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Successful digital marketing is dependent on knowing and using the right technologies, solutions and tools – but which tools are a must in your marketing toolbox?
If you ask me, the right digital marketing, technologies and growth hacking tools can make the difference between an ordinary successful marketing campaign and one that is truly extraordinary..
As the digital and online marketing industry continues to gain strength, digital marketers are literally becoming dependant on the use of technological tools to make it or break it.
All you need is WIFI, your laptop and your brain…
Relying on the right digital marketing tools to expand our visibility and reach means saving time, energy and money, while generating better results. This can be done in many ways, such as “listening” on social media, analyzing data, exploring content for insights and checking out new tools recommended on professional groups.
Yet, the plethora of new and and updated marketing tools out there is staggering. There are organic social media tools, programming advertising software, content curation and creation platforms, affiliate marketing networks, marketing automation tools and more.
Instead of making your job easier, the sheer volume of available solutions can be overwhelming and confusing. And if you don’t know which ones will be helpful, you just might find yourself wasting valuable time and resources trying out every new tool on the market.
Blink… a new tool born… Blink.. ENOUGH ALREADY!!!
What to do? You’ve got to be proactive, but also selective. That means keeping your eyes and ears open at all times, while still prioritizing your focus.
I am constantly sniffing around for new solutions, but I am also a lot pickier than I used to be. I know exactly where I can get top pointers and recommendations and I rely on the opinions of industry experts to estimate the quality of any new tool before I move towards actually piloting it.
So yes, continue to read relevant blog posts and articles (like this one) posted by digital marketing influencers on social media, and follow thought leaders on Facebook, Twitter and the like.
Engage in discussions with colleagues and industry professionals – around the water cooler, at events and meetups and on online professional groups. I love following professional Facebook groups discussions. Someone posts a question, people share their favorite tools and tactics, et voila! I’ve learned something new!It’s just amazing.
After all, at the end of the day… sharing is caring!
Once you’ve heard from the best about the best – tools, that is, it’s time for you to test out only those technologies and solutions that have received top reviews. This is how I went about cultivating my list of top life-changing digital marketing tools.
And yet, even once I’d done my due diligence, it was still really hard to narrow my list down to just 7 items. By no means are 7 tools nearly enough, but mastering a great selection of the most essential digital marketing tools is the first step.
Here’s my list of the 7 life-changing tools every digital marketer must know and use:
Canva is a freemium, SAAS web-based graphic design tool (for dummies) that you can use directly in your browser. Loaded with tons of easy-to-use features, anyone can use Canva to create engaging content full of new or refurbished images to share on your blogs, social networks and other marketing materials.
Why it’s on my list?
When it comes to marketing content in general and social media content promotion in particular, Canva is an absolute must. Especially for social channels like Twitter, where posts are limited to 140 characters. It is the image that makes your content – and by association your brand, stand out. And as my graphic design skills are limited, Canva’s Design School, tutorials and templates help you master simple design techniques like changing colors, inserting or manipulating text and adding decorative elements to your image.
Here’s an example of a post image that’s easily created via Canva. How easy is that?!
— G2Mteam (@G2Mteam) September 10, 2017
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics (I know it feels like the most obvious tool ever, but the question is how you use it) is a free web analytics service that provides digital marketers with the basic analytical tools and statistics needed for search engine optimization and marketing campaign curation. It is currently considered the gold standard of analytics tools for most websites. Available to anyone with a Google account, the service’s advanced analytics let you know who your website visitors are, what their online behaviors look like and how they tend to travel along the sales funnel.
Why it’s on my list and what hacks can I share?
As management thinker Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Google Analytics is one of the best measurement tools out there. Its reports contain dimensions (attributes) – like age, gender, keyword used, operating system and metrics – like average session duration, bounce rate, goal conversion rate and goal completions. Together, they give you a picture of your organic and SEO traffic and help you determine what measures must be taken to improve your campaign outcomes.
Some concrete Google Analytics tips that digital marketers must know:
- What do your sign-up (leads) go
- Are you running paid PPC campaigns? Great. Use the GA “acquisition” tab to learn how many paid prospects reported by the ad deck actually clicked-through to your website. You might be surprised by the drop seen with respect to some particular networks (that I will not mention here).
- als’ CR look like for mobile versus desktop traffic? You may find (like I have) that while mobile generates traffic better than desktop, it fails to generate leads. In that case, one action that you can take is to limit your re-marketing campaigns (usually aimed at generating leads) to desktop only, while keeping ‘top of the funnel’ campaigns enabled on mobile.
- Do you manage to turn some blog posts into SEO gold mines? You can easily check that out via Google Analytics. Use ‘behaviour >overview > site content>all pages’. Select a blog that wasn’t recently published (and that you are not promoting anymore). Stretch the dates (so you can see 3 months back or more). Does the content continue to generate traffic “on its own,” without you proactively pushing it? Congrats. You’ve gained content that has SEO value. You can even select a source in the secondary dimension and see where the traffic to this content has originated from. Here’s an example (one of our blog posts):** Don’t forget to install the Google Analytics mobile app; it enables a quick, one-tap view of some important key metrics that marketers usually want to follow regularly.
3. WhatsApp Web
WhatsApp Web is simply a life saver. It’s the known WhatsApp desktop web client. While the service is still managed by your phone, its mirroring on your desktop enables busy computer-based digital marketers to message – and send group blasts, with your regular keyboard, instead of having to reach over and tap away at a tiny touch screen, every time you want to communicate with someone on your contact list.
