The AMA MicroDigital Guide to top digital tools and apps

The AMA MicroDigital Guide to top digital tools and apps

SUMMARY

A living guide to the the top digital tools and apps developed as part of the AMA's MicroDigital programme. If you use a tool or app to support your digital marketing and engagement that's not in the Guide do let us know.

Table of contents

Content writing tools

Social media marketing apps to grow your networks

Productivity apps to organise your marketing efforts

Communication apps to collaborate with your team

Journey mapping tools that help optimise user experience

Visual content and design apps to enhance content creation

Accessibility tools to ensure your website and digital content is open to all

Green thinking tools to keep your content environmentally friendly

Tools to manage your SEO traffic

Ideas generation tools to aid creative thinking

Audio and Podcasting tools


Content writing tools

A long desk with people using laptops and writing on notepads.
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Hemingway Editor

A free, online, easy to use tool tool that highlights lengthy, complex sentences and corrects common writing errors.

Pros:

  • Hemingway is a free online tool that makes your writing bold and clear
  • Excellent for editing shorter pieces of copy
  • Great for assessing the readability and complexity of your writing

Cons:

  • Grammar capabilities don't measure up to other tools like Grammarly
  • Not as good for longer pieces of copy
  • No option to undo the corrections you make

Bottom line: A free way to make your copy clear and accessible.

Grammarly 

A free option that scans your text for common grammatical errors, explains your mistakes and gives you a weekly progress report.

Pros:

  • Works across a wide range of platforms including WordPress, Facebook, Twitter
  • Accurate and simple to use
  • Easy to understand explanations

Cons:

  • It's free version is limited
  • It doesn't work on everything
  • Constant calls to upgrade

Bottom line: A great free option to check and improve your writing.

More copywriting tools that can help

Copywritely: SEO content analysis software that can also be used for writing any kind of copy

Cliché Finder: highlights overused and stale expressions in your writing

Unsuck It: turns jargon into words that others can understand

Written? Kitten!: After every 100 words you're rewarded with a picture of a kitten, puppy or bunny.

Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator: enter up to 5 nouns to generate some great content titles to help you start writing.

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Social media marketing apps to grow your networks 

Close-up of an eye. The pupil has the logos and colours of social media platforms.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Buffer

A straightforward scheduling tool with added features that allow you to measure and report on your progress.

Pros:

  • Easy to share content across multiple social media sites with the click of a button
  • Quick and easy setup
  • Allows multiple users

Cons:

  • Many features only available on the Pro version
  • Tracking and analytics basic compared to other platforms
  • Limitations in its integration with some social networks

Bottom line: A robust tool for analysing how your audience is responding to your posts

Hootsuite

The leading social media management dashboard that allows you to manage multiple networks and profiles and measure your engagement.

Pros:

  • Easy and quick to create and launch campaigns
  • Monitors post performance and trends
  • Customised analytics

Cons:

  • No simple post preview - can depend on trial and error
  • Only Owly short links can be used
  • Free plan limited to 1 user and 2 social accounts

Bottom line: The market leader for a reason.

Best of the rest

Sprout Social: clean dashboard with presentation-ready reports at no extra cost

Sendible: slick, intuitive user interface allows you to manage your social media campaigns with ease

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Productivity apps to organise your marketing efforts

Anopenlaptop, smart phone, notepad and pen and a cup of coffee

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Trello

Gives your team the ability to quickly set up and customise workflows for just about anything.

Pros:

  • Simple and straightforward interface
  • Great for capturing thoughts and turning them into tasks
  • Ability to add links, notes and attachments to each card

Cons:

  • Rigid, column-based structure can make more complex projects difficult to visualise
  • Free version limiting for a larger group
  • Doesn't show task dependencies so tracking specific tasks and project scheduling is more challenging

Bottom line: Great free solution for small teams and simple, general project management but hampered by lack of integration

Monday.com

Powerful project management software that helps teams plan and execute projects that deliver results on time, whether you are in the office, home or out and about.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and flexible
  • Includes time tracking, automated notifications, dependencies, timeline views and integrations
  • Many ways to manage a single project

Cons:

  • Occasional glitches with time tracking
  • Linking boards/projects can be complicated
  •  Projects on hold need to be archived

Bottom line: Gives you the ability to shape your workflow in a way that works for your team

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Communication apps to collaborate with your team 

Two sheep lookiing at each each other with their mouths open

Image by suju-foto from Pixabay

Slack

A feature-filled tool that allows you to bring all of your work communications into one place

Pros:

  • Rich set of tools and options
  • Highly customisable
  • Integrates with many other collaboration and office tools

Cons:

  • Free version is limited
  • Paid plans expensive compared to competitors
  • Multiple, simultaneous conversations can be difficult to keep up with

Bottom line: One of the best team messaging apps because it offers more, but at a price

Teams 

A shared workspace for applications in Microsoft Office like Planner, Outlook, Sharepoint, OneDrive etc

Pros:

  • Makes sense if your team already uses Microsoft Office 365
  • Customisable to meet the requirement of your team including APIs and bot frameworks
  • Any Office 365 app can be integrated into the Teams workspace

Cons:

  • Doesn't cache info so needs constant internet connection
  • Microsoft-centric - not for you if you don't use Office 365
  • Even with separate channels going back through conversations to find a specific topic can be challenging

Bottom line: There's a lot to love about Microsoft Teams and the improved and new features keep coming

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Journey mapping tools that help optimise user experience of your website 

A tablet with a finger pointing at an open page about online marketingImage by muneebfarman from Pixabay

FullStory

A web-based 'digital intelligence system' that combines quantitative and qualitative data on how people are using your site.

Pros:

  • Everything is indexed individually from clicks to page transitions
  • Session playbacks are more than just a recording and give a view into each part of the user journey
  • Omnisearch gives you the ability to inspect your users' activity, identify rage clicks, create funnels and review page analytics on the dashboard

Cons:

  • Initial setup can be challenging
  • Huge amount of data can cloud analysis and insight
  • Expensive compared to other options

Bottom line: All the bells and whistles but a pricey option if you don't make full use of its many features

Hotjar

Makes it easy to go beyond traditional web analytics and understand what people are really doing on your site

Pros:

  • Heat mapping shows % of users clicking on each element of a page
  • Session recordings record mouse movements, clicks, pages and scrolls in a video format
  • User details are anonymous and is GDPR compliant

Cons:

  • Can slow down your page load significantly
  • Survey customisation is limited
  • Free version has limited features

Bottom line: Easy to implement, use and analyse data with a free forever version

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Visual content and design apps to enhance content creation 

A desktop screen with a phone surrounded by lots of paper and coloured markers. A hand is highlighting designs on one of the pieces of paper.

 Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

Canva

The easy way to create high impact social media graphics and marketing materials. boost your creativity and produce professional results

Pros:

  • Free version has 250,000+ templates, 100+ design types plus free photos and graphics
  • All the premium features of Canva Pro are free to charities and nonprofits with charitable aims.  Apply here
  • Easy to use with helpful video tutorials

Cons:

  • Some new features e.g. online presentations are more difficult to get to grips with
  • No ability to collaborate with another person on your team in real time
  • It's easy to over-estimate your design ability

Bottom line: Design at your fingertips. Allows people with limited graphic design skills to produce something with real impact

Envato Elements 

A paid membership that gives you access to a wide range of assets in one place including video templates, music and audio, graphic and presentation templates, fonts, Wordpress themes and 3D

Pros:

  • A one-stop shop for a wide range of digital assets
  • Unlimited download subscription
  • One, single-use commercial licence

Cons:

  • Even though the price is competitive it may still be expensive for small organisations
  • Videos are downloaded in .mov format and it takes a while to convert them
  • Each item needs to e re-licensed every time you use it

Bottom line: Useful for video templates, motion graphics and audio files but there are free/lower cost options

More digital asset tools to support your content creation

Photo Editors

Pixlr X: free online photo editor with support for layers and an array of tools for painting and drawing. A great choice for even advanced tasks

BeFunky: a powerful, yet easy to use photo editor, collage maker and graphic designer for web.

