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As a startup marketer who supports young B2B startups that are very limited in budget and resources, I must always be on the hunt for new marketing tactics and tools to help me do a better job and be in the know. This article lists some tools I love to use and think every startup marketer should know.
Us marketers are in the WOW business. Wowing today is done with technology. Gladly, valuable tools spring up like mushrooms after the rain; the downside is that it leaves us with the endless task of exploring their value, learning their bits and bytes, etc.. We need some help here.
Since I am always trying to figure out what the best tools for my needs, tasks, and constraints are, I decided to pay it forward.
But since my lists are constantly changing, I republish them every now and then. Well, this is my list as of 2020 🙂
Some of the tools you will see here are hardly new or very innovative in concept. Still, after meeting with so many startup founders and industry colleagues, I realize that even tools I am so used to working with (and feel as though everyone else is using) may not be known to others, and using them can bring a lot of value. So, here you go. Better safe than sorry.
In order to make it easier for you, I decided to roughly divide the list into unique clusters, but keep in mind that most of these tools are relevant to several fields.
Lastly, If I have accidentally left out a critical tool that should be on this list and every startup marketer should know about, please, please give back and don’t hesitate to let me know. I would love to enrich and expand this list!
Online research, competitive analysis, and SEO tools
Marketing isn’t an exact science. Different marketers bring different strategies to the table. I, for instance, am a huge believer in research and intelligence as a prerequisite to almost any marketing activity I am about to embark upon.
In other words, I will always want to start any challenge by first learning as much as possible from other companies in the industry, competitors, or colleagues that had probably faced similar challenges and found creative ways to solve them.
I wouldn’t necessarily do what they did, but surely I want to be in the know, identify opportunities and threats before I roll up my sleeves and start working.
For instance, everybody does content marketing. There’s way too much content out there. But creating best in class content, one that adds real value, is hardly an easy task and requires plenty of research, especially in the tech B2B industry.
I always run comprehensive research prior to writing any content piece, trying to find answers for questions like What type of content is most popular in the industry? Which topics capture the attention of the prospects? What formats work best? Which players leverage content marketing (or which media outlets publish added value content)? What content would the influencers share? What appealing topics aren’t yet sufficiently covered (an opportunity…)? You get the idea.
Content analysis is just one example.
Here are some tools I use for online research and competitive or SEO analysis.
SEM Rush: A well-known, popular and friendly software.
I use it to estimate the digital efforts of companies in general, take a deeper look at the paid campaigns that they are running (yes, you get those insights here), explore their traffic sources and more.
The free version is limited IN the number of searches you can run, but it will let you explore multiple data such as traffic estimations, backlinks volume and quality, search ads copy, traffic locations and lots more. It also helps with identifying important keywords for SEO and paid search campaign purposes.
When do I find myself using SEMRUSH?
I usually use the free version for running a mini-research before the execution of specific tasks. When I start working with a new startup and I’m running the initial comprehensive competitive analysis (and usually try to gain many insights for content, SEO, backlinks, keywords, media focus and alike), I use their monthly premium subscription. It’s very affordable.
Moz: SEO software and data to help you increase traffic, ranking, and visibility in search results. Although I feel that it is slightly less intuitive than SEMRush, Moz presents the gold standard for website rankings, optimization, and crawling pages. Moz does not only show website SEO performances, but it also implies bugs and suggests ways to fix them.
When do I find myself using Moz?
I use Moz mainly to analyze my web site’s link profile since strong links guarantee higher ranking in Google search. Moz not only analyzes the link’s profile, but it also provides organic link suggestions for improving website ranking scoring.
Moat: I just love this tool and use it on a daily basis! Among the many features that cannot be covered here, it lets you see the ad creatives of any (big enough) company that you can think of! As simple as that. Check out this screenshot of results to the search query “Salesforce”
When do I find myself using Moat?
As you might have guessed, I use it when running the initial marketing competitive analysis. I use it for inspiration when working on the creative part before launching campaigns. Sometimes I use Moat when I am working on (together with the creative vendor) on developing a visual language. I use Moat when I struggle with messaging and look for inspiration. I use Moat when running content activities and wonder what content other specific companies are currently promoting. I use Moat for almost anything besides making coffee.
A few weeks ago I found myself using it to prove a point about the lead-gen methods used in a specific industry. It was the only tool that so easily revealed the competitors’ creatives and tactics they were using to capture leads. It put an end to a long argument within minutes.
