Latest posts by Mark Spera (see all)
- Ecommerce Marketing Manual: Everlane, NastyGal and Warby Parker - December 24, 2020
- 7 Best CRM Software Tools: A Comparison - December 14, 2020
- The Ultimate Predictions for Growth Marketing in 2021 - December 12, 2020
For our ultimate digital marketing tools power list see here.
As a marketer, my inbox is flooded every day by SaaS (software as a service) companies trying to sell me software to do my job better. Digital marketing tools are very powerful and the salespeople are quite persistent! My sister does sales for a SaaS company, The Shelf (in the list below). This is us talking business.
Google and you will see that there are literally thousands of marketing tools and/or sales enablement software companies. Why? Because many of these tools work quite well, either by saving us tons of time or by tightening our customer acquisition funnels in crucial places.
Below, you will find a brief intro with some words of advice, followed by a list of the best digital marketing tools.
Table of Contents
Should I Start Using Digital Marketing Tools?
There’s no right or wrong time to start using marketing tools, with one exception: you should probably use Google Analytics or some other analytics tool from day one. Without an analytics motherboard you will be flying blind trying to grow your product, company or website.
It will be tough to tell where your customers or visitors are coming from, making it very difficult to adapt your strategies for acquiring them in an intelligent, ROI positive way.
As your business grows, the needs and priorities change. Software should be there to solve problems that are standing between you and faster growth. For instance, if you know email marketing is extremely effective for your business, shouldn’t you optimize for email address collection? You could address this need with a rapid email address collection tool like Hellobar.
In Why is Growth Marketing Increasingly Popular, I make the case for “staying current.” When it comes to marketing tools, the only way to be “in the know” about the latest and greatest products is by reading blogs.
Below are my favorite marketing tools because they’re powerful and applicable to almost any business. They are the ones I turn to whenever I’m helping grow a startup, full-time or consulting.
For businesses that require more advanced analytics, Heap is a solution that picks up where Google Analytics leaves off (more on Google Analytics next).
Google Analytics has only recently started releasing some of the features that Heap has, but Heap Analytics is still the best analytics tool I’ve ever used.
Why? First of all, for all the complexities and features Heap affords, using it only requires putting one piece of code on your website. Heap’s ability to record everything that happens on your website is called “universal analytics.”
In order to set up Heap, you will need to “define events.” Simply, you need to tell Heap what you want it to record for you. Use the “Events” section to do this. Either enter the pages, buttons or forms you want Heap to track manually, or you can use their “Visualizer” feature so that you can tell Heap what to record simply by taking that action on a rendered version of your website Heap provides. It’s so easy.
More, Heap has “retroactive analytics.” Because Heap records every action on your website, you can retroactively define events and see backward-looking data. So let’s say you only recently decided to look at how many users click the “contact” button on your website, you can define that event and see how many users clicked on that button 6 months ago.
Heap allows you to track every action specific users take on your website. For instance, if you want to see if users view your blog after registering on your website, you can use Heap’s funnel feature.
Even more, imagine you want to see what a specific is doing on your website. You will use Heap Analytics’ list view. Heap pulls in all user data and allows you to define events like “email capture” (and frankly, any event you want to track). See a view below.
Google Analytics is the mother of all web analytics tools. Google, the largest search engine on earth, needed a tool that would help capture and quantify web traffic for its business customers. It was born out of the company’s Urchin Software purchase. It’s estimated that 30 to 50 million websites use GA today. Part of the reason growth marketing is becoming such a popular discipline is that company and customer decisions are increasingly data driven. Google Analytics helps to explain much of your customers’ behavior.
Implementation of Google Analytics requires just one code drop in the <head> of your site. Thanks to Google Analytic’s Universal Analytics, the single line of code allows you to see the traffic on every page of your website, follow pageviews, measure time-on-page and record conversion actions.
These are important metrics for different reasons. Say for example, you have a blog and you want to see what type of content your readership likes – you might look at your average session duration to see what posts garner the attention of your users.
Or, if understanding which of your affiliate partners is driving the most traffic to your site, you may reference the acquisition section. Finally, if you want to record and quantify important actions like a customer checking out and making payment, Google Analytics allows you to set goals based on user actions.
