The 53 SaaS Tools We Use at Our Startup (+558 Free Tools List)

A person on Quora asked me what some great SaaS tools for startups are.

Most tool posts list a bunch of apps without providing the context of why a startup should use them or a real-life example of the tool in practice.

Instead of contributing to the internet noise with yet another listicle, I want to show you the actual process of how we use these SaaS tools and why.

If you’re bootstrapping or price conscious (hell, who isn’t?) I have a fix for you. Below you can download a list of 558 free SaaS tools for startups.

Note on free tools: Often free SaaS tools can cost you more than you think. I can’t count the times I found myself wasting time trying to get a tool to work. As the saying goes “I’m not rich enough to buy cheap things” so proceed using these tools with caution.

When we decide what SaaS tool to use we evaluate a couple of points:

  • How much time can we save with the tool?
  • How much money can we save?
  • How much money can we make?
  • How much money is the tool going to cost long term? You’d be surprised how many tools that boast a free plan are nothing more than a glorified trial. For example, many startups turn to MailChimp as a go-to email marketing tool just to find out that 2,000 subscribers are not that many and the price of the monkey-logoed tool catapults after that mark. Then, we learned, people are open to switching.

Let’s get on with the listing:

Operations and organization

Airtable

airtable.com
Price starts at: Free

Airtable SaaS tool
List of bases in Airtable

Airtable is a hybrid between a spreadsheet and a database for non-developers.

We run all our business processes in Airtable. We use it as a database for all non-development records – from daily standups and marketing-related tasks to lead lists.

The beauty of the Airtable workflow lies in the ability to represent data in different views – Grid, Kanban, Calendar, and others. With Airtable you can also group records by a specific field, and create relationships between sheets by using Rollups, Lookups, and Counts.

The premium plans give you access to Blocks and bigger data limits (rows and file space).

Below is a list of the bases we have in Airtable and how we use them.

Daily Standup

Airtable Base

In this base, we keep track of what has everybody done yesterday and what they plan to do today.

We complete the standup every day in the morning.

Each standup has a unique ID number; for that, we use the Autonumber field type.

Rather than filling in the date of the current date we use the default “Created time” field type, that way the date gets filled in by Airtable.

Content Calendar

Our editorial calendar and content promotion activities.

Download the Content Calendar template from our Resources page

For the content calendar we stick with the Kanban view as it allows you to drag content pieces between the different stages of our process:

  1. Idea
  2. To do
  3. Writing
  4. Editing
  5. Formatting
  6. Creating lead magnets
  7. Published
  8. Promoting
  9. Promoted

In a nutshell, here we use Airtable as an alternative to a Trello board.

Since we put so much effort into our content promotion, we have a separate Kanban sheet for each of our posts. There we track all our marketing activities related to that post.

Airtable Base

Social Media Calendar

Airtable Base

I’ll confess we haven’t used that base that much. We keep our social media calendar in Buffer. This base serves as an idea repository.

SEO

Airtable Base

We keep track of all backlinks earned, guest post opportunities, and keyword research in here.

Let me stop you before you shame me for not using an SEO keyword tracking SaaS tool. We do use two in fact – Ahrefs and Linkody.

Keeping a list of all your backlinks is the most reliable way to track your links without any delays. Automated tools usually take between a few days and a couple of weeks to index new backlinks.

Keyword groups

Airtable Base

Before I start writing a new content piece, I do some preliminary keyword research. Airtable allows me to cross-match data such as Volume and CPC from Ahrefs and Semrush. Also, to filter out my favorite keywords with a click using the Rating field type and Filters.

Quora

Airtable Base

The Quora base is another marketing-related database. Here we keep track of all the relevant topics on Quora that we want to participate in.

Leads

Airtable Base

Outbound leads, SEO-outreach leads and pretty much all leads are preserved in this database. The powerful group and filter capabilities of Airtable help us spend time only on the most valuable leads.

Customer Feedback

This base is our customer development repository where we keep records of all critical customer development calls, interviews, and interactions.

Download our Customer Development Repository template from our Resources page.

Also, learn how to use it.

Competitors Research

Airtable Base

A comparison table of (some of) our competitors.

Download our competition analysis file from our Resources page.

And learn how to do competition analysis.

Ideas

Airtable Base

Ideas for unique selling points, marketing angles, marketing automation flows, and others. It’s important to note that we keep our product features ideas in Jira, and use Airtable only for non-development-related operations and data points.

Finance

Airtable Base

Financial records database with all our expenses, recurring expenses, revenue, and monthly reports.

We’re using a modified version of this template.

