Tag: InDepth

The Best Conference Call Services (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission. Just a decade ago, conference calls were challenging to set up and manage.   But today, I can click a few buttons and hop on a call with my entire team in a matter of …

The post The Best Conference Call Services (In-Depth Review) first appeared on Online Web Store Site.

The Best Help Desk Software (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Unorganized support teams are a nightmare for everyone involved. 

From two agents wasting time on the same request to customers or employees sitting around for hours waiting on an answer, things can get really hectic without the right tools and software. And it could even damage your reputation forever. 

You don’t want that and I don’t want that for you, either. 

However, choosing the best help desk software for your team isn’t an easy task. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of options to choose from. 

So to help make your life a bit easier, I looked at dozens of the top options on the market and narrowed it down to my top six recommendations. 

From small customer support teams to IT services and mobile field support, this guide covers it all. By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly which help desk software is right for you, regardless of your situation. 

The Top 6 Options For Help Desk Software

  1. Freshdesk – best for small to midsize businesses
  2. Hubspot – best all-in-one customer service CRM
  3. Zoho Desk – best for fast-growth businesses
  4. Freshservice – best for IT service management
  5. Happyfox – best for mobile and field support teams
  6. Cayzu – most affordable help desk software

How to Choose The Best Help Desk Software For You

Before we dive into my top recommendations, let’s talk about what makes these tools great and what to look for when deciding which help desk software is right for you and your team. 

There are tons of options to choose from, so don’t forget to keep these considerations in mind as you go through the process. 

Your use cases

Help desk software exists for a number of reasons, like internal employee support and external customer support. Furthermore, different tools include varying features depending on your use cases. 

So, it’s essential to consider how you plan to use the software before making a decision. 

Number of agents

How many support agents do you have? Most help desk software charge by the agent, so you need to have a good idea of the number of seats you need.

Some providers also impose agent limits on specific plans, so you’ll have to upgrade to a higher tier if you need to add more agents to your account. This upgrade can be extremely pricey, especially if you’re not expecting it. 

So, make sure to choose a plan that offers a bit of breathing room as you grow. 

Ticket management

Tickets help you organize, route, and store help desk inquiries. So, you should make sure your software includes basic ticket management systems to help make the process faster and easier. 

Furthermore, some software includes ticketing features for a wide variety of support channels, including email, live chat, social media, instant messaging, SMS, and more. 

An efficient ticketing system is crucial, from automatic ticket creation and organization to smart routing and everything in between. 

However, some of the options on this list limit the number of tickets you can create daily or monthly, which may be too limiting for large teams. And you may be better off choosing an unlimited plan instead. 

So, keep this in mind as you make your final decision. 

Support channels

What channels do you use to provide support? 

Internal support teams may use instant messaging, live chat, or email while customer service teams may utilize social media, SMS, and phone calls. 

Regardless of the channels you use, it’s crucial to implement software that handles everything you need. 

If you already have systems in place, make sure the help desk software you choose plays well. And if you don’t, consider where your customers/employees hang out and the communication methods they’re most comfortable with. 

Furthermore, you should also think about internal communication tools. One agent may need to pass an inquiry on to someone else, or they may need help answering someone’s questions. 

So, it’s important to think about how your agents communicate with each other and how you plan to share information from one department to another, as well. 

Other features

The best help desk software includes a variety of helpful features beyond ticketing and communication. And it’s essential to consider which features you need to streamline and optimize your support systems. 

Some typical features and extras include:

  • Knowledgebase and self-service support
  • Escalation levels to the right people
  • Automated workflow creation
  • Open API integrations
  • Internal chat software
  • Cross-department collaboration
  • Client and contact management
  • Analytic dashboards
  • Role-based access
  • Ticket sorting
  • Time tracking

It’s also crucial to consider the specific features you need for your use cases. 

Internal teams need different things than customer support teams, so keep this in mind as you go through the decision-making process. 

Analytics and reporting 

Data helps managers and owners understand how your service agents perform and what your customers are asking. Advanced ticket tagging and categorization can also help with the latter. 

From there, you can optimize your support process and work on building a self-service knowledge base or in-depth how-to guides to quickly and efficiently answer common questions. 

This frees up agents and gives them more time to handle less-common requests. 

Furthermore, reports and data visualization help display information in a way that’s easy to understand. This can give you a birds-eye view of your support system and may even help you know how to better serve your team and customers. 

The Different Types of Help Desk Software

There are several different types of help desk software. The best type for you depends on various factors, including the size of your business, your budget, customization, and security requirements. 

Cloud or web-based — this is the most common type, and it’s often referred to as a SaaS tool because the user pays a monthly subscription to continue using the software. 

Furthermore, everything is stored on the cloud or the provider’s server, so the user doesn’t need additional infrastructure or dedicated IT. Plus, the vendor is in charge of managing and maintaining the software, making it an easy and affordable option for businesses of all sizes. 

All of the recommendations on this list offer a cloud or web-based solution.

On-premise — unlike cloud or web-based software, on-premise systems are installed on the user’s servers. Typically, the end-user purchases a license for the software and they’re in charge of management and maintenance. 

While they’re harder to install and manage regularly, they tend to be more secure and customizable. So, it’s an excellent option for high-security industries and anyone interested in a hyper-customized solution. 

However, this means a dedicated team is required to update and maintain the infrastructure.

Enterprise-grade — these are built specifically for extremely large businesses. They come with a ton of hyper-customizable features and solutions to suit the needs of enterprise businesses with massive budgets. 

Enterprise help desk software comes in all shapes and sizes, from single-location businesses to international conglomerates operating worldwide. 

For most users, this type of software is 100% overkill. 

Open-source — this type of software is best for developers or companies with knowledgeable IT departments because you get access to its source code. This means you can modify how the software works to meet your unique requirements. 

Essentially, it’s a more affordable way to get a highly customizable solution, as long as you have the skills and know-how to make it work for you. 

#1 – Freshdesk Review — The best help desk software for small to midsize businesses

If manual email and social media customer service are becoming too much for your team to manage, Freshdesk is a great way to ease the burden.

Its ticketing system is straightforward to use, and it comes with numerous helpful features.

Plus, it’s incredibly affordable, and there’s a limited free forever plan with unlimited agents to try it out before you invest a single penny. 

With Freshdesk, you can streamline conversations across channels in one place, create contextual conversations with anyone, automate repetitive processes to save time, automatically share solution articles, and easily monitor your team’s performance. 

Furthermore, you also get access to countless support features, including:

  • Multi-channel team inbox
  • Agent collision detection
  • Custom ticket statuses
  • Scenario automations
  • Canned responses
  • Shared ownership and huddles
  • Linked tickets
  • Time tracking
  • Scheduling dashboard
  • Event and time-based automations
  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Knowledge base capabilities

On top of that, they also offer several educational courses and a fully-staffed customer support team to help you and your team get the most out of your new software. 

Freshdesk has five different help desk plans to choose from, including:

  1. Sprout — Free with limited features
  2. Blossom — $15/agent per month
  3. Garden — $35/agent per month
  4. Estate — $49/agent per month
  5. Forest — $99/agent per month

You can start with the free plan to try it out, but I highly recommend upgrading to a paid plan when you can justify it to gain access to more of their advanced features. 

Each plan comes with a free 21-day trial to test the waters before making your final decision.

#2 – Hubspot Review — The best all-in-one customer service CRM

If you need a full-blown customer relationship management (CRM) tool to go along with your help desk software, Hubspot is a smart choice. 

And the best part? You can get everything you need to get started for free. 

With their free Service Hub, you get ticketing, meeting scheduling, reporting, a team inbox, live chat + chatbots, email templates, and team email connections. 

So, it includes everything you need to start optimizing your customer support process. 

But you also get several other features like tasks and activities, email tracking, contact website activity, contact management, custom fields, and more. 

While Hubspot’s free plan is excellent, their paid plans offer a fantastic suite of amazing features you can use to improve your entire support system further. 

Each pricing tier adds more advanced features, but their most affordable plan ($40 per month for two users) includes:

  • Eight hours of VoIP calling and recording
  • Conversational bots to create and route tickets
  • Simple open and close automations plus internal notifications
  • 1,000 canned responses for frequently asked questions
  • Up to 1,000 email templates
  • Ten reporting dashboards
  • 1,000 documents
  • Conversation routing
  • Two ticket pipelines
  • Up to five currencies

So, it’s quite a step up from Hubspot’s free plan. However, if you meet those limits, you have to upgrade to a higher-tiered plan. The next tier starts at $320/month, so it’s quite pricey. 

Alternatively, you can opt for their Starter Growth Suite, which includes the starter plan for Hubspot CRM, the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, and all the service features above. 

It starts at $50 per month, so it’s a super affordable way to get access to a ton of different marketing, sales, and CRM features if you need access to all of them. 

Note: this is special COVID-19 pricing with regular rates starting at $112.50 per month. 

#3 – Zoho Desk Review — The best help desk software for fast-growth businesses

Zoho provides countless business tools to businesses of all sizes in every industry you can imagine. 

All of their software is fantastic, and their help desk software is no exception. 

From affordable plans at every level and a robust free plan to incredible support features, you can rest assured that Zoho Desk has the ability to scale alongside you as your business grows. 

At its core, Zoho Desk is a multi-channel ticketing system. So, you get top-of-the-line ticketing features that let you organize and streamline support inquiries, whether they’re coming from email, social media, live chat, phone, or an online form. 

And as your business grows, the need for a self-service knowledge base increases. With Zoho Desk, you can quickly turn support requests into knowledgebase articles in just a few clicks to continuously grow your database. 

On top of that, you also get access to a wide variety of features designed to help improve and consolidate your support processes. Some of the most popular features include:

  • Zia, an AI-powered digital assistant
  • Help center tools to design and create your knowledge base
  • Several ticket views and automatic ticket organization/prioritization
  • Advanced response editor with canned snippets
  • Visual process automation builder
  • Customization via APIs and built-in integrations
  • Dashboard headquarters for analytics and reporting
  • Custom field options for web forms

With that said, it’s important to note that lower-tiered plans don’t include every feature. So, be sure to look through each plan’s features before choosing one. 

And keep in mind that you may have to upgrade to a higher plan to get what you need. 

Zoho Desk plans include:

  1. Free — For up to three agents with email ticketing and limited features 
  2. Standard — $12/agent per month with social channels, workflows, and dashboards
  3. Professional — $20/agent per month with BPM, time tracking, and ticket sharing
  4. Enterprise — $35/agent per month with Zia, live chat, and advanced customization

Sign up for a free trial to see which plan is right for you and your team today.

#4 – Freshservice Review — The best for IT service management

If you’re looking for a better way to handle IT support, Freshservice is one of the top options on the market. Like Freshdesk, it’s a Freshworks product, so you have a massive brand behind the software. 

However, it’s built specifically for IT teams, rather than customer service. 

With more people working from home, strong IT support is more critical than ever before. And you may even see an influx of inquiries coming through as people adjust. 

Which… is where Freshservice comes in and saves the day. They offer everything you need, including multi-channel support, hardware and software records, contract management, and a top-rated mobile app for iOS and Android. 

Furthermore, you can automate agent assignments and approval workflows to help streamline the process. Plus, you also get access to powerful features like:

  • Incident, knowledge, and SLA management
  • A user-friendly service catalog
  • Self-service portal and knowledgebase
  • Internal contextual collaboration
  • Problem, change, and release management
  • Project dashboards and analytical reports
  • Asset and inventory management
  • Lifecycle management
  • Asset auto-discovery
  • Interactive visualizations

And you can easily integrate any Freshworks software with Freshservice, along with tons of other third-party software integrations as well. 

So, it’s an excellent choice if you already use or plan on using any of their other business tools. 

Freshservice offers four different plans to choose from, including:

  • Blossom — $19/agent per month with essential features
  • Garden — $49/agent per month for growing teams
  • Estate — $79/agent per month for large teams
  • Forest — $99/agent per month for enterprises

These prices indicate annual pans paid in advance. They also offer monthly plans for a higher fee, except for the Forest plan. 

Try Freshservice free for 21 days to see if it’s right for you!

#5 – Happyfox Review — The best for mobile and field support teams

Field agents have a unique set of challenges vs. support teams in the office or one set location. As such, you need a specialized tool that adapts to meet your needs. 

Happyfox is a field service software designed to help you track agents, schedule work, and leverage real-time communications with a fully-featured mobile interface for seamless use on the move. 

When agents are continuously traveling from one job to the next, they must have an easy way to share and track status information from one agent to the next. 

And the good news is that Happyfox does just that, with a wide range of features like:

  • Ticket ques, statuses, and categories
  • Multi-channel ticketing capabilities
  • Ticket threads and attachments
  • Canned actions and responses
  • Searchable and customizable knowledgebase
  • Agent collision detection
  • Built-in asset management
  • Auto-assignments and smart rules
  • Simultaneous routing rules
  • SMS support

And dozens of other helpful features specifically for mobile teams. 

Unlike the other options on this list, Happyfox doesn’t display their pricing online. But they offer standard per agent pricing and special packages for unlimited agents, making it suitable for field service teams of all sizes. 

For agent-based pricing, they offer four plans with varying feature sets. 

And each plan automatically includes SSL security, unlimited tickets, smart rules, knowledgebase capabilities, multilingual support, rich text formatting, and mobile applications. 

However, their unlimited agent plans cap the number of tickets you can have in a year. So, you have to decide which option makes the most sense for your situation. 

Schedule a live demo to see if Happyfox is right for you and your team today!

