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15 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools to Grow Your Business

by | Apr 26, 2016 | Digital Marketing | 1 comment

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Are you looking for some handy digital marketing tools to help your business succeed?

Finding the right tools to improve your marketing campaigns can be a bit of a minefield nowadays, as the market has become saturated with so many different bits of software and apps all promising to do different things – and many of their services can overlap into each other.

So, what are the tools you actually need?

Marketing automation platforms

Well, in my opinion (having spent over 20 years as a digital marketer, myself), you’re better off with an all-in-one platform such as HubSpot (or alternatives such as Marketo and Pardot), which provides all the resources you’ll ever need in one easy-to-use package.

I think this option is easier for anyone running a business, as you don’t have to go out and individually learn how to use a bunch of different, segmented tools. You’ll also find it harder to see how your social media efforts and emails are affecting engagement on your blog posts, and vice versa – because these tools aren’t linkable!

With an all-in-one platform, you’ll be able to see everything that’s happening with your website, including how visitors are interacting with your emails, blog posts, web pages and call-to-actions, so you can use that data to improve on your marketing efforts and watch your business grow over time.

However, platforms like HubSpot aren’t essential for your digital marketing campaign. I’d also recommend checking out this article by Overgo Studio, called Inbound Marketing with HubSpot vs Without’, with argues against segmented tools like the ones mentioned below.

TIP: There are some extra tools that I like to use in addition to HubSpot, and I’m going to mention some below. HubSpot also have a couple of nifty tools you can try for free, including Website Grader and Lead-in.

Gathering data you can use

Before I dive into the real meat of this article, just bear in mind that if you’re going to be using a tool to gather data, you need to work out exactly how you’re going to use that data to make improvements to your business; there’s no point in gathering data just for the sake of it.

My advice here is to start with some solid business goals, then work out which tools you’re going to need for the job, and work your way forward from there – it’s a much more thought-out process than getting the tools first and not knowing what to do with them.

So, without further ado, here are 15 of the best digital marketing tools you can try for your business.

1. Sidekick (Now apart of HubSpot Sales)

What I love about Sidekick (part of HubSpot’s sales platfom) is that it can be used as an integrated feature to your all-in-one marketing platform, or as a standalone product – to give you a taste of what you achieve with your marketing efforts.

It basically allows you to monitor exactly what visitors are doing on your website, where they’re going, when they return, or even when they open an email (and what they click on when they do). I find it a really powerful tool for reaching people exactly at the point when they’re thinking of you – and they’re often none the wiser!

2. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is such a powerful tool for researching which content and topics are getting the most attention in your industry. I personally use it a lot for research purposes, as reading the comments in popular blog posts for your industry can help you find and pinpoint really useful insights into your buyer personas – so important for getting your marketing right.

The only thing I’d say about BuzzSumo is that it’s a bit on the pricey side (from $99 per month – that’s around £70), although you can try it for free to see if it’s going to be worth it for your business.

3. MarketingScore

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This tool is another I’ve personally used here at Stargazer, as it can give you some really in-depth and rewarding insight into the health of your overall marketing campaigns – including any weak spots you can work on to improve. Because of this point alone, it’s a good place to start with your marketing efforts.

Powered by PR 20/20, MarketingScore assesses over 130 factors in 10 different sections of your marketing, and it only takes around 15-30 minutes to get your score. According to a 2014 report, the average marketing score was 42% – can you beat that? Time to find out!

4. Canva

I absolutely love Canva, although designers aren’t usually fans of this particular tool. It basically allows you to create images so easily and professionally that you could potentially save yourself a bit of money you’d otherwise spend on a graphic designer – plus, it’s just so simple to use!

It’s got to be my favourite tool of the moment, and it’s absolutely brilliant for creating images you can insert into your blogs and content marketing. It only costs $1 to use their images and templates, which a lot of the time you will.

You also have the option of upgrading your account to the paid version (which has a free 30-day trial) at just $12.95 (under £10) per month.

