 11 of the best free GIF-maker tools that you can consider using in your own digital marketing.


Offering numerous different ways to create GIFs, MakeaGIF is both flexible and free. Options include creating a GIF from: 

  • Uploaded Photos
  • Uploaded Videos
  • YouTube URLs
  • Facebook video URLs
  • Your webcam

You also can upload existing GIFs into MakeaGIF. These options give you the power to be as creative as you want to be. 

This tool also has a library of available, ready-made GIFs for you to use, and you can share your GIFs with others in the library as well.


Filmora can help you make both GIFs and videos. While free, the real bonus of this tool is that you can download your creations without a watermark.

All you have to do is upload whatever images or videos you want to use in your GIF creation. Then, create your text caption. You can download your preferred file format when you’re done.

Filmora includes detailed, thorough instructions on its website to help you every step of the way.


Looking to be able to import from such platforms as Picasa and Flicker? Picasion might be the free GIF-maker tool for you. It also supports four languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian

You also can adjust the size of your images in Picasion, as well as download your completed GIF with no watermark.

Screen to GIF

Screen to GIF is specific to Windows and allows users to record activities through web cameras, screens and more that can then be used to create GIFs.

This free tool is available for Windows 7 and later versions of the operating system.

While it is specific to Windows, Screen to GIF does have a powerful editor with a full set of built-in editing tools. Plus, it supports more than 18 different languages. When you download it, it automatically detects the language of your operating system.


With no download required, Kapwing allows you to edit images, videos and GIFs with various effects, transitions and titles. This free GIF-maker allows you to share your created GIF directly to your preferred social media platform.

You can start with a blank canvas or upload files directly into Kapwing to then edit.

GIF Maker

GIF Maker does more than help you create GIFs. This free tool offers the ability to make animated buttons and banners as well that you can then use in your emails, documents or websites.

GIF Maker offers a wizard tool to make your animating fast and easy, as well as a built-in image editor with a full set of editing tools. Plus, it supports different graphic formats, such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, PSD, WMF, AVI and more.

ImgPlay’s GIF Maker

Only available for iPhones, ImgPlay’s free GIF Maker best feature is its ability to create different canvas sizes. This means that you can appropriately optimize based on the platform you want to share on. 

Once created, you can directly share your GIF to Twitter, Instagram, Messenger and iMessage.

GIF Maker – GIF Editor

On the flip side of an iPhone-only GIF-maker tool is an Android-only tool. GIF Maker – GIF Editor is available for free in the Google Play store. A top feature is that you can upload up to 200 images at one time.

It also has hundreds of available stickers to use as you like, as well as a manager section where you can access all of the GIFs you’ve created and edit them anytime.

While this app is free, it does have in-app purchases available.


The free GIF-maker ezGIF can seem odd since all its features technically reside on separate webpages on its website, but it’s still easy enough to use.

You can crop images, resize your GIF, flip or rotate your GIF, alter the speed, add text and much more. It also gives you the ability to use grayscale, sepia, and monochrome effects.

Of course, being able to download without a watermark is a bonus.


GIFPAL definitely makes GIF creation easy. The free tool automatically plays your GIF as you’re editing so that you can observe the effect of your changes in real time.

It also allows you to rearrange your images, reverse the frames, change the quality of the images, overlay filters, adjust animation speed and more. You also can download with no watermarks. Just beware that GIFPAL is missing a text tool.


Last but not least, GIFMaker.me is a free tool that can actually combine multiple GIFs into one. You can make a GIF from up to 300 PNG, GIF or JPG files. 

The live preview shows you how your GIF is turning out as you’re working on it, and the controls make it easy to alter its speed, choose how many loops (even if infinite loops) and more. In addition, you can overlay audio from a YouTube video.

You can’t upload video files to use in your GIF, however, and the site won’t store your GIF for later editing.

In conclusion

If you’re not already using them, GIFs could be exactly what is missing from your digital marketing strategy. Of course, if making your own is not an option right now, there are many websites where you can find engaging pre-made GIFs to use, including: 

  • Giphy
  • Google image search (just click on Search tools and select “Animated” under the “Type” option after you start an initial image search)
  • Tumblr
  • Imgur

As you’re creating your first GIFs, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

14 of the best chatbot builders for small business

With digital marketing and customer service both needing to be more real-time than ever to serve consumers, chatbots are more popular than ever.

You’ll find at least 300,000 chatbots on Facebook alone (and climbing). In fact, about 53 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from businesses that they can message.

Essentially, a chatbot is a software (powered by artificial intelligence) that simulates conversations with users through a chat interface either on a website or on a messaging app.

Chatbots help streamline the sales process and offer better customer service because they make it easier for consumers to get answers to questions without having to search around on a website or in a search engine.

Learn more about conversational marketing, as well as eight tips to get started.

This technology is configured through a chatbot builder that uses if-then rule programming that can be customized to the common questions you experience as a business, as well as the specific answers that reflect your business. 

The good news is that you don’t have to know how to code or program to create a chatbot. Most chatbot builders are easy enough to use and install.

The following are 14 of the best chatbot builders to choose from to use for your small business.


Chatbot builder TARS allows users to create chatbots that can be used on your website and Facebook Messenger without any programming knowledge.

You can use chatbots built by TARS for an ordering or booking process, feedback collection, surveys, user onboarding, customer service, training and more.

TARS also offers chatbot templates to make it even easier to get started.

Pricing: 14-day free trial available; paid plans start at $99 per month


Botsify is a chatbot builder that can build chatbots on your website or Facebook Messenger without any coding skills. It integrates with such services as WordPress, Shopify, Slack, Google Sheets, Alexa and more.

Botsify features a drag-and-drop interface that’s easy to use. Both Apple and Shazam use this tool.

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at $10 per month


The Hubspot Chatbot Builder is a free tool, without any coding knowledge required. It can help customers book meetings, answer common customer service questions, qualify sales leads and so on.

Hubspot’s Chatbot Builder is integrated with HubSpot’s free CRM tool, so the chatbots you build can deliver more personalized messages based on the information you have for your existing contacts.

Pricing: Free version available


Chatbot builder MobileMonkey helps you build chatbots for Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Message, SMS texting and websites. The tool also can help you grow your contact list, segment your audience and more.

The chatbots you create with MobileMonkey can make appointments, answer frequently asked questions, track purchases and so on.

MobileMonkey also features an OmniChat widget that automatically detects if the user is logged in on Facebook. When the user is logged in, a Facebook Messenger widget will appear on your website. If the user is not logged in, it will automatically change to a native website widget. 

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at $49 per month

Flow XO

The Flow XO chatbot builder offers several pre-built chatbot templates to make it easy to create your own. You can use their drag-and-drop editor to customize any of those templates. 

These chatbots can be used on your website and Facebook Messenger but offer minimal analytics.

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at $19 per month


Chatfuel is another chatbot builder that helps you create chatbots on Facebook Messenger. No coding expertise is required. NFL teams, TechCrunch and Forbes use Chatfuel.

Chatfuel also offers analytics, which helps you easily improve your chatbot over time.

While there is a free version of this chatbot builder, but one of the features of the paid plans includes the ability to remove Chatfuel’s branding on your chatbot landing pages.

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at $15 per month


Chatbot builder Wit.ai enables you to create text- or voice-based bots on a messaging platform of your choice. Wit.ai learns the human language from each interaction.

To create your Wit.ai account, log in through GitHub or Facebook.

Pricing: Free version available


One of the more popular chatbot builders, ManyChat is extremely easy to use. It features a visual flow builder, where you can create your chatbot within minutes.

The chatbots you create can be used on Facebook Messenger, Instagram, SMS texting and your website.

