What you will learn
- Things you should consider before buying any tool
- Why having an exit-strategy for a tool is crucial
- Why you must never give in to the marketing hype
- Pros and cons of all-in-one and specialized tools
- A quick rundown of the tools we currently use on our websites
If you’ve spent any time developing an online business, you probably have encountered The Tool Issue.
Should I only buy tools from one company or can I pick and choose and then integrate tools from different companies?
If I buy this shiny new email campaign automation tool, do I truly never-ever have to look at my campaigns again?
Will I get a decent return on my investment if I buy this particular tool right now?
Trust me, we’ve been through the same not just with Authority Hacker or Health Ambition, but at our old agency job as well.
We’ve spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of work hours on our tools, and figured we might as well do an episode about our experiences.
Choosing a Tool Stack
The right tool set will, in a large part, determine the success or failure of your business, because you can do more with better tools.
Example: We use ActiveCampaign to sync people to FB audiences based on their actions, and show the right ads. Even though it will lose to competitors like ConvertKit in some areas, the FB syncing makes it a better choice for us.
Also, you will be potentially using important tools for a long time.
The Cost of Getting It Wrong
A tool can be too expensive – think annual costs, not monthly. Also consider if you even need an expensive tool, especially in the beginning.
We used Intercom for a while with our sites but we barely used a fraction of its features. It was basically a glorified chat tool in our hands. We switched to Crisp, which is actually intended to be a chat/helpdesk tool for a quarter of the price.
You can become trapped or locked into a tool. This is an especially prevalent issue with many page builders.
Finally, a tool can simply be abandoned by the developers and become outdated.
TIP: You can visit BuiltWith.com to quickly analyze a website for all of the plugins and tools that it uses.
Shiny Object Syndrome
“The Appsumo effect” is a real thing.
A tool on Appsumo might look like a great idea, but in practice it’s very likely you’ll end up not using it at all. There are amazing deals for a lot of tools, but it’s rather hard to predict their worth further down the line.
That said, one of the best investments we ever made was a Mailshake deal on Appsumo. We use it a lot to this day after switching from Gmass.
Another great deal to look out for on Appsumo can be for Serpstat, as it’s a lot cheaper than Ahrefs and you get a fairly decent amount of similar data.
A tool needs to be bought, installed, integrated, tested and analyzed before you can judge whether it was a good investment. If you’re stuck constantly testing, you don’t proceed, as you aren’t sure you have the right tool. This results in your work stopping or being neglected.
The Proof Is in the Pudding
The site-building innovation of today can become the technical bottleneck of tomorrow. Long-term, consistent performance of a tool weighs heavily in whether or not it was a good investment.
Also, proper customer support is a big plus even if the service is expensive.
All-In-One vs Specialized Tools
All-in-one tools are often jack of all trades, master of none. Then again, integrating multiple separate tools to work together can be a pain.
Take an all-in-one like Infusionsoft vs a specialized tool like GetResponse. Or there’s KeywordFinder, which started out focusing purely on keywords but is now building up more and more features.
A lot depends on your budget and your size. It can be a good idea go all-in-one in the beginning, but make sure to have an exit strategy, or you’ll get locked into the ecosystem.
The difficulty of switching between tools is going to range from “minor inconvenience” to “rebuilding your entire site from the ground up”.
The more you rely on the tool, the harder it will be to exit. A good example is our switch from Thrive to Elementor. We essentially had to rebuild all of our posts and pages.
We’re going to try and rely less and less on builders in the future, trying to stay close to the core WordPress platform…then again we don’t even dare to think about what it would take to switch from WordPress to another platform.
Affiliate Program Influence
Some people will promote not the product with the best features, but the product with the best commissions.
We like to bring up Bluehost vs Siteground as an example. “Everybody” recommends Bluehost, even though Siteground is better.
Another good comparison would be SEMRush vs Ahrefs. I think most would agree that Ahrefs is better, however Ahrefs doesn’t really push their affiliate program. So SEMRush ends up being recommended more.
Our Toolset These Days
- Camtasia for video editing
- Google Drive for storage
- MS Office – PPT for slides + Excel for more advanced stuff
- Snagit – screenshots/screencasts