35 business tools that help us run our WordPress support machine

With our growing team of 30+ around the world, we rely on many different tools to keep our business running smoothly. In this post we have listed them all and split them into different categories to help you understand how we use them. Take a look and see if any of these tools could solve a problem your business is currently facing.

“35 tools that WPCurve uses every day for a growing business, happy customers, and productive team.” – (CLICK TO TWEET)

Marketing

Infusionsoft: Infusionsoft is a powerful tool to organize and manage clients and email lists, create automated email campaigns. It also has tools for ecommerce such as fulfillment, and referrals.

We use this for our automated emailing and email courses, affiliate program, our CRM/customer database, some website tracking, website conversion forms and content delivery.

We also use a net promoter score survey in Infusionsoft to track how our email marketing is resonating with our list.

Canva: Canva is a web based tool that makes it easy for non designers to create high quality images, particularly for social media.

Our VA’s use Canva to create social media images for each of our blog posts.

Mention: Mention enables users to track in real-time what’s being said about them on the web and social media.

We use it to follow where we are being mentioned and respond to positive mentions with thanks.

Adroll: Adroll is a tool that enables you to advertise to people who have already visited your site (called retargeting).

We only have a tiny Adroll budget, it’s the only form of paid advertising we do.

AdRoll

Hootsuite: Hootsuite allows you to track and manage several different social media accounts from one dashboard. The hootlet plugin allows you to share to your social media directly from the browser.

We use this with our admin team to schedule social media posts and promote new posts we have published. However, Dan has found it to require constant logging in and it often doesn’t load properly the first time. Buffer is probably a better tool if you are just interested in scheduling social media posts.

Skype: Skype allows you to make video calls for free to other skype users or to landlines internationally for very competitive prices.

We use Skype with the Ecamm Call Recorder plugin to record interviews for our podcast.

Related Article: The beginner’s guide to podcasting

ConvertPress: ConvertPress is a tool that allows you to quickly and easily design opt in forms and landing pages for wordpress.

We use this for all of our calls to action in our content and for designing simple landing pages. This tool was developed by Dan and Alex.

Skitch: Skitch is a tool for screen captures and annotations.

We use Skitch for forward facing content like annotations on screenshots for our website reviews.

Management

Lighthouse: Lighthouse is a tool that allows managers to support their teams by facilitating meetings, tracking employee information and providing tips on best practices for managers.

We are using Lighthouse in our management team to schedule 1 on 1’s with each team member. It helps track our 1 on 1’s as a central location for information on goals, work, emails, issues, personal notes, so that we can keep each member of our team on track and growing.

Trello: Trello is used for team task management. It uses a system of cards and boards to create a visual way to track how a project is progressing and who is doing what. It is a very open ended product, so you can customize it to fit the needs of your team or project.

We keep different activities to different boards. We track and plan our our content, delegate tasks to the team, and keep notes for calls and meetings.

We like the email to card feature, where you can automatically create a Trello card with an email. This makes it easy to transfer that email thread into an actionable task list instead of letting it get buried in your inbox. We also use Zapier to create recurring tasks, more on that below.

We have recently been experimenting with a Trello board that helps us manage guest writers and ideas for guest content. For more on how we manage hour guest writers check out: How to scale your content marketing with a process for guest writers.

You can download templates of the same boards that we use every day in our business for free with our Trello quick start kit.

Zapier: Zapier is a powerful tool that integrates hundreds of web apps and allows you to automate tedious tasks.

Related: A simple process for team task automation with Trello and Zapier

We use this tool to primarily automate our trello board, we set recurring tasks with this zap like drafting a weekly update email, checking for failed payments and payroll reminders.

Custom Dashboard: We have a custom dashboard built with Dan’s Informly software. This tracks a mix of revenue, web traffic, and customer information all in one page.

Dan and Alex check it daily and we use it for management performance meetings and monthly reports.

Google Analytics: Google Analytics is the standard in web analytics. It tracks traffic coming to your site, the behavior of visitors to your site and the demographics (location, browser, device) of who is visiting.

Our main tool to track how our content is performing and where our traffic is coming from.

We also pull information from Google Analytics for our “best of” widget, which ranks the highest converting posts for the month and displays them on the right hand side of our blog posts.

The main conversion goal we track in Google Analytics is email opt ins. Since all of our opt ins come from our content onsite it is easy manage.

Related Article: Actionable analytics for small business

Google Drive: Google Drive is a place where you can store and sync files online and have them accessible from anywhere. It includes a web based word processor, spreadsheet editor, presentation designer and form builder all in one. It has a simple interface and allows for simultaneous editing and collaboration on documents.