With Airtable we can track our monthly expenses, keep track of any recurring costs and tools; group our expenditure by type and month; have a monthly report overview and more.

Pre-orders

This is a custom base we created to keep track of all people who have pre-ordered our startup.

Timeframes and goals

Airtable Base

In the timeframes table, we keep track of our expected marketing outcomes and achieved results every month

Learn how to set marketing goals and timeframes for your startup.

Todoist

todoist.com
Price starts at: Free

Todoist screen

Although we don’t use Todoist as a team tool, my co-founder and I have personal accounts in this task management tool.

As a fan and junior practitioner of the Getting Things Done method, Todoist is the SaaS tool that best fits my workflow. It has a Daily and Weekly views, capabilities to group tasks into Projects and nest tasks in other tasks.

Getting Things Done Model

As far as Encharge goes, I have 4 categories (or Projects):

  • Marketing
  • Product
  • Customer development
  • And Operations

In each group/project I organize my tasks in sub-projects. I tag these sub-projects with a label “Projects.”

Todoist tasks

I also have my recurring tasks organized into sections.

Todoist tasks

Anything that falls under one-day/maybe goes to a Project named “Parked” items.

This productivity system has allowed me to stay on top of my marketing game and be consistent with my marketing output.

Agenda

agenda.com
Price starts at: Free

Agenda

Agenda is a light-weight note-taking app for Mac.

I use Agenda to apply the Zettelkasten knowledge management model:

  1. I don’t organize notes into categories – instead everything goes in a single Inbox.
  2. Every note has a unique ID.
  3. Almost every note has a tag. For example, #content-ideas. That way I can later search for specific tags and find the relevant notes when I need them.

Dashlane

todoist.com
Price starts at: Free. Paid team features

When I work with a new SaaS client in the first month, I usually waste 3 to 10 hours dealing with getting access to SaaS tools and receiving permissions.

In Encharge we’re tacking this issue by sharing our passwords in Dashlane.

Gsuite

gsuite.google.com
Price starts at: $5/mo user

Email, calendar and file storage, all-in-one.

The ease of login combined with the powerful Google-like search in the Gmail client is an absolute productivity booster for me.

When you top this with the rest of the apps in the suite, Gsuite is an easy winner when it comes to team communication apps.

On my iMac, I manage my many inboxes with an app called Mailplane.

Also, when it comes to outreach email tools, Gsuite is the widest supported solution; connecting with an outbound system is as easy as a single click with Gmail.

I filter out the email noise with manual filters and the SaneBox plugin.

Gmail

Gmelius

gmelius.com
Price starts at: Free

Gmelius is my favorite all-in-one productivity Gmail plugin for marketers and sales professionals.

The features that I use the most are:

Email tracking – shows who has read your email:

Gmelius productivity SaaS tool

Templates and sequences:

Gmelius productivity SaaS tool

Send later and follow-up

Gmelius

Gmelius is the beautiful, more successful brother of Boomerang. I like how Gmelius integrates seamlessly with the Gmail UI and saves you from cringing every-time you click a non-native Gmail interface.

Baremetrics

baremetrics.com
Price starts at: $50/mo for up to $10,000 MRR

Baremetrics analytics SaaS tool

Baremetrics is a must have for all savvy startup entrepreneurs and marketers.

The tool shows financial data such as monthly recurring revenue, customer lifetime value, churn, and so on – everything out of the box.

They also have two add-on features — Recover and Cancellation Insights — that allow you to recover lost revenue from failed payments with a full suite of dunning tools and also learning why customers are canceling and then automate emails back to them personalized to the reason they specified.

Upwork

upwork.com

Upwork is the best place to find freelancers for lead generation, data entry, and other repetitive tasks.

These guys are good! There, you can outsource lead generation as low as $0.10 per lead.

Upwork is a treasure trove of cheap workforce – a definite compliment to every marketing campaign.

The best part is you can track you freelancers without any extra setup.

Upwork

Team Communication

Slack

slack.com
Price starts at: Free

Packed with an endless list of integrations Slack is a staple tool for every team’s communication.

Some of the Slack bots we’ve integrated with are:

  • Pipedrive – notifies us when a new deal is created or closed
  • PhantomBuster – notifies us when a scrapping job has been completed.
  • Segment event – when a user does something on our site, we send a notification to Slack. For example, if a user visits the checkout page on our site but didn’t complete the order, we get notified and get on his ass!

We, also, have a workspace for our early-adopters where we publish weekly updates about the Encharge development progress.

Slack communication SaaS tool

Telegram

telegram.org
Free tool

Telegram is the fastest communication tool for one-on-one conversations. It’s our go-to tool for a personal conversation with my co-founder.