#6 – Cayzu Review — The most affordable help desk software

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly cloud-based help desk software, Cayzu is exceptionally affordable with paid plans starting at $4 per agent per month. 

It’s also straightforward to use. With that said, it’s not the most feature-rich option, but you sacrifice some of the advanced features for an incredibly affordable price. 

At just $4 per month, you get access to all the essential features you need, including:

  • Secure data protection
  • Automatic backups
  • A mobile application
  • Unlimited customer support
  • Ticketing system
  • Canned responses
  • Knowledgebase capabilities
  • Email ticket creation
  • Multi-language support
  • Open APIs and rest APIs
  • Support widget

Or you can upgrade to one of the higher plans for just a few dollars ($9 per agent per month) and get time tracking, assignment rules, basic automations, due dates, custom SSL certificates, and more. 

And they also offer a freedom plan (up to 70 agents) if you’re interested in an easy way to get all of their features. It starts at $469 per month, but it’s probably overkill for most users. 

Plus, over 20,000+ companies (including Verizon, Yahoo, and PBS) trust Cayzu with their help desk needs. So, you’re not alone and you’re in good company when you sign up.

Sign up for a free trial to see if Cayzu’s right for you today!

Wrapping things up

Freshdesk, Hubspot, and Zoho Desk are my top recommendations for most users. They all offer numerous powerful features at affordable prices for businesses of all sizes. 

However, they’re not perfect for everyone. Different situations call for different solutions. 

So, don’t forget to use the criteria we talked about as you sort through choosing the best help desk software for you, your team, and your customers. 

What’s your go-to help desk software?

The post The Best Help Desk Software (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best Conference Call Services (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Just a decade ago, conference calls were challenging to set up and manage.  

But today, I can click a few buttons and hop on a call with my entire team in a matter of seconds from the comfort of my home while my teammates stay safely in theirs. 

However, the best conference call services go beyond basic phone calls. 

They also offer a suite of collaboration and connectivity tools that make our current situation easier to navigate… together. 

As the demand for remote connectivity rises, new services are popping up left and right. 

Plus, there are already hundreds of options to choose from, making it feel impossible to choose the right conference call services for your team. 

So to help make your life a bit easier, I looked at dozens of options and narrowed it down to my top eight recommendations.

The 8 top options for conference call services

  1. GoToMeeting – Easiest conference call software
  2. RingCentral – Best all-inclusive communication software
  3. ClickMeeting – Best for hosting webinars
  4. Grasshopper – Best virtual business phone system
  5. Zoom – Best for video conference calls
  6. Google Meet – Best for G Suite users
  7. Vast Conference – Best for instant conference calling
  8. Bluejeans Meetings – Best for video and sound quality

How to choose the best conference call service for you

The best conference call service for you and your team depends on various factors, including the size of your business, the level of security you need, and extra features you’re interested in. 

It may help to start with a comprehensive list of everything you need. Then, you can use that as you go through the decision-making process. 

And as you create your list, don’t forget to include the following considerations. 

Number of participants

A conference call with ten people is vastly different than a conference call with hundreds of participants. 

So, it’s essential to consider your team’s size and the number of participants you expect for any given meeting. Some service providers include low limits, while others allow thousands of participants depending on the plan you choose. 

Security

Whether your meetings are confidential or not, security is an important feature to consider. Furthermore, it should be a priority rather than an afterthought. 

So, make sure you consider:

  • The level of control over who can join the call
  • 256-bit TLS encryption to make sure the line is secure
  • Security policies of the service provider

Furthermore, pay attention to how the provider stores your data and what they’re allowed to do with it if you use their services. 

Mobile access

The world is more mobile and more distant than ever before. That said, mobile access is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a conference call service. 

Giving employees and other meeting attendees the ability to join using their mobile device is convenient for everyone involved. And it may mean fewer cancellations plus more of the right participants joining in, even if they’re not at their desk. 

So, ensure the service provider you choose includes mobile access. 

Audio and video quality

A conference call with low audio and video can be incredibly frustrating. So, it’s crucial to choose a service provider with top-notch video and audio quality. 

Of course, your internet connection plays a role. But you should carefully consider choosing a conference call service with HD video and audio capabilities for a smoother experience all around. 

Additional features

If you need other features, like a virtual phone system or the ability to host webinars, you can bundle conference calling services with software specializing in something else. 

You may also want to consider other features, like:

  • Call recording
  • Hold music
  • Auto-assistant
  • Internal communication
  • Call forwarding
  • Extension numbers
  • Custom greetings
  • Text messaging
  • Internet faxing

Hardware requirements

It’s also important to consider if you need to buy new equipment to handle a conference call service you’re considering. Some software integrates directly with the hardware you already have, making setup and everyday use a breeze. 

However, others may require special equipment or something newer than what you currently use. And they may require professional installation, as well, depending on the number of users you need. 

Some may work with your employees’ personal phones, mitigating the need for separate business phones. 

The different types of conference call services 

There are two main types of conference call services: assisted and reservationless. 

The one you’re probably most familiar with is reservationless. It’s the most common and easiest to use because you can do everything on your own. All you have to do is create a bridge and then share the link with anyone you want to join. 

It’s perfect for small, informal meetings and regular conference calls. 

Assisted conference calls are much more formal. However, they require you to rely on someone else to organize. Assisted calls are most commonly used for large events with attendees all over the world. 

The operator organizes the call and may even help invite the right people. Plus, they usually greet attendees when they join and help manage the flow of your meetings. 

While an actual human being traditionally does this, today’s technology has helped automate the process. 

As such, many conference call services offer an auto-assistant to greet callers, create custom joining experiences, gather caller contact information, store it, highlight action items, and more.  

#1 – GoToMeeting Review — The easiest conference call software

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use online conference call software, go with GoToMeeting. It’s an excellent option for both small and large businesses alike. Plus, it’s incredibly simple to set up. 

In fact, you can host or join meetings in one click from your phone, your laptop, a conference room, or any remote location. 

Furthermore, you can easily host and join audio, video, and web meetings as well. So, whether you’re the administrator or an attendee, it’s a smooth and seamless process for everyone involved. 

With GoToMeeting, you get a ton of influential conference calling features, including:

  • Screen sharing of your desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet
  • VoIP conference calling 
  • Face-to-face HD video conferencing
  • Intuitive, yet powerful, mobile access
  • Meeting recording and transcription
  • Internal and external instant messaging
  • Smart meeting assistant
  • Toll-free conferencing
  • 25 video feeds per meeting
  • Drawing tools

Plus, meeting participants can join using commuter mode, which helps them save mobile data and provides a distraction-free experience on their mobile devices. 

Unlike most of the other options on this list, GoToMeeting doesn’t offer a free plan. 

But their paid plans are incredibly affordable and accessible for businesses of all sizes. Those premium plans include:

  1. Professional — $12 per organizer per month (up to 150 participants)
  2. Business — $16 per organizer per month (up to 250 participants)
  3. Enterprise — Custom pricing only (up to 3,000 participants)

Start your 14-day free trial to see if GoToMeeting is right for you!

#2 – RingCentral Review — The best all-inclusive communications tool

RingCentral is an all-in-one business communications platform encompassing instant messaging, video, and phone. So, it’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a comprehensive communication tool. 

Furthermore, it’s secure, easy to use, reliable, and accessible on any device. 

Plus, you’re in excellent company with more than 400,000 customers worldwide. 

And the best part? They offer an incredibly robust free plan for video conferencing. With it, you can meet with up to 100 participants (for up to 40 minutes) anytime from anywhere on any device.

The free plan also comes with incredible features, including:

  • Simultaneous screen sharing
  • Host controls and user management
  • Custom meeting IDs
  • HD voice and video
  • Whiteboarding and annotations
  • In-meeting chat capabilities
  • Unlimited file sharing 
  • Meeting recordings

And their premium plans include advanced features like phone support, reporting, single sign on, and advanced team messaging tools. 

RingCentral’s all-in-one office pricing is a bit expensive, with plans starting at $19.99 per user per month. However, those plans come with a ton of extra features, including everything you need to streamline business communications. 

So, it’s an excellent choice if you need everything from SMS messaging and video conferencing to business phones and internet faxing for your entire team. 

Alternatively, you can upgrade to a paid conferencing-only plan with RingCentral Meetings. Their Meetings plans include:

  1. Essentials — $14.99 per organizer per month (for small businesses)
  2. Advanced — $19.99 per organizer per month (for enterprise businesses)

Sign up for a free forever plan to get started with RingCentral today!

#3 – ClickMeeting Review — The best conference call service for hosting webinars

Webinars are an excellent way to demo products, deliver online training, and host online events. They’re useful for everything from marketing and sales to education and large meetings. 

So, if you’re looking for a tool that offers webinar capabilities and conference call features, ClickMeeting is your best option. 

However, it’s a bit expensive, so I only recommend it if you plan to use it for both purposes. 

The software comes with a ton of excellent features for both conference calls and webinars, including things like:

  • Paid and automated webinar sequences
  • Webinar timeline views
  • Independent subaccounts
  • Custom branding
  • Customized invitations
  • Registration pages
  • Waiting room with agenda
  • Whiteboarding and screen sharing
  • Chat translation
  • Advanced analytics

Furthermore, they offer an extensive knowledge base so you can learn everything to make the most of your new software without calling customer service. 

However, keep in mind that all plans cap conference calls to 25 participants. 

ClickMeeting offers a free 30-day trial, but there isn’t a free forever plan. There are three options to choose from, including:

  1. Live — $25 per month
  2. Automated — $40 per month
  3. Enterprise — Custom pricing only

Start your 30-day free trial to take ClickMeeting for a test drive today!

#4 – Grasshopper Review — The best virtual business phone system

Grasshopper is a bit different than the other options on this list. Their software is a simple way to turn your personal phone into a business phone without worrying about buying new hardware. 

So, if you’re a solopreneur or small team looking for an easy way to set up business phones for your team, Grasshopper is an excellent choice. 

However, I don’t recommend going this route unless you actually need a virtual business phone system. 

The software is incredibly easy to set up. All you have to do is select your phone number, choose a pricing plan, download the app, configure your settings, and you’re good to go. 

It seriously takes just a few minutes and is incredibly easy to use. Aside from conference calling, you also get access to powerful features, including:

  • Toll-free, local, and vanity numbers
  • Custom greetings
  • Personal extensions
  • Call routing
  • Multi-call handling
  • Instant response text messages
  • SMS messaging
  • Internet faxing
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Auto-receptionist

While most of the app features are incredibly easy to use, conference calling is a bit less traditional than the other options listed here. Rather than participants joining your call, you have to call them, making it more aligned with old-school conference calls. 

But you get unlimited conference calls with up to ten participants and the added business-phone functionality all for an extremely affordable price. 

Grasshopper’s paid plans include:

  • Solo — $26 per month for one phone number and three extensions
  • Partner — $44 per month for three phone numbers and six extensions
  • Small Business — $80 per month for five numbers and unlimited extensions

Sign up for a free 7-day trial to see if it’s right for you today!

#5 – Zoom Review — The best for free video conference calls

As more people shift to remote work, Zoom has become a household name. 

It’s one of the most popular video conferencing tools on the market—and for a good reason. 

Their robust free plan is more than enough for most users, making it an excellent and budget-friendly option for individuals and small businesses alike. 

Their free plan includes unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes and unlimited 1:1 meetings with a 24-hour time cap. Furthermore, you also get free access to features like:

  • Automatic calendar syncing
  • Robust security encryption
  • Role-based user access
  • Waiting rooms and password protection
  • HD audio and video
  • Up to 49 videos on the screen
  • Screen sharing and recording
  • Hand raising and in-meeting chat
  • Video and audio settings
  • Dedicated dial-in numbers

All for free. So, if you’re looking for a robust and intuitive conference call service without paying a penny, Zoom is definitely one of the best options on the market today. 

However, if you outgrow the free plan and need something more advanced, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans, including:

  1. Pro — $14.99/month or $149.90/license per year (up to nine licenses)
  2. Business — $19.99/month or $199.90/license per year (minimum of 10 licenses)
  3. Enterprise — $19.99/month or $199.90/license per year (minimum of 100 licenses)

Sign up for a free forever plan to see if Zoom is right for you and your team today!

#6 – Google Meet Review — The best conference call service for G Suite users

Google Meet is the upgraded version (and replacement) of Google Hangouts. 

And if you’re an avid Google fan and already use G Suite, Google Meet is entirely free for you to use, making it an excellent and affordable option for businesses of all sizes. 

Furthermore, you don’t have to do anything to sign up if you already have a G Suite or Gmail account. All you have to do is head to the Google Meet page to open up a meeting room.

Doing so automatically pulls in your contacts and information, too. 

The best part is that all of Google’s tools and software integrate seamlessly. So, you can quickly and easily jump straight into a video chat from their Chat tool, your calendar, or even your mobile device. 

Plus, the free Google Meet tool includes intuitive features like:

  • US and international dial-in numbers
  • Secure Google global infrastructure
  • Encrypted video conferencing
  • No third-party plugins or software required
  • Live captioning
  • Low-light mode
  • Built-in noise cancellation

On the Basic G Suite plan, you can host calls with up to 100 participants. If you need more than that, you’ll need to upgrade to the Business or Enterprise plan, which supports 150 and 250 participants, respectively. 

If you already use G Suite, head over to Google Meet to get started!

#7 – Vast Conference — The best for assisted conference calls

If you’re interested in hosting formal, assisted conference calls, Vast Conference is the way to go. While they also offer reservationless meetings, their assisted conference call features are where they shine. 

Operator-assisted calls require a bit more planning in advance. However, all you need to do is call their reservation desk to set up a time and date. 