Keep in mind that the SMS channel only supports two countries.

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at $10 per month


Chatbot builder Xenioo also offers a visual flow builder that takes you through the creation process without any programming or coding knowledge.

Xenioo features a dozen channels where you can install its chatbot, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messenger, SMS, Slack, Google Assistant, Alexa and more.

Its best feature is how flexible those hosting channels are.

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at about $34 per month


Intercom is actually the chatbot builder that other chatbot builders (such as ManyChat, Chatfuel and so on) use in their own chatbot platforms. In addition to creating chatbots, Intercom also enables you to create product tours and more.

It features an easy-to-use interface with more than 100 direct integrations.

Pricing: Paid plans start at $67 per month


The chatbot builder Landbot focuses on the creation of chatbots for landing pages but also includes chatbots for websites, WhatsApp, Slack and Facebook Messenger.

It also features a visual flow builder when creating chatbots but has minimal analytics.

Pricing: Free version available; paid plans start at $30 per month


Chatbot builder Tidio focuses mainly on chatbots for websites, but Facebook Messenger is also available.

You can add custom fields and tags in the easy-to-use interface, but analytics are minimal.

Pricing: 7-day free trial available; paid plans start at $18 per month


What makes ActiveChat a unique chatbot builder is its eCommerce feature, where users can pay for products inside the chatbot. You can create chatbots for your website, Facebook Messenger, SMS texting and more.

It also has an advanced website widget where you can incorporate your own corporate identity and send messages based on the page the user is on.

Pricing: 14-day free trial available; paid plans start at $33 per month


Last but not least, Dialogflow is powered by Google. The AI is exceptionally good, so other chatbot builders typically have integrations with Dialogflow just to access the AI.

Dialogflow supports chatbot creation for a number of channels, including your website, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Google Assistant and more. You also can match the chatbot to the branding of your website and get robust analytics.

On the other hand, the interface is a little harder for beginners to understand at first.

Pricing: Free version available as long as you remain below 180 requests per minute

In conclusion

More than anything, we recommend reviewing all available features for each chatbot builder as well as the pricing of available plans.

Depending on your goals and budget, you should be able to narrow down this list to a top few to choose from. Always feel free to take advantage of any free trials that are available so that you can test your top tools yourself.

Looking to level up your digital marketing process as you get into conversational marketing with your new chatbot? Consider DailyStory, which features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

15+ of the best free productivity tools you should know about

Need more time in a day? We all do.

Consider the potential of some of the latest and greatest productivity tools that can help you be more efficient, focused and/or organized.

About 55 percent of retailers believe better technology can positively impact productivity. At the same time, once distracted, it takes 23 minutes for productive workers to get back on track and complete the task they started working on.

Therefore, online tools can potentially help us get more done. The following are at least 15 of the best free productivity tools you should know about.

(And if you’re working from home, check out our 11 tips to be more productive.)

Time-management productivity tools


RescueTime operates in the background of your device, quietly logging your activity without serving as a distraction. You’ll be able to see how much time you spend doing various things, such as visiting a particular website or using certain apps.

This tool also allows you to set targets and alerts to help you curtail poor productivity habits. In other words, it helps you limit wasted time on your devices, especially since it’s cross-platform.

The free version of RescueTime offers up to three months of data for analysis. Any paid subscription has no limits on data and also includes additional features.


Got a small team in need of time management? Todoist might be for you. The easy-to-use tool bridges time management with traditional to-do lists and a light amount of project management.

Todoist gives you a daily and weekly overview of what work you have to do, appointments scheduled and anything else you’re tracking. You can also delegate tasks to others as desired.

It integrates with dozens of apps and services to help you automate your trackable workflow. The free version limits you to five people and 80 active projects at any given time, but paid subscriptions are available for more functionality.


Clockify is brilliant in its simplicity and is absolutely unlimited and free to all users. Consider it similar to a stopwatch where you can easily record how long you spend working on different projects.

When you start a timer, you can add labels, descriptions and project details. Then, just hit “stop” when you’re finished. This tool allows you to configure timers to start as soon as you open your internet browser (so you don’t have to remember to start a timer), so be sure to dig around in those settings to find what works best for you and your work style.

Clockify also integrates with other applications, such as Trello, Asana, Jira and Todoist, among others. If you prefer, you can use it as a browser extension rather than the full application or in its mobile app form instead of the full desktop web application.


Would a bit of gamification help you hit your productivity goals? Or, some other goal? Consider trying Beeminder

You actually can track almost anything using this tool, whether it’s how many contracts you get customers to sign per week, how many hours you work per day or how often you go to the gym. Anything.

Beeminder is considerably flexible and will log your progress once you set your goal. You then aim to stick to the “yellow brick road,” which is the progress graph that is supposed to keep you on point with your targets to ultimately reach your goal.

You can even take things up a notch and add your credit card to the tool so that you can be fined when/if you fail to stay on track.


Known for its simple time tracking at its core, Toggl works on multiple platforms and synchronizes so that you can move between devices and still track your work.

Features include:

  • The availability of manual and automated tracking
  • A Pomodoro timer, which is a time management method of working in intervals for 25 minutes at a time
  • Automatic detection of idle time
  • Reminders
  • Integrations with other apps and services
  • Highly flexible customizations

While Toggl offers detailed reports, there is no invoicing option within the tool itself.


A free Chrome extension that restricts the amount of time you are allowed to spend on “time-wasting websites” like Facebook (for example), StayFocused offers a ton of customizing options, such as which websites to block, how long to block them and so on.

It is only available on Chrome right now.

Project-management productivity tools


Asana aims to help everyone stay on-task and organized together. The team-productivity tool helps you keep all projects and tasks in one spot, where you can assign different users to specific jobs.

Features include:

  • Ability to build a visual Gantt chart quickly
  • See and track work on Kanban boards
  • Calendar functionality
  • Integrates with other apps
  • Goal-setting mechanisms
  • Real-time reporting
  • Automation capability
  • View distribution of workload across team members

While free to start, Asana has paid subscriptions if you have a team of half a dozen workers or more.


A central spot for project planning and organization, Freedcamp allows you to add project to-dos, share files and join discussions with team members.

A bonus with Freedcamp is that much of the functionality is included in its free version. Any advance features (like integrating invoices) can be pay-per-add-on, allowing you to pay for only what you need.

It’s cross-platform and integrates with many other applications and services.


Trello is a project-management tool that at first glance resembles a Pinterest board except without all the photos. Instead, it’s a visual presentation of lists, labels, tasks and so on that you can easily drag and drop as you like.

Its features are all geared toward productivity and teamwork, where your team can collaborate. Trello integrates with other apps and services and also offers no-coding automation. 

The free version is likely enough for small teams, but paid subscriptions are available if you need more.

Save-for-later productivity tools

Google Drive

Granted, we can’t talk about Google Drive without at least mentioning the slate of other tools within the Google universe. But Google Drive still stands on its own as a cross-platform cloud storage and organization tool.

This makes it easy to share (and even edit with Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets) all types of files.

Team-wise, Google Drive offers the ability to chat and share notes within a document, and it’s completely free.


Evernote enables you to save notes (both audio and text), organize photos, set reminders and upload attachments across all your devices in one place.

One of the common uses of Evernote involves its bookmarklet, where you can easily “clip” web articles and store them to read later on any device.

It also integrates with other apps and services. The free version allows you to sync two devices. If you need to sync more (or simply want more storage space), you might consider one of the paid subscriptions.


Need a place to save the great content that you don’t have time to read (or watch) in that moment? Pocket can help.

Saved content formats include articles, images, videos and so on).

Social media productivity tools

Efficiently managing your social media accounts definitely requires the right tool. Fortunately, there are several free options out there that can work, depending on the platforms you’re on and the needs that you have.