The history search is blazing fast! Do not hesitate to switch from Skype to this bad boy.

The only feature that is still lacking is screen-sharing, but I bet they’re going to roll it out soon.

I’ve also seen influencers like Hiten Shah organizing their mastermind groups on Telegram.

Telegram

CloudApp

getcloudapp.com
Price starts at: Free

CloudApp is our team’s go-to tool for screen-sharing, GIFs and annotations.

We use CloudApp to report bugs and communicate better visually. We’re literary producing dozens of screenshots every single day.

Marketing SaaS Tools

As a growth marketer, I could go on and on for days about the SaaS marketing tools I use, but I know you don’t have that time. I’ll try to keep this list brief and mention only the most essential apps in my marketing arsenal.

WordPress

wordpress.org
Price starts at: Free

Although, not a marketing app but a CMS, having WordPress as the barebones for our customer-facing site, allows me to have complete control over the messaging, the features and the content of the site.

It allows me to be developer-independent and save time on developer costs.

The abundance of marketing-related plugins for SEO, social media, content marketing, and so on in the WordPress universe makes the platform my number one choice.

It goes without saying that if you go ahead with WordPress as your CMS, you must have a reliable WP-focused hosting solution. Check out this comprehensive review on WP hostings.

Elementor

elementor.com
Price starts at: Free

Elementor

A plugin for WordPress, Elementor drag-and-drop builder allows me to have total control over the look of our marketing website.

Thanks to Elementor I can create dynamic sections like a Blog without relying on my technical co-founder. The post you’re currently reading is built on Elementor.

Keeping things agile and saving precious development time. The best thing is it works inside of WP.

I, also, use Elementor to create landing pages and lead magnet pages.

Some of the marketing-oriented features of Elementor are:

  • Evergreen countdown timers.
  • Pop-ups (although, I’d encourage you to use a dedicated lead generation SaaS tool for that)
  • Animated headlines. Check our blog homepage, for example.
  • Messenger links and more.

ThriveLeads

thrivethemes.com/leads/
Price starts at: $67/lifetime license

ThriveLeads is another tool in the WordPress ecosystem. ThriveLeads is my favorite lead form because of their support for inline forms, shortcodes, and advanced marketing metrics.

ThriveLeads

Although, I find their drag-and-drop form builder a bit clunky.

It’s a must-have marketing tool if you’re running on WordPress.

The Free Marketing Tools from Google: Google Analytics, Google Console, Google Tag Manager, and Google Keyword Planner

Free tools

No marketing tools list would be complete without the sacred 4.

Good control of these tools is what differentiates great marketers from mediocre marketers.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Keeping the pulse on our website traffic, most visited pages, sources, campaigns and conversion events.

In combination with UTM links, this is a no-brainer tool for all marketers.

Google Console

We use Google Console to find keyword opportunities for our current blog content. It’s still early for Encharge to rank in top 10, but we’re doing our best to leverage these opportunities.

Google Tag Manager (GTM)

GTM allows us to install tracking scripts across your website without bothering the developer. We also use GTM to create tracking goals.

Google Keyword Planner
In combination with Keywords Everywhere = the best free keyword research combo.

Bonus tool: Google Page Speed

Another addition to the Google marketing family is the Google Pagespeed Insights tool which allows you to optimize the speed of your site.

Bonus tool 2: Tag Assistant (by Google)

Tag Assistant is a Chrome extension that does one job – shows if your Google scripts are running on your site. It’s a must-have.

Google Tag Assistant

Ahrefs

ahrefs.com
Price starts at: $99/month

Powerful and very easy to use SEO tool. I have found that Ahrefs is better for link building and link tracking, while SEMRush (Ahrefs’s prime competitor) outshines Ahrefs when it comes to keyword research.

It’s not the cheapest of SaaS tools starting at $99/mo, but it’s worth every penny.

Going through all the possible strategies to use Ahrefs for would take at least an eBook. Instead, I’m going to share one that I’m currently using:

The skyscraper technique for link building

1) I decide what keyword I’m going to rank for. For example for my post on pre-launch marketing that is “pre-launch marketing” (obviously 🙂

2) I go to Keyword explorer in Ahrefs and search for that keyword (targeting only the United States):

Ahrefs SEO SaaS tool

3) I go through the Top 10 of the SERP overview and click on the Backlinks for each post:

Ahrefs SEO SaaS tool

4) This is the list of websites that link backlink to the top result. Making sure to filter for “One link per domain” to avoid duplicates and only “Do follow links”.

Ahrefs SEO SaaS tool

5) I put all the data in Airtable (of course 🙂 – see SEO under the Airtable feature above.

