How is it that three online applications use a monkey in their name and logo?

I don’t know, but they certainly make it easy to whip out professional-looking materials, sometimes in a matter of minutes. If you are unfamiliar with these sites, let me introduce you to PicMonkey, MailChimp and SurveyMonkey.

PicMonkey allows you to post professional-quality photos without having specialized skills. It’s a free, online service that works inside your browser so nothing has to be downloaded. You can upload a photo, and then add effects, filters and frames to give them that wow factor. My favorite is the make-a-collage feature that is completely customizable. Upload your photos, choose a layout and then resize to your heart’s content!

A great way to keep in regular contact with customers is through email, but skip the plain-text format and try MailChimp. There are a number of designed templates to fit any of your company or personal needs, such as newsletters, graduation announcements, event invites and product announcements. I regularly use one of MailChimp’s generic templates for our client Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, and I’ve been impressed by recent upgrades that has allowed me to customize to WVCI’s brand specifics while controlling every aspect of the layout.

MailChimp also produces analytics, such as comparisons between current and past newsletters, article click-through rates and subscriber information. The service equips you with a whole package for email marketing, from working your design to capturing results.

Is your organization looking for feedback? Check out SurveyMonkey, an online survey company. It provides the tools for users to create free, customizable surveys that only take minutes to create.  The best part is that it delivers the results in real-time, and with graphs. However, if the survey is more than 10 questions and it needs to be sent to more than 100 participants, you’ll need a monthly subscription.

According to SurveyMonkey, these features can do some of the work for you:

  • Choosing from 15 question types, including multiple choice and rating scales.
  • Customizing branding, including logos, colors, images and survey URL.
  • Using advanced features to eliminate bias (A/B testing).
  • Accessing millions of respondents, with the option to target certain people based on geography and demographics.

There’s no monkey business with these applications, but if you feel like Curious George after this blog, you may want to give them a try.

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