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Guest Blog: Chris Measures - 5 top tools every creative should master
5 technologies that every creative person should master
By Chris Measures (@chrismeasures)
Anyone that has been in the creative industries for more than ten years has seen technology completely change how they work. Designers have moved from manually sketching graphics to creating them online, while marketers can now use campaign planning tools to track the success of their programmes in real-time. Skype powers international conference calls while allowing you to share your screen. Google Hangouts provide video-based meetings. Even more basic technology steps such as the advent of email and the internet itself have transformed how creatives operate.
As well as specialised software and services for different parts of the sector there are now a number of online tools that benefit anyone creative. So here’s my top five technologies that you should look to master, whether you work in PR, design or more general marketing. All of these are completely or partially free, meaning you can play with them without investing anything except your time.
1 Google Analytics
Whatever your project, you need to demonstrate that it has achieved its objectives. And nine times out of ten this involves driving traffic to a particular website or a specific web page. As a free tool Google Analytics provides site owners with the ability to see exactly where traffic comes from, how long visitors spend on a site, what they do while there and where they then go. Creatives need to understand how to use Google Analytics so that they can track the impact of their work and report back on it to clients. At the very least run it on your own website to analyse incoming traffic as part of your new business strategy.
2 Online Surveys
Market research used to be expensive and time-consuming, but the internet has changed all of this. While you can still employ a market research agency, particularly if you want verified, statistically valid findings, for other feedback you can use online survey platforms, such as Survey Monkey, Toluna or Usurv. These let you create a questionnaire and then send the link to your own audience or, in some cases access the platform’s pre-selected groups that meet your criteria. Online surveys can provide instant feedback and A/B testing, giving you the ability to ask questions such as “Do consumers prefer my logo in red or blue?” or “What’s the most you’ll pay for this product?”. Creatives need to learn how to use online survey platforms, understand the differences between them and be able to talk confidently about the results to clients.
3 File sharing
The days of sending enormous files to hundreds of people and never having the right version to hand are over. Whether it is using Google Docs, Dropbox, iCloud or any of the many other file sharing platforms out there, creatives now have the ability to easily upload and collaborate on documents, both internally and with clients. Ensure you are registered on the most common platforms so that you can share information with clients, wherever they and you are in the world.
4 Newsletter management
Let’s face it, Outlook isn’t designed for heavy-duty email use. So if you want to send out email newsletters you need something specialised, such as MailChimp or SendGrid. These provide the ability to design your newsletter, add personalisation for individuals and track metrics such as delivery and open rates amongst your database of contacts. Each one requires basic design and layout skills, so invest the time in learning how to use them to best advantage if you want your campaigns to resonate with key audiences.
5 Content Management Systems
When websites were new, getting content onto them was a complex and time-consuming process, often involving the IT department. The good news is that content management systems (CMS) are now much more powerful and easy to use – and don’t require you to plead with IT staff. Whether it is WordPress, Drupal or other systems, getting your content up, either as a blog or fully-fledged website, is now something you can do yourself in minutes rather than hours. Learn how to use the most common CMSs on the market – each have their own idiosyncrasies that you need to master if you are to get the most out of them.
There are bound to be other tools out there that creatives swear by in terms of making their jobs easier and workloads more manageable. Drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any that you rate highly, and if I get enough I’ll create a second post highlighting them.
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