Post-its, notebooks, whiteboards, starred emails, and who knows what else ... there are a million ways we inbound marketers keep track of all the things we need to do. But nothing ever seems to quite fit every project or situation. I, too, have gone through my fair share of tools to organize my work, but the tool I find myself continuing to go back to is the free app, Evernote. When I first downloaded it, I was stumped by its flexibility, not knowing how best to use it as part of my typical day. But now that I find myself continuously relying on it in a number of different ways, I wanted to share some of the great ways you can use Evernote to make your life as a marketer just a little bit easier ... or at least more organized.
Wait ... back up. What is Evernote?
Evernote is a desktop and mobile app that lets you capture notes, photos, and anything else you may want to remember or refer back to later. It's used by everyone from food writers to teachers to marketers to fathers (yup, my dad's a user too!). You can write notes, capture photos or documents in notes, tag notes or put them in folders, search them, share them, and access them on your PC, Mac, iPad, or mobile phone. I personally use Evernote for both work and personal notes -- on my PC for work, my Mac at home, and my iPhone on the go. The beauty is that all these versions of Evernote sync seamlessly , so I always have my grocery shopping list and my campaign to do list, no matter where I am or what I'm doing.
Now, how can marketers use this tool?
Content Creation: Draft Blog Articles and Ebooks
At its core, Evernote is a good ole fashioned digital notebook that can be used for drafting articles, capturing ideas, and saving reading material for later.
- Draft Articles: When it's time to write a blog article, I open up the app, create a new note, and start typing away. This blog article you're reading right now -- and many before it -- were drafted in Evernote before getting loaded into the HubSpot blogging tool . Using Evernote, I can start drafting an article even if I'm offsite for a meeting with no internet connection, and I don't get distracted by worrying about formatting or approval from our blog manager: I can just focus on creating content while the content is fresh in my mind. The content will automatically get synced in Evernote as soon as I'm connected to the internet, and I'll copy and paste that content into our blogging platform and be good to go!
- Capture Ideas for Articles: As any seasoned business blogger knows, blog article ideas can strike at any time, and instead of scrambling for a slip of paper or a napkin, I have an ongoing note for my backlog of blog article ideas . This helps me capture my ideas as they come, and gives me a great place to go later when I'm looking for something to write about.
- Save Articles for Reading: What better inspiration for content creation than content consumption? I could easily get lost in reading blog articles all day, shared by Twitter, email, or my RSS reader. But instead, I keep a note where I save links to read later. It helps me stay focused but still lets me go back to those articles, perhaps opening them up on my phone as I'm on the bus commuting to and from work.
To-Do Lists: Keep Your List at All Times
I used to keep reminders on post-its, "Today's To-Do List" in my notebook, my backlog of projects on HubSpot's internal wiki, and other miscellaneous to-do's contained in emails in my inbox. This made keeping track of everything that much more difficult, until I finally consolidated into a portable to-do list.
- Always Have Access to Your To-Do List: At HubSpot, almost everyone has a laptop instead of a desktop. And most people bring their laptop to meetings. I don't. If I'm not presenting something, I don't need my computer. I've got my notebook and my to-do list with me in my iPhone Evernote app. When I go home, I leave my PC at work, but my to-do list is still available to me on the Evernote mobile app and on my personal Mac. The biggest difference for me came with no longer having my to-do's spread out over post-its, notebooks, and emails. Everything goes into a central to-do list in Evernote, which I always have with me. No more worries about whether I'm forgetting to do something!
- Capture Notes in Meetings: Whether someone is taking notes or we're brainstorming on a whiteboard, all my meeting notes end up in Evernote. Frequently, I'll open up a new note for a meeting, and sometimes I'll take a photo of the whiteboard to add to that note. I don't have to copy down everything that's on the whiteboard or reference a photo posted on the wiki -- it's right there with my other meeting notes in Evernote, and printed or handwritten text within those photos are searchable, too!
- Practice Inbox Zero: Inbox Zero is all about processing and deleting/delegating/responding to/doing what's in a particular email immediately. Of course, sometimes those options aren't that easy to follow when you've got your manager asking you to do X, Y, or Z, or when you already have a full plate. But because good email hygiene is key to being a happier, healthier marketer, I take those requests, suggestions, or ideas from my coworkers and put them into a note so I can refer back to them in the future. Which brings us to...
- Create a Backlog of Ideas: Where better to keep your backlog of project ideas along with your current project to-do's? A backlog of ideas keeps a marketer sane, because you can say "No, I can't work on that right now because I've got A, B, and C going on. I'll put your idea in the backlog to get to next." A backlog lets you stay focused on your current initiatives instead of jumping from one thing to the next without finishing your current projects. You'd never get anything done !
Collaboration: Share Project Notes Without Endlessly Revised Docs
Ever have that 15 email chain with your team, sharing the same campaign checklist spreadsheet back and forth with everyone's updates? Why not use a shared note that anyone can access and update at any time?
- Update Campaign To-Do Lists: Create a note for each campaign, with the whole team's to-do's included. Evernote lets you share notebooks, so your whole team can access and update it. This allows everyone to see what they need to do for each campaign and stay up to date with what the progress their teammates have already made on their tasks.
- Keep Frequently Used Checklists or Scripts: You likely have a formula for a typical project -- whether it's a webinar, a video, an ebook, or an interview -- so it makes no sense to recreate the wheel each time. For example, I keep the scripts I use for interviewing customers in Evernote so I can pull them up in time for any meetings. Again, you can share these resources with others on your team working on the same types of projects.
Those are just a few simple ways to help organize your life and improve your productivity as a marketer . Evernote Small Business Ambassador Lindsey C. Holmes shares some more tips for marketers in her post here , and Duct Tape Marketing's John Jantsch discusses his Evernote use cases here .
Any other marketers out there using Evernote? What tips or ideas do you have to share? To get started with Evernote, sign up for a free account at http://www.evernote.com .