From there, you can choose the level of assistance you need for your event. 

Operators can help with the planning of your event, show up live during your event for technical assistance and call quality, and deliver call recordings and participant lists afterward. 

It’s like hiring the assistant you never knew you needed. On top of that, operator-assisted calls may also include:

  • Welcoming and identifying callers
  • Continuous assistance from staff
  • Up to 6,000 participants
  • A pre-conference room meeting
  • Triple-checked event transcriptions

These types of conference calls start at $0.16 per minute per line for a standard event and $0.19 per minute per line for premium events. Plus, there are no contracts or obligations as these are managed separately from their reservationless meeting services. 

Vast’s reservationless plans are quite expensive compared to other options on this list. So, I don’t recommend it unless you’re using their operator-assisted services. 

Choose your plan to start planning your operator-assisted event today!

#8 – Bluejeans Meetings Review — The best conference call service for sound quality 

If you need meetings with crystal clear sound quality, Bluejeans Meetings is definitely the way to go. Every plan includes Dolby voice audio with built-in noise reduction, spatial audio, and dynamic leveling. 

Plus, you also get HD video, so you never have to worry about low quality.

Besides excellent sound and video quality, you also get access to a ton of influential conference calling features, even on the lowest-tier, including:

  • Unlimited 1:1 and group meetings
  • No time caps whatsoever
  • 5 hours of hosted meeting recordings
  • Meeting highlight reels and action item tagging
  • Outlook and Google calendar integrations
  • Video pinning and content slider
  • Desktop and application sharing
  • Remote desktop control
  • Whiteboarding and annotations
  • Advanced host controls
  • Safe driving mode

Bluejeans is one of the most feature-rich options on this list. However, that comes with a steeper price point and fewer meeting participants allowed on each plan. 

Plus, keep in mind you get excellent crystal-clear audio and video quality, making it feel like everyone’s in the same room. It also helps reduce dialog delays and ensures everyone speaks at the same level. 

So if that’s something you need, the extra price is well worth it. Their pricing plans include:

  1. Standard — $9.99 per month billed annually (for up to 50 participants)
  2. Pro — $13.99 per month billed annually (for up to 75 participants)
  3. Enterprise — Custom pricing only (for up to 100 participants)

Try it free for seven days to see if Bluejeans is right for you!

Wrapping things up

GoToMeeting and RingCentral are my top recommendations for most people because they’re simple, affordable, and effortless to use. 

Plus, they include a ton of intuitive and powerful features that make connecting with coworkers and colleagues more straightforward than ever. 

But that doesn’t mean they’re the perfect choice for you. 

So, don’t forget to consider the features and must-haves we talked about as you go about finding the best conference call services for you and your team. 

Which conference call software do you prefer?

The post The Best Conference Call Services (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best Blogging Platforms (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Whether you want to become a blogger for a big-time news publication, share your independent thoughts online, make millions as a blogger, or something in between, it all starts with a blogging platform. 

And choosing the right one sets precedence for everything else you do. 

But with so many options to choose from, picking the best blogging platform can feel overwhelming. 

So to help you out, I created a list of considerations to think about as you go through the process and reviewed the top five blogging platforms on the market today. 

By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own blog. 

The top 6 options for blogging platforms:

  1. Wix – Best drag-and-drop blogging platform
  2. WordPress.org – Best open-source blogging platform
  3. Squarespace – Best for visual-based businesses
  4. Medium – Best traditional blogging platform
  5. Blogger – Best for personal blogs

How to choose the best blogging platform for you 

Choosing a blogging platform is an important decision. And the one you choose depends on what you hope to do with your new blog and how much control you want to have. 

So, let’s walk through what to consider as you make your final decision. 

Do you want to make money?

This is probably the most crucial question to ask yourself. 

If you want to start a personal blog to share your thoughts and experiences, you’re completely fine going with a free blogging platform, like Medium or Blogger. 

However, if you want to make money blogging, you have to be careful. Most free platforms don’t let you monetize your blog. So, you need to choose a premium blogging platform that gives you more control, like Wix, WordPress.org, or Squarespace. 

Do you already have a website?

If you want to add a blog to a website you already have, I highly recommend looking into your website platform’s blogging capabilities. 

This is the easiest way to add a blog to a website that already exists. 

Alternatively, you can look into migrating your website to Wix, WordPress.org, or Squarespace. However, I recommend staying with the platform you’re already using if you can. 

Customization capabilities

Paid blogging platforms give you more control and design flexibility, allowing you to build a complete website and brand around your blog. And you can customize the look and feel of nearly every aspect of your website. 

If you’re serious about blogging as a business, you need that level of control. 

For complete flexibility and customization options, go with WordPress.org. And if you want something easier than WordPress, yet still flexible, Wix and Squarespace are great drag-and-drop options. 

On the other hand, free blogging platforms don’t give you the ability to customize to that extent. You may be able to change the colors and pick between a few different layouts. 

But, you can’t do much aside from that. 

With that said, if you’re interested in personal or hobby blogging, you don’t need anything fancy. Free blogging platforms offer everything you need to quickly write content and share it online in just a few clicks. 

The different types of blogging platforms

There are several different types of blogging platforms. 

And the right one for you depends on what you want to do with your blog. 

So, before we dive into my top recommendations, let’s walk through the different types and what they’re used for. 

Free

Free blogging platforms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

They’re perfect for anyone interested in personal or hobby blogging. And it’s the easiest way to write and publish content online quickly. 

However, free blogging platforms usually don’t let you make money with your content. You can’t make money with ads, use affiliate marketing, or sell your own products. 

Furthermore, they’re very limited in design flexibility and customization capabilities. 

You may even be stuck with random ads placed on your blog. And migrating your content from a free platform to another isn’t an easy process. So, they’re not suitable for business bloggers or anyone interested in making money blogging at any point in the future. 

Website builders

Website builders are all-inclusive, drag-and-drop design tools that let you quickly build an entire website without touching any code. They’re easy to set up, simple to use, and include a full suite of blogging tools. 

However, they’re not free. But web hosting is included with your subscription, and some even offer a free custom domain name for the first year. 

Furthermore, you get a significant level of flexibility and customization. But some areas may be limited depending on the blogging platform you choose. 

This is a great place to start if you want to make money, but you’ve never built a website before. Just keep in mind that you sacrifice some flexibility in exchange for ease of use. 

Open-source

Open-source blogging platforms are free to download and install. They’re completely customizable from the inside out, making them perfect for serious bloggers and business owners interested in building a full-fledged custom website. 

However, there’s a steeper learning curve.

But once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize how flexible and customizable this type of blogging platform really is. You can create ecommerce stores, business websites, portfolios, service-based websites, interactive blogs, and more. 

With that said, you have to buy web hosting before you can install an open-source software. 

But most web hosts make this type of software easy to install with one-click installation. 

#1 – Wix Review — The best drag-and-drop blogging platform

If you’re looking for the easiest premium blogging platform, you should go with Wix

It’s an all-in-one website builder with more than 100 million users worldwide, making it one of the most popular options on the market. 

Furthermore, it’s excellent for beginners interested in creating a full-fledged website with a blog included. And Wix’s intuitive drag-and-drop builder makes creating engaging blog content a breeze. 

Plus, it includes everything you need to make money with your new blog. 

With Wix, you get premium blogging features, including:

  • 500 professional design templates
  • Industry-leading SEO tools
  • Rich-text editor
  • Embed HTML codes
  • Categories and hashtags
  • Advanced search capabilities
  • Writer and editor user roles
  • Easy image editing
  • Social media tools
  • Visitor analytics

Wix is arguably the easiest and fastest way to get your professional website and blog running.

You can also take advantage of their ADI (advanced design intelligence) tool, which creates everything you need to get started in a matter of minutes. 

Simply answer a few questions, customize the design, add your website copy, update your images, and you’re ready to start blogging.  

Wix offers a free plan, which is excellent for building your site and getting everything ready to go. However, I highly recommend upgrading to a paid plan so you can remove Wix ads and connect a custom domain name. 

Paid plans start at $13/mo and increase depending on the features you need. 

#2 – WordPress.org Review — The best open-source blogging platform

WordPress.org is an open-source blogging platform with complete design flexibility. 

It also powers 38% of the entire internet, including the blog you’re reading right now, making it the most popular blogging platform on the market. 

And the best part? It’s free to download and install. 

However, you do need web hosting to be able to use it. This usually costs around $3 – $10 per month, so it’s the most affordable option on this list. 

With that said, it’s not as easy as Wix. There are a few more steps to get started, but the extra work is well worth it if you’re looking for complete design control and flexibility. 

With WordPress.org, you also get:

  • 55,000+ plugins to extend the functionality of your site
  • Thousands of free and premium themes
  • The Gutenburg block editor
  • Advanced user roles and permissions
  • Powerful media management
  • A massive community of experts
  • Infinite design control

The best part is that you have 100% control over your website and blog. Plus, you aren’t tied down by rules and regulations. You can decide what to display, what you don’t reveal, and how you make money. 

There are countless ways to get started with WordPress.org. But I highly recommend starting with Bluehost

It’s the easiest way to get everything you need. 

They also include a free domain name for the first year. So, all you have to do is pick a hosting plan, snag your free domain, and use their one-click WordPress installation feature. 

#3 – Squarespace Review — The best blogging platform for visual-based businesses

Squarespace is an all-in-one website builder, like Wix. However, it’s famous for aesthetically pleasing templates, making it perfect for visual-based businesses like photographers, designers, and artists. 

It’s also straightforward to use. Plus, it includes web hosting services and a free domain for the first year (if you choose an annual premium plan). 

It’s perfect for bloggers who want an easy, aesthetic way to share images, videos, and portfolio pieces, along with long-form and short-form blog posts. 

And with Squarespace, you create blog posts the same way you create pages. 

So, once you learn how the drag-and-drop editor works, you know how to use the entire platform. You also get access to powerful blogging features, including:

  • Free blogging templates to help you get started
  • Five unique post layouts for your home and archive pages
  • Categories, tags, and featured posts
  • Built-in post scheduler
  • Contributor permissions
  • In-depth analytics
  • SEO and social media tools
  • Email marketing (additional fees)
  • Expert customer service
  • Mobile app

Squarespace isn’t as customizable as Wix or WordPress.org, but it’s perfect for creative bloggers and visual-based businesses looking for something captivating and easy to use. 

Paid plans start at $12 per month and increase depending on the features you need. 

#4 – Medium Review — The best traditional blogging platform

Medium is a platform that helps readers and writers find new ideas, knowledge, and perspectives. It’s unique because there are no ads present on the platform. 

To date, they have over 120 million readers, making this an excellent way to get your content in front of more people. It’s also great if you want to share personal stories and perspectives to get your thoughts out to the world. 

However, it’s not a great platform for making money as a blogger. Medium does have a partner program that rewards writers for the amount of time paying members spend reading their content. 

But you’ll have a hard time making a decent amount of money on Medium alone. 

And you can’t include your own call-to-actions in partner posts. So, you have to choose between making money and growing your email list. 

It’s not a flawed model. However, I highly recommend treating Medium as an extension of your Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.org blog. 

To get started, you can create a profile or a publication. Publications look more aesthetically pleasing, and you get more organization and display features. With publications, you can also send newsletters to your followers. 

However, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. 

Note: if you use Medium as an extension of your blog, make sure you use their import feature to add existing blog posts. This way, you can add content from your blog to Medium without creating duplicate content for SEO purposes. 

#5 – Blogger Review – The best for personal blogs

Blogger is one of the original blogging platforms. It’s been around since 1999.

It’s completely free to use with no paid plans, upsells, or anything like that. And it’s incredibly easy to use. This makes it perfect for personal or hobby bloggers looking to share their thoughts and ideas with the world. 

They have several free templates to choose from that govern how your blog looks. However, they’re not very customizable. 

You can change the colors and the layout of a few things, but that’s about it. 

The platform focuses solely on blogging, so that’s where the majority of their features lie. With Blogger, you get free access to essential features, including:

  • A free SSL certificate and free domain mapping
  • Google integrations
  • Image storage with Google Photos
  • Integrated ad campaigns
  • Simple text editor

And while those features are great, the platform is seriously lacking in other departments, including customization, custom post types, and overall design. 

Essentially, it’s an old-school blogging platform. It works well for simple blogging, but you can’t create a full-fledged website, so I don’t recommend it if you want to build a brand and make money blogging. 

However, since Google’s acquisition in 2003, you can display Google Ads on your blog to make a little extra money on the side. 

But, it’s not a sustainable or long-term way to make a full-time income with your blog. 

Summary

The best blogging platform for you depends on where you want to take your blog. For personal and hobby bloggers, a free platform like Blogger or Medium is the perfect place to start. 

They’re easy to set up, incredibly simple, and the fastest way to start publishing online. Plus, you don’t have to pay anything to share your thoughts and ideas. 

However, if you want to make money and turn your blog into a business, free platforms won’t cut it. The easiest premium blogging platforms are Wix and Squarespace, making them perfect for beginners. 

However, if you want the ultimate level of control, go with WordPress.org hosted by Bluehost

The post The Best Blogging Platforms (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best VoIP Phone Services (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

The best VoIP phone services create exceptional customer experiences. And exceptional customer experiences work wonders for your bottom line. 

Imagine this: a potential customer calls the sales number listed on your website. Six states away, a personal cell phone rings. Your sales person picks it up, answers a few questions, and closes the sale. 

Within a matter of seconds, that potential customer turns into a paying customer rather than being transferred from employee to employee, wasting their time and testing their patience. 

