How to Stay on Top of Meetings with Calendly (+4 Calendly Alternatives)

Let’s be honest – scheduling stinks. All that back-and-forth email exchange nonsense. In fact, I can’t think of many more tedious tasks in professional life than scheduling meetings. Finding a time that suits all of the parties can be a long string of exhausting emails. But this doesn’t have to be the case if you’re using the right meeting scheduler application.

schedule meeting

According to Calendly, it takes at least 4 different emails to set up a meeting. This is what a typical email correspondence might look like when trying to set up a meeting:

  • Me: What days are good for you? How about a call on Friday at 2pm?
  • Prospect (2 days later): Sure! Does Friday at 11am work for you?
  • Me: Sorry, I’m already booked. How about next Monday at 11am?
  • Prospect: I have an appointment at 11am, but 12 works for me.
  • Me: Sounds good. What time zone are you?

And so on, this usually goes on for a while, either until we agree on an acceptable time or until one of us loses interest and stops responding.

“Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer the meetings the better” – Peter Drucker

I would add – the easier to organize and manage those few meetings, the better.

This is where meeting scheduling tools come in. One of the most important things to look for in a meeting scheduler is the calendar compatibility. While some are focused on just one or two calendar applications, other schedulers work with a range of calendars.

Ideally, you’d want your scheduler to work with the most popular calendar apps, such as Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook, but, more importantly, it should not limit your clients, as you can’t really control which calendar they’re using. So, it’s important that your scheduler doesn’t assume your clients are using one specific calendar.

Let’s examine one of the most popular and most useful solutions out there – Calendly.

What is Calendly?

Calendly was founded in 2013 by Tope Awotona. In less than 5 years, it has served almost 30 million people all over the world. Currently, it has 2 million monthly users and is trusted by numerous big names, such as Zendesk, LinkedIn, eMyth, University of Georgia, and so on. Not only that, it’s currently growing 100% each year.

calendly

As a former sales representative who has scheduled a bunch of meetings during his pre-Calendly career, Tope perfectly understood the problem. More importantly, he put his software experience and entrepreneurial spirit to good use and provided a solution to it.

Tope’s advice?

“If you want to be an entrepreneur, become really good at something. Make sure you fully understand the problem and be well informed enough to have strong opinions about the solution. Only then are you ready to start a company. I learned that the hard way. Don’t try to solve a problem you don’t understand and be honest with yourself about what you are really good at.”

So, he created a tool that takes the work out of connecting with others so you can accomplish more. Calendly is a handy little scheduling tool that helps you save time and stay on top of your meetings in just 3 simple steps.

How to Schedule Your Meetings in 3 Simple Steps

1. Set up your availability preferences. Let Calendly know your availability and it’ll do all the work for you. 

By using Calendly, you don’t need to give up on your current Google or Outlook calendar – quite the opposite. Calendly just links up with the calendar you normally use, in order to determine your current availability on the basis of your currently scheduled appointments.

2. Embed your Calendly link on your website or share it with your clients or colleagues via email.

You use Calendly to set your desired meeting types and times, after which you’re provided with a unique, personalized URL to share with others. When somebody clicks on your link, they are shown a list of available meeting times on your calendar. So, they just have to pick the time that suits them (and obviously you as well) and submit the form. As simple as that.

3. Schedule. Actually, let others schedule your meetings by picking a time that suits you. The event gets automatically added to your calendar.

As it natively integrates with Google Calendar, Office 365, Outlook, and iCloud calendar, Calendly automatically synchronizes all your scheduled meetings across those calendars, to make sure you’re never double booked. It automatically updates your and your invitee’s calendar of choice. Also, Calendly can send custom reminders before the meeting, so as to make sure your invitees don’t forget about the meeting.

Why We Like Calendly

  • Complete control. Calendly enables you to set buffer times between meetings, create secret event types, prevent last-minute meetings, and much more.
  • Flexibility. It supports 1-on-1 meetings, as well as round robin and collective availability meetings.
  • Time zone detection. It supports seamless timezone detection to make sure everybody’s on the same page
  • Multiple apps support. Which is why it’s easy to automate your tasks with Salesforce, Zapier, GoToMeeting, and more.
  • Suitable for all team sizes. Works well for both individuals and teams, as well as entire departments

Top 3 Calendly Benefits

1. Schedule Meetings with Others Based on Your Availability

Or just set your availability and sit back while the others schedule meetings with you. Just shoot them a link with your available times and Calendly will do the rest. 

calendly schedule

Calendly is a perfect tool for those who often schedule meetings with people outside their own organization. Everyone’s on their own schedule nowadays, which makes it difficult to arrange a meeting between several people from several different organizations. Add time zones to the mix and you’ve got yourself a real mess. 

2. Never Miss Your Meeting Because of (Unaccounted for) Time Zone Difference

Finding a time that works for all parties gets even hairier if multiple time zones get involved. If you’ve been in international business for a long time, you’ve probably already got used to time differences between the US, UK, Australia, and so on. But what about, for instance, Bulgaria? Plus, if geography is not your stronger suit, you may not know that Serbia and Siberia are two different places (and while Serbia has only one, Siberia is spread over several different time zones).

time zones 

If you don’t account for time difference (or miscalculate the difference), you may miss an important meeting. Or you can simply use Calendly to book a meeting and not think about it. It gives your invitees your availability times in their own respective time zones so that there’s no confusion about when the meeting will be taking place.

3. Follow Up With New Leads Using Calendly

No matter what kind of business you run, one of the aims is always likely to be to generate leads and turn them into conversions. While some leads will turn into customers straight away, what about those that don’t?