5. Autopilot

With a beautifully designed interface, Autopilot helps you create simplified automated customer journeys that just work. It basically allows you to outline a path for your visitors to follow for a seamless, enjoyable experience from beginning to end, whilst ensuring no-one to get lost or fall through the cracks on the way.

I’d highly recommend checking out the short demo on their homepage to get an idea of how this can work in practice; it’s simple yet powerful. If I wasn’t already using HubSpot (which does the same for us), I’d be using this instead – and it costs as little as $4/5 per month, with a free 30-day trial to get you started.

6. Videolean

According to Adobe’s Digital Marketing Blog, 51.9% of marketing professionals across the world name video as the type of content with the best ROI. And in a recent eye-mapping study which looked at pages of search engine results, video content tended to command more attention than other types of listings.

If you’re looking to include videos in your content marketing, but don’t know where to start, Videolean seems a great option. It allows you to create professional-looking videos using pre-set templates – just customise by adding your own text, images and music via an easy-to-use interface! Pricing starts from £13.50 per month.

TIP: If money is no object, another way to go is Candidio, which can cost anywhere between £35 – £106 per video – all you have to do is shoot the video and their brilliant team will edit it together for you! (Although it’s free to create video plans unless you have more than one user)

7. Slideshare

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Powered by LinkedIn, Slideshare allows you to upload all of your PowerPoint presentations online for all to see, and this is one tool that has gained some serious traction in recent years as a fantastic way of sharing informative and how-to content as part of an overall content marketing strategy.

Even better? Slideshare’s premium features are now free, so it’s well worth giving it a go to see the kind of content you can create and share with the world.

8. Unbounce

When it comes to creating powerful landing pages that will help you convert more visitors into leads, Unbounce beats ’em all. You can either play about with existing templates (if you’re a beginner) or build your own pages from scratch using this tool – it even has built-in A/B testing!

Starting from around £35 per month, Unbounce isn’t exactly the cheapest tool in the box, but if you want to up your conversion rate and generate more quality leads, this could be one way of doing it.

TIP: Also, if you’re new to the concept of landing pages, I’d highly recommend their free 7-day training course where you can learn all about how to create perfect landing pages, and why you need them in the first place.

9. Crazy Egg

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The current leader in visual website analytics and heatmaps, Crazy Egg is a very simple, easy-to-use tool to help you understand how visitors behave on your website. You can use it to see exactly where people are clicking, why they’re leaving when they do, and how to improve your current conversion rates.

It’s a fairly good piece of kit, and offers a free trial, however, value for money-wise, I’d say you’re better off with something like HotJar, which I’m going to talk about next.

10. HotJar

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Boasting all-in-one analytics and feedback, HotJar is probably something you’ll need if you’re not already using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot. It combines all the features of CrazyEgg, along with other tools such as ClickTale, SurveyMonkey, Qualaroo and Ethnio into one simple package, so great value for money!

I’m also a big fan of HotJar because it’s just so simple to use, and you can even start on its most basic package for free.

11. Wistia

Another great company, Wistia combines brilliant video hosting, marketing tools and video analytics into one easy platform. The video players themselves are beautiful, and it’s even free up to 5 videos per month (20 videos per month is around £17.50), so I’d say this tool is definitely worth your time!

I cannot speak highly enough of this video service, and you can even link it up with your favourite email marketing tool to help generate more quality leads for your business.

12. Picreel

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With a user-friendly dashboard and some great in-built analytics, Picreel has everything you might expect from a popup application to help you recover abandoning visitors. The design templates can be quite limited compared to some other options out there, but because of that, they’re also consistently strong.

Starting at just under £10 per month, this handy popup tool also allows you to use targeted popups depending on where a visitor is on your site – which is particularly great if you’re selling products or services where you can opt to give very specific discounts to recover a sale you’d otherwise be just about to lose.

13. Hootsuite

One of the best platforms out there to combine all your social media marketing efforts in the just place, Hootsuite helps you effectively manage your accounts, schedule messages for future publishing, and get the data you need to improve and succeed – plus a lot more besides!