With the right VoIP service, you can streamline and automate the customer journey, resulting in more money for less work. Furthermore, these services are easy to set up, easy to use, and most of the leg work happens behind the scenes. 

But choosing the right service feels like a daunting task. With countless options out there, how do you decide which one’s right for you? 

If you’re not sure how to answer that question, you’re in the right place. In this article, I cover how to choose the right service for your needs, the different types of VoIP services, and my top recommendations. 

Let’s dive in!

The top 6 options for VoIP phone service:

  1. Ooma – best for small businesses
  2. Nextiva – best for remote teams
  3. RingCentral – best for fast-growth
  4. Grasshopper – best for mobile teams
  5. Verizon – best for large businesses
  6. 8×8 – most affordable VoIP service

How to choose the best VoIP phone services for you

With countless VoIP service providers to choose from, finding the perfect solution for your business isn’t always easy. To make things easier, I want to share the criteria I considered when making this list and some must-haves regardless of the company you choose. 

You can use these to help narrow things down as you go through the process. 

Deployment options

Some VoIP phone services work with the hardware you already have, while others require proper installation. In some cases, you may need to buy an adapter or something else to enable the system. 

But others are as simple as a mobile app you download on your phone. 

So, carefully consider the amount of time and the level of support you have when making a decision. The simpler the system, the easier it is, and the less support you need to get things up and running. 

The size of your business

Most VoIP phone service providers charge per user per month. 

And while some offer discounts if you have a large team, those prices can quickly add up and get expensive. 

So it’s essential to understand how many users you have and how to get the best deal with the features you need at a reasonable price point. 

Phone call capabilities

It’s important to consider the phone call capabilities you need because each provider offers different capabilities at different price points. 

Do you need automatic call rejection, call forwarding, or caller ID? What about voicemail, voicemail transcription, and hold music? 

You may also want to consider other capabilities like:

  • Call forwarding and routing
  • Automatic attendants
  • Phone number types
  • Extensions
  • Blocking and auto rejections
  • Voicemail to text
  • Call recording
  • Call history
  • Instant responding
  • Custom greetings

Make a list of everything you need so you can choose the right provider and the right plan. 

Other forms of communication

Most VoIP providers also offer other forms of communication like SMS messaging, document sharing, online faxing, and video conferencing. 

However, they may not all be available on basic plans. 

With that said, you may not need all of them, either. So, carefully consider the additional forms of communication you need your team to have. 

Reliability

Your internet, VoIP provider’s uptime, and power source affect the quality of your phone calls.

With reliable, high-speed internet, you probably won’t have any issues. But what happens if the power goes out? 

If you use your mobile device, you’re probably fine. 

But desk phones aren’t. However, some come with battery backups that may last up to a few hours. So, make sure this is an option if you rent or buy hardware from your VoIP service provider. 

Furthermore, some VoIP providers offer network monitoring that lets them switch to wireless backups if wired data links fail. And you should also expect nothing less than 99.99% uptime, as well. 

The different types of VoIP phone service 

Device-based

For this type of service, you need to buy an adapter from the service provider and connect it to an existing phone (or a phone they provide). 

Software-based

These services are desktop programs. Skype and Google Talk are two good examples. You have to install the program and connect to the internet to use them.

However, most providers offer cloud-hosted and software-based systems.

Cloud-hosted

Cloud-hosted VoIP, or “virtual private-branch-exchange” (PBX), services are available as well. The only hardware you need is a networking router or switch and the provider handles the rest

This includes mobile VoIP services, too. These mobile apps run on Android and Apple devices through cellular internet or a local Wi-Fi network.

All of the options on this list are a combination of cloud-hosted and software-based, with most offering both types of systems. 

#1 – Ooma Review — The best VoIP phone service for small businesses

If you’re a small business looking for a reliable, no-contract VoIP phone service, Ooma is a great choice. They provide everything you need (i.e. hardware, software, and know-how) so you can start using their services in as little as 15 minutes.

Everything is ready to go straight out of the box. And you can keep your existing phone number or swap it out for a new one — for free. 

Ooma offers 35 powerful features, including:

  • A mobile app
  • Virtual receptionist
  • SMS messaging
  • Call blocking 
  • Voicemail and caller ID
  • Unlimited calls in North America
  • One complimentary toll-free number
  • One direct-dial number per user

Furthermore, Ooma has an excellent customer service team ready to help you get up and running, navigate snags, and create a seamless experience for your customers. 

However, the service is missing more advanced features. But it’s incredibly affordable and accessible for small businesses with a tight budget. 

Plus, you don’t have to worry about complicated contracts. Ooma’s pricing is simple and straightforward with two business plans, including:

  • Ooma Office — $19.95 per user per month
  • Ooma Office Pro — $24.95 per user per month

Ooma Office is suitable for most users. But you can upgrade to the Pro plan if you need a desktop application, call recording, or higher usage limits. 

#2 – Nextiva Review — The best VoIP phone service for remote teams

Remote teams face unique challenges. And they need a VoIP provider equipped with the tools and features required to conquer those challenges.

Nextiva is “made for business owners, not IT wizards” and built with remote teams of all sizes in mind. They offer solutions for small businesses, midsize businesses, and large enterprise companies alike. 

Plus, their in-house customer service team is ready to help every step of the way. 

Nextiva includes a wide variety of VoIP features, including:

  • Android and iOS applications
  • Unlimited text messaging
  • Customizable hold music
  • Multi-level auto attendant
  • Unlimited calls in the US and Canada
  • Free local OR toll-free number
  • Video and audio meetings
  • Internet faxing

Furthermore, you can make and receive business phone calls straight from your desktop, laptop, or mobile device. This service completely replaces an in-office phone system, empowering your remote team to stay connected. 

Alternatively, you can use it in conjunction with your current phone system. So, it’s also a great fit for call centers and non-remote teams, as well. 

Nextiva offers simple and affordable pricing. Their plans include:

  1. Essential — $19.95 per user per month
  2. Professional — $20.95 per user per month
  3. Enterprise — $27.95 per line per month

Nextiva boasts an “ultra-high uptime of 99.999%,” with around-the-clock network monitoring and zero outages in 2019. With relatively reliable service, various essential features, and reasonable prices, their service is among the best.

#3 – RingCentral Review — The best VoIP phone service for fast-growth businesses

RingCentral is an excellent option for fast-growth businesses. They’re the world’s #1 business communications platform with plans and features for business communications as well as customer support. 

Plus, RingCentral offers discounts depending on the size of your team. So, as your team grows (regardless of how fast), your phone service affordably scales to match your needs. 

They promise 99.99% uptime, and they maintain countless global data centers. This means you get excellent coverage and phone quality wherever you are on the globe. 

Furthermore, installation and setup are a breeze, thanks to RingCentral’s step-by-step installation and intuitive admin panel. 

You can set up new users from the admin panel, monitor service quality, and view your analytics all in one centralized place. Plus, you can even access it on the go. 

Their services include features like:

  • Unlimited calls in the US and Canada
  • Voicemail to text
  • Team messaging
  • Document sharing
  • Unlimited text messaging
  • Unlimited faxing and conferencing
  • Call recording
  • Developer platform
  • Custom integrations

RingCentral’s most affordable plan starts at $19.99 per user per month, making them a top contender for affordability. 

Their paid plans include:

  1. Essentials — $19.99 per user per month
  2. Standard — $24.99 per user per month
  3. Premium — $34.99 per user per month
  4. Ultimate — $49.99 per user per month

While their basic plans are suitable for smaller teams, their Premium and Ultimate plans allow teams to create custom-fit solutions, regardless of how fast they grow. 

#4 – Grasshopper Review — The best VoIP phone service for mobile teams

If your team works in the field, works from home, or works from anywhere in the world, Grasshopper is a smart choice. 

It’s a mobile (or desktop) app that adds a business line and an integrated phone system to your employee’s phones. So, they don’t need to carry around two phones or be present in the office to message customers and accept business calls. 

Plus, you can access and manage your entire phone system with mobile and desktop apps anywhere with an internet connection. 

The best part is that Grasshopper integrates seamlessly with the phones you already have. 

There’s no need to buy any fancy equipment or go through the hassle of messy and time-consuming installations. It’s as easy as picking a number and a plan, downloading the app, and configuring your settings. 

Plus, with Grasshopper, you get access to intuitive, yet powerful, features like:

  • Business text messaging
  • Call forwarding
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Phone extensions
  • Online faxing
  • Custom greetings
  • Instant responses
  • Ruby Receptionist

And while Grasshopper doesn’t automatically enable VoIP calling, you can quickly turn it on for free using the mobile app if you have poor cell service or prefer internet calling instead. 

Their paid plans include:

  1. Solo — $26/mo for one number and three extensions
  2. Partner — $44/mo for three numbers and six extensions
  3. Small Business — $80/mo for five numbers and unlimited extensions

Extensions can forward to any number you want. So, you can operate with three employees using Grasshopper’s solo plan. 

This is a breath of fresh air instead of per-user pricing with the other services on this list. 

#5 – Verizon Review — The best VoIP phone service for large businesses

Known for the stability of its network, Verizon provides VoIP business features for medium and large-scale businesses. However, it’s overkill for most small companies and very expensive compared to other options on this list. 

Furthermore, it’s most suitable for businesses that need to be available for customer calls, route calls to the right teams/people, or respond quickly to customer requests. 

Verizon’s VoIP phone service includes 45 features, including:

  • Customized hold announcements/music
  • A virtual receptionist
  • Complete call history
  • Administration web portal
  • Make and receive calls on your phone
  • Visual voicemail features
  • Call transfers
  • Do not disturb mode
  • Inbound caller ID
  • Selective call rejection
  • Instant messaging

You can purchase or rent desk phones through Verizon or purchase a converter to continue using your current equipment. 

Furthermore, you get free access to mobile and desktop apps to access or manage your phone system from anywhere in the world. However, Verizon’s services aren’t available everywhere, so you may not be able to use their services. 

Verizon business phone plans start at $35 per user per month plus any additional fees, taxes, or equipment charges. However, their pricing is confusing when you start reading the fine print. And you have to commit to a two-year contract, as well. 

So, keep that in mind as you’re making your final decisions. 

#6 – 8×8 Review — The most affordable VoIP phone service

If you’re looking for a basic, affordable VoIP phone service, 8×8 is a smart choice. 

Their 8×8 Express Business Phone System plan starts at $12 per user per month (with a free trial). This low pricing makes it the most affordable option on this list. 

However, with that low price point comes limited features. The Express plan includes:

  • Unlimited calling in the US and Canada
  • Global and direct toll-free numbers
  • Basic auto attendant
  • Ring groups
  • Call routing
  • Business SMS

And to access their more advanced features, you have to pay between $25 – $45 per user per month. Which… is more expensive than some of the other options listed here. 

So I don’t recommend it unless you go with the Express Plan. 

Summary

My #1 recommendation for most small businesses is Ooma. It’s affordable, reliable, and easy to set up in about 15 minutes. However, if you’re looking for a large-scale solution, Verizon is your best bet. 

Furthermore, Nextiva is perfect for remote teams, and Grasshopper is a simple, yet powerful, mobile app for small teams who are frequently out of the office. 

If you’re on a tight budget, 8×8 is the cheapest VoIP phone service, starting at $12 per user per month. However, it’s features are limited. 

Regardless of the route you go, don’t forget to consider your requirements, budget, and the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best VoIP phone service for your business.  

Have you used a VoIP service provider in the past? What was your experience like?

The post The Best VoIP Phone Services (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best CRM Software (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission. Without customers, your business wouldn’t exist.  I guess it could… but you wouldn’t last long without a stream of revenue helping you keep the lights on. Because of that, it’s critical to understand how …

The post The Best CRM Software (In-Depth Review) first appeared on Online Web Store Site.

The post The Best CRM Software (In-Depth Review) appeared first on ROI Credit Builders.

The Best CRM Software (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Without customers, your business wouldn’t exist. 

I guess it could… but you wouldn’t last long without a stream of revenue helping you keep the lights on. Because of that, it’s critical to understand how your customers behave and what they want from you. 

Doing so makes their experience better. And helps you generate more money. 

The best CRM software helps streamline, simplify, and improve your business processes to create better experiences for the one thing your business revolves around — your customers. 

But today, your biggest challenge is choosing the right one. 

With countless options to choose from, it’s easy to feel paralyzed. So, to help you out, I reviewed the top CRM software available and put together an extensive list of what to consider before making your final decision. 

The top 5 options for the best CRM software

  1. Hubspot – Best free CRM software
  2. Salesforce – Best CRM software for versatility
  3. Zoho CRM – Best for small to midsize businesses
  4. Freshsales – Best CRM for sales teams
  5. Creatio CRM – Best enterprise-grade CRM solution

How to choose the best CRM software for you

With so many options and types to choose from, finding the best CRM software for your business can feel impossible. 

So, let’s talk about what to consider as you go through the process. 

Business size

The size of your business plays a role in which CRM software is best for you. If you have separate departments for marketing, sales, IT, and customer service, you need more advanced functions than a business with five employees. 

Furthermore, you need to consider who’s going to manage the software. Choosing and paying for software isn’t the same as using it to its full potential. 

You have to set it up and take advantage of its features for the investment to be worth it. 

For small teams, it may be a collaborative effort of everyone pitching in. However, large teams may have dedicated employees to set everything up and maintain the software moving forward. 

The size of your business also plays a role in how much the software is going to cost. The more user seats you need, the more expensive the software. 

So, take this into consideration. 

Your use cases

Before you decide, it’s essential to consider what systems you want to streamline and improve. It may help to think about current inefficiencies and how a CRM can help. 