Combining goals and other features allows you to answer questions like, “which keyword searches are yielding traffic that purchases the most merchandise from my ecommerce store?” You might change your search engine optimization strategy based on the answer to this question.
After Google Analytics, Mailchimp (or another email software) is probably the next digital marketing tool you should add to your website’s arsenal.
According to Campaign Monitor, every $1 spent on email marketing yields $38. Of course, Campaign Monitor isn’t accounting for the cost it takes to acquire those customer email addresses, but email marketing is still the mother of all digital communication methods. 82% of B2B and B2C companies use email marketing.
I’m partial to Mailchimp because of the ease of use, automation workflows and integrations.
Simply, Mailchimp is my favorite user experience of any software. I think it is intuitive, the analytics are strong but not overwhelming and it can even be funny at times (the Chimp speaks to you!).
What I like most is the automation capability. Believe it or not, 75% of email marketing revenue comes from automated emails based on user actions. The classic example of this tactic is when you get an abandoned cart email after deciding not to purchase something you had in your cart on an ecommerce website.
Mailchimp makes the automation simple to understand and makes the impact easily measurable.
Read about the best email marketing tools here.
Collect emails, create popups and sticky bars and much more with Hello Bar.
Hello Bar is the best way to create calls to action for your web visitors.
If email address collection is a priority for your business, Hello Bar allows you to drop one line of code, make a few styling decisions and begin collecting emails on your website in about an hour’s time.
To understand how important it is to collect emails, imagine the following. You have collected 10,000 emails and you send email newsletters twice a week to your subscribers and 2% of people who click through your emails purchase on your website at an average cart size of $50.
With an average click-through rate of 5%, you would make $500/week. And you can keep doing this for as long as you keep your subscribers interested!
Hello Bar has since added a few other mechanisms, including widgets to allow social sharing and “exit-intent” popups that appear only when the user intends to leave your website. Hellobar allows you to convert more of your website users to email list subscribers. I highly recommend Hellobar to anyone trying to grow their user base, no matter the website size – I use it on my blog and RealtyShares uses it on its (significantly more complex) website.
Text message marketing is increasingly popular and for good reason. 98% of text messages are opened, while only about 20% of emails are opened.
We use text message marketing at RealtyShares in a limited way – to alert our subscribers when a new real estate deal has gone live on the platform. We’ve found it to be very effective. Though, it’s important to note that there are strict rules for text message marketing, particularly around getting consent from your customers. Make sure to pay attention and don’t overburden your customers with texts or they will get angry!
Many growth marketers (me included) like to use a lot of web pages in order to more effectively encourage users take a desired action on your website. For instance, at RealtyShares, we have users with very different search and content intent; the same landing page doesn’t speak to all of our unique customer groups properly.
Some users may have never heard about investing in real estate through a crowdfunding platform like RealtyShares. It makes more sense for them to click on our ads and land on a content rich, explanatory page like this. But for users that have heard of RealtyShares but still haven’t signed up for the platform, a more action-oriented and self-promoting page like this is probably more effective at getting users to take the desired action, which in our case is email signup.
Instapage offers a free 14-day trial for their basic subscription. At that level, you can actually host pages on Instapage’s own domain or your own subdomain, meaning you technically could use the product without any coding resources. However, I’d recommend publishing on a subdomain of your website.
Doing this requires you to change a couple of settings with your website host (like GoDaddy or BlueHost). Still, this requires no coding.
I think Instapage may be the most powerful digital marketing tool on this list.
Instapage has many awesome features that will make landing page creation and testing very easy. The editor is drag and drop, meaning no HTML or CSS is required to make your page pretty and functional.
One of the spiffiest things Instapage allows you to do is insert forms and email capture tools into your landing page. Again, this is done with no code. Even more, Instapage has out-of-the-box integrations with Mailchimp, Salesforce and more, which allows you to link your forms directly to your email or CRM software.
A/B testing is easy with Instapage. If you want to test one landing page versus another page with different features or content, you can use Instapage’s A/B testing feature. This allows you to make multiple landing pages and Instapage will split traffic between your pages. The simple analytics tools allow you to see how your pages are performing.
I recommend paying for one of Instapage‘s more premium subscriptions. They do a very nice job offering features that you will use to create high converting landing pages.
