The AMA MicroDigital Guide to top digital tools and apps. Updated October 2023.
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. Updated October 2023 to include AI-driven tools.
Table of contents
A free, online, easy to use tool that highlights lengthy, complex sentences and corrects common writing errors.
- 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
- 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.
AI update: Try out a beta of the new AI-driven Hemingway app. (as at October 2023)
A free option that scans your text for common grammatical errors, explains your mistakes and gives you a weekly progress report.
- Works across a wide range of platforms including WordPress, Facebook, Twitter
- Accurate and simple to use
- Easy to understand explanations
- 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.
AI update: Grammarly says its generative AI finds ways to make your writing shine and gives you new versions to consider. And it certainly does. It includes copy that speaks in your voice with options for tone, formality and professional relevance. It can also be used for idea generation and to expedite your email replies. 100 prompts a month for free plus Premium, Teams and Enterprise options.
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
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.
Other AI-driven options
- Copy.ai: AI-powered copywriting assistant that generates marketing copy from briefs and keywords. Includes 'Brand Voice' option and tailors for maximum SEO. (Free version available)
- Writesonic: AI copywriting tool that creates marketing copy, product descriptions and more. (14-day free trial, paid plans start at $15/month)
A straightforward scheduling tool with added features that allow you to measure and report on your progress.
- Easy to share content across multiple social media sites with the click of a button
- Quick and easy setup
- Allows multiple users
- 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
AI Update: All the above but supercharged. Includes idea generation, repurposing posts, instant posts - all personalised for your brand. Buffer AI Assistant
The leading social media management dashboard that allows you to manage multiple networks and profiles and measure your engagement.
- Easy and quick to create and launch campaigns
- Monitors post performance and trends
- Customised analytics
- 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. Increase in pricing might see move to other platforms.
AI Update: Hootsuite has developed Owly and given it AI wings. OwlyWriter AI instantly generates captions and adapts social content across all platforms. Currently free for all Hootsuite users. (as at October 2023) OwlyWriterAI
Best of the rest
Pallyy: budget alternative to Hootsuite that covers scheduling, analytics, reporting and comes complete with a social inbox. Slick user interface and quick to roll out improvements e.g. one of the first to add TikTok scheduling.
Social Pilot: attracting lots of former Hootsuite users for its easy to digest analytics and budget pricing
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
Other AI-driven options
- SocialPilot Zia: AI assistant inside SocialPilot (see above) social media management tool that provides content ideas and recommendations (Paid plans only, start at £22/month. Free 14-day trial)
Gives your team the ability to quickly set up and customise workflows for just about anything.
- Simple and straightforward interface
- Great for capturing thoughts and turning them into tasks
- Ability to add links, notes and attachments to each card
- 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
AI update: Uses ChatGPT AI Assistant to make your workflow even simpler and more efficient.
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.
- Easy to use and flexible
- Includes time tracking, automated notifications, dependencies, timeline views and integrations
- Many ways to manage a single project
- 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
AI update: monday AI is currently in Beta Testing and is available on all plans. ( as at October 2023)
A feature-filled tool that allows you to bring all of your work communications into one place
- Rich set of tools and options
- Highly customisable
- Integrates with many other collaboration and office tools
- 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
AI update: Slackbot is an AI-powered virtual assistant inside Slack that can answer questions, set reminders, create polls and more (Free with Slack)
A shared workspace for applications in Microsoft Office like Planner, Outlook, Sharepoint, OneDrive etc
- 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
- 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
AI update: Microsoft Copilot uses artificial intelligence to make suggestions and complete tasks as you work in Microsoft Teams. It can suggest calendar appointments based on meeting notes, generate to-do lists from emails, and even write full email responses to save you time.
A web-based 'digital intelligence system' that combines quantitative and qualitative data on how people are using your site.
- 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
- 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
AI update: FullStory has partnered with Google Cloud to develop advanced generative AI solutions.
Makes it easy to go beyond traditional web analytics and understand what people are really doing on your site
- 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
- 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
AI update: All of the above but quicker and more effective. Creates surveys in a click and instantly summarises findings. Available to try for free. Hotjar AI
The easy way to create high impact social media graphics and marketing materials. boost your creativity and produce professional results
- 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
- 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
AI Update: Canva's Magic Studio brings together AI tools to help at every stage of your design process. It can design presentations, videos and social posts. It can swap formats, languages, formats. It can turn text into video or images and of course edit and redesign to your heart's content. Be careful though - it can save you lots of time and enhance your skills but it's easy to lose hours just playing.
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
- A one-stop shop for a wide range of digital assets
- Unlimited download subscription
- One, single-use commercial licence
- 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
An all-in-one platform that helps achieve professional results quickly and easily. Includes editing tools, effects, graphics & stock photos.