Typically, CRM software helps with sales, marketing, IT, and customer service. Which of those do you want to improve, and do you have the capacity to set everything up and maintain it?

Furthermore, there are specific CRM solutions for particular industries. And you may benefit from choosing a CRM that offers something specific to your industry. But keep in mind that these may be more expensive. 

Basic CRM features

Most CRMs include a basic set of standard features. And the CRM you choose should include them as well. While the specifics of each feature vary from software to software, there should be a system in place to help you handle things like:

  • Contact and lead management
  • Document sharing and storage
  • Workflow automation
  • Interaction tracking
  • Mobile access

Look for these core CRM features before making any final decisions. 

Advanced CRM features

It’s also important to consider the advanced CRM features you need. Oftentimes, these are only available on high-tier plans. So, this plays a role in which pricing plan you choose, and it can significantly impact your budget. 

It may help to outline your current processes. 

This can help identify areas that need improvement and the specific CRM features you need to make it happen. You can then use your list to narrow down your options. 

Third-party integrations

To really streamline and automate your business processes, your CRM tool needs to play well with the tools you’re already using to run your business. Make a list of the tools you use and double-check to make sure your CRM integrates with them. 

Don’t forget to consider your:

  • Email platforms
  • Social media tools
  • Internal communication software
  • Customer service tools
  • Calling/video chat software
  • Shopping cart (for ecommerce)
  • Contract/proposal software
  • Connectors (i.e., Zapier)
  • Analytics tools
  • Calendar

Once you have your list, you can use it to narrow down your choices to the right CRM software. You can also use it when speaking with a sales team to make sure they offer everything you need. 

The different types of CRM software

There are three different types of CRM software. The most common type is operational. And thankfully, companies are integrating more features from the other types of software into operational CRM systems. 

Doing so helps minimize the need for businesses to have three separate pieces of software. 

Before diving into my top recommendations, let’s talk about these different types and what they mean. 

Operational

Operational CRMs help businesses of all sizes handle business processes and enhance the lead generation systems they have in place. The idea is that streamlining your operational processes helps your business provide better customer experiences. 

There are four types of operational CRMs, including:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • IT

These are traditionally what people think of when they hear CRM. So, all of the recommendations on this list fall under this category. 

Analytical

Analytical CRMs help businesses gather, analyze, and leverage data collected from their customers. Essentially, this type of CRM software helps turn large data sets into valuable information you can use to improve the customer experience. 

The recommendations on this list include a few basic analytical features.

But there are certainly more robust CRM tools out there for collecting and analyzing customer data, especially for enterprise businesses with a lot of customer information. 

Collaborative

Collaborative CRMs make it easy for businesses to share everything they learn about their customers using operational and analytical CRM software. 

Essentially, this type of software lets team members quickly pass along lead, contact, and customer information from one department to another. 

Doing so helps track interactions between customers and your business as well as identify your customers’ preferred communication channels. 

Both of those things combined help improve customer experiences. 

Most of the recommendations on this list offer multiple operational CRM solutions that seamlessly integrate, making this type of collaboration easy. 

However, there are better systems out there if you’re looking for something more powerful. 

#1 – Hubspot Review — The best free CRM software

If you’re in the sales or marketing industry, you’ve probably read Hubspot’s blog or taken one of their free certification courses. However, they also offer a robust and free CRM software to streamline your customer relationship management process. 

With Hubspot, you can gain unprecedented insight into how your audience behaves. 

Need to monitor when contacts open your emails so you can optimize your open rates? No problem. Maybe you want to see how a contact behaves on your website. With Hubspot, it’s easy. 

Furthermore, they offer a wide variety of solutions, depending on your role within your company. 

These position-specific solutions include sales, marketing, customer service, operations, and owners. 

The free CRM plan includes a robust set of features, including:

  • Contact management
  • Email scheduling
  • Deal pipelines
  • Meeting scheduler
  • 1-1 live chat
  • Contact website activity
  • Store, track, and manage tasks
  • Document sharing
  • VoIP calling

These features are hard to beat on any other free plans on this list. However, Hubspot’s paid plans are well worth their price as well. 

The Starter Plan starts at $40 per month, paid annually. However, if you want to bundle all of Hubspot’s CRM software, you can get starter access to all four for $50 per month if you commit to a 12-month contract. 

So, for $10 extra dollars a month, you also get software specialized for marketing, sales, and customer service.  

However, keep in mind these prices are based on 1,000 contacts. The price increases for every additional 1,000 contacts you have. 

Sign up for a free plan to get started with Hubspot today.

#2 – Salesforce Review — The best CRM software for versatility

Whether you’re a small business owner or a sales, marketing, IT, or customer support team, Salesforce has the perfect CRM solution. Known for its versatility, they offer specialized software that adapts to meet your needs. 

More than 150,000 businesses, including T Mobile, Adidas, and Yeti, rely on Salesforce to help them build strong relationships with their customers. 

They also offer specialized solutions for 14 different industries, including:

  • Financial services
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Consumer goods
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Nonprofits

The system is so versatile because you can pick and choose which apps you need to build a complete CRM solution customized to match your business. 

From marketing automation and ecommerce sales to call-center software and self-service portals, Salesforce is dedicated to providing everything you need for unprecedented customer relationships. 

Their business plans include:

  1. Essentials — $25/user per month (basic sales and support)
  2. Sales Professional — $75/user per month (complete sales solution)
  3. Support Professional — $75/user per month (complete service solution)
  4. Pardot Growth — $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts (marketing automation)

However, you can add additional features and applications depending on what you need. They also offer other plans for sales, customer service, commerce, and marketing CRM packages with varying features. 

Start your free trial to take Salesforce for a test drive today.

#3 – Zoho CRM Review — The best for small to midsize businesses

Unlike the other options on this list, Zoho CRM is an all-in-one solution. There aren’t additional modules to look through for different departments or anything like that. This makes it an excellent option for small to midsize businesses.

They also have an extensive network of 40 other business tools. So, if you’re using Zoho software already, integration with Zoho CRM is seamless. 

Plus, they have a worldwide network of over 150,000+ customers (including Netflix and Bose) in 180 countries, so you know you’re in good hands. 

Furthermore, Zoho offers a free forever plan with up to three users. It includes essential features like lead management, document sharing, task management, workflow rules, and a mobile application. 

However, their paid plans are affordable as well, and they include advanced CRM features like:

  • Real-time sales signals and customer notifications
  • Blueprint business management for both on and offline processes
  • Prospect scoring capabilities
  • Unique sales pipelines
  • Mass emails
  • Inventory management
  • An AI assistant
  • Advanced customizations

The cheapest paid plan starts at $12 per user per month, making it extremely affordable for small businesses. 

Sign up for a free 15-day trial to see if Zoho CRM is right for you. 

Note: Zoho also recently launched a sales-centric CRM specifically for small businesses. It’s called Bigin, and it includes a robust free plan if you’d like to try it out. Bigin’s paid plans are $7 per user per month. 

#4 – Freshsales Review — The best CRM for sales teams

Unlike the other options on this list, Freshsales is specifically built for sales teams and lead management. From cold leads to customers, Freshsales helps you make better relationships while saving time with automation. 

Furthermore, this CRM helps you find the best leads, get in touch with them via their preferred method, and close the sale. 

And Freshworks includes a built-in email and phone system to help simplify the process. 

They have a customer base of over 40,000 businesses, including some big names like Dyson and Best Western. So, despite being newer to the industry, they’re not inexperienced by any means. 

With Freshworks, you get powerful sales-based features, including:

  • Lead, contact, account, and deal management
  • Tasks and appointment management
  • Merge or clone records
  • Advanced conversation views
  • Lead scoring
  • Time-based workflows
  • Sales pipelines
  • Team inboxes and email forwarding
  • Email scheduling, templates, and alerts
  • Website visitor tracking
  • iOS and Android mobile apps

Aside from an impressive set of features, they also offer industry-specific solutions for 15 different industries, including retail, ecommerce, manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and more. 

Their free forever plan includes access for an unlimited number of users with limited features. However, it’s a great way to try it out before investing. 

Freshsales’ paid plans are more robust, yet still affordable for businesses of all sizes. Their premium plans include:

  1. Blossom — $12/user per month (for small teams)
  2. Garden — $25/user per month (for growing teams)
  3. Estate — $45/user per month (for large teams)
  4. Forest — $79/user per month (for enterprises)

Sign up for a free 21-day trial to see if Freshsales is right for you and your sales team today.

#5 – Creatio Review — The best enterprise-grade CRM software

While some of the other CRM software on this list includes an enterprise plan, you may find them limiting if you’re managing a large operation. However, Creatio is an enterprise-grade CRM software built with businesses like yours in mind. 

They offer specific CRM solutions for sales, marketing, and customer service teams.

Marketing Creatio gives enterprise businesses everything they need to streamline their multichannel marketing campaigns and manage incoming leads. It includes features like:

  • Visual campaign designer
  • Website behavior tracking and segmentation
  • Advanced trigger campaigns
  • Personalized email marketing
  • Event tracking and response management

Pricing depends on the number of contacts and the number of emails per contact. 

Sales Creatio is perfect for large sales teams taking over after marketing hands them over. It’s an end-to-end sales management platform built to simplify the process and save you time. 

It includes a wide range of features, including:

  • Opportunity management
  • Customer profiles and buying behavior insight
  • Field sales management
  • Performance and operations

Pricing starts at $30 per user per month. 

Lastly, Service Creatio is for customer service teams interested in streamlining their processes and creating excellent customer experiences from start to finish. It includes features, like:

  • Account and contact management
  • Case and knowledge management
  • Omnichannel communications
  • Service catalog
  • Contact center

Pricing starts at $45 per user per month. 

You can bundle all three CRM solutions if you need to. And you can use their online pricing calculator to estimate the total cost. 

Get started with a free trial to see if Creatio is right for you. 

Summary

Hubspot, Salesforce, and Zoho CRM are my top recommendations for most businesses. Each one offers a wide range of features suitable for teams from all departments, including sales, marketing, and customer service. 

Furthermore, they’re all affordable, easy to set up, and easy to use.

However, the best CRM software for you depends on your business’s size and the features you need. So, use the criteria we talked about above as you go through the process of making your final decision. 

Which CRM software do you use?

The post The Best CRM Software (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best Website Builders (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

There is one decision in life that you simply cannot get wrong.

And no, it’s not choosing the right partner or career. 

That life-changing decision comes down to what website builder you decide to use. 

Whether you are setting up a small non-profit or are itching to take over the world with your handmade jewelry, the quality of your site will be a key factor in your success. 

And to build a great site, you need a great web builder. Assuming of course you are like the vast majority of people with no technical skills. If you do have skills, what are you doing here? Get building!

But fret not. We’ve done the hard work and this article will guide you through the otherwise arduous process of finding the best website builder.

The Top 4 Best Website Builders

  1. Wix
  2. Weebly 
  3. Shopify
  4. WordPress

The Different Types of Website Builders

When choosing a website builder, your first consideration should be what your actual needs are. There are a multitude of reasons to want to start a website and they will affect the services and features you will need. 

For instance, is your goal to set up shop as an eCommerce entrepreneur, dropshipping items from abroad? 

Do you want to start a simple blog documenting your travel adventures?

Or perhaps you work in marketing and are looking for ways to test and optimize your sales funnels. 

Regardless of your goals, the idea of “knowing thyself” applies here. Think deeply about what you want now, but also your roadmap for the future. Once you commit to a particular website builder, it can be difficult to change later on. 

After getting a clear idea of your needs, you will then need to consider the different types of web builders available. 

Keep in mind that many website builders fit multiple categories, serving each need to a different extent. 

General-purpose website builders

There are thousands of reasons to create a website, and nowadays, it seems like every person and organization has one. 

To service such great demand, some website builders have taken a holistic approach in terms of appeal and their tools.

For example, these sites typically have a lot of features that other types of website builders have, such as the ability to blog.

However, as they are multi-purpose in nature, you cannot expect these features to not be as in-depth and robust as more specialist platforms. 

Some use cases for general website builders include:

  • Information websites – If your goal is to simply host information online, these general website builders can be quite useful. For instance, you may have a kitchen renovation company and want to start reaching potential customers online. 
  • Personal branding – Managing your personal brand is becoming more important every day. It is particularly important for independent workers and entrepreneurs as well as for employees applying for jobs.

An example of an information website. 

Content management platforms 

Content is what drives the web, and one of the oldest yet still most relevant forms of content is the blog post. 

Considering blogging is such a crucial part of the web, some website builders have been designed with a content management system in mind.

In the case that you want to get your thoughts out there; ideally, in a serious and sustained way, a blog website builder may be the right option for you. Use cases include:

  • Professional writing – This goes without saying, but if you want to be a writer, you actually have to write. Typically, you need a place where you can showcase your talent. Whether you are a business writer or journalist, maintaining a personal blog is important.
  • Thought leadership – In many industries, it is useful for people of prominence to share their unique insights on a public platform. Setting up a blog with a strong content management system helps to get ideas out in a sustained way. 

An example of a content-centric website.

Essentially, blog website builders are a good choice if you plan on writing long term and it is one of the things you focus on. 

eCommerce platforms 

Another type of website builder are eCommerce platforms. These platforms allow you to build and manage online stores through the ability to list goods, fulfill orders, and take payments. 

These website builders are useful for:

  • Side hustles – Perhaps you are interested in selling some goods in addition to your day job and don’t have the time to dedicate to the operational side of things. These website builders are great to solve this problem, as they handle the backend of your business. 
  • Digitizing your store – Maybe you already have a brick and mortar store and are looking to make your stock available online. In this situation, this type of website builder will take all the technical complications out of setting up online.