LiveChat is amazing. Frankly, most live chat features like Intercom and Tidio operate pretty much the same. You know when you’re browsing a retail store and a friendly sales associate says, “can I help you find something?” Live chat can do the same for your website.
When my company, BeGood implemented LiveChat, our revenue went up 8% overnight! We automated a live chat to go to every customer on the first page of our checkout flow.The first stage of checkout was a supremely important page for us – people either decide to move forward and become paying customers or abandon and give you $0.
LiveChat and similar solutions are cheap to use and are worth every cent.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could understand why customers like you and your product offering and what you need to change? Unfortunately, surveys often don’t tell the full story. Surveying users usually happen after purchase or at a random time when you have time to ask your customers what they think!
In many cases, it’s important to ask customers what they think of your product or service while they’re using it. They can call out real problems or areas for improvement before they forget about them. Marketing analytics and surveying tool, Qualaroo is useful for exactly this. Qualaroo requires one line of code to implement.
Once implemented, you will be able to ask your customers multiple choice or fill-in questions about your offering while they’re on your website.
Qualaroo allows you to see results to your questions on the dashboard at qualaroo.com. My only gripe with Qualaroo is that it’s very expensive. Qualaroo starts at $199/month, so unless you’ve got significant revenue, it’s probably not worth implementing.
Zapier is a tool for mid-sized businesses that use several tools. A lot of employees of midsize startups would tell you that they keep data or information in everything from Mailchimp to Salesforce to a simple Google Sheet.
One example of the Zapier use case: a sales associate records the emails of every person who visits your table at a conference. You want these people to join your email list so that they begin receiving your clever marketing emails – rather than have somebody manually upload these emails every time you attend a conference, you can create a link from Google Sheets to Mailchimp so that users will automatically be entered into the appropriate list.
Zapier has existing integrations with hundreds of apps. A few of them below.
Making a “Zap” using Zapier is very easy. You simply choose the applications that you would like to “speak” to each other. For example, say you would like an inbound Gmail attachment to be logged in Trello, a task management tool. Zapier would prompt you to input your Gmail login credentials and Trello login credentials. You then select from dropdowns, where the attachments will live in the Trello workflow dashboard. Zapier makes it super simple to connect almost any application.
Of the digital marketing tools that deal with design, I like Canva best. Canva allows you to design beautiful graphics that you can use for landing pages, email copy, infographics, investor presentations or your blog.
Canva basically starts where Shutterstock leaves off. Don’t underestimate the power of imagery when it comes to converting customers.
Every one dollar spent on influencer marketing yields $6.85. The Shelf is a new platform, backed by investors like Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh, which allows you to connect with . The product gives you access to a search tool for influencers, campaign management and reporting.
The platform is an interesting acquisition channel for CPG, clothing and any ecommerce brand that would benefit from influencer marketing.
At my company, BeGood, we found that influencer and affiliate marketing were our most powerful channels, so it’s no wonder companies like The Shelf exist to monetize those connections between marketer and influencer. One of The Shelf’s platform influencers below.
Businesses of nearly every size benefit from content. Among other things, content helps you to move a customer closer to desired action, like making a purchase from your ecommerce store for instance. I love communicating with customers using a blog, email blasts or even text messages.
One of the highest touch ways of communicating with users is via live webinar. See GrowthMarketingPro’s post about how to make webinars work for your business. Imagine the trust your business builds if your CEO (maybe you) has a live Q&A with customers. But, this takes a lot of time and commitment.
Your customers aren’t always available at the same time as your CEO, plus your CEO probably has a lot of other stuff to do!
WebinarJam walks you through the process of creating a webinar that will live on forever. Below is what the webinar widget might look like for your user.
Creating a webinar isn’t very difficult. Simply record a live Webinar using WebinarJam. Then download your webinar and go through the steps to upload and reuse forever! Plus, there’s some pretty cool features that will make your webinar stand out. You’ll see what I mean if you read about our webinar marketing best practices.
While I think Optimizely is a digital marketing tool with decreasing efficacy, it is the original A/B testing tool. A/B testing allows you to optimize your website by running tests of different pages. If a page with red buttons performs better than one with green buttons, Optimizely will tell you so in its dashboard.