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Great stock library with over 50,000 vector graphics and icons and 2.5+ million stock photos
- Free image compressor to reduce your page weight, reduce your carbon footprint and reduce loading time
- Basic account offers free access to wide range of tools without registration
- No free trial for Plus features
- Limited features compared to some others
More digital asset tools to support your content creation
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.
iMovie: create and edit videos with ease. For iOS and macOS
Motionbox: create videos and motion graphics quickly and easily. Easy to collaborate across teams.
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
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
AI update: Go to The 5 best AI tools for content marketing
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.
AI update: Otter.ai as the name suggests has always been AI-driven. Its AI-powered transcription tool continues to improve and generates notes, summaries and action items from meetings/calls (Free version includes 300 monthly transcription minutes. Paid version starts at $10 per user/month.
accessiBe: Scans website and automatically generates alt text, site navigation fixes and more (Free trial, paid plans start at $49/month)
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
Colorcinch image compressor - easy and free way to reduce your digital carbon footprint
Tools and reports to help you measure your site's Search traffic and performance, fix issues and improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- Convenient dashboard
- Easy to set up (especially in conjunction with Google Analytics)
- Easily identify best performing pages on a site
- 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.
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.
- 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
- 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
AI update: Just a quick mention of Jasper, an AI writing tool with SEO-optimisation at its core. In their words, 'Not just faster. Better.' Free trial then plans start from $39 a month.
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.
- IdeaSpot - AI-Powered Brainstorming: Uses AI to generate new ideas and perspectives to spark creativity in brainstorming sessions (Free version with limited sessions)
- Ideanote - AI Writing Assistant: Suggests related ideas as you brainstorm in the Ideanote ideation platform (Free version available)
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.
Canva: If you're already using Canva (review above) it will easily create a QR code for use in your designs.
Beaconstac: Offers free version. Consider signing up for a free trial to experience its potential including comprehensive analytics and Google Analytics integration.
QR Code Generator: Easy to add a logo and download a static QR code. Worth checking out the free trial but better options for paid plans.
ForQRCode: Customizable colours, shapes and pictures, easy to download, free generator. Basic and need to cope with lots of ads.
QRCode Monkey: Lots of free templates, customisable to match your brand, quick download.
Looker Studio: (Formerly Google Data Studio). Transforms data into meaningful presentations, charts and dashboards. Easy to use, seemless integration with other Google products and both free and pro versions.
Microsoft Power BI: If you're already using Microsoft this is an easy way to produce charts and graphs using a simple drag-and-drop interface. The free version lets you connect to 70+ data sources, publish to the web, and export to PowerPoint, Excel and CSV.
Claude: A powerful, flexible chatbot that collaborates with you, writes for you, and answers your questions. Powered by Anthropic's LLM (large language model) it's currently available free in the UK and US. (as at October 2023). Unlike others in the AI space Anthropic is a public benefit company and has an underlying ethos of being 'helpful, harmless and honest'. There's also a Claude Pro version with additional benefits available at £18 a month. Find out more in this article: Everything you need to know about Claude by Ryan Kane on the Zapier blog.
- Great at writing natural sounding copy. Upload examples of the style you want and tell Claude who you want them to write for. If they don't get it right the first time tell them why.
- Great for editing, proofing, checking accuracy and making summaries.
- Ability to work with large documents through file upload. You can upload 5 different files in a single chat, up to 100K words in total. The more information you feed Claude the better their answer.
- You need to remind it not to forget specific instructions. So if you ask Claude to change its tone say to write for a specific audience it will do that but might forget another thing you've asked it to do.
- Free plan has a limited number of conversations.
ChatGPT: ChatGPT describes itself as an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI, capable of generating human-like text based on context and past conversations. That doesn't really do its capabilities anything like justice. September 2023 saw ChatGPT leap ahead of competitors once more with the launch of GPT-4 packed with advanced features. GPT 3.5 is available for free. GPT 4 is available from $20/month. A great guide on how to use ChatGPT by Jessica Lau on the Zapier blog. (October 17 2023)
- Best at reasoning, developing strategy, testing ideas and bringing things together.
- Excels at data and sentiment analysis.
- Can easily edit prompts for maximum use.
- The amount of conversation it can remember is limited. When it loses memory it can start coming back with rubbish so be careful.
- Copywriting with ChatGPT often reproduces robotic, generic, non-natural sounding text that's obviously written by AI. You can improve this by asking for it to write in a specific tone or style and give examples of your brand voice - copywriting is not its strength.
Last updated October 2023.
Anything missing? Email us with your suggestions - we're keen to make this guide as useful as possible.