An example of an eCommerce website.

How to Choose The Best Website Builder For You 

Now it is time to take a closer look at some of the specific features to consider when evaluating a website builder.

Remember that although some website builders may fall into the same category, each may suit your needs differently.

For instance, you may be setting up an online shop and your primary consideration may be a low learning curve, whereas somebody else may be thinking about a platform that can allow them to scale easily. 

Here are some features you should consider.

Ease of use 

Things to consider:

  • Intuitiveness – Some website builders are easy to use and have simple interfaces with drag and drop functionality. This is useful as you won’t have to Google changes you want to make with the tool.
  • Learning curve – If you are not great with technology, it is unlikely you will want to spend hours learning how to set up a website. Some website builders are much easier than others.
  • Setup time – Similarly, you may want to get your site up and running immediately, particularly if it is an event you want to promote. 
  • Ongoing management – Needing external help to manage your site defeats the purpose of a website builder. It must be easy to manage in terms of updates. 

If you are new to setting up online or are time-constrained, how easy it is to get started will likely be your primary concern. 

Scalability 

Things to consider:

  • Custom code – Website builders use standardized code, which are the building blocks of a website. These allow you to easily create a site with various features. In some cases, however, you may need your own custom features and the ability to write your own code.
  • Migration – At some point, you may want to host your website yourself. However, not all website builders allow you to easily make this move. In some cases, you may have to redevelop your site from scratch.
  • Integrations – You will probably create new goals as your website grows, such as running ads or embedding social feeds. Some website builders are more compatible with other platforms and are easier to integrate.

You should think strongly about scalability if you are already an established business looking to create an online presence. This is particularly true if you are already selling products at scale in the real world. 

Startups in the fundraising process and are looking to scale fast or even change core features of their product should also take caution here. 

Support 

Things to consider: 

  • Support channels – You will need to consider the different ways you can get in touch with support teams such as live chat, email, and phone. In-depth FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) are also important.
  • Responsiveness – If your site breaks at 5 PM eastern time, but their support only works European hours, then you are in trouble. Some teams may also respond much quicker than others. 
  • Engagement – Unfortunately, some support teams are useless. Maybe they are being paid very little so they do not care, or they are overworked. Either way, you need support that can actually solve your problems.

If you plan on running a site with a lot of visitors and it happens to go down, the last thing you want is an unresponsive support team. This is especially true if you plan on driving a lot of traffic at a given time.

A website builder with a strong support team is also useful if you are just getting started online, considering you may still get stuck, even with simple interfaces. 

Price 

Things to consider: 

  • Cost – Some website builders can be more costly, with some reaching upwards of $299 a month (for landing pages, for instance). Others are permanently free with the option to upgrade for a small monthly fee. 
  • Trial – Before you commit, it can be useful to take advantage of a trial offer to play around with the tools. You will likely find that some are a better fit than others.
  • Hosting & domain – Most website builders will host your website on the web, which is typically included in the price. Some may also offer a domain as part of the package. Otherwise, you would have to purchase these yourself. 

If you plan on making money from your website, either by selling products directly or to capture leads, then price should not be a key consideration for you. Make an investment in the best service for your needs. 

However, if you just want to set up a small information site, then you could do with the cheapest options. 

Generally, website builders that have feature depth are typically more expensive as they solve more specific problems. 

Features 

Things to consider: 

  • eCommerce shop – If you plan to sell things online, you need a website builder that allows you to do so. Consider sub-features such as payment processing and product catalogs.
  • SEO – Some website builders have tools that allow you to rank better in Google searches.
  • Marketing tools – You may also need other marketing tools, such as forms, pop-ups, and chat boxes.  
  • Community – In some cases, you may want to expand your website into a community where people can communicate and network (otherwise known as a forum).
  • Analytic tools – Website builders may also offer analytic tools that help track traffic on your website or at least integrate with other tools that do.
  • Niche features – Perhaps there are some special features you are looking for such as the ability to set up a crowdfunding campaign in addition to having a standard website.

The features of a website builder are the main thing to consider when deciding which route to follow. This is because they will have the most impact on your specific goals.

For instance, if you want to set up a landing page for a specific product, trying to optimize with a generic site builder will be a pain. It will probably lack the in-depth analytic tools that a dedicated landing page builder would have. 

Also keep in mind that there are some features that you may not need now, but you could need in the future, such as if you plan on running paid ads to your blog posts. 

Design 

Things to consider: 

  • Themes and templates – Website builders allow you to start with a predesigned website that is customizable to various extents. Some themes serve different purposes in terms of branding and utility. 
  • Mobile-friendliness – You will need to ensure that your website builder automatically makes your website easy for mobile users, typically with responsive design.
  • Customization – It is likely you will want to make some changes to your template. You will need to consider the various customization tools available. 

Regardless of your goal, you should always be concerned with providing a great user experience to the people who are visiting your site. It simply makes logical sense – if your site is hard to navigate, people won’t get the most out of it.

The actual design and branding are important too. For instance, some designs are more corporate while others are more welcoming. There may be a design template that really suits your particular brand.

And if you are selling something, you need to ensure that the design is optimized to increase conversions.

Now that you have a good understanding of the types of website builders and the features to look out for, it is time to take a look at some of the best website builders on the market. 

#1 – Wix / Website Builder — The Best For General Use 

If there is one website builder that you have likely heard of, it is probably Wix. The effort that Wix puts into their marketing is phenomenal. Wix is so successful, in fact, that they have featured high profile celebrities like Jason Stratham in some of their campaigns. 

Not only that, but Wix has results to show for it too, with over 160 million websites hosted by the company. 

Wix is the best website builder if you don’t have a specific need in mind. Even in the opposite case, this is true, such as if you have broad needs and are aiming for different functionality. 

Wix is truly the “jack of all trades” in the sense that it does everything well, but nothing is truly exceptional. However, it serves its purpose for the average person looking to set up a website.

Pros of Wix 

Here are the best things about Wix:

  • Powerful app market – Wix has an enormous amount of add on features that you can access through their app market. Want to book meetings directly on your site? They have got you covered. Want a live chat pop up box? Simply click and install it on your site.
  • Covers every need – Wix covers most of the needs of people looking to set up a website. This includes setting up an eCommerce store, blog, or even just a simple information website.
  • Lots of templates – Wix has a wide variety of templates that you can choose from to get your website up and running quickly. Their templates are well designed and take the user experience into consideration. 

Cons of Wix 

Here are the weaker parts about Wix:

  • The user interface can be difficult – Although Wix is aimed at the mass market, the user interface can be quite tricky especially if you want to customize your site. You will often find yourself having to Google how to complete certain tasks. .
  • No migration – A huge downside with Wix is that you’re locked in, so you cannot take the code of your website somewhere else later on. This can cause problems if you quickly need to scale your business. 
  • Jack of all trades, master of none – Wix’s main strength is also its weakness. Although it has many features, it cannot compete with the quality of niche website builders.

Who should use Wix?

  • Small businesses – If you are offering a service such as legal advice or marketing, Wix is a solid website builder that will handle all of your needs. If your focus is selling products online, avoid Wix. 
  • Freelancers and professionals – In a similar manner, Wix is great for professionals who want to showcase their personal brand. It will allow you to cover all the potential bases of highlighting your portfolio, such as taking meetings and even blogging.

#2 – Weebly / Website Builder — The Easiest To Use 

Next, we have Weebly, which is a drag and drop website builder that prides itself on its ease of use. Weebly currently powers over 50 million websites and has been around since 2006, which is a huge achievement and testament to how effective the platform is. 

So, what has caused Weebly to be consistently favored among users? It comes down to the simple user experience and short learning curve. Weebly does not bombard you with features or a complicated interface.

Instead, it does not scare you away and allows you to get straight to the point of setting up your website.

Pros of Weebly

Here are the best things about Weebly:

  • Simple and easy to use – Weebly has a simple interface with drag and drop mechanics that just work. Everything feels natural and intuitive. It also helps that they have an onboarding mechanic with email and popup explanations when you get started.
  • Migration – If you decide you want to host your own website, Weebly makes it easy for you to take your site off their platform. 
  • Affordable – Compared to other generalist website builders, Weebly has one of the most affordable pricing structures. 
  • Great customer support – Weebly has a powerful customer support team who are active every day of the week. They typically reply within 1 day by email or even quicker via their live chat or phone lines.

Cons 

Here are the weaker parts about Weebly

  • Lacks diversity of function – The tradeoff of using Weebly is that it is not as powerful as Wix. For example, there are fewer features. In addition, some features such as their content management system and analytic tools are much weaker than competitors. 
  • Limited customization – As Weebly uses a drop and drop interface and themes, the customization can be quite limited. Wix also has this problem, but they have more tools at their disposal to solve this issue.
  • Scaling problems – Weebly is simply not a great platform if you have plans to grow your website in a significant way: it is just a simple website builder for day to day users. 

Who should use Weebly?

  • People who need simple websites – As a rule, you should use Weebly if you are not very tech-savvy and want to set up a simple website quickly. One category of users would be associations or clubs who want to set up an information site about their group.

#3 – Shopify / Website builder — The Best For Online Stores

If you plan on selling any type of product online – from jewelry to electric scooters – then your best bet will be to use a dedicated eCommerce platform and website builder. 

Without a doubt, the number one in this category is Shopify. The platform powers over 1 million merchants in 175 different countries, and is the third-largest online retailer in the US, trailing behind only Amazon and eBay. 

The Shopify software represents a complete end to end platform that allows you to set up, manage, and promote a store online. You can easily list your goods for sale, take payments, and fulfill orders – all under one roof. 

Pros 

Here are the best things about Shopify:

  • eCommerce specialty – The main draw of Shopify is that it is a niche website builder focused on setting up an eCommerce store. This means that all their features and processes are geared toward that end, resulting in a powerful platform that can help maximize sales. 
  • Security – If you are going to be handling transactions, you need ways to keep your site safe and customer data secure. Shopify stores have strong cybersecurity measures in place which a self-hosted website would typically lack. 
  • Integrated sales channels – Shopify has strong integrations with other platforms, such as Facebook and Amazon. This allows you to streamline your sales by managing your catalog on each platform under one roof. 

Cons 

Here are the weaker aspects of Shopify:

  • Niche focus on eCommerce – Because the focus is on eCommerce, Shopify lacks some of the features and finesse of other website builders. For instance, their content management system is very limited compared to WordPress.
  • Transaction fees + monthly fees – With each sale you make on Shopify, there is a transaction fee that ranges from 2.4% – 2.6%. Combined with payment provider fees, this can eat into your margin. 

Who should use Shopify?

  • Brick and mortar stores – If you have an in-person store and are looking to sell your products online, Shopify will offer you a solid footing into the digital world.
  • eCommerce startups – Entrepreneurs that are starting new brands or drop shipping will also benefit from the quick end to end set up that Shopify offers.

#4 – WordPress / Website builder — The Best For Content Management

One of the oldest and most reliable website builders is WordPress. The platform has come a long way since it launched in 2003 and is the most popular content management system on the web today.

In fact, WordPress powers a whopping 37.6% of all websites. 

As WordPress was around during the earlier days of the web, its focus revolved around content, which was the most prominent form of website at the time. 

It maintains that focus to this day, with WordPress having arguably the best content management system out of all the different website builders.

An important caveat is that WordPress is divided into platforms:

  • WordPress.org – This is the open-source (free version) of WordPress that comes with greater flexibility, but is harder for non-technical users.
  • WordPress.com – This is the paid version. You can get help with the installation of themes and management but is generally less customizable.

Pros 

Here are the best things about WordPress:

  • You have full control – Unlike other website builders, WordPress is fully customizable as the site is developed directly with code, as opposed to drag and drop interfaces. This means that you have much more flexibility in terms of design and function.
  • Robust blogging and CMS – WordPress is built front the ground up with content in mind. It has some of the best tools for publishing and managing content including team management, advanced scheduling, and categorizations. 
  • Lots of plugins – There are over 52,000 plugins available for WordPress. You can measure and boost your SEO with plugins such as YoastSEO, or you could even add a new function such as a shopping cart. 

Cons 

Here are the weaker aspects of WordPress:

  • You may need help – As your WordPress site is developed with code, you will likely need help to install and update your WordPress theme. This can come with a hefty cost, particularly if you want ongoing changes.
  • Learning curve – If you want to manage and update your site yourself, it can take some time to learn how to do so. Managing and scheduling posts are relatively easy, but updating how your site looks or installing a plugin is much more difficult.
  • Security issues – As your WordPress site is self-hosted, you are more vulnerable to cybersecurity issues. Some of the plugins for WordPress also can act as a risk as well. 

Who should use it

  • Bloggers – If writing is your main focus, then WordPress is a great choice. The platform is designed for bloggers, optimizing content management, and SEO. WordPress will allow you to scale and get the most out of your content.
  • Content centric businesses – Likewise, if you are building a business that is content-heavy, such as a new website, WordPress will help you to manage the operational side of content production much easier. 

Think about your goals

An important thing to keep in mind is that the website builders listed above can serve multiple functions, so this article has provided an overview for you, you will need to look into the details of each platform. 

The best choice for you will come down to both your needs at the moment and where you plan on taking your website in the future. 

After reading reviews like this one, make sure you take a step back and put your particular needs at the forefront of the decision before you commit. 

The post The Best Website Builders (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best Payroll Services (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

What would you do with ten extra hours a month?