6) I outsource lead generation/email finding to a worker off Upwork (see Upwork above for more details)

7) Once I have the leads I send an automated personalized campaign with OutreachPlus.

Moz Bar

moz.com/products/pro/seo-toolbar
Price starts at: Free

Mozbar free tool

MozBar is a little handy-dandy Chrome extension that shows the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of every site you visit. Useful while doing link-building campaigns.

Keywords Everywhere

keywordseverywhere.com
Price starts at: Free

Keywords Everywhere

This Chrome extension will turn you into a keyword brainstorming powerhouse as you search on Google or use the Google Keyword Planner.

Hands down my favorite free SEO tool.

KeywordsEverywhere provides Volume, CPC and Competition rate for each result in your SERP, as well as a sidebar with Related Keywords.

SEO Quake

seoquake.com
Price starts at: Free

SEO Quake

Another free SEO tool for your browser. SEOquake comes from the creators of SEMrush. The extension will show many data points coming from SEMrush for all results on the SERP:

  • Domain Score
  • Trust score
  • Links to the page
  • Links to the domain
  • Time Archive.org and others first crawled the page.

Yoast SEO Plugin for WP

yoast.com
Price starts at: Free

Yoast SEO plugin

Hands down the most useful SEO plugin for WordPress. Yoast uses gamification to help you optimize your WordPress pages for the search engines.

The premium version provides additional goodies such as:

  • Automatic 301 redirects when you change a post slug (A super useful feature that saves me from so much annoyance!)
  • A feature to optimize a single post for multiple keywords
  • Keyword synonyms.

Linkody

linkody.com
Price starts at: $15.79/month

Linkody SEO SaaS tool

Linkody monitors your backlinks and the backlinks of your competitors daily. It sends you a daily email report with updates about your links and your competitors – won links, lost links, and changed links.

If you’re serious about link-building, you must have this SaaS tool.

Zapier

zapier.com
Price starts at: Free

Another obvious selection. Zapier is the glue of the internet. We use it primarily to transfer leads from one tool to another. Currently, sending all emails from MailChimp to Encharge.

PhantomBuster

phantombuster.com
Price starts at: $30/month

A growth hacker’s tool. PhantomBuster is a scrapping platform in the cloud. It allows you to run different automation APIs – from scrapping Facebook group members to sending automated messages on LinkedIn.

The smart thing about PhantomBuster is that everything happens on their servers, so your account is safe when executing these “gray-hat” marketing hacks.

You have to be careful, however! The cloud has an IP, and in that case, it’s in the US. If you’re located outside the US and use your social media accounts while simultaneously scrapping with PhantomBuster, your account may get temporarily suspended. That’s why you may consider using a proxy with your PhantomBuster account.

I’m currently experimenting with their latest API – Slack Channel User Extractor to grow our Facebook group.

Phantombuster

I’m scrapping the emails of Slack group users. Later I invite those users to join our group.

Email snapshot

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get an update when this growth experiment finishes:

Buffer

buffer.com
Price starts at: Free

Buffer screenshot - Social media SaaS tool

Buffer recently redesigned their user-friendly interface to an even user-friendlier interface. Currently, the tool is by far the most frictionless tool for social media scheduling.

I’ve played around with Hootsuite, Smarterqueue, and SocialPilot. All these offer advanced features such as analytics, category scheduling, and what not, but Buffer still steals the number one spot for easiest social media scheduling tool.

Social Warfare

warfareplugins.com
Price starts at: Free

There are many social sharing button plugins and apps out there. Social Warfare does 2 things well that makes it stand out from the crowd:

  • Connects with TwitCount and it actually works! You can finally get back your Twitter share count
  • Supports automatic UTM links.
  • Recovers social shares when a URL change has happened. If you’ve ever transitioned your blog to another domain name, you know how painful it is to lose all your shares. Social Warfare takes care of that for you:
The 53 SaaS Tools We Use at Our Startup (+558 Free Tools List)

MailChimp

mailchimp.com
Price starts at: Free

A no-frills email marketing tool suitable for one-off email broadcasts. With its freemium version and 2,000 email contacts free, it’s an excellent starter for early-stage startups.

Encharge.io

Encharge is the SaaS marketing tool we’re currently developing. It’s still not live, but we expect to have a live beta towards the middle of the year.

Encharge is marketing automation software for startups and SaaS companies. Our focus is robust integration with other tools used and easy to use interface.

Encharge marketing SaaS tool
Encharge marketing SaaS tool

Writing

Ulysses

ulyssess.app
Starts at: $4.99 / month

Ulysses writing SaaS tools

Distraction free writing. Ulysses is a Mac app for writers.