Facebook’s ad-Library tool is similar, but it only covers Facebook ads.
Buzz Sumo: Here’s another tool that makes me happy. No doubt that this is one of the most WOWing tools for marketers. Buzzsumo brings quantitative insights about the popularity and engagement levels of content items such as blogs, social media or entire websites. You can search for content by a specific URL, or by domain or by topic (keywords). This tool also helps you find leading influencers, categorized by niches. Buzzsumo is also great in content curation and finding the topics that were neglected by others. Plus, it has a cool Chrome plugin.
When do I find myself using Buzzsumo?
Well, I would use it every time I need to write about a new topic and want to estimate its potential. Buzzsumo gives me hints about topics that have not yet been explored or that are of key interest.
Type out a keyphrase, and related content pieces with absolute numbers of social media engagements will appear:
Yoast SEO: It’s less of an analysis tool and more of an internal SEO one. If your website is built on WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a tool you should seriously consider using. Once (easily) installed, Yoast helps you control your website titles, meta descriptions and sitemaps, manage your keywords and track their usability as well as other SEO standards. In other words, Yoast SEO constantly keeps your content at its highest readability level.
It works by scoring the SEO optimization level of every web page (I think it counts the keywords, how short and clear are sentences, the structure and of titles, etc.). It also provides clear recommendations for page optimization(shorten the title, add a few keywords, etc.).
Content marketing, content promotion, and thought-leadership tools
There are endless tools today to help marketers create better content and promote it more efficiently. I had to focus on just a few…
Portnet: Portnet is a sweet free tool that helps you generate cool and out-of-box titles. Just look at the screenshot below. Nice, huh?
Quora: Quora is a Q&A site where anyone can post questions and get answers. Besides being a platform for gaining knowledge, Quora is a great place to gain momentum as an expert in your area and increase brand awareness. Quora is excellent in generating organic awareness and improving your reputation, as replies are scored with an upvoting system.
When do I find myself using Quora?
When I publish a new content piece, I use Quora to hunt for relevant questions that I can answer using my new content item. You will be surprised by the number of questions that you may find in there on almost any topic that you are working on as a content marketer.
I then post a detailed answer and attach a link to the relevant content article (or to any other content piece I‘m promoting, for that matter), so I get to promote my content and help others. Yes, 2 birds.
Although Quora links are marked ‘nofollow’ (meaning that this backlink brings less value in terms of SEO), I do manage to get it to pay off by getting a nice percentage of direct traffic from Quora, including conversions to leads.
Reddit: ’s another platform I use to promote content. Reddit is based on the exchange of queries and suggestions, where you can increase awareness of your products or services. If you hang in there long enough, you can learn about which content works and which doesn’t, and eventually generate a community of followers and promote your content well. Reddit may be especially valuable for content that targets developers and other geeks.
BrightTALK: BrightTALK is a great platform that hosts professional webinars for a variety of industries and helps you generate leads. This tool has smart editorial planning, so you can plan many webinars in advance. BrightTALK not only offers a platform to create your webinar content and registration page, but it also proactively supports you in promoting it to relevant audiences.
If you are already working on a good piece of content, consider reformatting it and running a webinar – it may help you get more high-quality prospects.
Medium: Medium is an online publishing platform developed to serve the curious reader by sharing compelling ideas, knowledge, and perspectives. It’s like an external blog that comes with a huge community attached to it.
When I publish a new article, I often use Medium to publish an abstract and link back to my blog, for an option to read the full article.
The good news is that Medium should ‘count’ in terms of SEO.
Snip.ly: Sniply lets you add your CTA to any external link that you share, no matter which. Anyone clicking on curated links that you’ve shared will not only see the content but also your call-to-action inside. And that’s not all! Sniply monitors how your audience engages with the links you share by keeping track of link clicks, conversion rates, and more.
So basically, snip.ly isn’t a tool that supports your content promotion, but rather a tool to enjoy an immediate payoff from promoting 3rd party content. Winwin.
Giphy: There is no argument that GIFs communicate with audiences in a way no static image can. Giphy offers you an infinite bank of free GIFs precisely for that purpose. I spice up the blog articles that I create with funny GIFs that make my readers smile. And that means the world, doesn’t it?