This is where we keep all of our processes and documents. We try and log a process of every activity at WP Curve. This keeps things predictable with our diverse team and allows us to manage processes instead of people.

We also use Google Drive to keep track of our key metrics and create simple, yet effective graphs for our monthly report.

You can get many of the same spreadsheets we use to track growth on the 7 Day Startup Resources Page

We use google forms for simple surveys for feedback on our one-off jobs that we are experimenting with now.

WordPress (Obviously, right?): WordPress is a versatile content management tool that allows you to create a website with minimal technical skills. WordPress is open source, so it is endlessly customizable with a massive community of developers creating free and premium plugins.

We’ve built our business around WordPress and use it with WP Curve, and on our personal blogs. WordPress is simply the best content management system for what we do.

Customer Support

HookFeed: HookFeed tracks stripe customers payments. It calculates lifetime value of a customer as well as customers who are “at risk” for failed payments and card expirations, helping you address churn before it happens.

With our recurring payments we are always looking for ways to improve our churn rates. HookFeed is great tool to resolve and prevent failed payments. They have an excellent dev team that has helped us out on several occasions.

Help Scout: Help Scout is help desk software that is a seamless email experience for your customers. It allows for team collaboration on issues, and customer history with saved replies for context. It also has reporting on jobs completed, response time, and customer happiness.

We use Help Scout for logging jobs and issues and communicating with our clients to resolve the problem. We are working on our own system on top of Help Scout to prioritize jobs and better track difficult jobs.

We have also built an integration to help us quickly access client details. Our admin team reports on the key metrics like response time and customer happiness from Help Scout daily in our Slack channel.

Helloify: This is the live chat tool that helps you quickly respond to customer queries. It’s an easy way to get in touch with us from various different platforms.

People send us a message or a question from email, SMS or on the site’s chatbox, the whole team can see it, solve it, and respond. Dan is a co-founder in Helloify.

Communication

Gmail: Gmail is a web based email that is a standard across the web for both personal and business email with Google Apps.

We use gmail for our @wpcurve emails. It’s affordable, easy to set up, and add ons like Boomerang make it a lifesaver. We are set up as a company in Google Apps. Most of our team don’t have WP Curve email addresses so we are still on the free plan, grandfathered in from a few years ago.

Slack: A team communication tool available on desktop or mobile, with searchable chat history. It has a very simple interface and is integrated with dozens of other apps to keep communication easily centralized.

This is our primary team communication tool. It provides a platform for different team chat rooms and private messaging. We use team chat to discuss response times, issues, changes in processes, and for lighthearted conversation.

It also has one of the most polite and encouraging loading screens on the web. I can’t help but crack a little smile when opening the app.

GoToMeeting: GoToMeeting is a tool than can be used for marketing or communication. It allows you to host meetings webinars with features like HD Video, polls and chat to keep a live audience engaged and participating. It also allows you to access a meeting by phone or at a computer, so you can conference on the move.

We use GoToMeeting for team meetings currently, many of the features useful for internal communication during group meetings.

Related Article: How to grow your business with webinar marketing

GTM

Jing: With Jing you can capture, annotate, and upload an image or video quickly and easily.

Though this tool is very similar to Skitch, we use this for screenshot and screenshares primarily for internal communication.This is good for identifying problems in processes and providing helpful images that save a lot of time compared to completely written instructions.

Productivity/Organization

RescueTime: RescueTime is great for keeping track of where you are spending time. It integrates with your computer and your browser to track where you are spending your time. It generates a report where you can rate the productivity of the apps and websites you use to quantify your productivity.

I have used this simultaneously on multiple devices before and it does a good job of keeping up and giving me good idea of where my time is spent. The simple process of having the time you spend on your computer measured and tracked can yield big improvements on your productivity over time.

Instapaper: This tool allows you to save posts and articles in an offline format for later reading.

We read a lot of content, it’s nice to be able to save interesting articles for later in one place. Dan uses the Chrome plugin to send posts straight to his kindle.

ScheduleOnce:  Is used for scheduling meeting with clients to teams and have a diverse set of features that allows for easy scheduling.

We like schedule once because it integrates nicely with any different calendars and other software, and works well with time zones.

TimeTrade: Timetrade is good for setting up a landing page style appointment for specific blocks.

Alex uses TimeTrade for his individual appointments and meetings. We find ScheduleOnce is better for team meetings.

Evernote: A note taking app that allows for the creation of short lists, notes, tasks, voice recordings and more. One account can integrate on a desktop, mobile, and web app so you have your notes everywhere.

