Insurance & Risk Professional reviews five of the most useful free software programs in operation today.

Canva

In the past, people who have foregone graphic designers to create their marketing material have often ended up with Clipart-heavy monstrosities that do more to repel customers than attract them. Canva is aimed at allowing even design newbies to quickly and painlessly produce professional-looking marketing materials, including posters, presentations, social media images, flyers and even business cards.

It’s based around an intuitive drag-and-drop system to keep things speedy, with hundreds of prepared images and graphics. The website even offers a host of short tutorials to acquaint users with the fundamentals of good design.

canva.com

Prezi

Everyone in the insurance industry has sat through a mind-numbing presentation, with endless blocks of text sliding across the screen. Prezi is far from new on the scene but it is still one of the simplest ways to create presentations that keep audiences engaged and listening to you.

Its simple-to-learn interface allows you almost unlimited freedom in how your presentation appears, and there are tens of thousands of publicly available Prezis for your inspiration.

It’s free if you’re happy to have a small Prezi logo in the corner of your screen, or a few dollars a month if you’re not.

prezi.com

Mailchimp

Email marketing is a hugely powerful tool in the arsenal of any business and Mailchimp is one of the most popular services out there.

It comes with a host of pre-designed templates, as well as an in-built email designer to let you craft your own. Once you’ve built your email, MailChimp can keep track of your subscriber lists and gives you a stack of analytics you can use to figure out who is reading what, and what is driving engagement from your audience.

And if you’re sending to a base of less than 2000 subscribers, then MailChimp is completely free to use.

mailchimp.com

Google Drive

There are a host of free cloud storage and file sharing services out there (think Hightail or Dropbox) but Google Drive is the most generous. For free users, Google offers 30GB, compared with just 2GB for similar providers.

As well as allowing sharing of your files with any other person with an email address, Drive allows its users to access all their stored files from any device at any time, making it particularly handy for anyone who needs to work from outside of the office regularly.

It’s also completely integrated with Google Docs (see right), making off-site work a snap.

drive.google.com

Google Docs

Microsoft Office has been the king of basic office software for a generation but that dominance is under threat, in large part because of Google Docs. Docs is completely free and offers alternative programs for much of the Office suite. In addition to being free, it has two major advantages over Office. The first is real-time collaboration; multiple users can work on the same document at the same time, with all viewers able
to see changes as they are made and to freely chat online with other collaborators.

The other advantage is automatic saving, with each document automatically backed up every few seconds, which means work needs never again disappear down the digital rabbit hole.

docs.google.com