5 free online tools you’ve likely never used (but should)

These tools will help communicators monitor websites, keep track of pitches, set reminders, and more.

You have to love free online tools, especially if they aren’t for critical projects. I hesitate to use free tools for essential items, but these are pretty darn good. You should tinker with them if you have some elbow room.

1. SpyPig.com

This is a receipt on steroids. Need to know if someone (press, client, blogger, etc.) received an email you sent? Use this tool.

Write your email, hop over to SpyPig, and enter a message title and your email address. Next, pick an image, and copy and paste it into your email. (You can create an account to upload your own image, which means you can disguise it as a social network icon.) You’ll get a notification the first five times the email is opened. This includes when you open it yourself.

Bonus: SpyPig gives you information on the client, his IP address, and the system he used to open the email so you can determine if he read the email while mobile, at the computer, etc.

The downside is if you are an untrusted sender and images don’t automatically open on the recipient’s end, it won’t work.

This is essentially an easier version of a very old post I wrote about email tracking with a notification option.

I’d love to see a premium version of the service that includes simpler inclusion in messages (i.e. through a Chrome and Outlook add-on), more than five opens, etc.

2. Markup.io

Ever need to mark up a Web page or site and share that information with someone else, but it’s not worthwhile—or too difficult—to take a screen grab of the page? This is your tool.

Simply drag a bookmarklet to your toolbar, and go to the site you need to mark up. Click the bookmarklet, and mark the page to your heart’s content. When you’re done, you will get a URL you can share with colleagues. Check out this sample of KnowYourMeme’s “Hater’s to the Left” entry.

3. ChangeDetection.com

This does just what you expect it to do. It monitors websites for changes.

Enter the URL of the website you want to monitor, your email address, and some details on what level of change you want to monitor. This little tool will check the page once a day, and email you if there are changes. It works on Wikipedia pages as well. If you’re monitoring one—we won’t discuss editing here—it’s a quick way to find out if there are changes.

4. UseFreeSMS.com

Need to send an SMS (text) message but want something more convenient than typing into your cell phone? Perhaps you have lousy reception. Try this tool.

Why not just use your cell? You might need to send a message to a bunch of people—an entire team is traveling or there’s been a change of meeting location. Whatever the reason, the tool is there. Just be sure to identify yourself within the body of the message.

5. ReminderGuru.com

Need a quick and easy way to set reminders (even recurring ones) and want to be able to get them by SMS, email or phone? Try ReminderGuru.com.

Pick your notification method, the time you want the reminder, and what you want it to say. Hit enter, and you’re off to the races.

Tell me, readers. Which online tools can you not live without?

Nathan Burgess is an account supervisor at BlissPR, where he counsels B2B clients in the development of social media and digitally-based marketing programs. He also is editor and publisher of the PRBreakfastClub blog, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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Topics: PR


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