The flexibility of Evernote makes it a great tool for both business and personal use. We use it to store ideas for new content, keep notes. Alex uses Evernote and recommends Jason Frasca’s blog for tips and guides on how to make the most out of Evernote.

Audible: Is Amazon’s app and marketplace for audiobooks. It syncs up on your phone for an easy purchase and listening experience.

Alex and Kyle both have subscriptions. It’s good for traveling and if you can focus for long enough, you can get through a book 3x faster than reading.

Finance accounting and payroll

Xero: Xero is online accounting software for small business. Its online invoicing, mobile app, and fast reconciliation make it a popular choice for accounting.

Dan has been using Xero for years. It makes accounting significantly less horrible than it usually is. Our admin team do most of the books, Dan checks it occasionally when they aren’t sure how to allocate certain things. We also have an accountant who checks it monthly to do a few more of the tricky jobs.

ZenPayroll: This software helps automate payroll and taxes. and allows for simple new employee onboarding.

A business owner’s dream – it’s a simple set up, has useful reminders and a very easy to understand interface. For Alex, paying 941 and DE88 taxes used to be a manual process that would take up 2 hours each month, this takes 2 minutes.

Avery (Windigo Inc.): is our accountant. He’s handy in Xero, supports a number of online recurring businesses just like ours and is provides answers that we can actually understand.

Workspaces

WeWork: Alex’s favorite coworking space. WeWork was one of the fastest growing startups of 2014. Alex shares an office with Brent Shepherd from Prospress. They’re also across the hallway from the Designcrowd US team and have access to great events, activities and even a weekly yoga session.

Wotso Workspace: Dan’s favorite coworking space, where he recently has become very popular…

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Logistics

Uber: Uber is a rideshare company that allows anyone with a car to become a cab driver. The process from pickup to payment is handled entirely on the app. So there are no issues with payment.

This truly changed the game with transportation. A good service and a much better user experience than with cabs. They also have great partnerships with brands like Google and Amex, where you earn 2x points when you pay with it.

AirBNB: This is an online marketplace for individuals or agents looking to rent out rooms, apartments or homes for short term stays.

Dan and Alex used AirBNB to book a place for their first annual meeting in Waikiki and will probably use it for the next catch up as well. For the price of a studio hotel room, they were able to get an space in Waikiki that was large and comfortable.

This list is not completely exhaustive, but it is a good overview of most of the tools required to keep a growing remote team running smoothly and customers around the world happy.

Does your business use these tools? Or do you use others that you like better? Let us know in the comments.

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About

Kyle is the founder of Conversion Cake . He is the author of "The College Entrepreneur" A book for students who want to break into entrepreneurship. Follow him @kylethegray

47 responses to “35 business tools that help us run our WordPress support machine”

  1. VeloNomad says:

    Interesting.

    How did you evaluate HelpScout against, say, Freshdesk?

    Or Asana V Trello?

    As for CRM, I’ve started using Active Campaign instead of Infusionsoft (I personally think IS’s base price of $199/m with no trial, is crazy and will lead to AC growing very big). It’s bloody good and there are loads of Zaps that let you do stuff like: grab a sale from WooCommerce, with the SKU as a tag, add the buyer to a Buyer list, then cross sell based on that SKU.

  2. Graham says:

    a fan of podio.com for planning and project management; and active campaign for email and automation; shoeboxed for processing receipts and invoices and dropbox

  3. Jon says:

    Great article. Thanks so much for sharing. I enjoy your flow charts you use for documenting your processes. What app do you use for flowcharting if you don’t mind sharing?

  4. Dan Norris says:

    Ah that’s a good point we didn’t include that one, it’s called Lucid Chart. I think I’m the only one in the company that uses it and it was really only for that one process I think the hiring one.

    http://wpcurve.com/hiring-developers

    We’ll add it into the list above.

  5. Cool article. I use Meet Edgar for my social media scheduling now – I did use Hootsuite but since I wasn’t really monitoring conversations, Edgar is much nicer. I did a review on it here http://digitaldomination.com/meet-edgar-review/

    Also, is Zenpayroll compatible for Aussies? I looked for a FAQ on their site but couldn’t find anything and it looks to be US compliant only?

  6. Vitaly Karasik says:

    Really inspiring post!
    Do you use any Wiki platform for knowledge sharing? And – any bug/task management system aside from Trello (like Bugzilla, etc)?

  7. Patricia says:

    Hi Kyle, impressive post! So nice to see mention among all these great tools 🙂

  8. Sahil Parikh says:

    Have you’ll tried Brightpod.com?

