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Making The Web Work For You — 7 Applications To Maximize Your Web ROI

April 21, 2011

Never fear, we’ve found some terrific applications for you to “Maximize Your Web Surfing ROI!” The list of applications contains a mix of browser “plug-ins,” cloudbased applications and local applications.

Before we get started though, allow me to make a quick plug for security. No matter what applications you use while on the Internet, securing your system is the best way to increase your overall web ROI. Make sure your operating system is kept up to date and you have current antivirus / malware / spam defenses in place. Never download software from Warez or Torrent sites or in response to pop-up offers of any kind.

Since we started by talking about security, the first application I’ll tell you about is one that will help you organize all of the passwords and site log-ins you use every day.

Application Name: LastPass
Type: Browser Plug-in

LastPass is designed to work with all of the major browsers, including those found on the most popular smart phones. Last-Pass is designed to create and manage all of your passwords and common web data in a secure online vault. The only thing you have to remember is one ultra-secure password for your LastPass account itself.

Each time you visit a site that requests you to create a password, LastPass will offer to generate and store a random password, containing a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters, designed to offer maximum security. It then stores this password, along with the site ID in your “vault.” The next time you visit the site, LastPass will automatically fill in your login information.

For sites that you have already set up passwords for, LastPass will offer to remember your existing login information for future visits. Once you install LastPass, I highly recommend you use the LastPass password generator and change all of your existing passwords.
LastPass can also store commonly requested information, such as your name, address, etc. to make it easy to fill out web forms with a single click. You can have multiple profiles for home, work, etc. Best of all, you can securely access your LastPass Vault and password data from work, home and your Smart Phone. Want even more security? LastPass now offers fingerprint access control and encryption! There is also a multi-user commercial version of LastPass available for organizations that want to centralize web password management.

Application Name: nitro pdf
Type: Desktop Application

Ironically, despite the information on the web being electronic, one of the most frequent tasks people perform on the web is, you guessed it, printing! Tens of millions of pages of content are printed from the web every day. This printed information is either for temporary use, for reference or to share with others. Often it is thrown away within hours of being printed.

Nitro pdf is a tool that allows you to “print” any web page you visit to a pdf file that can be viewed, stored, shared and indexed, without needing any paper or a connection to the Internet. Pdf files, made popular by Adobe Acrobat, can be viewed on PCs, Macs, Linux systems and most current smart phones.

This particular application is useful both on and off the web, allowing you to create pdf documents from any application you would normally print from. One of the most frequently used web applications for nitro pdf is printing copies of forms and receipts that are created online.

Application Name: Evernote
Type: Plug-in/Desktop Application

If you’ve read my previous reviews on mobile applications or heard me on SBAM’s new radio show, Business Next, you already know I love Evernote! Evernote is a “Cloudbased” service, with corresponding browser and desktop applications that allows you to store text notes, web pages and web clips, photos, voice memos and screen shots and access them anywhere.

All of the information you capture is indexed and can be easily searched. You can add tags and also organize information into different notebooks. There are a variety of 3rd-party web and desktop applications that integrate with Evernote, like Twitter and Nitro pdf (mentioned previously), that make it easy to save the information you want to remember!

Application Name: Yoono
Type: Plug-in/Desktop Application

If you’re not already juggling multiple Social Media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. for your business, you should/will be soon (see Marketing Resources on page 14). Social media is the fastest growing medium for connecting with and keeping track of what’s going on with prospects, customers, vendors and industry peers.

This is one area where managing the flow of information, both in and out of your organization, becomes critical. Miss a key status change or announcement by one of your contacts and you might miss a sales opportunity or worse, have a competitor swoop in and make a relevant pitch that wins them your account. Fail to use Social Media to keep your customers informed about what’s going on in your business and you are missing out on tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in free advertising.

Yoono provides an easy way for you to monitor all of your Social Media feeds in real-time, from a trim browser side-bar or via a desktop application. You can also update all or some of your social networks with a single update, rather than having to visit and update each network separately.

You can also access all of your IM (Instant Messaging) services from your browser sidebar, making it easy to chat with your contacts while you surf the web. No more logging on to multiple services.

Application Name: LinkedIn
Type: Social Networking Site

Whether your small business consists of just you or pushes the small business IRS classification limits, LinkedIn is a must. LinkedIn is hands-down the fastest growing and best professional and business networking social media tool on the web. Almost every business person has received multiple Linkedin network requests from friends, colleagues and others wishing to “connect” with them. Many people ignore these requests, not knowing how valuable they can be for building your business and improving the quality of both your staffing and client acquisition activities.

If you haven’t already created a personal LinkedIn profile, do it today. You will also want to create a LinkedIn profile for your business and search for and join any groups associated with your industry, products you sell or community organizations you’re involved with.

Application Name: Harvest
Type: Web Application

Most of us have heard the old saying “Time is Money,” but many small businesses struggle to account for all the time they spend. For service-oriented businesses that bill for their time, this can mean they are giving away / losing thousands of dollars in potential revenues every month/year.

Harvest is a web-based time tracking, Invoicing and Reporting application that makes it easy for employees to keep track of their time, from their desktop or mobile device. You can start and stop timers throughout the day for various projects, or type in your time on a weekly timesheet.

Owners and managers can use the built-in approval functions to approve individual timesheets for invoicing. You can even configure Harvest to remind employees to submit their timesheets on time!

Timesheets can be easily converted to invoices. Harvest integrates with the popular QuickBooks accounting application. You can also enter time from Twitter. You can also submit timesheets directly within Gmail and export completed timesheets to Google Docs.

Application Name: YouTube
Type: Web Application

YouTube, really!? Absolutely! YouTube is a terrific tool for two key business functions, training and marketing. There are thousands of training videos available on YouTube on almost every business subject imaginable. These free training resources can help you learn how to run your business better and provide your employees with skills to make them more productive.

Want to expand the reach of your business into new markets or provide your clients with training information that will help reduce the burden on your own internal support staff? YouTube is a great platform to do both!

While you’re at it, think about how you can use YouTube to market your products and services more effectively. A short You-Tube video introducing your company and key products and services can act as an online sales agent 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7). You can embed YouTube videos in your website and social media sites like Facebook and include links to them in emails and social media messages.

So, that’s it. A short list of seven of my favorite applications to maximize your web ROI. Drop me an email and let me know how you like them and what some of your favorites are.

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