Seven Google Apps Advisors Should Use
Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.
Google dominates our online personal lives with its search engine, Chrome browser, and multitude of tools. In fact, Google has over 245 million unique users in the United States and captures over 80% share of desktop search traffic. If you aren’t utilizing it in your financial advisory firm, you’re missing out.
Financial advisors are constantly working 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’s always an email to send or respond to, a document to read or approve, and the never-ending responsibility of running a business.
One reason Google apps are so valuable to advisors is because of the free and low-cost tools that keep your business running smoothly. In a world where people expect access 24/7, having tools that function both on the web and on mobile devices is highly appealing. Add in the fact that so many of the tools Google offers are free, and it’s not hard to see why using Google for business is so convenient.
As someone who uses several of the Google tools in my own business, there are certain ones I recommend to my clients when they’re looking for a way to make their everyday tasks a little easier.
Let’s look at seven ways you can make the most of Google apps in your business.
Gmail is one of the most credible and well-known email platforms and the first tool I recommend to my clients.
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 for Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos. Users have the option to upgrade to 100 GB for a small monthly fee, 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 follows format of [email protected] Keep it professional and keep it simple. I recommend going the paid route with Gmail so you can get your email set up on your web domain and create a customized email address (eg, [email protected]).
Another great feature of Gmail is the ability to create templates. Most of us have certain types of emails we write over and over, so templates are timesavers. Once you create a template, the next time you compose a new message, you can insert the template. You’re allowed to store up to 50 templates at time, which is more than enough for most businesses.
Most of us have had a situation where we sent an email and immediately realized we made a mistake or sent it to the wrong person and wished we could rewind and do it over. With Gmail’s “Undo Send” feature, you have a window of time where you can essentially recall the email. You can set the undo window from five to 30 seconds in your settings.
One of my favorite features of Gmail is the ability to schedule emails to send later. This feature allows you to write an email and schedule a specific date and time for it to go out. You can have up to 100 scheduled emails in your queue, which means you can work ahead of time and know your emails will be delivered exactly on schedule.
- Google Drive
Google Drive is another incredibly useful tool, not only for business but for personal use. It’s cloud-based storage, document management, and file collaboration all in one. Google Drive is secure and takes going paperless to a whole new level. You can store your documents and other files like videos, images and spreadsheets, grant access to specific people, and determine what level of access they can have (viewing only or editing).
Google Drive also includes Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms – a full office suite – all for free! The most significant benefit of using these apps is that they automatically update and save your changes as you work. In the not-so-distant past when a team was working on a project, there was a string of emails and attachments and multiple versions of a document going back and forth as everyone provided input and feedback. 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 of Google Drive you get 15 GB to store any file, but there are affordable options to pay to expand your storage if you need more space.
Almost everyone has moved to a digital calendar, so if you’re already using Google for your business, it makes sense to use its calendar.
The free version that comes with Gmail has a few options worth mentioning. You can sync and share events with team members and even share entire calendars.
One of the most useful features is the ability to create multiple calendars within your main calendar view. Let’s say you want to view your personal, work, family schedules, team schedules, conference room usage and anything else. You can create separate calendars for each one. With a simple click in a checkbox, you can choose which ones you can see at any given time – and hide the ones you don’t need to view currently.
There’s also a feature that allows you to add outside (or public) calendars by having access to the URL. You can find everything from sports team schedules to local public events calendars. As long as the organization has made its calendar public and you can find the link to it, you can add its calendar to your view.
For those of you who use scheduling tools like Calendly or Acuity, they will seamlessly integrate with your Google Calendar. This means anything booked through the scheduling tool will automatically import to your calendar, ensuring you never miss a meeting or appointment.
Also, Google Calendar integrates with Google Maps when adding locations to your appointments, as well as offering reminders and options to schedule, accept, and reject appointment invites all within your email.
If your office works with Outlook, no worries. Google Calendar is fully compatible with Microsoft Outlook.
- Google Meet and Hangouts
Webinars and web chats are more popular than ever, and having virtual ways to communicate, connect and collaborate is essential. To maximize the use of Google for your business, then Google Meet is an ideal solution.
Google Meet offers an unlimited number of meetings, along with multiple free features, including live captioning during meetings, controls for the meeting hosts, screen sharing, and messaging with participants. It’s compatible across devices, so you can connect with anyone, anywhere.
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’s a chat platform that’s 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’s even a video chat feature.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free web analytic tool analyze your website traffic. Your website is the center 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 Analytics is a critical tool for search engine optimization (SEO). By understanding where you rank in search engine results and what keywords are popular with your target audience, you can craft your content in a way designed to get the most traction.
- Google My Business
I’ve written an article on why you should “Google” your own business, but I’ll mention it again here. It’s so important to not only show up in searches, but to do everything you can to ensure that the information that’s showing up for your business on the web is correct and complete.
By using Google My Business, you can verify your account and business ownership, add photos and videos, and provide detailed business information like office hours, location specifics, and phone numbers.
Google is where your potential clients are going to search for you for the first time, and often to find your contact info even once they become a customer, so you want to be sure your business is easy to find online and that the information listed is correct.
- Google Chrome and Extensions
If you’re using Google platforms, it’s important that you’re 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’s compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android. Plus, it’s one of the most secure browsers on the market with constant updates to resolve security concerns and fix bugs.
Chrome Extensions are browser-based plug-ins designed to extend the functionality of your browser within Google Chrome. They’re easy to install and use and can make it easier to be productive and stay organized. You can organize your extension shortcuts to be easily accessed, allowing you to do things like sync calendars, share information, and clip screen shots all with the click of one button.
The list of apps that you can install and use in conjunction with Chrome is endless. There’s 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 Click&Clean, and Grammarly. I use both of these apps in my business daily, and having them integrated into my web browser makes my life that much easier.
Bookmarks can make your life much easier. By bookmarking and organizing the links you go to regularly, you’ll save yourself even more time.
Leveraging Google for your business
Google has so much to offer for both your business and your personal life. By optimizing your use of these tools, you can work more efficiently, be more organized, and even gain valuable insight into how to best reach your audience and capitalize on your marketing opportunities.
If you have any questions or think that Crystal Marketing Solutions could help you with your marketing needs, please reach out.
Crystal Lee Butler, MBA is a creative marketer and results-oriented business consultant with over a decade of experience collaborating with independent advisors. 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.