When it comes to analyzing your website traffic, Google Analytics is the top dog in this space. They’ve got great tools and data sets and you can find out just about anything you want when it comes to your website traffic. However, it’s not as secure as I would like it to be, which is really important to me since we work with people’s financial information.
If you are running a content marketing program, BuzzSumo is a good tool for understanding what content performs best on the web. It measures how popular a piece of content is by identifying the number of social shares or backlinks it has received. It also identifies the influencers who are also writing on your topic.
We love AvaTax (an Avalera product). It’s a great sales tax plugin for e-commerce. Their customer service is wonderful. They do sales tax reporting and the filing of sales tax returns by jurisdiction. They are extremely precise (using not just zip code, but longitude and latitude) in determining the correct sales tax if you have brick and mortar stores and e-commerce. They will combine everything and file for you!
We like Authorize.Net, and we recommend them a lot. If a company has limited or no integration between website and financials, Authorize.Net has good reporting. For ecommerce, we need reporting that line items out by item, shipping, and sales tax, and their reports have that detail. Their pricing is very competitive and they renegotiate rates as your volume of sales grows.
MailChimp is simple, easy, and gets the job done. We use them for our monthly newsletters. They’ve got the right tools and templates for beginners to pick up on quickly, but they also have developer features in case you want to run more complex email campaigns. We have a lot of clients who also use MailChimp with a lot of success.
We use QuickBooks Desktop, but we have it hosted in the cloud via HarborCloud, so there’s no need to have it on our computers. If you don’t have any bookkeeping experience, the desktop version is the best way to introduce yourself to it. We don’t recommend QuickBooks Online, especially for startups, because it does not have enough reporting functionality. We always end up pulling our clients off of QuickBooks Online and migrating them to QuickBooks Desktop. Quickbooks Online is fine if you’re in consulting or anything service-based. Even then, you have to be very careful about downloading financial data, since it’s not a perfect technology; you can’t just set it and forget it. Best practice is to make sure and review the accounts QuickBooks is choosing for you; very often it misposts and double posts. Also if you’re transferring between accounts or paying your credit card, QuickBooks Online cannot handle that in the download.
We use HarborCloud to host QuickBooks Desktop in the cloud, using Citrix. We love them. Their customer service is fantastic, and they have very competitive pricing. They work with us with all of the different environments we require; they’re extremely accommodating.
Internally, we use ADP ezLaborManager for tracking PTO. Employees really like it because they can log in to see their available PTO, 401k information, and their paystubs. It allows us to be totally paperless, which is a huge goal for us.
This is a service we provide our clients. For our company, we use our own custom in-house system.
We use Harvest internally for time tracking and logging completed tasks. We also use it for monthly invoicing. It’s very easy to implement. My team loves it, and I love how simple it is to do the invoicing. I wish they integrated with QuickBooks Desktop.
Hireology is pretty new, and great for recruiting. They give you everything, and I would totally recommend them. They give lots of information for new businesses, especially on how to recruit best. They help you with job descriptions, post them everywhere, and manage all of the traffic back to you, all in one place. We have had some tech problems with them, but nothing major, and I would attribute all of the issues to them being new. And it may be expensive for smaller companies, but it’s a good tool.
Expensify was a pain to set up. They made it so hard to set up direct deposit to employees’ accounts, and people were signing in and creating new accounts somewhere. It was totally bizarre. But once it’s setup, it’s fine. One huge complaint is that they only have instant message/chat customer service. They don’t have a customer service number to call!
We work with pretty much all of the payroll companies out there (e.g. Paychex, BenefitMall, etc.). They seem to all be trying to do the same thing, but ADP’s employee portal is the best. They make everything so easy with ezLaborManager. You have to pay for it, but it works really well. We work remotely, so all web-based solutions are fantastic for us. We also encourage our retail clients to use ADP’s biometric time clock, since it uploads hours for payroll processing, which saves a lot of time. It eliminates the need for verifying timesheets, since the employee has to be present to clock in and out. They also have a nice scheduling component that the managers use.
Google Apps has been our go-to for various project management tasks. We like the automatic saving and syncing, and it’s also useful to be able to have more than one person work simultaneously in a document. It’s not the most perfect setup for project management, but we haven’t yet found a dedicated project management app that we love.
We like Smartsheet. We moved our status update tracker from Google Docs to Smartsheet, and it’s pretty great for that. It’s really good for high level team management and prioritizing. But we wish they had financial reporting. And while Smartsheet is great for teamwork types of project management, for more detailed project management, we still haven’t found anything that fits our needs.
Buffer is a good tool for managing multiple social media accounts for a brand. Right now it does Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. The cool thing about it is that you can schedule posts/content ahead of time. So you can manage a week's worth of content in a few hours. It also has an analytics function so you can see how your posts perform. One of the main drawbacks with Buffer is that you cannot engage with consumers on the app; to respond to comments, retweets, or mentions, you still need to monitor your accounts. Also, it currently doesn't connect with some of the "hot" social platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat.