Business owners should constantly be looking for technology to make their business and employees more productive. While computers and smart phones come with a calendar, it might not be the best option for you or your business. Thankfully, there isn’t a shortage of other options.
Shared calendar apps make it easier to collaborate with co-workers and schedule meetings. Business News Daily talked to business owners to learn which shared calendar apps they use and why.
Here are the top six shared calendar apps they recommended.
Asana is more than a shared calendar app. While it has calendar features, it also makes it easy to manage team projects and tasks. The Timeline feature shows every piece of a project, how it all fits together and helps you track changes. Asana has a mobile app and has more than 100 integrations.
Asana doesn’t have a free plan, but it offers free trials and a lite version.
“Asana isn’t just a calendar though, it’s an enterprise resource planner that includes a shared calendar function, but it also provides other collaboration tools we require,” said David Alexander, designer, developer and digital marketer at Mazepress. “The pro of this approach includes having task management, communication and reporting tools all within a single interface … put simply, it’s one of the tools I couldn’t live without.”
Calendly is automated scheduling software that works with your calendar to automatically check your availability. It claims to help schedule meetings without a lot of back-and-forth emails. Other features include the ability to schedule buffer time between meetings, time zone detection, compatibility with apps like Salesforce, GoToMeeting, and Zapier, and it grows with your team.
“I use Calendly. I like to set up my podcast interviews,” said Michelle Ngome, host of the Networking With Michelle Show. “There is a free and a paid version. The free version allows you to use one category, while [with] the paid version, you can set up multiple categories. Plus, you can customize the URL.”
Ngome said her favorite feature is that it syncs with Google Calendar, and she can schedule personal appointments in Google without updating her schedule on Calendly. The program also integrates with Outlook, Office 365 and iCloud calendar.
3. Google Calendar
Google Calendar is an integrated online calendar designed for teams. This calendar integrates seamlessly with other G-Suite products, including Gmail, Drive, Contacts, Sites and Hangouts. This app can be accessed on laptops, tablets and phones.
“I use the Google Calendar app to book all my appointments with clients,” said Ana Santos, UX Consultant. “It’s also handy for video meetings, because it syncs with Google hangouts if we assign a video conferencing option to the event.”
Santos’ favorite feature is Google Calendar’s ability to sync your calendar across all devices and browsers if you’re logged in with your Google account.
Outlook is a common calendar app, which makes it easy to use for business because it’s familiar. If you have an Exchange, Office 365 or Outlook account, you can share your calendar with other users. You can also create additional calendars for specific projects and share it with co-workers.
Teamup offers shared calendars for groups to simplify organizing, scheduling and communication. Businesses can choose from both a free and paid plans. Further, Teamup offers a live demo of its software as well as a three-day trial so you can see for yourself if this app is a good fit for your team.
This program was built specifically for groups, and its calendars are easy to use. Calendars are organized by color, and they can easily and securely be shared with other team members through a secure URL.
“I spent ages looking for a good shared calendar to manage events and holidays for a spread out team of people,” said Ben Taylor, founder of homeworkingclub.com. “I eventually opted for … Teamup. It gave me the ability to set up lots of different even categories, [it] allowed staff to pull their choice of calendars into their own software using ICS feeds, and [it] even comes with an app for iOS and Android.”
Credit: Teamup Solutions AG
With a lengthy list of features such as team timelines, zoom levels, project roadmaps, and a sharing timeline, Teamweek makes it easy to collaborate with your team. Its free plan works for a team with up to five people, and its mobile app lets you collaborate on the go. Paid plans start at $39 per month for up to 10 people and include projects roadmaps, annual view and custom colors.
“This is a visual resource for planning, managing, and scheduling our team’s projects,” said Alexis Davis, founder and CEO of H.K. Productions. “It serves as an open calendar so everyone knows who’s working on what, when, and how far we are from reaching our intended goals. I think intention, communication, transparency and everyone’s awareness of their roles and responsibilities is essential when choosing the right technology for your team’s productivity.”
Having a clear strategy and direction while using Google Ads, formerly called Google Adwords, can help your business get seen by more customers and grow an online presence. Ads accounts for 97 percent of Google’s revenue each year. For a company that made $21.5 billion in 2016, this means that many businesses are using this program to try and connect with customers. By creating relevant and highly searchable web pages, you can beat out competitors and appear as a top listing associated with certain keywords.
Ads has been around since the early 2000s, and several strategies and best practices have emerged to help business owners create a stronger online presence and drive revenue through one of the world’s most powerful search engines. When using Ads, the overall strategy should be building high-quality, SEO-friendly web pages and ads so your business can get a better position at a lower price.
How it works
Google Ads is a cost-per-click bidding system that prioritizes ad quality and relevance along with accounting for cost. The program differs from traditional advertising structures in that the highest bidder does not always receive the most prominent position on Google. Instead, Google incentivizes businesses to create high-quality, relevant ads by positioning the best ads more prominently for less money. For example, a coffee company with a high-quality ad will have a more prominent position and only be charged $1 per click while a competitor with a low-quality ad will be featured less and be charged $3 per click. Because of this model, Google has managed to create an advertising space where companies vie for position based not only on price.
The Ads process starts with a customer’s search. Google runs a lightning-fast auction during every search a customer makes. Advertisers bid on keywords associated with certain topics, set a maximum price, and Google ranks each advertiser based on relevancy, ad quality, and overall cost. So, for example, a coffee shop owner may bid on the keywords “French roast coffee.” Every time someone Googles these keywords, Ads reshuffles the auction and each offer is reanalyzed based on things like ad relevancy and maximum bid. The key to using Ads effectively is understanding how Google positions ads based on quality.
Google determines a business’s position by multiplying the maximum bid by the ad’s quality. Ad quality is determined in real time during each search and is based on expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. As a business owner, you can control your maximum bid, but if you have a high maximum bid and irrelevant, poor ads, your position won’t be great and you will likely pay more per click compared to a competitor with a better ad.
Over time, each auction result adds up to an overall quality score, which is a score on a 10-point scale that reflects your business’s overall performance in ad auctions. Your ad quality score is a good indicator when determining the quality of your ads, but it is not the same score that is used when Google determines your ad rank. That value – based on ad relevance, click-through rate and landing page experience – is specific only to Google and changes with each search.
The best way to have a good Ads ranking is to create high-quality, relevant ads by focusing on your ad’s relevance to the keywords, expected click-through rate and landing page experience. After a few auctions, you can track your overall success through your 10-point quality score and try different strategies to improve your score.
Landing page experience
A landing page is the web page a searcher arrives on after clicking on your ad. Landing page experience is how Google determines whether your website gives the searcher what he or she is looking for. There are a few ways you can better your landing page experience beyond peppering it with relevant keywords. One way is by being tailored to your specific keywords – Google prioritizes sites that give users exactly what they are looking for. That means reflecting how specific each keyword is in your results.
For example, your landing page should have French roast coffee if you bid on the keywords “French roast coffee.” You shouldn’t have a landing page with a long list of different types of coffees since that’s not what the user is searching for. This is an obvious example, but all too often, businesses try to push products or services on people who are looking for something different. If you’re a business owner doing this, Google will affect the score of your landing page experience and your Ads rank will suffer.
Google outlines some other ways to improve your landing page experience on the Ads support site. Some other ways include allowing for both mobile and computer navigation, decreasing landing page load time and fostering trustworthiness on your site.
Expected click-through rate (CTR)
This is a keyword status that measures if your ad will get clicked on. Google determines this without factoring in your ad’s visibility. It’s based solely on the keyword and how well the keyword has performed in the past based on your ad’s position. Google ranks the expected click-through rate according to three statuses: above average, average and below average. Above average or average means there are no major problems compared to all other keywords. Below average means that you may want to adjust your text so it more closely relates to your top keywords.
Improving your expected click-through rate score depends heavily on a case-by-case basis. Oftentimes, a below-average score can be fixed by adjusting your keywords or ad text.
While the overall concept of Ads is straightforward, payment per ad is a bit more complicated. The rate you pay per ad is broken down by two main factors: your quality score and the rank of the ad directly below you.
Google breaks down the payment by dividing the ranking of the business below yours by your own quality score and then adding 1 cent. So, if your quality score is 10 and the ad rank of the business below yours is 25, you would pay $2.51 per click. The business below yours, if its quality score is 5, would pay $4.81 per click. If you have a high-quality score, you will pay less per ad click compared to a competitor with poor ad quality.
With this model, Google is betting that you will pay more money overall because your ad will be clicked more compared to your competitors.
Where do they appear?
These ads appear as the first few results in a Google search. They are marked as “ads” on Google but can serve to provide a customer with exactly what they’re looking for. They can also appear on non-Google websites that are search partners. These search partners are sites that have a native search bar on their website but offer combined results from both Google and the actual website.
Ads also extends to the Google Display Network. You can choose to have your ads appear on the collection of Display Network websites, which includes sites such as Gmail and YouTube. You can even go as far as choosing targeting methods by prioritizing ads based on keywords and related topics, specific websites, or specific audiences based on interests, demographics, or whether they’ve visited your site before.
In addition to these two areas, you can also prioritize your ads based on location, language or specific devices. There are some strategies you can implement to use Ads more efficiently. The key goal is increasing your ad quality and relevance to the specific keyword. This will allow Google to prioritize your results over that of a competitor.
Before diving into specific strategies, keep in mind that a successful Ads campaign starts with a highly relevant landing page and high-quality advertisements. Brainstorm some specific and clear campaigns before start using Ads. The higher quality the content and the more targeted the campaigns, the better.
The best thing you can do when starting an Ads campaign is to start small, learn the interface and understand how Ads can fit into your business. This will allow you to get your hands on the system and figure out what works best. Ads offers a lot of advertising options, so learning in real-time is a good way to determine what ways Ads can benefit your business.
Macaire and Bill Douglas are the founders of Half Pint Shop, a children’s clothing and furniture store. They said they started using Ads two years ago, and it has since increased their online sales by more than $80,000.
“Really, it’s just getting in and playing around and starting small, but also not being afraid to, once you’re more comfortable, to actually invest so you can see the return,” Macaire said. “I think a lot of people get scared of spending money, but we’ve definitely seen the return over time once we’ve gotten more comfortable with it.”
This includes toying with analytics, experimenting with segmenting audiences and building different kinds of campaigns. Bill said the Half Pint Shop uses Google Shop ads as well as Ads.
“Maybe talk to some people who are already [using Ads],” he said. “Look at some guides before you dive in. You can actually learn the interface and practice without spending money.”
This flexibility allows for business owners to learn Ads and grow their business without having to hire outside marketers or advertising firms.
Follow the data
Google provides some powerful analytics and data tools built right into Google Ads and Analytics. It’s good to pay attention to demographics, how people are reaching your site and overall data regarding ad success and quality. Bill said that the Half Pint Shop values location. That way, they can segment users and understand what kinds of products people want based on region.
“I think location is pretty big because location is going to be able to segment certain people,” he said. “People in San Francisco are going to be looking for different nursery furniture than people in Tulsa.”
Prioritizing is just one example of using data to better target Ads that can drive sales. This example also serves for an even better tip: Segmenting users leads to results.
Segmentation is key
A key best practice when using Google Ads is to specifically target a group of people with your ads. More specific ads will be of higher quality and get rated higher by Google come auction time. It will also result in more interactions and engagements from customers. Both Bill and Macaire said that this was a very important aspect of their Ads experience, particularly when analyzing location. Bill said that Ads offers more opportunities with display ads.
“You can say, ‘I’m going to do a boost or a target toward people that have been to the site already,’ so a remarketing type approach,” he said. “Or you can do a group that’s similar to people that visit your site. So you can tag that and you can essentially boost the spend or the bid on ads for those audiences … There’s a lot of different audience segmentation for things like that.”
It may also help to seek advice from other business owners or professionals on this topic. Macaire and Bill said when they started, they bundled a lot of their products under umbrella campaigns that were general. After getting feedback from other business owners and tweaking their approach, eventually they started segmenting their audiences.
“I think you need to segment it a few different ways,” Bill said. “One of the primary ways we do that is by brand. So we’ll segment by brand and then within there you can kind of tweak the products that are higher or lower performers … Right now, we have segmentation for holiday shopping and have different pricing within that.”
Google Ads is a good way to advertise your business without hiring marketing or advertising consultants. The interface is intuitive, and there is a lot of opportunity to learn how to connect with your customers. It may take some time to figure out, but once you’re using Ads properly, it can be beneficial to your business.