Check out these 11 free (or almost free) social media management tools that can help you be more effective with your social media presence.

Miscellaneous productivity tools


Slack organizes how your team communicates with each other. You can break up conversations into channels so that each channel provides a focus.

In addition, you can connect your team to another collaborating team if desired. Direct messaging and voice/video calls also are available.

Slack integrates with other applications and is cross-platform. The free version is very robust, but if you find yourself needing more than the messaging archive or app-integration limit, consider one of the paid subscriptions.


The password struggle is real and can be a real time suck. LastPass remembers all your passwords and can be used across several devices.

Not only will this tool store your passwords in its secured vault, it also will audit your passwords to help you create better, more secure ones.

The free version has plenty of features and is still very secure, but if you’re looking to be able to add employees to certain password folders, for example, consider a paid subscription.

Right Inbox

A Chrome extension, Right Inbox allows you to set up multiple signatures, email sequences, delayed sends and more.

The idea is to stay on top of the chaos that might be your email inbox.

A bonus feature is built-in email tracking.

While you’re looking at boosting your productivity, think about how you can improve your digital marketing process. Is it everything you want it to be? DailyStory features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

16 tools to help make your competitive analysis easier

Competitive analysis is a tactic that every company should use regularly.

But without the right tool that suits your needs, it’s easy for manual competitive analysis to take up a big chunk of time.

A competitive analysis is essentially a strategy where you identify your competitors and research their products/services, sales and marketing strategies. Of course, your analysis can be as simple or as complex as you need to satisfy your goals behind it.

For example, perhaps you’re only interested in how your competitors are approaching the overall design and usability of their websites. Or, you want to evaluate a more broad look at their overall digital marketing strategies.

See more about what a competitive analysis is and how you can start yours.

The following are 16 tools that you should consider as you perform your competitive analysis, divided up by the focus of each tool. The best tool for your business likely will come down to your goals and competitive analysis needs.

Overall competitive analysis tools

Pi Datametrics

Pi Datametrics allows you to measure the impact of your brand campaigns against your competitors. This tool analyzes emerging trends and audience intent to help you match your messaging and timing to consumers’ needs.

Features include SEO tracking, daily rank tracking, market analysis capabilities, identifying market leaders and overall industry analysis.

It’s an all-around competitive analysis tool that can give your company the edge through insightful data that goes beyond digital marketing.


You can use Kompyte to compare traffic, referrals, visitor behavior, keywords, search rankings, paid ads and social media metrics.

In addition, you can stay updated with your competitors’ emails.

Kompyte also will auto-suggest potential competitors based on the keywords you’re tracking.

Social media focus


Phlanx is an Instagram engagement calculator that helps you understand how active an account’s followers are. This is a great tool if your competitive analysis is focused on Instagram. In addition, it can help you figure out whether or not an influencer has a legitimate following on the visual social media platform.

Phlanx’s engagement ratio is based on the number of followers an account has versus the rate that followers engage with content, such as with likes, comments and so on.

While this calculator doesn’t give an ultimate say on an Instagram account’s value or success, it does give some perspective that goes beyond the simple follower count.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social helps you understand competitor performance on social media from multiple angles and data points across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can use this tool to get a sneak peek at what your competitors are posting or benchmark your growth against the average of the profiles being compared.

Sprout Social also offers an advanced social media listening feature, with interactive charts and graphs that you can customize for your goals. Learn more about social media listening.

Social Blade

Looking at a wide range of social media platforms (including Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, among others), Social Blade interprets the followings and engagement actions on competitor accounts.

You can get a day-by-day follower update, as well as a live follower count through this tool. Plus, you can stack competitors’ social profiles against each other for a larger overall analysis.

SEO focus


One of the most popular SEO tools online right now, SEMRush also offers several competitive analysis features. And it’s ideal for understanding your competition through an SEO-specific lens.

The tool, for example, allows you to pull your competitor’s backlinks and monitor shifts in their search engine ranking. You also can get a by-the-numbers view of who’s competing for particular keywords.


MozBar is a Chrome browser extension that offers a surface-level view of a website’s authority as perceived by Google. This tool assigns websites a domain authority score based on its likelihood to rank in search engines for a variety of factors.

Because it’s a browser extension, MozBar is very accessible, making it easy to see a competitor’s potential search performance at a glance. You’ll also see how competing sites compare in a Google search query.


Ahrefs is another popular competitive analysis tool as it relates to SEO. It enables you to check any URL’s top organic keywords, as well as provides you with a rough estimate of how much traffic a competitor gets from those keywords.

You also can see a competitor’s highest-performing content based on backlinks. This all helps prevent you from engaging in a guessing game when it comes to your competitors’ referral traffic.

Content focus


Similarweb is actually a competitive analysis tool that addresses both content and SEO. It helps you dive deeper into your competitors’ content, as well as where their web traffic is coming from.

This tool can help you see what topics visitors search for and what other relevant sites they visit.

SimilarWeb is free, but you can upgrade to gain access to more competitive analysis tools.


Looking for top-performing content on relevant topics for your brand and your competitors? Consider Buzzsumo. This tool looks at both engagement on social media platforms and total shares across the web for each piece of content, giving you an idea of who’s successful in regards to strong industry content.

Of course, on the flip side, the pieces of content identified by Buzzsumo can help you with new ideas for content of your own.


A content aggregator, Feedly stores and organizes content as it’s published. So, you can see the topics covered by your competitors in one place.

This tool also features AI (artificial intelligence) that can be taught to prioritize the topics and trends that matter to you.



iSpionage helps you dig deeper into your competitors’ paid ads by analyzing multiple aspects of PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns. This includes how many keywords a competitor is targeting on Google AdWords and what their target keywords are.

You’ll also see who else is competing for PPC ads on a particular topic and how much they’re projected monthly budget is.


Need to analyze competitors’ emails? Mailcharts aggregates emails from competing campaigns. This tool grabs subject lines, pulls send frequency and compares everything to your brand’s campaigns to see how your emails compare.

In addition to comparing your emails to competitors’, Mailcharts compares your campaigns to its own library of marketing emails to ensure you’re in line with such best practices as timing, frequency, subject line length and so on.

You’ll also have access to email examples to help inspire your current and future campaigns.


Owler curates various business data points for your competitors. You can access exclusive information, including annual revenue, employee count, funding and top competitors.

This tool also allows you to filter a real-time feed of the latest news to uncover events that could move your business forward, including funding, layoffs and more.


Not to be confused with Owler, Owletter aggregates emails from competitors and organizes them into a simple dashboard. 

This tool will spot changes in your competitors’ email frequency, as well as trends that can help you better determine when you should send your own emails.


SpyFu helps you research and download your competitors’ most profitable keywords in PPC ad campaigns. It reveals not only the paid keywords, but also the organic search keywords that can help you improve your own SEO performance.

In other words, this tool doesn’t just cover PPC competitive analysis, but SEO as well.

Once you find the perfect competitive analysis tool for your goals, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentations and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

17 of the best social proof tools to boost your sales

Social proof can help convert your potential customers into paying customers.

This marketing technique refers to potential customers assuming that what others are doing is correct based on how often they see those actions. In other words, social proof is about looking to others to figure out the right way to interact in any given situation.

About 92 percent of online consumers will read product reviews before purchasing.

Find out more about social proof and nine ways you can use it.

The following are 17 of the best social proof tools to build your credibility and boost your sales. Several include money-back guarantees and free trials.


TrustPulse is a popular social proof tool for business websites. It can automate real-time customer activity notifications on your site with unobtrusive (but attention-grabbing) pop-ups.

