Google’s Hidden Gems
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Google dominates our on-line personal lives. If you are not utilizing it in your financial advisory firm as well, you are missing out. While there is a paid option for businesses called G Suite, there are also tons of free tools that you can use to keep your office running smoothly.
Advisors are constantly in communication with clients, other advisors, team members, and so many others that the need for seamless communication and collaboration is high on their priority list. There is always an email to send or respond to, a document to read or approve and the never-ending responsibility of running an office – itself a daunting task.
There are a few free tools that I use in my business and always recommend to my clients when they are looking for a way to make their everyday tasks a little easier.
Google is one of the most credible and well-known email platforms. One of the main things I love is the large storage capacity. With Gmail, you never have to erase your email archives. With the free version, you get 15 GB of storage and cloud-based accessibility. To upgrade to 100 GB it is $1.99/month, which is what I use. I did not need to do this in my first few years, but when I finally did need to upgrade storage, it was well worth it. If you use the free version to set up an email account for your business, you get to choose your own email address that will follow the standard format of [email protected] Keep it professional and keep it simple. Ideally, and what I recommend, is to go the paid route with Gmail, for $50 per user/per year and you can get your email set up on your web domain and create a customized email address ([email protected]).
Google Drive is another life-changing tool, not only for business but for personal use as well. It is cloud-based storage, document management and file collaboration all in one. It is secure and takes going paperless to a whole new level. With Google Drive, you can store all of your documents, grant access to specific people, and determine what level of access they have. With Google Drive also comes the use of Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms – all for free!
The most significant benefit to using these tools is that they automatically update as you work. In the not-so-distant past when a team was working on a project together, there was always the string of emails and attachments and multiple versions of a document going back and forth as everyone provided input and feedback. Now with Google’s business productivity tools you can create the document, share it, and set permissions. All previous versions are saved for reference if they are ever needed. You and your team can work on it, at the same time, with real-time comments and chat. Talk about true team collaboration! With the free version you get 15 GB to store any file, but there are options to pay to expand your storage if your needs warrant more space.
Almost everyone has moved to a digital calendar. The one that comes free with Gmail has a few options worth mentioning. You can sync and share events with team members. You can even share entire calendars. One of the best features is the ability to create multiple calendars within your main calendar view. Let’s say you want to view your personal, work, kids’ schedules, team schedules, conference room usage and anything else. You can create separate calendars for each different need. With a simple click in a checkbox, you can choose which ones you can see at any given time.
There is also a feature that allows you to add outside (or public) calendars by having access to the URL. You will find anything from sports teams to local public events. As long as they have made their calendar public and searchable you can add their calendar to your view.
Google Calendar also allows for seamless integration with Google Maps when adding locations to your appointments, reminder options and even has options to schedule, accept, and reject appointment invites all within your email. If your office is required to work with Outlook, no worries. Google Calendar is fully compatible with Microsoft Outlook as well.
Managing a team can be hard on your email inbox, but it doesn’t have to be. There are so many options available to limit the need for an email back and forth and to handle quick questions, comments and updates. One of those options is Google Hangouts. It is a chat/messenger that is integrated within Gmail. This tool works very much like the old AOL Messenger. You can have conversations with one person or add a group chat. There is even a video chat feature.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool to help you analyze your website traffic. Your website is the center of all of your online marketing efforts. It helps to know some numbers so that you can track how you are doing. I went into more detail about the importance of tracking data in this article.
With Google Analytics you can view and track website visitors, where they came from, what they did while they are on your website, as well as useful information about each visitor. Using this information helps you target your content to the people who are visiting your site the most and helps you see areas that are not getting as much traffic as they should.
Google My Business
I have done a separate blog on why you should “Google” your own business, but I will mention it again here. It is so important to not only show up in searches but to do everything you can to ensure that the information that is showing up is correct and complete. By using Google My Business you can verify your account, add photos and videos, and provide detailed business information like office hours, location specifics, and phone numbers.
This is where most of your potential clients are going to go to search for you for the first time. You want to make sure all of the information they find is correct.
Google Chrome and extensions
If you are using Google platforms it is important that you are also using Google Chrome as your web browser. There are instances where some applications created by one company don’t play nicely with software developed by someone else. You may experience glitches and problems, so I always recommend using Google Chrome.
Chrome has a simple design that is very responsive and easy to navigate. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. It is also one of the most secure browsers with constantly released updates to resolve security concerns and fix bugs.
Last, but surely not least, are the endless number of apps that you can install and use in conjunction with Chrome. There is a dedicated store for installing applications/extensions. Some are free and some you have to purchase, but they all work seamlessly within Google Chrome. Some of my favorites are LastPass, Click&Clean, and Grammarly. These are all programs that I use daily for my business and having them integrated into my web browser makes my life that much easier.
Google goes a step farther than just apps and extensions for Chrome. There are also integrations with your email.
Boomerang for Gmail is an integration that lets you write an email now and schedule it to be sent automatically at another time. It also has a great reminder system that allows you to move messages from your inbox and remind you to follow up at a later date. It also can remind you if you sent an email to someone and you haven’t gotten a response – it will just move it back to your inbox and ask you if you want to follow up. It’s like your very own personal assistant for your email.
Streak is an internal customer relationship management (CRM) system that works inside of Gmail. The thought behind this integration is that you are communicating with most of your contacts or clients within your email, so why not track your CRM data there as well. It can pull your Gmail conversations automatically into your CRM without you having to do any manual entry. It is also very simple to install, learn and use. This cuts down on training time or complex onboarding processes.
I have touched briefly on a few of the top reasons why I use Google platforms and I hope I have been able to introduce you to a few new tips and tools that you didn’t previously know. If you have any questions or you think that Crystal Marketing Solutions could help you with your marketing needs, please feel free to reach out.
Crystal Lee Butler, MBA is a creative marketer and results-oriented business consultant with over a decade of experience collaborating with independent advisers. At Crystal Marketing Solutions, she delivers exceptional insights for financial professionals enabling them to create a consistent marketing presence so they can focus on the things that matter most to them.