You’ve got to nurture those leads. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do so is an autoresponder campaign. So, these leads can be put into a welcome series autoresponder campaign, where they are sent a series of emails to nurture them before they’re pitched to buy. Autoresponder series introduce your leads to your brand, give them added value, and immediately drive a 10-15% increase in sales.

Example: LeadQuizzes

We at LeadQuizzes specialize in using online quizzes to generate leads (obviously, or else we wouldn’t call ourselves LeadQuizzes), while for nurturing leads, we use the method described above, particularly for our high ticket products.

For one campaign, we ran a diagnostic quiz and, when the opt-in was given and the participant’s results were received, they were taken to an appointment slot to book a call right away. This is where Calendly kicks in.

Our clients use Calendly a lot after their quiz to get people to schedule a consultation call. From our experience, SMS reminders can be especially effective when it comes to increasing show-up rates.

Once they’d provided us with their contact details, they were put into our autoresponder series, which nurtured them up until the sale.

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 5.19.34 PM

The result?

The campaign generated a 638% ROI selling our high ticket services from cold Facebook traffic.

Calendly Pricing

While the Basic Calendly plan is Free, if you want to use some of the more advanced features, such as removable branding, pooled availability options (like round robin), group events, customizable reminders, and so on, you’ll have to switch to the paid Premium plan, which stands at $8/month (billed annually).

Pro plan, which costs $12/month, enables you to use some extra features not available in the Premium, the most useful probably being SMS notifications. 

Calendly pricing
Maybe you are still having second thoughts? In that case, keep going.

Calendly Alternatives

As with everything else, it may be beneficial to explore some of the Calendly alternatives. There are plenty of similar scheduling tools, but I tried to look for the ones with distinct features and good ratings. Here are my suggestions for Calendly alternatives.

1. Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling allows your clients to book meetings with you, receiving automatic branded and customized booking confirmations. Acuity also delivers meeting attendees text reminders and lets clients reschedule on their own. This is a detailed list of Acuity Scheduling features.

Acuity features

Acuity Scheduling is at the top of our list of Calendly alternatives, with 5-star rating based on more than 1200 reviews on website Capterra. Most reviewers spoke highly about Acuity’s reliability and multifaceted features, although some of them feel that so many features can make user experience a bit stuffed and complicated.

Acuity Scheduling

Acuity Scheduling comes with a 7-day free trial, and paid plans for businesses start with $15/month. While Acuity does not oblige you to sign up with Google or another type of account, this independence comes with a price. Also, it puts a limit on the number of calendars it can sync, which is a feature you can get for free in other apps.

2. Boomerang Calendar

One of the Calendly alternatives that offers a simplified experience for less money is Boomerang Calendar. It is an extension that can be added to Chrome or Firefox. This means you need a Google account to sign up for this since Boomerang works with your Google Calendar.

Boomerang Calendar

Boomerang enables you to:

  • Schedule meetings in a single email
  • Highlight dates and times with your free/busy status
  • Share your availability with one click
  • Automatically update availability in real time
  • Schedule group meetings
  • All right inside Gmail

Sure, Boomerang is simple and it piggy-backs on the tools you already have built into your Google account, but it is efficient, reliable and comes for free!

3. MeetingBird

MeetingBird is one of the multifaceted and sleek Calendly alternatives that allows you schedule meetings and manage your entire calendar. As a bonus, it provides you with a Meetingbird Chrome Extension, which will enable you to see your upcoming meetings right next to your Gmail inbox.

MeetingBird

These are the detailed features of MeetingBird:

  • Automatic timezone detection
  • Zoom Integration – if you integrate these two apps, you will basically have a scheduling and video conference tools wrapped into one seamless user experience.
  • Sync calendars from multiple accounts – this leaves zero possibility for mistakes and misunderstandings if you work in a big team. MeetingBird tracks everyone’s calendar and creates free timeslots accordingly.
  • Confirmation and reminder emails
  • Homepage – with MeetingBird you can allow clients and colleagues to choose from multiple meeting types when scheduling a meeting with you. You can create different meeting types with unique settings – for example, product demonstrations, sales calls, onboarding meetings, and more.
  • Advance notice and meeting buffer – this feature prevents last-minute bookings and adds breaks before and after meetings to prevent back-to-back bookings.
  • Recurring meetings – you can automatically set time aside for recurring meetings

With MeetingBird’s free plan, you get unlimited customizable scheduling, unlimited calendars, automated reminders, Chrome extension and integrations with Zoom and Zapier. Pretty neat, right? Pro plan starts at $9/month.

4. FreeBusy

FreeBusy made it to our list of top Calendly alternatives thanks to its versatility. You can sign up for FreeBusy with just about any account, as long as it has an integrated calendar. So, it can be Google, Exchange, iCloud, Office 365 or any other major provider. This makes FreeBusy particularly convenient for scheduling meetings outside your team.

FreeBusy
Calendar providers that work with FreeBusy.

FreeBusy connects to your co-workers’ and clients’ calendars, creating suggestions based on availability and preferences of all team members. Whenever someone checks your FreeBusy page, the app calculates the available timeslots and displays it as a schedule to the visitor.

All you have to do is to simply update and share your availability via your email signature, or calendar invites that you send.

FreeBusy
Example of shared availability in email signature.

 

FreeBusy comes with a 14-day free trial and a free version for individual use. Business plans start at $15/month. If you opt-in for the annual plan, the price is $12/month.

Conclusion

Now that you are equipped with detailed information about the way Calendly works, and the apps that are good Calendly alternatives, you can sit back and schedule away, saving both your money and your time.

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