This tool has a very basic free plan for individuals, with paid plans starting from just £6.99 per month. I’d recommend signing up with the free plan to give you an idea of how much time you could save.

14. GatherContent

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Another tool we use here at Stargazer is GatherContent; the perfect tool for writing and planning out your content simply and easily. We love the workflows and client approval options, as you can have different people writing, editing and approving content – essentially collaborating together – at different stages.

Just assign whoever needs to see it, and they’re able to go in, make comments or edits, and either approve a document or send it back to the other person to make changes – brilliant! Plus, you can go back in and look at the revisions any time. Pricing starts from around £45 per month.

15. Analytics SEO

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Finally, SEO is an integral part of any digital marketing campaign, and it’s important to analyse your efforts if you want to improve and see success. If you’re not using an all-in-one marketing automation platform, Analytics SEO should help to better understand the results you’re seeing, and how you can do better in future.

Although, at £699 per month, this tool is more designed for marketing teams rather than smaller businesses looking to stay ahead of the game, and I’d really think about whether it is worth the money before investing.

Now that we’re talking about SEO, this brings me nicely onto my next point…

SEO tools: Do you need them, and should you pay?

(https://www.stargazerdigital.co.uk/seo-tools-do-you-need-them-and-should-you-pay)

It’s easy to understand why you might want to keep track of your SEO, and one of the most obvious ways to do this is via SEO tools. But how good are they really?

I get asked by so many marketing managers about the real value of SEO tools, and whether any of them are actually useful. It’s a difficult question to answer, because I’ve personally never really had much use out of them.

Below, I’m going to explore a little more about what SEO tools have to offer, and whether any of them are actually worth paying money for.

I’ll also share with you the only SEO tool you’re likely ever going to need.

Why use SEO tools?

Most people use SEO tools to look at their search engine rankings, but this doesn’t actually give you a full picture of how well you’re doing.

For instance, you’ll never find out what your customers actually think by using an SEO tool. You may also want to use SEO tools to analyse your competitors – which can be useful, if you’re especially nosey.

However, the information you’ll receive from analysing those competitors is very passive – in other words, you’ll get the data, but it won’t help you know what to actually do with it. Essentially, it’s useless.

In truth, the only competitor that is really worth analysing, is yourself.

How to get the most out of SEO tools

In order to improve your website from an SEO perspective, you need to take the focus away from your competitors, and towards becoming better than YOU were six months ago.

You can do this by looking at your web content, and how your visitors are responding to it. You can also use an SEO tool to analyse your site from a technical perspective.

SEO tools can be great for analysing how your site is performing from a technical viewpoint. They can help you:

  • Check whether your site has malware or has been hacked
  • Check for broken links, deleted pages or 404 errors
  • Find out if Google has the right idea of your website and what it does
  • Determine whether your keywords are spot on or need a bit of work

So, which SEO tool should you be using?

The best (SEO) tools in life are free

In truth, Google WebMaster Tools is the only SEO tool you’ll ever really need.

It’s perfect for checking all of the above-mentioned things, and the best part? It’s completely free.

However, if you are thinking about paying for an SEO tool, you need to first establish if the data it provides will help you to:

  • Make decisions that will ultimately increase the revenue of your business
  • Calculate and report on the ROI of what you’re doing
  • Identify the technical issues search engines may have on your website (Remember, Google WebMaster can do this for free)

Asking yourself these questions will ultimately help you to determine the value you’ll get back from your investment. If that value is minimal, or you can get the same results for free, don’t pay up.

Conclusion

I hope this blog has opened your eyes to some of the most inspiring and useful digital marketing tools available at the moment – there are certainly a few in here that we can personally recommend!

However, like I said above, the best thing you can do is to find an all-in-one marketing automation platform that covers most of what you need, so you can have all the basics and essential data in one place – then you can supplement that with extras such as Canva, Videolean and more to suit your own needs.

Which of these digital marketing tools have you tried? Are you using anything else that we haven’t mentioned on this list? Let us know your own experiences in the comments.

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