  9. Loving the tools you guys use. For me the big question of the day is: ScheduleOnce vs Calendly vs Acuity? People I admire use all three… Kyle, or readers, has anyone compared them all and reached a verdict as to their fave? (All are priced pretty much the same)

  10. Interesting that Dan has that annoying problem with Hootsuite not staying logged in. Perhaps it’s an #aussieproblem

    I enjoyed looking through! I still miss Informly!

  11. Daniel Rengel says:

    Great post. How do you deal with the fact that many of your employees are working in different tax jurisdictions? Do their activities create a permanent establishment in another country? Would the fiscal authority of that country not want you company to turn in a set of accounts under their jurisdiction and possibly levy taxes?

  12. Barry Moore says:

    Great list guys. Picked up a few gems in there.
    I see I even made the list under ScheduleOnce 😉

  13. Kyle Gray says:

    Thanks Barry, and I look forward to hearing the podcast once it’s published!

  14. Kyle Gray says:

    Thanks for sharing Graham, it looks like Podio has some cool features that take it a little beyond project management. It’s interesting to see all of that in one place.

  15. Kyle Gray says:

    I have not tried brightpod yet, but I do like the progress bar they have in their cards. Trello does not have that kind of detail displayed on their cards.

  16. tejones says:

    Terrific! Thanks for pulling back the corner of your drapes and let us see in. Definitely some good stuff here

  17. Great post Kyle – getting better and better!

  18. Appreciate the Zapier love, Kyle! Glad you guys find it useful in your workflow, give us a shout if we can ever lend a hand with anything! 🙂

  19. Great post Kyle, we use for Project management: Jira Agile, Help Desk: Jira Service Desk, Buffer and we start using SumAll.com for Social Media analytics.

  20. Dan Norris says:

    We are big fans of Zapier Alison. We even had Wade on our podacst.

    http://wpcurve.com/podcast-54-startup-chat-wade-foster-zapier/

    Zapier makes us happier!

  21. Dan Norris says:

    Ha yeah maybe. RIP Informly 🙁

  22. Dan Norris says:

    Hey mate I haven’t specifically looked at each I just picked the one someone else was using (Schedule Once) I think Alex might have been using it.

    Here is a cool one for you https://x.ai/ with this one, you cc in their email address and they organize the meeting manually back and forth between 2 people without them being involved. The assistant isn’t a real person BTW. It’s a bit creepy sounding, check this out

    http://www.wired.com/2015/01/virtual-email-assistant/

  23. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Daniel since this post is about apps we’ll keep the conversation about that. But I’m happy to answer any questions about this via email. In short, we have people in 6 countries and it’s different for every country.

  24. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Patricia. Of course, it’s awesome. I saw Mention shared the post too which was super cool.

  25. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Vitaly we use Google Docs for any knowledge related stuff that is shared among the team. We also have canned replys in some of our Apps including Help Scout and Helloify.

    We don’t have a bug system since we don’t have any software that our customers use. We just use Help Scout for logging jobs from customers.

  26. Dan Norris says:

    Hey Steve, from when I looked at Edgar it sounded like it was more about re-sharing old posts on social media. I’m really not a fan of doing that and if I’m following any accounts on Twitter for example that re-share old content I always unfollow them. Perhaps that’s a personal preference I’m not sure.

    We are big fans of Laura though and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would get a lot out of software like this.

    Ours is a US company so we haven’t even looked to see if Zenpayroll can be used in Australia. Xero has payroll built in now but Zen looks after the whole lot, as I understand it even doing the transfers which is a bit of a pain point for us.

  27. Dan Norris says:

    Hey man sorry I thought I replied to this but I can’t see my reply. To answer your questions:

    1. We wanted an invisible help desk, I didn’t want clients logging into something like Zendesk or Freshdesk so we really only evaluated Help Scout and Groove HQ. Groove was sexier but it was missing a really important feature at the time that we needed. Help Scout have been awesome, they’ve even built features that we’ve requested.

    2. I haven’t looked at Asana. I know it has similar features but we really only use Trello for some simple task management and that’s really all we need. Being free is probably why I used it early on. These days I wouldn’t care but we have no reason to change.

    3. Infusionsoft is crazy value at what we are paying. We are getting 25,000 contacts with all of the features for $290 / month. ActiveCampaign is double that and nowhere near as many features. I’ve heard it’s good though. Once you use software like this it’s quite hard to change too so it’s very unlikely we would move away from Infusionsoft even if something significantly better came along. My only real drawback with Infusionsoft is the speed. It’s slow and frustrating to use, slow to navigate around, often sends you back 3 steps or crashes completely. We have some pretty heavy integration with custom scripts with the API as well so we can really do anything with Infusionsoft that we want to.