Such verified website actions include (but are not limited to):

  • Purchases
  • Sign-up form submission
  • Demo registrations

TrustPulse says that you can boost your conversions by as much as 15 percent by using the tool on your website. It also integrates with WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, Mailchimp and more.


Plans start at $9 per month, but this varies since TrustPulse periodically discounts its prices for new accounts. All of its plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.


Proof is another popular social proof tool, with more than 25,000 businesses using it. It offers different ways to customize your social proof notifications, such as how long to show those notifications and on which pages they should appear.

You also can customize whether you feature conversions from the past day, week or even the past three months.


Plans start at $24 per month (billed annually), but you can start a 14-day free trial to see if it’s right for your business first.

Smash Balloon

To embed social media feeds anywhere on your WordPress website, consider Smash Balloon. This means that you can highlight user-generated content (UGC), testimonials and reviews from others on social media.

Specifically, Smash Balloon offers five different plugins to help you show social proof on your website:

  • Facebook feed of Facebook reviews 
  • Instagram hashtag feed of user-generated content
  • Twitter feed of tweets that mention your account or branded hashtag
  • YouTube feed featuring a playlist of video testimonials
  • Social Wall combining feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube into a single feed


Plans start at $98 per year, but introductory offers usually are available. It also features a 30-day money-back guarantee.


WPForms is a user-friendly WordPress form-builder plugin, making it easy to ask for customer reviews that you can then highlight on your ecommerce website.

This is important because consumers trust online reviews.

WPForms features several pre-built templates and integrates with your email marketing service. This means that, in addition to using the tool on your site, you can use your email service to automatically reach out to customers after their purchase from you and include your feedback form.


Plans start at $79 per year, but WPForms runs periodic sales for new accounts. It also features a 14-day money-back guarantee.


SocialProve displays conversion or visitor notifications on your website in the form of small pop-ups. It also touts boosting your sales by about 15 percent.

The notifications can be customized to match your branding. Notification types include live activity, live count, visitor combo and activity combo.

It integrates with more than 120 content marketing tools, payment systems, marketing funnel apps and other apps, including (but not limited to):

  • WordPress
  • Wix
  • ClickFunnels
  • Leadpages
  • HubSpot
  • Instapage
  • Squarespace
  • PayPal
  • Stripe


Plans start at $359 per year, but you can start with a no-risk, seven-day free trial to see if it works for you. (No credit card information required.)

Thrive Ovation

The WordPress plugin, Thrive Ovation, helps you easily add testimonials to your ecommerce website. 

You can even add social media and blog comments to your testimonials library. Its tagging system helps you find the testimonials you want to include.

There’s also an “awaiting approval” status function, where you’ll receive approval emails from your dashboard to approve any new testimonials before they go live.


Plans start at $19 per month, billed annually. It also features a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Proven is another WordPress plugin that lets you customize the appearance of your social proof notifications to match your branding.

You can create manual entries and control how and when notifications appear. This can include showing notifications on certain pages, only to new visitors, only to logged-in users and so on.


Plans start at $39 per year for a single site license.


To show off recent visitor activity, live visitor count and how many conversions have happened on your website, consider LetConvert. It’s also fully customizable, with a variety of colors, fonts and animations.

The tool also features customer cards that allow you to follow your customer’s journey. For example, once a visitor signs up, you can then track his or her details and activity on your website.


Plans start at $4.99 per week when billed annually and include a 14-day free trial.


Fomo is a tool that offers several templates and display rules that you can use. But you also can create your own if you like. Customizations can apply to notification messages, filters and template or page rules.

No coding necessary for your customizations, which can make it very easy to use.


Plans start at $19 per month, but you can try Fomo out first with a 14-day free trial.


To show off testimonials and reviews on your site, consider Repuso, which actually monitors your social media platforms for customer reviews. 

You also can collect customer reviews through Repuso’s widgets. The reviews and testimonials go into a dashboard where you can organize them and choose which to display on your website.

Repuso features a number of ways to display these, including:

  • Floating widgets
  • In-line reviews
  • Floating badges
  • Review grid
  • Photo-review sliders


Plans start at $9 per month when billed annually, with a free 10-day trial available.


Provely features different campaign types that will show real-time activity, rotating activity from a selected period of time or past activity.

The tool touts a 250 percent boost to your conversions. You can customize your pop-up notifications, with various templates and the ability to choose the colors that reflect your branding.

Provely says it only takes “2 minutes flat” to set up.


Plans start at $97 per year, billed annually.


Boast is a tool focused on testimonials that’s used by more than 8,000 businesses. Its features help you request, collect, manage and display testimonials from your customers.

This includes testimonials in different formats, such as video, text and audio that you can then show on your website. It integrates with Facebook and YouTube, so you can use your video testimonials across social media platforms.

Boast also offers a mobile app on both iOS and Android that makes it even easier to use by allowing customers to record their testimonials through the app. If you use Boast’s ability to email customers from within the tool to request a testimonial, you can then track where those testimonials are in the process.


Plans start at $25 per month, billed annually, and include a 14-day free trial.


Another WordPress social proof plugin is WPfomify. It’s easy to set up and features powerful integrations with other WordPress plugins and email marketing services.

You can use it to show off real-time activity, subscriber activity and client reviews. You also can customize it to match your website’s branding.


Plans start at $99 per year and come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.


An ecommerce marketing platform, Yotpo includes social proof features, such as reviews, ratings, visual marketing content and referral programs.

The tool helps you collect website and product reviews, create an FAQ section based on real customer questions, display user-generated content (UGC) and so on.

Yotpo uses AI (artificial intelligence) to message your customers, encouraging them to leave a review after their purchase.


Yotpo includes a limited, free plan. Paid plans start at $19 per month.


ProveSource helps you display verified conversions, activities and purchases on your website. You also can customize your notification icons, title color, text, links and so on.

ProveSource makes it easy to create a new social proof notification with a tab system for user flow. Plus, you can add GIFs to your social proof notifications, making things fun and engaging.

The tool also automatically collects such metrics as impressions, clicks, hovers, leads, engaged visitors and engagement rates, among others. You also can connect ProveSource to Google Analytics for a deeper analysis.


Plans start at $18 per month, billed annually, but ProveSource says you can start for free on a limited basis.


NotificationX is a WordPress plugin that will show real-time sales and engagement notifications. Its simple interface is easy to set up and use.

The plugin features different notification types, including (but not limited to):

  • Blog comments
  • WordPress reviews
  • WordPress download counts
  • Sales alerts
  • Email subscriptions


Plans start at $39 per year, with a 14-day, money-back guarantee.


Notifia integrates with more than 30 marketing tools, plugins and pop-ups to help you convert potential customers and more.

Its social proof notifications feature customized text, designs, images, page targeting, time delay and more. Notifia even offers personalization where you can include a visitor’s first name, company and/or location to better connect and engage with that visitor.


Plans for Notifia start at $9 per month.

Once you’ve enhanced your social proof using one of the above tools that fits your website and business needs best, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automations, dynamic audience segmentations and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

22 Chrome extensions to boost your SEO

What’s more convenient than SEO tools within your Chrome browser?

SEO (search engine optimization) can help drive more organic traffic to your website by ranking your website higher during relevant queries in search engines (predominantly Google but others as well).

And SEO still very much matters. In fact, 68 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine.

While considering your own website’s SEO, consider the difference between on-page and off-page SEO.

Chrome extensions are tools built into your browser that help you work faster and smarter.

Put the two together, and you have the potential for a little SEO magic. 

Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled a list of 22 Chrome extension recommendations that can help boost the SEO of your website.