Optimizely’s pricing has gotten quite high, so it may be prohibitively expensive for smaller websites.
Net Promoter Score is an effective way to measure your customer happiness, brand loyalty and likelihood your customer will recommend you to their friends. A NPS score ranges from -100 to +100.
Tesla Motors has the highest NPS I’ve seen at 97. This means Tesla customers absolutely love the product and service and would be willing to tell their friends about it time and time again. I imagine internet and cable giant Comcast has a -100, mostly because I hate them (Comcast’s real NPS is 10).
Delighted is a marketing tool that allows you to send a simple survey to customers to track your NPS over time. This is especially important for growing businesses that are moving at a million miles an hour. It is a great way to make sure you haven’t moved too fast for your customers, leaving them unhappy with your product or service.
Delighted integrates with a lot of other software, which makes it easy to track on a customer-by-customer basis. If you have an unhappy customer, it would be great to reach out to them personally, after all.
Cision has been around for a while and has over 100,000 users today.
It’s an excellent tool for marketing teams with a heavy PR or content focus. Cision allows you and your team to create influencer lists, monitor media progress and content amplification.
Let’s say you wanted to rank in organic search results for people searching “marketing tools.” You might wonder what other “long-tail keywords” you should try and capture as well. Google Keyword Planner will show you which keywords are searched most and how competitive those keywords are.
According to the query for “marketing tools” in the screenshot above, would behoove me to use “best marketing tools” in this article. Done!
The same goes for SEM keyword expansion – if you are doing quite well with some paid search terms, you may want to expand to other terms as well.
A marketing tool that allows you to snoop on your competitors can be pretty powerful in a few ways.
SEMRush allows you to see how your competitors are advertising in their search campaigns. You can see the ads and the keywords they are bidding on. If you’re a big razor company and you’re concerned at small upstarts like Harry’s shave products, it would be smart to check out the keywords and ads they’re running.
Even more, you can check out what backlinks your competitors are getting. If you’re savvy, you would probably reach out to the bloggers and news sources covering your competitors. They’re clearly interested in your industry!
Moz is a powerful tool that allows you to keep tabs on your search engine optimization – the likelihood of your website appearing in Google search results. If you’re a business that is investing in an SEO strategy, you need a way to track your progress.
Plus, Moz has a very strong blog all about SEO.
The first tool of Moz’s that I used was their SEO Audit and Crawl. This gives you a great baseline for how you’re doing today as far as optimization and gives a few suggestions to improve your SEO game.
Additionally, Moz has a useful tracker that helps monitor backlinks and your progress on keywords that are important to your strategy.
If SEO is part of your digital marketing strategy, even if it’s a small part, you should be using Yoast.
Yoast is incredible in that it allows you to optimize your blog posts and web pages for SEO without having to get into your HTML code. The screenshot above is the Yoast dashboard for this post. The dashboard tells you what things you must change to optimize your website.
Yoast integrates seamlessly into any WordPress or Drupal website. The paid version of Yoast allows you to run 301 redirects and do other things that are optimal for websites that focus heavily on SEO.
Marketo is all about optimizing more advanced marketing teams and funnels.
Marketo brings together all your customer touch points, from your search and Facebook advertising campaigns to your content, email and social media. This allows the marketer to create groups and automation workflows, so you and your sales teams can target the best leads and segment audiences with different value propositions.
Marketo is a pretty advanced tool that is pricey! As a rule of thumb, unless you’re spending a couple hundred thousand $ per month on marketing, it may not be worth your time.
Upwork is a virtual swiss army knife of marketing tools.
Upwork allows you to hire freelancers to do just about anything you might need from digital marketing to web development to customer support.
I have used Upwork to enrich lists of customer prospects. For instance, if you have a product or service specific to marketers, you might like to scour LinkedIn to find the names of everyone with a marketing title. Of course, this is a long process and one that you probably wouldn’t be smart to spend your time doing.
Upwork allows you to hire freelancers to do tasks like this, among many more.
Did I leave any tools out that you love? Let me know in the comments below!
*Articles on this blog contain affiliate links that GMP receives a small commission from at no cost to you. We only recommend tools we trust. And never ones we don't trust.