You’d probably work on growing your business, right? Maybe you’d spend it creating new marketing campaigns to generate more revenue. Perhaps you’d take half a day off to spend time with your family. 

Regardless, the average small business owner spends five hours every pay period running payroll. That adds up to 21 full work-days a year. 

But thankfully, that’s not what your payroll process has to look like. 

The best payroll services help you automate paying your employees and simplify the entire process, so you can gain more control over how you spend your time. 

Without sacrificing employee satisfaction. 

But with so many options to choose from, it’s easy to waste time trying to pick the right one. 

To help speed up the process, I reviewed six of the best systems on the market and put together a comprehensive list of what to look for as you make your final decision. 

The 6 best payroll service options for 2020 

  1. Gusto – Best payroll service for small businesses
  2. OnPay – Most flexible payroll service
  3. Paychex – Best for larger organizations
  4. ADP – Best payroll service with built-in HR
  5. QuickBooks Payroll – Best for QuickBooks integration
  6. Wave Payroll – Most affordable payroll service

How to choose the best payroll service for you

If you’ve spent some time searching for solutions from Google or asking for peers’ recommendations, you know there are hundreds of payroll companies to choose from. 

With so many options, it can feel like a difficult decision. 

To help you narrow things down, let’s walk through what to consider as you go through the process. 

Number of employees

Most services charge a set monthly fee plus a small fee per employee. So, it’s essential to consider the number of employees you need to pay. 

Some payroll services may limit the number of employees on certain plans while others may forego the per-employee fee altogether. Furthermore, some may also offer features that make it easier to pay many people at once. 

You also need to consider whether you’re paying employees or contractors. 

The process and fee structure may differ for different types of payments depending on which service you choose. 

Basic payroll features

The best payroll services exist to simplify the process of paying your employees. So, every payroll service you consider should have a set of critical features, including:

  • Automatic payroll options
  • Self-service portal for full-time and part-time employees
  • Mobile capability to manage payroll on the go
  • Direct deposit so your employees get paid quickly
  • Automatic tax calculations and withholdings
  • W-2 and 1099 employee management

There are other advanced features you may want to consider as well, depending on what you need. This includes things like HR tools, benefits management, wage garnishments, and more. 

So, carefully consider the essential features as well as the advanced features you need to simplify your payroll processes. 

Tax features

Filing tax is a complicated and time-consuming process. It can also result in unfortunate and expensive penalties if you don’t do it right. 

However, many payroll services offer tax features that simplify the process. From calculating payroll taxes to automatically withholding employee income taxes, there are countless things to consider. 

So, it’s important to choose a payroll service that offers essential tax features to make your accountant’s life easier. 

Or yours if you do your taxes yourself. 

Built-in HR tools

If you offer benefits to your employees, you need a payroll service that helps you effectively manage things like time off, vacation requests, workers’ compensation, insurance, and more. 

Furthermore, services with an employee self-service dashboard make this much more manageable. Employees can log in, update their accounts, request time off, and see an overview of their benefits package. 

The cheaper options on this list tend to ditch HR features. So, carefully consider what you need against your budget before making any decisions. 

Monthly payroll limits

If you have salaried employees or a set payroll schedule, most payroll services are adequate. However, if you pay freelancers or contractors on an irregular basis or run payroll more than twice a month, you need to be careful. 

Some services offer unlimited payroll processing, while others limit the number of times you can issue payments every month. 

So, carefully consider how often you need to send payments when making your final decision. 

Integrations

To further simplify your business processes, it’s crucial to consider the business tools you’re already using to run your business. 

It’s important to choose a payroll service provider that integrates seamlessly with those tools. Think about your accounting software, your employee scheduling software, and other essential tools related to payroll. 

The different types of payroll services

There are several different services to consider, depending on your business’s size and your specific payroll needs. 

So, before we dive into my top recommendations, I want to talk about the different types and how to decide between them. 

1. Hiring someone to do it for you

If you can afford it, hiring someone (either in-house or as a contractor) to run payroll for you is an excellent option. This ensures you find someone who knows how to do it and that they have the time to do it well. 

However, you still need payroll software. They may have their own preferences and expertise, which may help you decide which service is right for your business. 

With that said, many small businesses don’t necessarily need to hire someone. 

The best payroll services make running payroll easy, so anyone on your team can take care of it in a few clicks. 

2. Software as a service (SaaS)

The software as a service (SaaS) model means you pay to use the software. Most service providers charge monthly or annually for this, and as long as you keep paying, you get to keep using it. 

Most SaaS tools are cloud-based, meaning you can access it from a web browser anywhere. 

However, some also offer desktop applications and mobile apps you install on a specific device. 

This is the most common type of payroll service and the most convenient to use because you and your employees can access their accounts from any device, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. 

All of the recommendations on this list are SaaS payroll services. 

3. Enterprise-grade solutions

Most payroll services offer enterprise-grade and industry-specific solutions for large businesses. They come with specialized, custom pricing to match the unique needs of enterprise-grade companies. 

A software like this could be a SaaS tool or an on-premise deployment, depending on what you need and the company you choose. 

Most businesses don’t need this. But if you manage payroll for a large company or find your current solution limited, it may be a good idea to consider an enterprise solution. 

#1 – Gusto Review — The best for small businesses

If you’re a small business looking for a simple payroll service, Gusto is a smart choice. And you’ll be in good company with more than 100,000+ other small businesses around the world. 

Gusto makes onboarding, paying, insuring, and supporting employees as easy as possible. And they don’t call themselves a “people platform” for no reason. 

They offer the right set of tools and services to make your life (and your employees’ lives) easier. 

Running payroll takes just a few clicks, and you can enjoy unlimited payroll runs every month. Need to pay seven different contractors at different times? No problem. 

Need to pay the same employees the same wages every pay period? You can set it up to run automatically without you having to lift a finger. 

Plus, you get access to a wide variety of features, including:

  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Built-in time tracking capabilities
  • Health insurance, 401(k), PTO, workers’ comp, and more
  • Compliance with I-9’s, W-2s, and 1099s
  • Employee self-service onboarding and dashboards
  • Next-day direct deposits (on specific plans)

And the best part? It’s affordable. 

If you don’t have W-2 employees, Gusto starts at $6 per contractor per month. But if you do have full-time or part-time employees, expect to pay a bit more. Their other paid plans include:

  1. Basic — $19 per month + $6 per person per month
  2. Core — $39 per month + $6 per person per month
  3. Complete — $39 per month + $12 per person per month
  4. Concierge — $149 per month + $12 per person per month

Gusto is perfect for most startups and small businesses. But, large companies with complex benefits packages, and hundreds of employees may find it limiting. 

Get started with Gusto today!

#2 – OnPay Review — The most flexible payroll service

If you’re looking for an all-in-one payroll system with transparent pricing and virtually unlimited flexibility, OnPay is an excellent choice. 

Whether you’re a small company or a fast-growth startup, OnPay is versatile enough to suit your needs. Plus, you never have to guess how much you’re going to pay every month with their transparent pricing. 

And you can rest easy knowing you have access to every feature OnPay offers regardless of the number of employees you have because they only provide one pricing plan. 

Their software includes access to powerful features, including:

  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs
  • W-2 and 1099 capabilities
  • Automatic tax calculations and filings
  • Employee self-service onboarding and dashboards
  • Intuitive mobile app for management on the go
  • PTO, e-signing, org charts, and custom workflows
  • Integrated workers’ comp, health insurance, and retirement
  • Multi-state payroll

Plus, getting started is super easy. All you have to do is set up your account, add your employees, and start running payroll. Furthermore, OnPay automatically calculates and withholds taxes so you don’t have to worry about manual calculations or human error again. 

They also offer specialized solutions for different industries, including nonprofits, restaurants, and farming/agriculture. 

OnPay is $36 per month plus $4 per person per month. So, you can add new employees to the software for just a few dollars, making it excellent for fast-growing companies and small businesses alike. 

And while OnPay can handle large companies with hundreds of employees, there are better enterprise options available. It’s most suitable for small businesses and fast-growth companies that need simple pricing and flexibility. 

Try OnPay free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you!

#3 – Paychex Review — The best for larger organizations

Paychex is an excellent choice for businesses with more than 50 employees. They also offer low-tier plans for small businesses, but they’re quite limited compared to the other small business options on this list. 

However, their midsize to enterprise plans are perfect for large companies. 

The larger your business is, the worse small discrepancies and human errors affect your tax calculations. And wrong tax filings equal harsh penalties from the IRS, even if it was an accident. 

So as a large company, it’s imperative to have a payroll service that adapts to meet your needs. Paychex is more than a payroll service. It’s a human capital management (HCM) system designed to help you save time and reduce errors. 

Their enterprise plans include features like:

  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • Performance and learning management
  • Powerful real-time analytics
  • 100% employee self-service
  • Payroll automation features
  • Direct deposit, paper checks, and paycards
  • Salary, hourly, and contract workers
  • Paycheck garnishments
  • PTO and benefits management
  • Job costing and labor distribution

All of which are scalable for enterprises with thousands of employees (or as little as 50). Plus, Paychex services more than 650,000+ companies and has more than 50 years of experience in the industry. 

So, you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands.

With that said, getting started isn’t as easy as it is with some of the other options on this list. Because each deployment is tailored to your business, you can’t get going on your own. However, they do offer a team of specialists to help you get the ball rolling. 

Contact their sales team for a custom quote to get started!

#4 – ADP Review — The best for built-in HR features

ADP is the way to go if you’re looking for a payroll service with the most built-in HR features. It’s perfect for smaller companies without an HR department and growing/large companies looking to streamline the process. 

ADP works with more than 700,000 businesses in 140+ countries, making it one of the most popular payroll services for businesses of all shapes and sizes. 

They offer tailored solutions for small, midsize, and enterprise businesses, so you’re sure to find the perfect solution whether you have five employees or 1000+. 

Their lower-tiered plans include basic payroll features like automatic tax calculations, employee self-service tools, a mobile app, PTO management, and complete compliance support. 

However, ADP offers more than just basic payroll and HR. They also include time tracking, talent recruitment, HR consulting services, advanced employee benefits, and the option to outsource your entire payroll/HR department. 

You can also get unique benefits, like personalized training, legal assistance, background checks, and interview scheduling too. 

Furthermore, ADP offers industry-specific solutions for nine different industries, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Construction
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Nonprofits

Note: ADP pricing isn’t available online, so it may not be suitable for micro or small businesses interested in getting started quickly. If you need something fast and straightforward, my #1 recommendation is Gusto.

Request a free quote to see if ADP is right for you today. 

#5 – Quickbooks Payroll — The best for QuickBooks integration

Quickbooks Online is one of the most well-known accounting tools on the market. And if you’re already a user, QuickBooks Payroll is an excellent addition to your tech stack. 

The two tools integrate seamlessly, making account reconciliation and tax season a breeze. 

Furthermore, QuickBooks’ payroll system works in all 50 states. So, whether you have a remote team or work with contractors across the country, you don’t have to worry about making errors or mishandling taxes. 

You can also rest easy knowing your federal, state, and local taxes are automatically calculated plus paid for you every time you run payroll. Plus, the entire process is easily automated after your first round of payments. 

With QuickBooks, you get a full-service payroll system regardless of the plan you choose. 

And the user interface is aesthetically pleasing with direct deposit payments landing in your employees’ bank accounts within 24 – 48 hours. 

The Core Plan starts at $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. It includes:

  • Full-service payroll with unlimited runs
  • Automatic payments after the first run
  • Health benefits
  • Wage garnishments
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • All 50 states

So, even their most basic plan includes everything you need to simplify your HR and payroll processes. 

But if that isn’t enough, their advanced plans include:

  1. Premium — $75 per month + $8/employee per month
  2. Elite — $125 per month + $10/employee per month

Get 70% off your first three months to take QuickBooks Payroll for a test drive today!

Note: 1099 contractors and freelancers aren’t included. It comes as an add-on with additional monthly fees. So, this isn’t the most affordable choice if you frequently handle contractors or freelancers. 

#6 – Wave Payroll Review — The most affordable payroll service

If you’re on a tight budget, Wave Payroll is an affordable payroll option. Wave also offers numerous other small business tools for free, including invoicing, accounting, and receipt management. 

The different apps integrate seamlessly to create an affordable small business accounting and payroll solution. 

With Wave, getting started takes just a few minutes, and running payroll goes even faster. Plus, they offer a 100% accuracy guarantee. You can also pay hourly, salary, and contractors and automatically generate the right tax forms. 

In some states, Wave automatically files and pays your state/federal payroll taxes for you. However, in those states, Wave’s services are more expensive. 

You also get access to features, like:

  • Automatic journal entries (if you use Wave Accounting)
  • Self-service pay stubs and tax forms for your employees
  • Workers’ compensation management
  • Basic payroll reporting
  • Automatic year-end tax forms
  • Timesheets for PTO and accruals

While Wave is one of the most affordable payroll services, it doesn’t sacrifice functionality and essential features. Despite being cheaper than the other options on this list, you still get all the essentials you need to run payroll for your small business. 

In tax service states, Wave is $35 per month + $6 per contractor/employee per month. This service isn’t necessarily cheaper than the other options on this list. 

But, it’s still a great option if you’re a small business owner looking for a simple payroll solution. 

However, it’s $20 per month + $6 per contractor/employee per month in self-service states. At this price, it’s easily the cheapest option with the most features available. 

And don’t forget that Wave Payroll seamlessly integrates with Wave’s free accounting and invoicing software as well. 

So, if you don’t yet have accounting software, this is a smart choice. 

Try Wave Payroll free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you and your business!

