There are three things that successful marketers do well:
- Adapt to new standards.
- Collaborate with team members.
- Leverage the best tools to streamline and scale their efforts.
The digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving. And those new standards – best practices, social networks, consumer preferences, etc. – seem to change on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, an ever-changing landscape is really out of a marketer’s control. The best you can do it educate yourself and adjust.
But the second two instruments in a successful marketer's belt – effective collaboration and killer tools – are completely within your reach.
So without further ado, here are 26 online, cutting-edge, and free (or free-to-try) collaborative tools to supercharge your marketing and empower your team:
- Skype: An oldie but goodie, Skype is still one of the best online tools for collaborative communication. Voice, video, and text chats to your team are completely free; you can even share files. In addition to the Windows, PC, and Linus versions of Skype, there are also iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, which truly make this a versatile tool. Free.
- OneDrive: If your team works in a Windows environment, OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) is a natural choice. Part of Microsoft’s Windows Live suite, OneDrive offers a place to share files, like docs, videos, and photos. The tool's filing systems allows for various permissions, which is particularly useful for team collaboration. Free basic account.
- Google Drive: Google Drive, formerly Google Docs, is an excellent alternative to SkyDrive. Anyone with a Google account can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to share with the group. Permissions and other sharing features make Drive even better for collaboration. Free.
- Dropbox: There's no easier way to share big files in any format with your team than with Dropbox. This tool offers shared storage, right on your desktop: simply drag the file you want to share into a collaborative Dropbox folder, and your whole team can see, edit, and download. Free basic account.
- Co-op: If you like simple, you'll love Co-op. The interface looks a lot like old-school Twitter (before its Facebook-esque redesign), and serves as a central place to ask your team questions, share links, provide updates, and share your daily agenda. Free.
- WebEx: For collaborative conferencing, Cisco's WebEx is one of the best in its class. Easily host online conference calls, Web meetings, and video chats from remote locations, and share files and expertise on all your marketing projects. Free basic account.
- Basecamp: You can't skip a rock through Internet waters without hearing about Basecamp – and for good reason; it's superb online project management. The Web-based tool lets you organize any project, track progress, set up to-do lists, share a calendar, and more. Free trial.
- MavenLink: MavenLink is a popular Basecamp alternative with arguably more functionality for marketers. Added features include the ability to track your time and expenses, as well as the option to task other team members. Free trial.
- Docurated: This tool offers a super-charged search engine for all your files and is compatible with Box and Dropbox. Quickly find and share important documents, image files, PDFs, and RFPs with your colleagues. Free trial.
- HootSuite: Every good marketer needs a good tool for scheduling social media. HootSuite will link up with many of the most popular accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ business pages, and LinkedIn. Pre-schedule posts for any time, monitor your accounts, ping yourself for certain keywords, and more. Free basic account.
- Moz: Marketing and SEO often walk hand-in-hand (when they're not too busy bickering), and Moz is an easy-to-use, easy-to-navigate tool to understand, improve, and test your search engine optimization tactics: compare keywords, rank keywords, see where your traffic's coming from, and more. Free trial.
- Piktochart: Does your marketing tool chest include infographics? Back away from the PowerPoint, my friend, because Piktochart is easier to use and easier on the eye. This Web tool features excellent design (120+ theme templates) and powerful editing to create striking infographics. Free trial.
- Prezi: Speaking of PowerPoint, there's a new collaborative presentation tool in town: Prezi. This online app lets your group create beautiful, dynamic multimedia presentations that incorporate photo, video, graphs, and text. Prezi also works as a shared whiteboard. Free basic account.
- Passpack: If your team manages several social media and other online accounts – is that really an if? – Passpack will store all your passwords and usernames in one central place. Free basic account.
- Join.me: This simple screen-sharing tool is a marketer's best friend, especially if your team is so far-flung you never get a chance to sit down together. You can control the screen yourself, or hand over control to your collaborators. Free.
- Flickr: From blogging to social media to email marketing and more, you need lots and lots of high-quality images. Flickr is a great tool for storing those photos in one central place – keep your images private, and only your team will have access – and also allows you to search Creative Commons for images you can use freely. Free.
- Mind42: Mind42 is a top-notch, Web-based mind-mapping tool that propels collaboration to the next level. Brainstorm your next marketing campaign, take content creation from concept to dozens of deliverables, and turn ideas into tangible plans of action. Free.
- Twiddla: Twiddla takes your whiteboard online, serving as a "meeting playground" for all your virtual face-to-faces. You can do anything you do with a real whiteboard – draw, write, and erase – but online, where you can also add images, links, video, and other media resources. Free basic account.
- Sync.in: While OneDrive and Google Docs allow for seamless document sharing, Sync.in takes your collaboration live: when your team pulls up a shared document through Sync.in, you can edit, revise, and add new text in real-time. It's called document conferencing. Free basic account.
- WeVideo: Today's marketing relies on cross-channel and cross-media deliverables. Video is one of the best ways to engage your audience, and WeVideo makes it easy. This collaborative tool lets your team co-create professional looking video that everyone (with permission) can view, revise, and build on. Free basic account.
- Jing: Screenshots and screencasts are indispensible in today's marketing world. With Jing, your screencasting goes pro with images, voiceovers, and other multimedia support. Use within your team, or market your product with screencast tutorials. Free trial.
- FlockDraw: Most online whiteboards are a little on the boring (albeit useful) side. FlockDraw, which is technically a Web-based whiteboard, ups the utility with collaborative drawing. Now, your marketing team can get as imaginative with brainstorming as their creativity allows. Free.
- Zoho: This online, collaborative productivity suite offers a robust toolset, from shared calendars to collaborative discussions. But what's really great is the team wiki, which has nearly infinite applications for your marketing projects. Free trial.
- Yammer: Is your company large enough to warrant its own social network? With Yammer, an enterprise social network, even tiny teams can get social with idea streams, shared media, collaborative groups, group calendars, team discussions, and more. Free basic account.
- Central Desktop: Marketing teams big and small will appreciate Central Desktop's Social Bridge, where you can share files, provide feedback, follow discussion threads, and brainstorm campaigns – all in the cloud, accessible from anywhere. Free trial.
- Google Everything: No, Google isn't rolling out a new productivity suite called Everything; it's just that we didn't want to fill this list with 25 Google tools. So here's a basic rundown of team collaboration tools you can't miss: Gmail, Google Alerts, Google Analytics, Google Apps for Business, Google Calendar, Google Hangouts, Google Insights, and Google Talk. Whew! All free.
What's your favorite collaborative tool? Tell us in the comments.