The Best Online Collaboration Tools For Marketers
Telecommuting is on the rise and a major chunk of businesses today rely on online collaboration tools to come together as a team to execute business projects. The need for collaboration among marketers is even higher because a growing number of businesses today prefer to outsource the various components of their campaign to specialist agencies. It is not uncommon for a marketing department to work with independent agencies for various tasks like flier design, PPC advertising, SEO and Facebook marketing.
The online collaboration tools available in the market today can be broadly classified into two categories – team-based and user-based. In other words, some of these tools permit a marketer to collaborate with multiple external agencies. These tools are user-based and one agency could thus collaborate with multiple marketing teams from the same dashboard. Other collaboration tools are team-based and are not agency-friendly. With such tools, one user can only be part of one specific team. Such tools may not work for you if you are an agency that needs to collaborate with multiple marketing teams.
Hubbion is an online collaboration tool that is designed specifically for marketers. You can use the tool to collaborate with an unlimited number of users and on an unlimited number of projects. There is no limit on the file size or storage either and could come in handy if you are handling a video marketing campaign that requires high bandwidth sharing.
The product comes with a useful ‘Calendar’ feature. This is a useful tool to view the marketing calendar for any particular month and also get a bird’s eye view of the status of each of your projects. Projects that are nearing deadline are distinctly marked while those that have overshot the deadline are marked in red.
Finally, Hubbion is also agency-friendly. As a user, you could collaborate with dozens of external entities and are not really bound by the team you belong to. All of this is free to users and this makes it a product that marketers must definitely check out.
Trello is a collaboration tool that is modeled on the Kanban board. The software lets users create separate boards to collaborate with the various teams that they work with. Within each board, users can create cards for the various tasks and move it from one column to another as work progresses. One difference between Trello and Hubbion is that the collaboration among the various teams is maintained as separate boards here. On Hubbion on the other hand, users may view them all in one dashboard.
Trello too is free to use like Hubbion and comes with the ability to collaborate on an unlimited number of projects with an unlimited number of users. However, file uploads are limited by size and free users can only upload files that are 10 MB or less. Paying customers have a relatively generous file size limit of 250 MB.
Another tool that is extensively used for online collaboration among marketers is Slack. Like Trello and Hubbion, Slack too is free to use for most part. However, the major difference crops when it comes to layout. Slack works on a ‘chat-like’ interface which is conducive for communicating day to day updates among a large team of collaborators. However, this may not really be useful for handling specific campaigns.
Slack lets collaborators create ‘channels’. As a marketer, these channels let you keep your discussions related to various topics like SEO, web design and PPC separate. However, there are two points to note here.
- Firstly, Slack does not provide user access permissions based on channels. If you deal with multiple SEO vendors, for instance, they may be able to view your discussions with other vendors in the same channel. You may however create as many Slack subdomains as required and you may keep your discussions with your vendors separate this way.
- Secondly, Slack is quite handy to communicate and keep everyone in the team abreast of the updates. However, it is not really the best tool to use when you have specific projects to work on and need to keep discussions relating to each of these campaigns separate.
Unlike the other collaboration tools discussed in this article, Basecamp does not have a free plan. However, for $99 a month, teams can sign up as many members into their team as they would need. However, there is a catch. Unlike the likes of Trello and Hubbion, Basecamp is a team-based collaboration tool and is not exactly agency-friendly. The tool works well for users who only are part of one team.
Basecamp lets users create ‘to-do’ lists. These to-do lists can be categorized either based on the domain (SEO, web design, etc.) or by month (projects for May, June, July, etc.). Conversations within each task can be carried out by any of the assigned members. When a new user from within the team joins in on a conversation, they are automatically added to the list as well. Besides collaboration over to-do lists, Basecamp also has an option to ping users, share calendars and collaborate on files.
Similar to Basecamp, Wrike too is designed to handle team-collaboration which makes it a tad unfriendly to external agencies who may also want to collaborate with other clients besides you. Their free plan is restricted to five users and comes with a few basic features. For true collaboration though, teams will need to sign up for one of their paid plans.
Wrike lets users to create tasks and subtasks that can be assigned to any user. These tasks can be viewed in a gantt chart format that is similar to the Calendar feature on Hubbion. If you are a marketer that needs a lot of data sharing though, Wrike may not be the best alternative. File storage on their $9.80/user/month plan is capped at 5 GB with another 15 GB for video uploads. Higher plans come with a more generous file storage options.
Online collaboration is the future and in marketing, it is already here. Picking the right tool is critical to improving productivity. In a department like marketing where resources are limited, this is something that every team must strive for.
Vic Anandan is a management consultant specializing in technology benchmarking and certifications. He has over 15 years of experience in the industry and has travelled to over 18 countries so far."Read Full Bio