Summary

For most users, Gusto, OnPay, and Wave are my top recommendations. 

They’re all excellent for small and fast-growth businesses with the ability to scale to match your needs. Plus, they’re affordable and easy to use. 

However, different businesses require different solutions. 

So, don’t forget to use the considerations we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best payroll services for your business. 

What payroll services do you prefer?

The post The Best Payroll Services (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Best Project Management Software (In-Depth Review)

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

It’s every manager’s worst nightmare. 

That ONE project that never seems to end. Nothing goes as planned and missed deadlines lurk around every corner. You can’t remember the last time you laughed. Your boss is mad and your employees stumble around trying to figure out what to do next. 

You drive home wondering what went wrong and why the universe is working against you. If only there was a better way. 

It doesn’t have to be this way.

By choosing the right project management software, projects won’t throw you into that panic-inducing nightmare.

I’ve managed countless projects, hundreds of teams, and bounced around to every project management software you can think of. 

From Wrike to Trello. Trello to Asana. From Asana back to Wrike. 

Rinse and repeat with every possible combination of tools on the market. 

And you want to know a secret? It doesn’t matter which project management tool you use as long as you pick the right one and stick to it.

But to help make your decision easier, I reviewed six of my favorite options and put together a list of what to consider as you go through the process of choosing the right software. 

The top 6 options for project management software

  1. Zoho Projects – Best for versatility
  2. Wrike – Best for marketing teams
  3. Teamwork – Best for remote teams
  4. Asana – Best for small teams
  5. Smartsheet – Best for large teams 
  6. Trello – Best free project management software

How to choose the project management software for you

The best project management software for you depends on your projects’ complexity, the size of your team, and the features you need. 

And choosing the right one can feel impossible because there are thousands of different tools.

So before we dive into my top recommendations, let’s talk about what to look for as you go through the process of finding the right software. 

Number of users

Most project management software is charged on a per user per month basis. So, it’s crucial to understand how many seats you need and your budget. 

If you have a large team with hundreds of users, you’re better off choosing an enterprise plan with custom pricing to get the most bang for your buck. 

However, if you have less than 15 people, Asana is an excellent choice (free for up to 15 users). 

And if you have fewer than three users, you can use Zoho Projects for free as well. 

Project complexity

For simple and straightforward projects, basic project management software is all you need.

 And you can probably get by using a free forever plan with Trello, Asana, or Zoho Projects. 

However, as your projects get more complex, you need more robust features. So, you may need to upgrade to a paid plan if you go with a basic project management software. 

On the other hand, tools like Wrike and Smartsheet offer more advanced and industry-specific capabilities. But they come with a higher price tag. 

Task management

Task management is one of the most important features to pay attention to. 

While most project management software includes basic task management, it’s important to consider the advanced capabilities you need. 

Do you need to create task dependencies? Maybe you need to create recurring tasks on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. Or perhaps you want to assign multiple people to the same task. 

This also includes things like:

  • Checklists and due dates
  • File attachments
  • Task archiving/deleting
  • Task prioritization
  • Automation
  • Subtasks

So, carefully consider how you plan to manage projects and the task management features you need before making any decisions. 

Discussion features

The best project management software includes internal discussion features like comments, forums, or instant messaging. 

This is an essential feature that lets you keep discussions streamlined and intact with the different tasks or phases of your project. Rather than searching through thousands of emails, you can open the task and see everything related to it right away. 

All of my top recommendations include this in some capacity. But make sure the software you choose includes robust discussion features as well. 

Customization

Every project and team is different. 

So it’s important that your project management software can adapt to meet your needs. Whether that’s a fully branded dashboard, the flexibility to scale, or improved functionality with the right integrations. 

Furthermore, think about how you want to view and share project progress. Different software offers different project views, reporting, and analytics. 

Start by creating a complete list of required features and integrations.

Lastly, consider everything you need your software to do and speak to a sales team to make sure their tool can handle your top priorities within your budget. 

The different types of project management software

There are various different types of project management software. Some are much better than others while some are reserved specifically for developers or enterprises with a large budget. 

Let’s walk through them together. 

Cloud-based

All of my top recommendations are cloud-based software. This means that the software lives on a cloud server and you can access it from any web browser on any device. 

This is the preferred type for most users because it’s easy to use, doesn’t require any infrastructure on your part, and you can access everything regardless of where you are. 

You typically pay for this type of software on a per user per month basis. 

Industry-specific

Different types of projects may require industry-specific solutions. 

These make your life easier with pre-made templates, automated workflows, and more features specific to the types of projects you’re managing. 

Most of the software on this list offer solutions for industries like:

  • Digital marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • Education
  • Real estate
  • Construction
  • Software development
  • Remote teams

With that said, these companies also offer standard subscriptions at reasonable prices that don’t include industry-specific tools. 

So you don’t have to use these higher-priced solutions unless you want to. 

Most of these solutions come with custom pricing based on your specific needs. So they may be outside your budget, especially if you’re a small company or a brand new business. 

On-premise

On-premise project management software lives on your servers, rather than on the cloud. And while it’s more secure, you can only access the software from devices on your network. 

You also may need to install new infrastructure or hire an in-house maintenance team to update and maintain the software for you. 

This is why none of the recommendations on this list are on-premise solutions. 

Open API

Open API software is perfect for developers or if you’re interested in hiring a developer to create a custom project management solution for your business. 

This type of software is highly customizable but difficult to manage if you’re not a developer. 

And this level of customization isn’t necessary for most users. So, I didn’t include any open API software on this list. 

#1 – Zoho Projects Review — The best for versatility

For most users, Zoho Projects is my top recommendation. 

They offer a free forever plan, and paid plans start at just $3 per user per month. So, it’s incredibly affordable for small businesses and can scale as your business grows. 

Whether you’re managing simple or complex projects, Zoho has everything you need, including powerful features like:

  • Hosted file storage
  • Task dependencies
  • Recurring tasks
  • Visual workflow builder
  • Time tracking
  • Task assignments and prioritization
  • Chats, forums, and feeds
  • Reporting and analytics

The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create workflows and track project progress quickly. Plus, you can view projects using Kanban, Gantt, or calendar views. 

Furthermore, their internal communication tools (chat, forum, and feed) streamline team collaboration where it matters most. 

You can also take advantage of more than 100+ built-in integrations with business tools you’re already using to run and manage your business. 

These integrations include Slack, Zapier, DropBox, and more. 

Zoho’s plans include:

  • Free — up to 3 users, two projects, and 10 MB of storage
  • Standard — $3/user per month and up to 10 projects (between 6 and 10 users)
  • Express — $4/user per month + unlimited projects (between 12 and 50 users)
  • Premium — $5/user per month + unlimited projects (between 15 and 100 users)
  • Enterprise — $6/user per month + unlimited projects (for 20+ users)

Start your 10-day free trial to take Zoho for a test drive today. 

#2 – Wrike Review — The best for marketing teams

Over 20,000+ businesses, including Google, Airbnb, and Dell, use Wrike to manage marketing and sales projects worldwide. 

With Wrike, your project management software adapts to meet your needs, rather than the other way around. And features like custom workflows and dashboards, automation, and real-time communication make this an excellent choice for dynamic marketing teams of all sizes. 

You also get end-to-end visualization so you can hone in on problem areas while maintaining constant forward movement with each project as a whole. 

Furthermore, Wrike includes powerful marketing-specific templates including

  • Campaign management
  • Product launching
  • Marketing operations
  • Content creation
  • Event management

And you can combine those with standard project management features like task management, proofing and approvals, communication tools, and real-time progress visibility. 

Project views include board, spreadsheet, Gantt, calendar, and custom views. 

Wrike also includes seamless integrations with 400+ business tools, like Salesforce, G Mail, and Google Drive. So, you don’t have to worry about software incompatibility issues or anything like that. 

You can start on their free forever plan for up to five users, but you may find it limiting. Paid plans include:

  • Professional — $9.80/user per month (5 – 15 users)
  • Business — $24.80/user per month (5 – 200 users)
  • Enterprise — Custom (5 – unlimited users)

They also offer tailored plans for marketing teams, but you have to contact them for a custom quote. However, it includes specialty templates, Wrike Proof, and more. 

Start your 14-day free trial or sign up for a free forever plan to get started today.

#3 – Teamwork Review — The best for remote teams

If you’re managing a remote team (or a soon-to-be remote team), Teamwork is an excellent choice. Their remote work module is specifically for distributed teams who need a flexible way to keep work moving forward. 

20,000+ teams plus big names, including Disney, Netflix, and Spotify, rely on Teamwork for their remote project management needs — and for a good reason. 

The software makes collaboration, task management, and project visibility a breeze regardless of where your team lives (and works). And as Teamwork says, “Just because you’re not in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t be on the same page.”

This remote project management software includes excellent features like:

  • Internal chat software
  • Centralized workspaces
  • Board views
  • Custom project templates
  • Workload balancing
  • Time tracking
  • Gantt charts

Furthermore, you can pick and choose which software you need. Or, you can save 49% by bundling all of Teamwork’s software together. 

At $35/mo per user (minimum of five users), it’s more suitable for businesses with a decent budget. But, their project management module alone is much more affordable, starting at $10/mo per user. 

Alternatively, you can start with a free forever plan for up to five users and two projects. This is an excellent choice for small teams or fast-growth companies. 

Sign up for a 30-day free trial to try Teamwork’s remote project management solution today.

#4 – Asana Review — The best for small teams

Asana is an excellent choice for teams of up to 15 people. 

And with millions of users spanning 190+ countries worldwide, you can rest assured you’re in good hands. 

Their free forever plan includes 15 seats, unlimited tasks and projects, assignees, due dates, and everything you need (aside from a few advanced features) to manage projects of all sizes efficiently. 

With Asana, you can map out even the smallest steps of every project to ensure forward movement and track your team’s progress along the way. 

Furthermore, you can enjoy features like:

  • Drag-and-drop board views
  • Timeline views
  • Automated workflows
  • Work requests and forms
  • Calendar view
  • Portfolio overviews
  • Workload balance
  • Custom fields
  • Reusable templates

Not only that, but the entire interface is beautiful and easy to navigate. 

You can choose between pre-made industry templates or create your own to get your team on track in no time. 

And with 100+ integrations including Adobe, Slack, Gmail, Chrome, Drive, and more, you can rest easy knowing Asana plays well with the tools you’re already using. 

Plus, you can share files, communicate, and share feedback all in one place. 

With a free price tag (for up to 15 users), Asana’s hard to beat. However, if you outgrow the free plan, you can upgrade to one of their paid plans, including:

  • Premium — $10.99 per user per month
  • Business — $24.99 per user per month
  • Enterprise — custom pricing only

Sign up for a free forever plan to get started with Asana today!

#5 – Smartsheet Review — The best for large teams

Smartsheet is a dynamic project management software built for enterprises and large teams. However, the solution is flexible enough to suit businesses and projects of all sizes. 

They specialize in rapid-movement projects with a ton of moving parts. So, you can trust Smartsheet for even the most complicated projects. 

With Smartsheet, you can gain end-to-end project visibility with grid, card, Gantt, and calendar views. Furthermore, you can gather data from forms, automated workflows, and recurring tasks to see what you need to see, and when. 

However, the software goes beyond essential project management. It’s an award-winning work execution platform that’s easy to implement, manage, and maintain. 

Plus, 75% of fortune 500 companies use Smartsheet to get things done. 

So, you’re in good company. 

All plans also include on-demand customer support, continuous education materials, training + certification programs, and consulting services to help you make the most of your new project management software. 

And you also get collaboration tools, all four project views, and extensive mobile apps/integrations with every plan. 

While Smartsheet is overkill for most small businesses, it’s an excellent choice for large companies and enterprises looking to streamline their business processes. 

Their paid plans include:

  • Individual — $14 per month 
  • Business — $25 per user per month (minimum of three users)
  • Enterprise — custom (enterprise-grade features and tools)
  • Premier — custom (enterprise + premium features and tools)

Sign up for a 30-day free trial to try Smartsheets risk-free with no credit card required. 

#6 – Trello Review — The best free project management software

If you’re on a tight budget, Trello is an excellent free project management software. 

Plus, millions of users, including Pinterest, Peloton, Fender, and Costco, rely on it to map out and manage projects of all shapes and sizes. 

It’s an excellent tool for basic visual project management for any type of project, from home improvement and side hustles to marketing campaigns and full-blown business operations as well. 

Trello uses boards, cards, and lists to organize projects, making it a familiar and comfortable platform. You can drag and drop cards, move cards to new boards, and cross tasks off as you go along.

Furthermore, you can create automatic workflows with rule-based triggers, calendar commands, and more. 

Plus, the free forever plan includes intuitive features like:

  • Unlimited personal boards
  • Unlimited cards and lists
  • 10 MB file attachments
  • Up to 10 team boards
  • Basic automation
  • And two-factor authentication

It’s an excellent solution for teams of all sizes since everyone can join for free. However, you need to upgrade to a paid plan if you need more than ten team boards. 

And if you outgrow the free plan, you can upgrade to an affordable paid plan for more advanced features. Trello’s paid plans include:

  • Business Class — $9.99/user per month
  • Enterprise — $17.50/user per month 

Sign up for a free forever plan to get started with Trello today.

Summary

Zoho Projects is my #1 recommendation for most users, starting at just $3 per user per month with an extensive free forever plan as well. 

However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all project management solution. 

So, make sure you understand your needs and requirements before making any decisions. And don’t forget to use the criteria we talked about as you go through the process. 

What’s your go-to project management software?

The post The Best Project Management Software (In-Depth Review) appeared first on Neil Patel.