Here, I’ve decided to spoil you with one:
Wordable.io: Uploading blog content to the website’s CMS is a tiring, time-consuming task. This is where Wordable comes into play. This sweet, free tool lets you Instantly export a Google Docs document into your WordPress CMS. How cool!
Social selling dashboard by Linkedin: – How powerful is your personal LinkedIn profile? This is an important question, assuming that you promote the content you create via your own social profiles. LinkedIn recently launched a tool called SSI – Social Selling Index – which measures how effective your Linkedin profile is at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. Find out how high you rank and where you need to improve your performance. The index is updated daily 🙂
Content, graphics and video creation tools
Lumen5: Lumen5 is a platform that lets anyone (yes, anyone) create ‘presentation-like’ videos in minutes. It has a very cool feature: you can start with linking it to any article and make a video out of it, semi-automatically. It works better with short articles.
When do I find myself using Lumen5?
Well, I often need a ‘quick and dirty’ video, promoting an article, an event we’re holding, etc. Working with a video production studio for that would be an overkill.
In other words, I find Lumen5 super-efficient when I need a short video on the spot.
Content Samurai: – Very similar to Lumen5, CS is another video creation platform. It offers lower-cost subscription (both platforms also offer a free package), and is more flexible in terms of colors and templates.
Pixabay: – Pixabay (just one out of many) offers a vast amount of free-to-use photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and film footage.
Duotone if you want to add a color filter to any image, use Duotone. You can search for images and Duotone them instantly based on any RGB.
Canva: – Canva is a super friendly DIY design tool that suits amateur and professional designers alike. You can use it to design amazing ads, social media banners, blog covers, event invitations… you name it. Canva’s biggest advantage is the freedom it provides you from being dependent on a graphic designer when you need simple designs.
Many of its functions can be used for free, and premium options are very affordable.
When do I find myself using Canva?
All the time 🙂 and the more I use it, the more I enjoy it.
Colorzilla Colorzilla is a very simple yet helpful tool (and a valuable chrome extension) that lets you easily extract the color code of any point in your browser, quickly adjust this color and paste it into another program. You can analyze the page and inspect a palette of its colors. Brilliant!
Mezer tools screen capture This is such an anonymous tool (how every convenient) that it doesn’t even have a decent logo. But it captures screens so easily, and unlike other similar tools, you can immediately paste the screen capture elsewhere, with no need to save it first.
Bannersnack: A nice banner-making tool that’s fun to use. Bannersnack offers you thousands of templates and layouts options for banner design for your website or social media.
Compressor.io: A powerful online tool for drastically reducing the size of any image or photo, while maintaining its high quality with almost no difference before and after the compression process. The tool handles JPEG, PNG, GIF and SVG. Compresso can reduce file sizes by close to 90%. However, the file size cannot exceed 10 MB.
https://venngage.com: Venngage enables you to create your own infographics in three short and easy steps. It has hundreds of icon, graph and image templates to choose from. Changing fonts and colors adds uniqueness to the style you chose.
Automation, analytics, and lead-management
We’re almost done, a few tools to help with email marketing, lead management and automation of some repetitive activities.
Hubspot: A complete marketing and sales platform on which you can create and automate blogs, landing pages, email newsletters and more. It includes highly advanced measuring tools, along with intuitive and friendly dashboards, and provides accurate insights of the journey contacts have done on your website and social media. In addition, its excellent support team stands out in solving any issue.
- Start with the free option (CRM is free and quite a few marketing activities are free as well). Move to the paid option only when you feel the pain of missing some important capabilities.
- If you also run sales/SDR activities, you should use the HubSpot email add in. It automatically captures leads right from your mailbox. Super fun!
- You don’t need to use the paid hubspot subscription in order to capture leads right from your website. Create lead-capture forms for free and you send them to your website manager, or just add them to your landing pages (demo, contact, resources download, whatever).
Mailchimp:- Since email marketing is still a very effective channel to communicate with customers, working with an email marketing platform is important. Mailchimp is one of the most feasible ones. So, if you are working in a small startup, Mailchimp is a good alternative to create appealing newsletters and launch email blasts.
This list, long though it may seem, is just the tip of the iceberg. But I had to have some mercy, not only on your reader but also on myself.
Still, I tried to separate the wheat from the chaff, and provide you with a glimpse of some of the tools that I love the most and make the lives of marketers much easier when coming to create good content.
Now, over to you 🙂