Why it’s on my list
This isn’t a “marketing tool” but the dual-screen messaging app has made it to the top of my list because it has supercharged my project management efficiency. Digital marketing requires top project management skills, as marketers are in charge of communications taking place between multiple internal functions. Having one really great tool that enables you to communicate with your team, whether individually or as a group, ensures that your entire team is in the loop and generates rapid responses to all of your marketing queries and assignments. And if that tool can also accompany you when you’re out of the office, even better.
I’ve learned that not many digital marketers use WhatsApp web (or any other cross-device messaging app) methodically, in their work. Well, they should. It enables a different scale of efficiency.
Launched in 2010, Quora is a Q&A platform for desktop (SAAS) and for mobile (an app), on which people can post questions and run discussions about any topic they are struggling with. They can then receive answers and content from professionals in the industry or just people who share similar interests or first-hand knowledge on the questions posed. Each question becomes its own page. Quora’s goal is for each question page to become an unrivaled resource for a given topic. The site currently features over 400,000 different questions and answers.
Why it’s on my list? Multiple reasons
- First, Quora has become extremely popular, which means that your prospects are probably there, asking questions about product and services that you sell. Need I say more?
- Quora users get Quora results sent to the top of their Google search results list. That’s because quora is a strong SEO tool and is very popular among many active users. It also means that Quora is an important SEO platform for digital marketers.
- Quora offers a great angle for you to position yourself as a thought leader. Professionals who post answers are identified with their business profiles. It allows you to promote your personal and company brands – by featuring accurate and detailed answers to professional questions.
5. Google Sheets and Docs
Google Sheets and Docs are productivity desktop (and mobile) apps that enable you to create, view, edit, save and share spreadsheets and documents in the cloud. You can access the spreadsheets and documents from any device and from any location. And as multiple users can work on the same doc or sheet at the same time, the apps foster high levels of collaboration.
Why it’s on my list
Another tool that’s not directly related to marketing, but serves as a great tool to project-manage digital marketing tasks.
Here are a couple of examples:
Marketers often work on copywriting tasks. Many times, they do so as a team. One person writes a text, another one edits it, a third one adds some “meat,” the document is sent back to the first person for some fine-tuning, and so forth. Instead of creating multiple versions, one Google Doc lets everybody work on the same file, suggest edits as they wish, add comments and share the final product with others who can read, comment, proof, etc.
The same goes for Google Sheets.
I still know too many digital marketers who stick to good old Microsoft Office files. I am not at all against these formats. I use these as well, but when it comes communicating and working on documents efficiently as a team, nothing beats Google.
It did take me awhile to get used to it, though, so don’t be too hard on yourself during the on-boarding process.
6. SimilarWeb Chrome Extension
The SimilarWeb addon brings the in-depth traffic and engagement statistics of websites (or apps) provided by SimilarWeb.com, directly to your browser’s toolbar. When downloaded as a Chrome extension, the add-on shows you some basic metrics, such as how popular a website is and what geographies play major roles. SimilarWeb also informs you of other important metrics, including engagement, monthly visits and traffic sources, site rankings, top referring and destination sites, similar sites, top paid and organic search keywords and more.
Why it’s on my list – so many reasons
- First, it lets me spy on my competitors (and see how they are doing, what channels bring them traffic, which geographic locations they are most popular in, etc.)
- It helps me estimate co-marketing activities, like working on a guest post that would be published in a partners’ blog (or sponsored content in a news portal for that matter). I use the Similarweb extension to estimate the popularity of the partner website and based on that estimate, which results I might expect to see. .
- It help me estimate which SEO actions I might take, such as the use of backlinks (or PR links).
* I have a lot more uses but these are my favorite.
Last but not least, 1Password is a (paid) password management app (desktop and mobile) that securely remembers all of your passwords, so you don’t have to. 1Password enables your web browser to log you into your password protected websites, using a single password -the one you created to give you access to the app. 1Password also keeps track of important information, like secure notes, passport numbers, your medical history, frequent flier numbers, credit cards and more.
Why it’s on my list
You know it just as well as I do: being a digital marketer requires you to log in to endless websites, decks and analytics platforms.
If you work in an agency, like I do, than the number of passwords you use is multiplied by the number of your customers. A pure nightmare! Many of the sites, decks and platforms we use do not allow Facebook logins, so you might find yourself juggling multiple passwords – and struggling to remember which series of letters and numbers corresponds to which account. 1Password is the ultimate solution to this challenge. You cannot imagine how much time and frustration this app saves me. Our entire team is required to save all passwords in 1password.
Like most digital marketers in the field, you are probably feeling your management’s expectations of you and your marketing skills weighing down. In truth, they probably are, as digital marketing’s role in commercialism is constantly rising and your clients or bosses most likely want you and your marketing activities to make greater and greater contributions to the business. The list of tools that you can potentially use to achieve this goal is endless and ever changing. The trick is to use the best strategies available, keep abreast of new and coming solutions by following relevant social groups and taking part in discussions. Never become too friendly with the status-quo!! While most tools that you try will leave you less-than thrilled, to remain a “top marketer,” you must keep testing the waters.
I truly believe that by following the pointers above, you can re-design the approach you and your organization takes to marketing – for the better. Using these top 7 tools can help you shift around priorities and resources. In some cases, you might even find yourself in possession of an entirely new marketing philosophy and tactical plan. Wouldn’t that be great?