SEO rank-checking extensions

SEO Search Simulator by Nightwatch

The SEO Search Simulator by Nightwatch extension emulates Google searches to check if a particular URL ranks in the top 100 results. 

These Google searches can be done from any location so that you can see how the rankings vary in different parts of the world.

SERPTrends SEO Extension

The SERPTrends SEO Extension tracks your Google, Bing and Yahoo searches. Over time, as these queries are repeated, you’ll be shown trends and ranking movements directly in the search results.

Included in the data shown:

  • Whether the website moved up or down in the search results
  • When a website is ranking for the first time or hasn’t changed position
  • How many positions the website lost or raised compared to the search you performed previously


SEOquake will give you a detailed overview of your website, including your Alexa rank, indexing information for Google and Bing, as well as your SEMrush rank.

The extension enables you to then dive deeper with a keyword-density report or overall diagnosis report, which breaks down on-page SEO elements on any given web page.

Keyword-research extensions

SEOStack Keyword Tool

SEOStack Keyword Tool is a Chrome extension that can help you generate thousands of keyword ideas from a single seed keyword. It does this by scraping autocomplete suggestions from:

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon
  • eBay

All the data generated can be exported to a CSV file.


The Ubersuggest Chrome extension shows you keywords’ monthly search volume, CPC and competition data. In addition, you can find related keywords and their information within search result pages on Google, YouTube and Amazon. You can then export data to a CSV file.


The TextOptimizer extension is a writing assistant that can help you write concise, high-quality and targeted content that is rich for your readers and optimized for search engines.

It does this by analyzing search results for relevant terms and extracts “intent tables” to recommend other words that you can use in your copy to better suit the expectations of search engines.

Keyword Surfer

The Keyword Surfer extension is a keyword research and search-engine-results-page (SERP) analysis tool. The data it offers includes (but is not limited to):

  • Domain-level traffic estimations in Google Search results
  • Keyword volumes (locally and globally)
  • Keyword suggestions
  • Domain-level backlink counts

You also can set up a content editor and start creating right away—researching, writing and optimizing—without ever leaving Google Search.

On-page SEO extensions


SEOInfo runs an audit of your website pages, reporting on any SEO issues and allowing you to dig deeper. Specifically, the extension examines:

  • Meta tags
  • Canonicals
  • Indexability
  • Open Graph tags
  • Structured data
  • Page speed
  • More

Free Backlink Checker by LRT

The Free Backlink Checker by LRT extension actually analyzes the outgoing links on a page (rather than any incoming links from other websites).

It will highlight any broken links red and any live links green. For further analysis, you also can export all links on a page to either a CSV or XLSX file in addition to their:

  • Anchor text
  • HTTP status
  • The “rel” attribute

To prevent false positives caused by server protection, you can increase the time delay between link requests, slowing the page analysis.

Hreflang Tag Checker

The Hreflang Tag Checker automates the process of checking your website’s hreflang tag deployment. It takes a readout of the URL’s hreflang tags and then crawls them to assess if they back reference your current URL.

This extension supports a site’s language targeting and hreflang architecture, allowing you to get a fast and reliable impression of the status of your site’s optimisation for international organic search.

Technical-SEO extensions

Link Redirect Trace

Link Redirect Trace reveals all the URLs in a redirect chain, including 301s, 302s and JavaScript redirects. The extension is considered an all-in-one redirect path analyzer.

A typical backlink profile usually includes redirects from other websites, and this tool helps you check if your redirects are SEO-friendly or if they harm your website.

Google Lighthouse

Google Lighthouse audits your page and suggests improvements related to:

  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Developer best practices
  • SEO

The extension runs a barrage of tests against the page and then generates a report on how well the page did. You can then use any failing tests as indicators on what you can do to improve your page.

AMP Validator

The AMP Validator extension checks whether a page has an AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) version. The page is then run through the validator, which reports if the page passes (green) or fails (red) via the extension icon.

OpenLink Structured Data Sniffer

The OpenLink Structured Data Sniffer discovers metadata embedded within HTML documents as Structured Data Islands and presents what’s discovered using a property sheet presentation style.

It simplifies the process of understanding what a given HTML document is about, via its metadata, for both end-users and developers.

View Rendered Source

See how the browser renders a page, not just what the server sends, with the View Rendered Source extension. This must-have tool for anyone working with JavaScript-powered websites compares the raw page code and its rendered version.

With this tool, you can see if JavaScript is overwriting meta tags, for example.

Link-building extensions


The LinkClump extension allows you to open, copy or bookmark multiple links at the same time. You can use it to drag a selection box around links using your mouse to quickly open as new tabs, open in a new window, save as bookmarks or copy to your clipboard.

This can be a great help during link prospecting.


The Buzzsumo extension can show you how many social media shares an article on another website has, as well as their backlinks. You also can see the most popular articles from that website (based on social media shares and backlink count). 


The SimilarWeb extension enables you to see website traffic and key metrics for any website, including engagement rate, traffic ranking, keyword ranking and traffic source.

This is especially helpful for evaluating link opportunities.


With the Hunter for Chrome extension, you can find who to contact when you visit a website. 

Along with the email addresses, you can get the names, job titles, social networks and phone numbers. All the data has public sources detailed in the search results. This can help you contact the right people as you’re link building for your own website.

See our seven tips to grow quality backlinks and boost your SEO.

All-in-one SEO extensions

Ahrefs SEO Toolbar

The Ahrefs SEO Toolbar features an on-page SEO report, a redirect tracer, a broken link checker and a nofollowed link highlighter.

You’ll also get page, domain and keyword metrics for visited URLs and search results.


The MozBar extension gives you instant metrics while viewing any page or SERP, including the ability to:

  • Create custom searches by engine, country, region or city
  • Quickly assess the page authority and domain authority of any site or page
  • Access and compare link metrics across pages while viewing any SERP
  • Find and highlight keywords on a page and differentiate links by type
  • Expose page elements, general attributes, markup and HTTP status
  • Export your SERP analysis details to a CSV file

SEO Minion

SEO Minion helps you in your daily SEO tasks, such as on-page SEO analysis, broken link checking, SERP preview and more.

In conclusion

While there is no perfect tool (or Google Chrome extension) to serve your SEO needs, it’s worth auditing what your prioritized needs are for your website’s SEO. Take the time to look through, identify your top candidates and experiment with the extensions that are most promising.

See more of the best, free SEO Chrome extensions.

In the midst of increasing your SEO efficiency, consider your overall digital marketing process. DailyStory can help. Find out more about our automation features and audience segmentation by scheduling a free demo today.

11 free (or almost free) social media management tools

More likely than not, your business has a presence on more than one social media platform.

The more platforms you are on, the harder it is to manually post, monitor and engage within your native social media accounts.

Social media management involves the many moving pieces regarding content publication and online communication on such platforms as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.

Dive deeper with our seven reasons why your business should use a social media management tool.

Therefore, social media management tools are intended to consolidate into one space the ability to:

  • Schedule content
  • Engage with your audiences
  • Analyze performance data
  • Potentially create content (depending on the tool)

For even more efficiency, consider these seven opportunities for social media automation.

The following (in no particular order) are 11 free (or almost free) social media management tools that can help you do it all on social media with a limited budget.


Hootsuite is a social media management tool that offers a limited free plan in addition to different paid subscriptions with increasing features. The free plan features:

  • 1 user
  • 2 social accounts
  • 5 scheduled messages

This application features “streams” in which you can set up a tab for each of your social media accounts and then a series of streams on each tab that reflect your mentions, scheduled posts and more.

It supports a range of social media platforms, including:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

If you’re looking for unlimited scheduled posts (among other upgraded features), the lowest paid subscription plan is $49 per month.


Socialoomph has been around since 2008. It also offers a limited free plan in addition to different paid subscriptions with increasing features. The free plan features:

  • 1 social account
  • Access to personal area only
  • Access to basic posting features
  • Unlimited scheduled posts
  • Maximum three posts per hour
  • Cannot add additional social accounts
  • Free support

This social media management tool includes support for bulk uploading, RSS feeds (where you can collect content) and web hooks, among other features. Socialoomph centers itself around the concept of teams. Even with the free single-user account, you automatically have one team, called “My Account.”

Socialoomph supports such social media platforms as:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Discord
  • Mastodon
  • StockTwits

The lowest paid plan is $15 per month, but to be able to connect to more than one social account, you’ll have to go with the Professional Suite at $25 per month, where you can connect up to 10.


Later is a very visual-based social media management tool that offers a limited free plan in addition to its different paid subscriptions with upgraded features. The free plan includes:

  • 1 user
  • 30 Instagram posts per month
  • 50 Twitter posts per month
  • 30 Facebook posts per month
  • 30 Pinterest posts per month
  • Instagram analytics
  • Ability to search and repost user-generated content

While Later allows you to post to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, its main focus is on Instagram support. The visuals are imperative to this application. Most social media management tools allow you to start with a message and then possibly add an image if you want. However, Later requires you to start a post by uploading an image.

Later also features a Media Library, where you can either upload new media to it or reuse media you’ve already uploaded. Notes and labels can be added to individual media items as you like. You also can add a star to highlight any media items.

To do more (such as scheduling videos, Instagram Stories and multi-photo posts instead of just single static images), the lowest paid subscription starts at $9 per month.


Buffer is a social media management tool that offers a limited free plan as well. It also has different paid subscription plan levels for increased features. The free plan features:

  • 1 user
  • 3 social accounts
  • 10 scheduled posts

The free plan also supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn but not Pinterest (that’s only available through a paid subscription).

To get Pinterest support and additional upgraded features, the lowest paid subscription starts at $15 per month.

While you’re likely focused on the ability to schedule your posts, which is referred to as Buffer Publishing, Buffer also offers two other apps that both require separate subscriptions:

  • Buffer Reply allows you to reply to online conversations happening on the supported social media platforms and offers support from one shared team inbox.
  • Buffer Analyze helps you measure the performance of your social media content and create reports for clients and/or your team.

Fortunately, if you are interested in all three, there is also a Buffer All-In-One option that has all features bundled together.


While PromoRepublic does not offer a limited free plan, it does have a 14-day free trial that can roll into a relatively affordable (compared to many other tools) $9-per-month subscription plan.

The “Solo Plan for Solopreneurs” subscription features:

  • 3 social media accounts
  • Social media calendar
  • Library of content suggestions

PromoRepublic is very design focused, which can feel like a merging of Canva with a traditional social media management tool. The designing and scheduling can all happen within PromoRepublic.

Supported social media networks include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google My Business

If you’re looking for inspiration, PromoRepublic comes with 100,000 post ideas that cover a variety of topics. The pre-designed graphics can be modified and customized to suit you business and your needs.


If your social media management is primarily tied to Twitter, you’ll want to consider TweetDeck, which is a free application that allows you to manage unlimited Twitter accounts from a single interface.

The dashboard is completely customizable and follows a similar thought process to Hootsuite’s “streams.” You can control the organization of your modules so that you can efficiently monitor:

  • Your home feed
  • Any lists you create or follow
  • Mentions
  • Direct messages
  • Scheduled tweets

And, of course, more. Everything within TweetDeck is free, so there are no features you’re ever missing out on.


Largely viewed as a design tool only, many don’t realize that Canva also has social media scheduling capabilities, too.

However, the limited free version of Canva is designing only. To schedule social media content (to seven platforms), the lowest paid subscription (currently at $9.99 per month) is required at a minimum. 

Canva Pro currently supports scheduling for:

  • Instagram (Business accounts only)
  • Facebook (pages or groups)
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn (profiles or pages)
  • Slack 
  • Tumbler

Of course, the power of sophisticated design features coupled with the ability to schedule that content all in the same application might work perfectly for you and/or your business.


ContentCal centers around bringing your team together with such features as approval workflows, joint creation of your content plan and more. The limited free plan includes:

  • 1 user
  • 4 social media accounts
  • 1 calendar
  • 10 posts per month
  • Email support

Granted, the free version lacks the robust team features that ContentCal prides itself on. Supported social media platforms include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google My Business
  • YouTube
  • Medium

Keep in mind that ContentCal integrates with more than 2,000 other applications so that you can enhance your workflow by connecting other tools you already use, like Slack or Trello

The lowest paid subscription price for enhanced features starts at $17 per month.

Zoho Social

Zoho Social is a social media management tool that offers a limited free plan with:

  • 1 user
  • 1 brand
  • zShare Browser Extension
  • Publishing on 7 social media accounts

The application features a content calendar that helps you visualize the posting timeline and allows you to organize your posts however needed. Supported social media platforms include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google My Business

For advanced features, the lowest paid subscription plan begins at $10 per month.


Only concerned about Instagram and Pinterest? Planoly might be for you. This social media management tool offers a limited free plan as well with:

  • 1 user
  • 2 social media accounts (one Instagram and one Pinterest)
  • 30 uploads per month per profile
  • Basic analytics

Planoly also features Linkit, which allows you to link to products, resources, websites and so on using the link in the bio.

For more advanced features, the lowest paid subscription plan starts at $7 per month.

See our six expert tips for marketing on Pinterest.


Postfity is a social media management tool that only has a 30-day trial period, but it’s lowest paid subscription plan starts at $9.99 per month (or less if billed annually).

The tool supports the following social media platforms:

  • Facebook 
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Vkontakte

The application has a more unique feature of Facebook cover image scheduling, as well as a social media post ideas tool, where you can pull suggested posts from a calendar and customize and publish at will.

Analytics are also an option with the paid subscription plans on Postfity.

It’s possible that to find the perfect free or low-cost social media management tool, you’ll have to experiment over time. That’s OK! Do as much research as you can so that you can know in advance whether the tool you’re considering will truly serve your needs. But don’t stress if you ultimately need to transition to a different tool. 

Still not sure which social media to use to promote your brand? View our guide to help determine the right platform for your business.

While you’re considering your social media management options, think about your digital marketing process. Is it everything you want it to be? DailyStory features automations, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

11 free graphic design tools for the non-designer

Visuals are everything when it comes to digital marketing these days.

That applies to everything, from the design of your website to the images you use on your brand’s social media channels.

Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23 percent.

Of course, the cost of graphic design is a concern for many small businesses. More than 50 percent source their design work in-house or do it themselves.

But just because you might be looking to save money on your graphic designing doesn’t mean that you can’t still reap the rewards of great design. The following are 11 free graphic design tools for the non-designer (i.e. the beginner).


One of the most popular design tools, Canva typically ranks toward the top of many lists when it comes to design.

The available templates not only are a great source of inspiration for any beginning designer, but can make an entire project that much faster and the results that much better. Canva also features an image library where some images are free to use and others require a paid subscription.

You’ll likely also appreciate the automatic color suggestion feature that can suggest colors based on images within the design. That means you can match your brand color with ease and use complimentary colors from an image that pulls together your overall design.

Canva has an app as well for on-the-go designing.

Granted, the free version of Canva can be limiting depending on how much you want to create (and to what degree you want to customize and share), but this application is being used more and more because of its easy-to-use interface and powerful features.


DesignWizard resembles Canva in a lot of ways, except it includes all of its available design features in its free version.

Where the free version can limit you is when you would like to export your work. “Pay-as-you-go image and video downloads” is listed on the Pricing page.