A must-have, especially if you’re a long-form content writer like me.

The tool has a handy Goal feature that aims to keep your creative mind disciplined.

Ulysses syncs your writings in the cloud across all your devices.

With Ulysses, you can also Publish to WordPress and Medium with a click.

Grammarly

grammarly.com
Price starts at: Free

Grammarly proofreading SaaS tools

A real life-saver for non-native English speakers, this proof-reading app is a staple in my writer’s arsenal.

It also works with Google Docs.

A pet peeve of the tool is that it doesn’t integrate with Ulysses or any other desktop-based text editors.

Hemingway Editor

hemingwayapp.com
Price starts at: Free

Hemingway Editor

Hemingway App is a helpful tool that can improve your writings by pin-pointing hard-to-read passages and challenging to understand constructs in your work.

Due to the annoying process of having to copy-paste my long text from Ulysses to Hemingway, I don’t use it as often as I’d like these days.

Product Design

Adobe Creative Cloud

adobe.com
Price starts at: $19.99/month for a single app

Adobe CC

Adobe CC is a must have for all product creators. With the shift to monthly subscriptions business model, Adobe CC is much more affordable for startups that steer away from investing big lumps of cash upfront.

I use Adobe XD for all UI designs and prototypes, Adobe Photoshop for image manipulation and Adobe Illustrator for branding assets.

Google Fonts

fonts.google.com
Free product

Although I have access to a premium Typekit account, I’ve found Google Fonts faster to load, and it’s my personal preference for web typography along with manual font imports and web-safe fonts.

Nucleo Icons

nucleoapp.com
Price starts at: $99 for individual license

Nucleo Icons

If you’re building a product with a lot of iconographies, a cohesive and easy to use icon-system will save a ton of your time. I have been nothing short of satisfied with the Nucleo app and the accompanying premium icon set.

SaaS Product Development Tools

Jira

jira.com
Price starts at: Free when installed locally

Jira

Jira is the most robust product management platform. My technical co-founder is taking complete ownership of Jira. As a marketer and UX person, my activities in Jira hardly ever exceed creating a new issue.

AWS

aws.amazon.com
Price starts at: Free

We host all of the Encharge app data on AWS.

SendGrid

sendgrid.com
Price starts at: Free

SendGrid is an email delivery service we use to send all our emails and our app clients’ emails.

Cloudflare

cloudflare.com
Price starts at: Free

Cloudflare handles file delivery, SSL, security and speed optimization.

Coda from Panic

panic.com/coda/
Price starts at: $99 for 1 license

Coda from Panic

Surprisingly enough I also code – at least some front-end (HTML/CSS). I use Coda for everything code. Transmit for FTP transfers.

My technical co-founder uses Visual Studio Code.

Fork

git-fork.com.com
Price starts at: Free

Fork

We also use Fork Git for some basic git functionalities.

iTerm

iterm2.com
Free tool

iTerm2 is a replacement for Mac’s Terminal that does advanced stuff.

Postico

eggerapps.at/postico/
Price starts at: $45 for 1 license

A Modern PostgreSQL Client for the Mac.

Postman

getpostman.com
Price starts at: $45 for 1 license

Postman is a tool for API requests. It streamlines the development process and captures a single source of truth about our APIs.

Videos

Zoom

zoom.us
Price starts at: Free

I mostly use Zoom to record longer marketing videos such as this one:

It’s great for easy screen recording, screen annotation and it also can connect with your phone, so that you can record your mobile phone’s screen in one go.

Adobe Premiere Rush

adobe.com/products/premiere-rush.html
Price starts at: Free

The 53 SaaS Tools We Use at Our Startup (+558 Free Tools List)

I’m terrible with video. I’m a web designer, and motion graphics are foreign to me.

Adobe Premiere Rush (Important: not Adobe Premiere Pro) is a video editing tool for absolute noobs. I use it to do the basic cutting and integrate moving elements to my videos (called Titles 🙂

Wistia

wistia.com
Price starts at: Free

Wistia video - marketing video SaaS tool

Wistia is second to none when it comes for video marketing with features as Call to actions in your video and In-depth video analytics.

The 53 SaaS Tools We Use at Our Startup (+558 Free Tools List)

Check the video on our homepage to see Wistia in practice. Wait till the end to see the CTA.

Conclusion

Thank you for going through this big ass list!

I’d love to learn what SaaS tools do you use in your startup and how? List them in the Disqus section below.

And don’t forget to download the list of free SaaS tools!

Get Access to All SaaS Marketing Resources. Plus Regular Updates

🎉 Encharge is

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