The unofficial marketing motto for 2020 is "doing more with less." Efficiency is the name of the game, and your marketing team can accomplish this by looking for marketing resources and tools that prioritize integration and automation. Re-entering the same information over and over again is a huge waste of time, so tools that sync with each other are worth the price, and so are tools that allow you to automate a workflow.
That's not to say there's no place for creative human beings on your marketing team — far from it! However, their intelligence and creativity will be put to better use when they can focus on designing a marketing strategy and providing real human interaction when it's truly needed.
In fact, your competitors may have already discovered that the secret to taking on more clients or increasing sales isn't necessarily hiring more staff or securing more funding. Instead, it's all about using your time wisely. Are you ready to stay competitive on the marketing front? Stock your marketing arsenal with the right tools for the job.
Google Analytics for Understanding Data
It's true: Google Analytics always gets mentioned as an important tool for digital marketers. Do you actually take full advantage of this data smorgasbord? It's not enough to add the Google Analytics code to a website and call it a day. GA provides an incredible amount of data if you're willing to track and understand it.
For example, you can view the behavior flow of traffic on your site, which can instantly tell you whether your sales funnel is working as intended. If you created landing pages that encourage people to click on a specific product page, are people actually clicking that link? This section of GA will help you determine if visitors are dropping off at a certain page, getting distracted by other areas of your site or generally are not going where you imagined. As a result, you might consider redesigning your site or creating a much simpler sales funnel.
In fact, if you have a specific goal that you want people to complete, such as filling out a form or watching a video, you can track goal completion with this tool. GA and the separate yet integrated Google Search Console also provide insight on how people find your site via search engines, paid Google ads, social media networks and direct referral links. If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of GA, it's understandable, but don't shy away from learning how to use this tool or from hiring someone who's already a pro. The insight it provides is irreplaceable.
ActiveCampaign for Email Marketing Resources
Don't waste time sending the same emails over and over again — let ActiveCampaign do it automatically instead. When your marketing campaign takes off and you start getting dozens of emails per day, ActiveCampaign's automations will save the day by following up with each new lead in a timely manner. Let the phrases "sorry for the delay" or "I dropped the ball on this; I apologize" exit your vocabulary forever.
ActiveCampaign even offers a helpful Google Chrome extension that syncs the customer database with your email. When you send an email to a customer, the extension automatically files a copy of it on that customer's profile page within ActiveCampaign, making it easier than ever to look up information or to see whether your marketing team has already communicated with a client. You can also set up automations that will keep contacts organized within ActiveCampaign, such as by tagging them based on how they answered a contact form.
The features don't stop there thanks to the ability to create and design newsletter campaigns (which, of course, can be automated), professional HTML email marketing and contact forms. ActiveCampaign also has built-in analytics and goal tracking to help you understand whether your efforts are paying off. This tool also integrates with other online marketing resources, so you can sync data across multiple platforms. Compare ActiveCampaign to HubSpot and Mailchimp if you like these features but want to explore additional customer relationship management and inbound marketing options first.
E-commerce Apps to Increase Sales
If you're in charge of marketing an e-commerce site, there's good news: Hundreds of apps exist on popular platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce to help you entice more customers to fill their carts and finish checking out. For example, wouldn't it be great if your website could automatically suggest related products? You've seen it with the big-brand stores like Amazon and Walmart, and you can do the same no matter the size of your store. Look for upsell, cross-sell or "related products" apps to add this functionality to your site.
Another app for which to look is known as the "abandoned cart" app. Sometimes, customers add products to their cart but leave the website before making their purchase. Maybe they decided to investigate a competitor's prices, got distracted or thought they successfully completed their purchase. Either way, an abandoned cart app recognizes this situation and automatically sends an email that reminds customers to check out. You can choose to add a discount code to further entice customers to fulfill their order.
That's just the beginning. Shopify alone has nearly 4,000 apps that can help you market your products (such as automatically posting them to your social media pages) and provide conversion rate optimization (such as adding discount pop-ups when a user's mouse moves toward the exit button). If you do not use a platform like Shopify, you can hire a developer to add code to your site to perform the same functions. However, using existing apps is often a more cost-effective solution because many are free or affordably priced.