Nonetheless, the application offers more than 10,000 free templates and a library with more than 1.2 million images, videos, illustrations and graphics.


Specifically looking for an application that will make infographic design easy? Consider Piktochart.

This application can act as a fair replacement for more premiere (and expensive) software, like Adobe InDesign. There are hundreds of templates, icons and graphics to choose from.

The free version does give you a lot of options to explore. One downside is that downloads from the free version will include the Piktochart watermark on them.


Both browser-based and offering an app, Pixlr is a free image editor that helps you edit your photos with hundreds of overlays, effects and borders.

It’s been referred to as a decent replacement for Adobe Photoshop (when considering the cost). But this application tends to have more power when it comes to photo editing than true graphic designing.


Pegged as a “creative tool so easy a toddler could use it,” Colorcinch is a design platform that’s easy to use with no experience.

It includes free graphics and templates, various effects, the ability to cartoonize your image and all the essential photo-editing tools.

There is a free version available, with premium features included with a subscription.

Adobe Spark

Considered the free alternative to the more premium (and expensive) Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Spark is worth checking out.

The application comes with a fair amount of free templates. These can be particularly helpful if you’re looking to create posters or videos for ad campaigns.

Spark also supports integration with other Adobe products, which can be helpful if a project becomes more complex.


Depending on the design project, paint elements could be needed. Fortunately, Krita is a free, open-source painting program intended for artists.

Its user interface is entirely customizable with an advanced toolset.

The features available in Krita can help add an extra impact to your design efforts, so don’t be afraid to try it out, even if it is a little more advanced.


Vectr is a graphic design software that offers the ability to design in your web browser or download a free desktop app. 

It is a great choice for presentations, logos, cards, markups and even 2D graphics since it prides itself on helping you create simple and clean vector graphics.

Vectr also has various fonts, shadows and filters, along with live collaborations and synchronization features. This means that you can share your work and collaborate with your team if needed.


A great alternative to Adobe Illustrator, Freehand or Corel Draw, Inkscape is an open-source graphic tool where you can create logos, illustrations and graphics.

It’s user friendly with a clear, easy-to-use interface and some advanced features, such as:

  • Alpha transparency support
  • Markers
  • Clones
  • Embedded bitmaps

Google Chart

Need to convert your data into a more eye-catching visual? Google Chart could be a solution.

The application helps you create graphs and charts that can be easily embedded into a webpage or spreadsheet.

All charts are totally customizable as well.


Another tool that can help with infographic design is Infogram. Not only can you design infographics for free, but you can upload pictures and videos as well.

The templates Infogram provides can help inspire you to better engage your audience. The application also offers features to animate and make your charts and/or graphics interactive.

In conclusion

It doesn’t matter what tool (or tools) you ultimately decide to use for your graphic design projects. Just be sure to try a handful to make sure you end up with the application that best serves your preferences and needs.

Visuals are more important than ever. However, you’ll be surprised at how quickly any of these tools can make you look like a pro.

Not stopping at simple graphic design? Check out our list of 18 video-editing apps you should be aware of, and see our eight tips for finding your brand voice.

After leveling up your graphic design game, consider your digital marketing process. Visuals lose their impact if they’re not reaching the right people at the right time. Schedule your free demo of DailyStory today.

11 free SEO keyword research tools you should consider

Keyword research is an important element of any successful SEO strategy or pay-per-click campaign.

The right keywords can help improve your ranking on search engine results pages (generating more organic traffic to your website) or attract the right visitors through your PPC efforts.

But what’s the best way to research keywords? Online tools, of course!

Related: be sure and check out these Chrome extensions for managing SEO.

The following are 11 free keyword research tools that you should consider trying.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is known as being one of the most accurate sources of keyword data since it comes directly from Google, the biggest search engine on the market.

Cost: Free

Keyword Tool

Keyword Tool features analysis for multiple search engines, including:

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Bing
  • Amazon
  • Apple App Store

The application also uses Google Autocomplete and generates up to 750 long-tail keyword suggestions for every search term.

Results can be exported to a CSV file.

Cost: Free (for the first 750 keywords)

Moz Keyword Explorer

The Moz Keyword Explorer gives easy-to-use keyword suggestions. It’s known for the uniqueness of its suggestions.

It also features an organic CTR score (shows the number of clicks you’re expected to attract on the first page of Google search results) and a priority score (mixes all the individual factors to help you select the best terms).

The priority score keeps keyword research simple and can be a helpful one-stop-shop type of metric to show you the value of a particular keyword without getting overwhelmed with lots of different metrics.

Cost: 10 free queries per month when you sign up for a free Moz account


Soovle immediately generates suggested keyword ideas from various search engines, including (but not limited to):

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon

You’ll see them all appear on the same web page. It’s a great way to brainstorm because you can slowly start typing in your ideas and see it auto-generate its own ideas.

Cost: Free

Google Search Console

Using the Performance Report, you can easily gather keyword research and inspiration from the Google Search Console.

The report includes a list of the web pages on your website that get the most clicks from Google, as well as the keywords that drove that traffic.

Check out our full guide to using Google Search Console.

Cost: Free


KeywordTool provides many keyword suggestions, as well as the ability to filter and expand results to find the perfect keyword you’re looking for.

You can also use it to learn what keyword ideas generate based on the content of a competitor’s website.

Cost: Free

Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is another tool from Google that can help you discover keywords. The value is there since the data again comes from Google. 

With this tool, however, there is the “top of page bid,” where you can see how much advertisers are bidding on a keyword. The cost shown is cost per click.

In that sense, Google Keyword Planner is a bit more useful for PPC-campaign planning than SEO keyword research.

Cost: Free

WordStream Keyword Tool

WordStream’s Keyword Tool works for both SEO and PPC keyword research. With it, you can target groups of related keywords that will give you more suggestions.

When searching, you also can include your industry and country for better results.

Cost: Free for the first 30 searches

Google Trends

Google Trends enables you to see overall search-term trends and whether a keyword is growing in popularity.

This is a great tool to use when you’re debating between two keywords. You’ll be able to see if one is rising in popularity while the other is declining in popularity.

You also can see if a keyword is growing in popularity on YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine.

Cost: Free


Ubersuggest will take your keyword and generate nearly unlimited alphabetized and numerical keyword variations in return. Content ideas are also generated related to your keyword.

You also can register for free for daily rank tracking and personalized SEO suggestions.

Cost: Free

Source code exploration

This is less of an official tool and more of a free tactic.

The idea is to go to your competitor’s website, right-click somewhere on the web page and select “View Page Source.”

Within that coding, locate the keywords to see what they’re optimizing for.

Just be aware that your competitors might not be using the best keywords, or they might not have meta keywords enabled.

Cost: Free

No matter what tool or tools you decide to use, the value of understanding the best keywords for your SEO or PPC is critical.

However, SEO does go beyond keyword research. Find out if you’re making these 13 common SEO mistakes.

Curated content: 12 tools to help you discover, share more on social media

Curated content helps you save time, diversity your mix of social media content, serve your audience and appear to be an expert.

Just in case you’re unfamiliar, curated content is “content gathered from trusted sources relevant to your industry,” according to Hootsuite.

See our five reasons why you should incorporate curated content into your social media strategy.

Plus, we share four tips about how you can find more curated content.

And while curated content is a time-saver, you can save even more time by using the right tool.

Below are 12 tools that you can use to discover and share more curated content on social media, some free and some not.

Twitter Lists

 Twitter can be a messy place, but the platform features a Lists feature that can help you organize (and monitor) accounts and content you care about.

It’s a free tool since use of the Twitter platform is free

For more guidance on how to use Twitter Lists, check out these tips from Twitter itself.


