11 Tools for Remote Marketing Teams

Like most marketing teams, we are doing our best with a small staff and a smaller budget. We also have a team that is spread out across the 50 states. Remote teams are becoming more and more common, so I thought I’d share some of the tools we’ve found that help us get work done.

Video Conferencing:

1. Google Hangouts

The Muppets Rock Out in a Google HangoutIf the Muppets do it, you know it’s cool.

We use Google Hangouts for our weekly update meetings as well as any quick conversations we need to have. Even though we see each other in person sporadically at best, one colleague commented that our team knew each other too well. Facial expressions make up 60% of communication, so the video really helps.

It’s worth noting that some people may not want to use their personal Google accounts for work. You can set up Google+ accounts through email addresses set up through Google Apps for Business, but you will probably run into some confusion with team members having dual accounts.

The Pros:

  • It’s free!
  • Allows screen sharing
  • Allows Google Docs collaboration
  • Apps offer fun options
  • Live-streaming option

The Cons:

  • Limited to 10 participants
  • Require Google accounts for everyone
  • Slight learning curve

2. Skype

Skype is an old standby for traveling students and remote workers. While it’s free for one-to-one video chatting, you’ll need premium accounts for group video chatting. One note: for some reason, using the same internet connection, Skype is usually clearer than Google Hangouts.

The Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Allows screen sharing
  • No special email account required

The Cons:

  • Limited to 10 participants
  • Requires paid accounts (~$5.24/mo. per user)
  • No document sharing
  • No live-streaming

3. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a tool you’ve probably already come across. It’s pretty widely used to generate conference call numbers and share screens. What most people don’t know is that it also offers a video option. The focus definitely isn’t on the video, but it functions pretty well. Each video has a separate window that can be moved around the screen.

The Pros:

  • No accounts required for participants
  • Easy to use
  • Phone only option
  • Up to 25 participants
  • Share 1 account with up to 5 users
  • Built-in screen sharing

The Cons:

  • $49/month
  • Video isn’t focus
  • Document collaboration is through computer controls
  • Invites aren’t as instant

Project Management:

4. Do.com

We use do.com for it’s simplicity and integration with Google Drive. It’s a pretty basic project management system for those of you looking for something without complicated bells and whistles. It has the basics of sending tasks that you can check off that are grouped by projects.

The Pros:

  • Simple to use
  • Integrates with Google Drive
  • It’s free!
  • Free mobile apps available
  • Integrates with Salesforce

The Cons:

  • Lacking in features
  • Pricing goes up with more users

5. Teambox

Teambox is a product that we looked into using, but we honestly didn’t need all of the features . . . yet. The Gantt charts and integration with pretty much every web app make it a robust tool that’s free for up to 5 users. In the future, it may end up being a great way to handle the request volume we get by integrating it with an online request form.

The Pros:

  • Robust feature set
  • Free for up to 5 users
  • Lots of integration options

The Cons:

  • Learning curve
  • Pricing goes up with larger teams
  • Can be complex depending on your needs

6. Basecamp

I’ve used Basecamp before, and it’s a great product. However, the lack of a free option made it less than ideal for us at this time. If you work directly with clients or out-sourced teams, the private options for projects could be a life-saver.

The Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Great calendar feature
  • Continually updated
  • Lots of privacy options

The Cons:

  • No free option
  • No Google Drive integration
  • Not great for Android

Collaboration Tools:

7. ProofHQ

Of all the tools we use, ProofHQ would probably be the hardest to do without (and no, I’m not paid to say that). It’s an online proofing system that allows multiple people to review and sign off on designs and videos. We use it to track version control, produce sales collateral, and signage for events.

It’s worth noting that ProofHQ does integrate very nicely with AtTask, which is a project management tool that I didn’t review above as it’s not in the same quick and easy category. But it could be perfect for a large marketing team.

The Pros:

  • Free to add reviewers
  • Easy to track changes and versions
  • Lots of customization options
  • Email reminders for late proofs

The Cons:

  • Definitely not free
  • Some high-volume reviewers may require project manager accounts
  • Little bit of a learning curve
  • Can destroy your inbox with notifications

8. Google Drive

You may be noticing a trend, but we tend to rely pretty heavily on free Google products. (Google Drive is the new name for Google Docs.) We have live sharing on text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. No more version control! We use Google Drive for copy review, project tracking, and idea generation.

The Pros:

  • It’s free!
  • Easy to use and control versions
  • Lots of sharing and privacy options
  • Integrates with many platforms

The Cons:

  • Requires Google accounts to create documents
  • Increased storage requires payment
  • Spreadsheets and presentations lack some features

Communication Tools:

9. Chat Services

We, predictably, use Google Hangouts’ chat function (formerly Google Talk) pretty heavily. That said, we also use Microsoft’s Lync for chats outside our marketing department. There are loads of different chats you can use, so I’ll just give my basic pro’s and con’s for instant messaging as a whole.

The Pros:

  • Most are free!
  • Quick communication for updates
  • Unclutter your inbox
  • Usually multi-platform

The Cons:

  • Can create misunderstandings
  • Tendency toward impersonal communication
  • Can lead to gratuitous YouTube link sharing

10. Yammer

Yammer is pretty much like Facebook for businesses. Your community is based on your work email address. So, in our case, anyone with an @randallreilly.com email address is automatically part of our network. It works great to cut down on all those emails with links to articles and videos related to your work.

The Pros:

  • It’s free!
  • Great for information sharing
  • Allows file sharing and announcements
  • Free mobile apps

The Cons:

  • Can create platform clutter
  • Company-wide adoption can be difficult
  • Email addresses have to be shutdown to remove users

11. The Telephone

Don’t underestimate the advantage of a phone call. There is no learning curve, the communication is usually pretty clear, and you aren’t usually leaving a digital trail if the conversation goes off-the-record. I try to schedule regular one-on-one phone calls with each of my team members. My goal is to allow those conversations to wander purposely so that I get the personal feedback that’s just hard to get any other way (other than, you know, an in-person conversation).

The Pros:

  • It’s easy and personal.

The Cons:

  • It’s not very cool.

I hope our journey through the new world of remote working helps you in yours. We’re still figuring out the best ways to manage everything, so if you have any tips for us, please leave us a comment!