Keyword Research Tools
Search engine optimization is a huge component of digital marketing. A smart SEO strategy takes full advantage of marketing tools, especially for keyword research. Your Google Analytics/Google Search Console account will be invaluable, but it typically only shows search queries for which you already appear. If you're looking for brand-new ideas for content marketing, podcasts, white papers and more, keyword research tools will be your go-to brainstorming buddies.
First, try the Keywords Everywhere Google Chrome extension, which will automatically display a list of keyword variations each and every time you use Google. All you need is a little bit of creativity as a starting point. Similarly, if you type a basic keyword into the search box at AnswerThePublic.com, you'll quickly receive numerous long-tail keywords, such as questions or comparisons. However, the free version limits you on how many times you can use the tool per day.
What about the keywords your competitors are using? A site explorer like Moz, Ahrefs or Neil Patel's UberSuggest will give you the inside scoop. Type in any web address and view that site's keyword rankings. Look for opportunities where your competitors aren't really at the top of their game for a high-traffic keyword and start crafting a great content strategy to put your site in the number one position.
Social Media Management and Creation Tools
Dozens of social media management tools exist, and each one's main purpose is to provide a centralized location for monitoring all of your social media inboxes and for posting content across all channels. You'll want to explore different options to see which one gives you the best user experience while also providing the functionality you expect at a budget-friendly price. Check out Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social and Agora Pulse to get started.
Visuals like infographics are important for increasing engagement on social media, so it's also wise to have excellent image editing tools in your arsenal. Canva is one that's specifically geared toward social media marketers, making it easy to get the correct dimensions for the platform you want while also adding attractive text to equally attractive backgrounds. For easy drag-and-drop and social-media-friendly infographics, try Easel.ly. Finally, check out Photovisi to make collages.
Videos are just as important as images on social media, and you don't need sophisticated software to create them. Some video editing tools even offer stock video footage to help you put together a professional-looking video in a snap. Try Biteable if you'd like access to a library of over 85,000 stock video clips, Animaker if animated videos are more your style or Free Cam if you want to record your screen for step-by-step tutorials.
Task and Workflow Management Tools
If you're the sole marketer for a small business, you can get away with having a pen-and-paper to-do list. However, once you add even one team member to the mix, it becomes vital to use a project management tool to coordinate your efforts. The last thing you want to hear is, "I thought you were doing that" when a deadline rolls around.
Popular project management tools include Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Teamwork and Monday.com. Each one attempts to balance a user-friendly interface with sophisticated functionality. It's important to try a few and see which feels intuitive to you. Some may seem too complicated for your current needs, while others may not offer all the features you expect.
One lesser-known platform worth checking out is ClickUp, which efficient marketers will appreciate thanks to its numerous integrations and the ability to create automated workflows. Plus, it offers a mind-boggling number of features, including built-in video screen capture, which eliminates the need for another tool like Free Cam.
Raven Tools for Marketing Reports
Both in-house digital marketers and marketing agencies alike need a way to easily create reports to show that their marketing efforts have paid off, but wrestling with screenshots and pulling data from multiple sources can be time consuming. Remember that integrations and automations are marketing trends for 2020, so it's time to take reports to the next level with a platform like Raven Tools.
Raven Tools allows you to build your marketing templates in a WYSIWYG format. The learning curve is modest, but once you've established a report that you like, you can turn it into a template and use it every reporting period (and, in the case of agencies, across all your client accounts). What used to take hours will take only about 15 minutes after that initial setup, and the result is a professional-looking and interactive report.
Raven Tools integrates with other data sources like Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Ads; email campaign tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Emma; and numerous social media marketing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. However, if you use tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Google My Business, Moz, Click Meter, Bright Cove and more, you may prefer to use a tool like DashThis due to those additional integrations. Both Raven Tools and DashThis allow you to add your own key performance indicators and content and produce visually appealing reports that can help you showcase your company's marketing trends.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.