Video Editors

iMovie: create and edit videos with ease.  For iOS and macOS

Lumen5: creates engaging videos from your existing content

Filmora Wondershare: video editing solutionwith a great learning centre and lots of features

Free images, video and music

PixelBay: Over 2.3 million free stock images, videos and music. One of our favourites

Unsplash: A great source of free images

GIF creators 

Giphy: find the perfect Gif or create your own

Wondershare Filmora: create GIFs in any format with effects, text and subtitles

Gickr: free GIF creator from Flickr

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Accessibility assessment tools to ensure your website and digital content is open to all

A finger touches a smart phone against a backdrop of a myriad of faces

WebAim Contrast Checker:  make sure the colours on your website are accessible online.

Lighthouse: an open source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps and more. It's not just for developers. It now comes built into Google Chrome and you can run it yourself on any website. There are a few ways to access Lighthouse. Our friends at Supercool show us how.

ChromeVox: a free Chrome extension from Google that works as a screenreader. Chromevox doesn't work exactly like the most commonly used screenreaders, so it's not a perfect replacement. However, it can still give you some good insights into how some of your users are accessing your site. How to install and run.

WAVE: a web accessibility evaluation tool developed by WebAim.org that works within the Chrome browser.

Otter.ai: one of the best speech-to-text apps available. It's not perfect but gives fast, accurate transcription and has a user-friendly interface.

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Green thinking tools to keep your content environmentally friendly

A miniature oak tree in a broken glass globe surrounded by oak leaves

Website Carbon Calculator: enter the URL of any website and it will calculate the estimated CO2 emissions and also give you tips on how they could be reduced.

The Green Web Foundation: a great tool to check if your web host operates sustainably

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Tools to manage your SEO traffic 

Scrabble letters spell out S-E-O
Image by SPA Västkusten from Pixabay

Google Search Console

Tools and reports to help you measure your site's Search traffic and performance, fix issues and improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Pros:

  • Convenient dashboard
  • Easy to set up (especially in conjunction with Google Analytics)
  • Easily identify best performing pages on a site

Cons:

  • Some features only work well in conjunction with other Google tools
  • Amount of data can be overwhelming and make it difficult to prioritise action
  • Data is delayed by a few days

Bottom line: Everyone wants to rank better in Google search results and this helps you do just that.

Hubspot Website Grader 

Website Grader evaluates traffic, on- and off-page SEO, page speed insights, mobile optimization and other technical factors that influence the performance of your website.

Pros:

  • Learn about your website's performance in seconds
  • Identify specific performance issues and receive clear, actionable feedback on how you can fix them
  • Gain access to a five-lesson course on Website Optimisation

Cons:

  • Can be lulled into a false sense of security if your site gets a high score
  • Your score is based on many measurements - areas that need improvement can get lost
  • Suggestions for improvement are often overly technical/difficult to implement

Bottom line:  Free and easy to use it automatically generates results displayed on a simple dashboard and provides recommendations.

Other tools to improve your SEO

Screaming Frog SEO Spider: a website crawler that helps improve your onsite SEO by extracting data and auditing for common SEO issues. Download and crawl 500 URLS for free.

Ahrefs: an all-in-one SEO toolset with free learning materials and community support

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Ideas Generation tools to aid creative thinking 

An open laptop. The screen is covered with different coloured post-it notes of various sizes

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

IdeaFlip: share sticky note boards with your team and work together remotely. Yes these are virtual sticky notes that feel like real ones. You can brainstorm, organise, vote, annotate, connect and export.

Mural: a digital workspace for visual collaboration. Templates for brainstorming and ideation, strategy and planning, meetings and workshops and more.

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Audio and podcasting tools 

A large microphone in front of multicoloured soundwaves
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Podbean: a podcasting hosting platform with all the features you need to publish, distribute and promote your podcast.

Reaper: a digital audio workstation that offers multi-channel recording, mixing, and mastering at a bargain price.

Headliner: an app that makes marketing your podcast easy. Just upload your audio, add animations, captions, pictures and more to create a video trailer to share over your social platforms.

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Last updated July 2021.

Anything missing? Email us with your suggestions - we're keen to make this guide as useful as possible.

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Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2021