  28. Daniel Rengel says:

    Great thanks. I will email you separately.

  29. VeloNomad says:

    Good insight on HelpScout. I am still in two minds about both.

    Infusionsoft is great at high end, BUT for smaller guys like me (and for people reading this, I only have a mailing list under 2000), I think Active Campaign makes sense. (Especially for lower revenue businesses. You can’t argue with free, at lower revenues)

    t

  30. I think that’s a good point and something I’m keeping my eye on in Edgar. It’s about managing your library of content and removing some older content etc.

    I do like the fact I can see engagement though, so if some posts have 0 actions, I can revise headlines etc and see if they get clickthroughs.

    Also if I’m running promotions it’ll allow me to set and forget for a month, then tweak as needed.

    Shame about ZP not being Aus. I friggin hate payroll.

  31. Dan Norris says:

    Yep I use MailChimp for my personal list it’s awesome.

  32. Kyle Gray says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! Let me know if you pick any of these tools up and what you think.

  33. Kyle Gray says:

    Thanks Alejandro. Another tool that I like for some basic tracking on social media is http://likeexplorer.com/. It just shows how many shares a post has on a few of the top social media outlets. It has less features than something like BuzzSumo, but it fetches the data each time you use it, where BuzzSumo can sometimes take a few days or a week up update the stats on a post.

  34. Web Analyzer says:

    Intuitve Help Desk Software, Happyfox is another affordable tool which integrates with the apps like InfusionSoft, Google Apps, Zapier, wordpress and many more in pipeline like Slack, twitter..

  35. mikerhodes says:

    awesome & useful list
    we just moved to acuity instead of schedule once – minor improvement
    also using snip.ly – killer marketing tool!

  36. mikerhodes says:

    I can’t imagine running the agency without podio – freakin love it. more complicated than trello, bit of a learning curve. but well worth it IMHO

  37. Wow. This is exactly what I needed.. at this exact moment. 🙂 Cheers man.

  38. Kyle Gray says:

    Thanks Heath! I’m glad it was helpful. Were you looking for a certain tool?

  39. Not in particular. I’m working on an online service, sort of in the same universe as wp-curve, and I had quite a bit of questions on how to set certain things up with employees, tasks and virtual assistance in general. Some of this stuff I am already using, but others are opening up answers to my questions. Had Dan on my show and finished his book last week also – you all do a really good job of removing clutter and bringing straight value. Thanks again dude.

  40. Kyle Gray says:

    That’s awesome to hear Heath, thank you. We work really hard and examine every sentence of a post to ensure it adds value. It’s good to know people are noticing.

  41. Hanna Cutts says:

    For our project management we use both proofhub and trello. Proofhub for large projects and trello for smaller one. Both these tools have made project management very easy for us.

  42. David says:

    Hi! Great post! Loving the transparency.

    Question. Might have missed that in the post. But what tool do you use to keep track of customers? Not to talk to customers, but information on the customers. When they started paying and what plan they are on and so on.

  43. Kyle Gray says:

    Hey David,

    We use infusionsoft for all of that. We have a system of tags that track all of that.

  44. David says:

    Aha, ok, I get it. Thanks!

    But do you then use apps that you pay extra for? Integrations with helpscout and stripe for example? Your Infusionsoft setup would be an interesting post I think. Thanks again!

    Edit:::::::::
    My bad. I thought the prices in the marketplace (IS) was for the integration, but it is actually the price for software. It’s not an added cost.

    Would still be interesting to read about your Infusionsoft setup.

  45. ClickDroid says:

    Hello Kyle, its an amazing list.

    Another product that could be added here is http://www.ClickDroid.com

    ClickDroid is a tool to track metrics from multiple platforms in one place. Widgets for all popular services under categories of IT, Social Media, Email Marketing, Web Analytics, Sales, Finance, SEO etc are already integrated.

    Custom widgets can be also be used to import data from Google SpreadSheets, RSS, Private Url, Push Api, SQl etc

    In terms of Business Intelligence Dashboard App, ClickDroid is the most easiest to use and affordable too.

    Check the 2 minute product into video https://youtu.be/A51H5EAhYrQ

  46. Jonathan Asbell says:

    Hi Graham. Any way I could connect with you RE Podio and Active Campaign? Jonathan http://www.propertyunderthepalms.com

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