Ranging in cost from $79 to $559 per month, Buzzsumo helps you find the most shared content for specific topics, as well as the top influencers for a topic as well.

Buzzsumo is a very powerful and popular tool. Features include real-time trend identification and viral post prediction, among others.

Email newsletters

It sounds simple, but signing up for email newsletters is a great way to discover and find new content

There is a bit of investment of time in finding the types of newsletters that are relevant to your brand and, by extension, your audience. But once you do, new content is as available and easy to find as checking your email inbox.

Of course, newsletters are free as well.

Hint: LetterList curates great newsletters that you may want to check out. It’s also free.


If you ever find yourself browsing the internet and wish you had a way to save great content easily and in one place (without emailing it to yourself), you should try Pocket.

This tool enables you to save articles, videos and more from any publication, page or app on any device.

The cost ranges between free and $4.99 per month.


Similar to Pocket, Instapaper enables you to save content in one place to read later.

Ideal use is with a bookmarklet in your browser, where you can save the page you’re on in a folder within the tool.

Plus, Instapaper is free.


Hootsuite does a lot more than just help you discover curated content that you can share. It’s a social media management tool, where you can manage all your social media accounts in one place (sharing, scheduling, analysis, and more).

The tool has a feature called Streams, and with that, you can set up different ways to discover new content.

Hootsuite has free and paid levels of use.


Remember Google Reader? This tool helps you keep up with your favorite feeds and articles in once place. You also can see when your business is mentioned online.

The price for Feedly ranges from free to $18 per month.


If you like Pinterest, you’ll like Scoop.it.

You can use it to organize topics in a hub page, and then publish outside of Scoop.it, like your blog.

The price ranges from free to $67 per month.


Curata is a powerful tool that discovers and automatically recommends content for your audience. 

You have the power to review and fine tune the suggestions, of course, but the only way to use Curata is to start by getting a quote.


This tool features a content monitoring dashboard with complex search capabilities. It prides itself on pulling content from hundreds of thousands of sources.

The pricing for PublishThis ranges from free to $399 per month.


Nuzzel is a free tool that searches the feeds of your friends on Facebook and Twitter to find the content that they’re sharing. It then emails you once a day with the top-ranked content.


This free tool doesn’t just help you collect great content, it enables you to create and send an email with that content to your audience. You can also use RSS feeds with Goodbits so that you don’t have to always hunt down content.

No matter what tool you experiment to streamline your curated-content discovery process, it’s important that you keep an eye on how that content performs for you so that you can pivot accordingly (and do more of what’s working and less of what’s not).

Not sure what social media platform is right for your company? Check out our guide.

And if improving your digital marketing process is on your mind, consider DailyStory, which features automation, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Remote work: 9 tips to better manage your team

Whether your team has shifted to remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic or you just started a new remote management position, it can feel like uncertain waters to lead a team effectively in a virtual realm.

But being a great manager is more important than ever. According to Gallup research, 50 percent of employees quit their companies because of their boss.

Remote management just has a few additional challenges to plan for.

Here are nine tips to better manage your remote team.

Check-in meetings (on video) matter

The frequency is entirely up to you, but daily one-on-ones are recommended, especially when you’re just starting out.

Emails and instant messages (even phone calls) only go so far. It’s important to see your employees and for them to see you.

Regular one-on-one meetings establish a connection you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to create during larger team meetings. It’s important that these are predictable and consistent so that employees feel that they can ask questions and express any concerns. In essence, you’re creating a space for you to give feedback and/or praise as a manager while also listening to your employee.

According to a study by Interact, about 69 percent of managers are uncomfortable giving direct feedback to employees.

Creating a recurring space to both give and solicit feedback will help with any discomfort.

That being said, larger team meetings should also be scheduled out to keep everyone focused and on the same page. Video, again, is important. Otherwise, it’s just a conference call, but you can easily take advantage of applications like Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Google Team Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and more.

Just like with one-on-one meetings, your team meetings should be predictable, consistent and always with (at least a basic) agenda to maintain focus.

And video cannot be overrated. Every team member should understand that meetings happen on video in a quiet place with few distractions. This professional approach fosters productivity and better connection among participants.

Embrace over-communication in remote work

When it comes to working from home, you can almost never communicate too much. 

Two benefits arise from apparent over-communication: 

  1. Your team understands your expectations and is on the same page with you.
  2. Loneliness can be combated.

Love it or hate it, the office environment provides a social environment in many ways. Remove the physical office, and remote workers can more easily feel alone and isolated.

Communicate more. It’s rarely too much in a remote work environment.

Use a clear set of communication tools

Technology offers a range of options and applications to stay in touch with your team. It’s tempting to try the next “shiny” tool with upgraded features, but the more applications your team uses, the more scattered the communication.

In addition to the obvious use of email, decide on one communication tool for video meetings and one for instant messaging. More than that and messages could easily be missed by team members. Make sure that everyone on the team is comfortable with using each tool.

Beyond communication, there are definitely many tools that can optimize your remote team’s productivity to be aware of as well.

Whatever you decide to use among your team members, double-check that each tool features adequate security.

Speaking of tools, check out these 15-plus free productivity tools that can help you.

Communication etiquette is relevant

Short of actually training your team on the best ways to communicate via instant message and beyond (never underestimate the power of an emoji when appropriate), a simple conversation about the do’s and don’ts of short-form communication always helps.

First, it’s helpful for everyone to assume the best from one other regarding tone in a message or email. But what else can everyone do to make sure that nothing is misread or taken in a negative light? It’s important to establish those baselines to foster the most productive and positive communication amongst your team.

Explain goals and set expectations

When working from home, it’s important that every team member feels part of the mission.

A big part of that is explaining the “why” behind a particular goal and how each employee contributes to that goal.

Clearly identify the tasks to be done, their priority and who should champion what, along with regular deadlines to check on progress.

Focus on the outcomes with your remote team

Micro-managing is never a good idea, remote or not. But attempting any semblance of managing every detail or every hour your team works remotely could lead to discord among your employees.

Instead, focus on the outcome of your team’s activity. In the end, the goals and deadlines achieved and met are the measure of success, not how each working hour is spent. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to set expectations and monitor employee workloads.

Audit your remote team’s resources

You can’t assume that every remote employee has what he or she needs to contribute as expected. Does everyone have an updated computer, mobile device, access to high-speed internet and so on?

Have a plan to address any gaps in resources among the team.

Support a remote team ‘social life’

It can’t all be about work, work, work from a remote setting. Just like how you’ll find “water cooler” chat in an office, your team will only benefit from a little social lead way here and there.

This can be as simple as leaving the first few minutes of a team meeting open to non-work conversation. You also could organize virtual social hours with possible themes. There’s no limit to your imagination here. Just remember that humans are more than worker bees, and the more you can celebrate that and offer each employee a sense of belonging, the better off your team will do in the long run.

Encourage vacations to be actual vacations

When you’re so connected to your team, it can be hard to disconnect. As the manager, let your team know that you not only consider their “off” time to be off, but also that everyone taking time to recharge is very important.

The technology we all use can make “turning off” pretty difficult, but this is especially true for remote workers. Remember that the power to make that a priority comes from you.

Help coordinate any temporary task hand-offs and plans to sustain an employee’s expected time off to ensure a smooth transition.

The key to managing a remote team successfully is clear communication, a consistent schedule and set expectations. Giving your team the flexibility and understanding they may need while also inspiring them to hit goals will always be a shifting balance you’ll be adapting to every day.

Of course, check out our 11 tips on how you can be more productive while working from home.

As you’re determining how to improve the management of your remote team, consider leveling up your digital marketing of your entire business with DailyStory and our 21-day free trial. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.