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Top 5 Digital marketing tools

Ok, in an ideal world it would be great to have your digital marketing partners take care of everything for you, but budgets are not endless and a pragmatic approach is often called for. So, what can you do to help yourself and take on some digital marketing of your own? Well, using some of the tools described below, you may find you are able to do far more than you think, relying on your digital marketing partners, like step3 digital, to help guide and advise you.

1. Web Analytics

This is vital no matter what marketing you plan to do. How many visitors are on your website each day? Where are they being referred from? What are the popular pages on your site? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions that you should ask yourself throughout your business journey.

Connect your website into analytics software and you can see where you should be focusing your efforts. You can plan marketing campaigns and see how effective they are, discover the best keywords you should be using, test different page content to see what works best for you, find out who your audience is and how they found your site – and ultimately measure your data to improve and grow your business.

Recommended

Google AnalyticsManage advertising and campaign performance, find out audience behaviour and traffic sources, gain social reports, research keywords to improve SEO. Others are well worth considering as well as GA, but you must be very clear on the reasons why you would not want to integrate Google Analytics. Often, it is simply that the amount of data offered is overwhelming and just won't be reviewed because of lack of time or resources. That's where you may look to your partners to help, and having the historical data building over time will be invaluable to many outside agencies should you need their help in the future.

Worth a look

Moz: Moz has a range of products that started out focussing on search marketing and now covers content marketing and Twitter.

KissMetrics: This has a different perspective on analytics, focussing on visitor behaviour and conversion.

Woopra: Woopra is all about real time, where Google Analytics falls short. Also, it's free for small sites and integrates with your other marketing tools like Mailchimp!

2. Marketing Automation (Lead Generation)

Generating leads through your website feels like the holy grail of online marketing if you watch the ads and video marketing (I'll cover this shortly) and, with the right amount of persistence, discipline and skill in writing good content, it can become a fantastic way to generate new business.

Lead generation software come as all-in-one systems, like Hubspot, or can integrate with your website so that you can capture the data of the people visiting your site and downloading content. You can then use that data to focus your marketing and sales efforts with highly personalised messaging.

Recommended

Hubspot: The #1 marketing automation system, covers every aspect of search marketing, lead generation, email marketing, etc and is well supported with content, tutorials, and guidance. 

Worth a look

Drip: A simpler, lightweight solution that may work well for you if you are already well established on a CMS or blogging platform. Nice interface with quick ways to bring automation to your website.

Marketo: Very similar to Hubsot, this system covers every aspect of online marketing, email marketing, lead scoring and helps with content creation.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is a proven way of direct marketing and remains a firm favourite - if you know your market well and don't want to wait for the slow burn of inbound marketing to get going, an email marketing campaign is perfect. An email marketing system lets you create campaigns so you can send emails at particular trigger points so, if your marketing automation system doesn't include email marketing software, these tools could work wonders for your business.

Recommended

MailChimp: Get going quickly with a beautifully simple interface that guides even the most technophopic users to enail marketing joy. 

Worth a look

Aweber: Create and send beautiful, engaging emails in just a few minutes. With exceptional send rates this is a good alternative to Mailchimp.

SendinBlue: If you want to go one step further, SendinBlue offers email plus SMS marketing all in one. Great if you market to individuals rather than businesses. With an enticing pricing plan, SendinBlue has a lot to offer.

4. Video marketing

Video marketing is set to grow, and grow fast. Just take a look at YouTube alone, which is the second largest search engine!

To create truly effective video you should be looking to professionals to help you, but if budgets are spent elsewhere you may find these tools to create an explainer video can get you a decent result - an explainer video can be perfect for letting customers quickly understand more complex products or services in a fun, engaging way. However, don't think a quick explainer video will solve your core marketing problem of refining your message. It won't and that lazy approach will end in failure. Sermon over. 

What are the benefits?

Apart from being an engaging tool to explain what you can do for your customers, the great benefits of using an explainer video on your homepage is that it attracts more traffic to your site (I refer to Youtube once more) and, importantly, can increase your conversion rate dramatically.

Ok, a little self promotion here! But only because there's no really good alternative to getting professionals to do the job for you. If you want an all-in package with professional support, step3 can help. Good quality animated, website and app videos and with professional scriptwriting, graphics, animation, voiceover and music services thrown in step3 digital provide a great way to get an explainer video at low cost (and by low cost I do mean less than £900 for a 2 minute video). Self promotion over, let's look at how you can create something yourself.

Recommended

Rawshorts: Really simple drag and drop interface, focussed on helping marketers and business owners of small businesses put together a fairly decent animated video. It's free if you don't mind advertising rawshorts as well.

Worth a look

Animaker: Like Rawshorts, this promises super easy video making with animated clips in various styles. If it fits your message without too much tweaking it might be a great way into video marketing your business.

Pencil2D: Open source animation software that can help you hand draw graphics to animate. You still need some artistic skills of course!

4. CRM

To get value from all your marketing efforts you will need a solid sales process in place. The point where numbers change to names and your contact is showing real interest is roughly when it becomes sales' responsibility and a one-to-one dialogue about a purchase begins. Your CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system, is how you manage this process. A good CRM platform will help you improve customer service and take a prospect from being a lead, right through to becoming a repeat customer.  You can use your CRM platform to understand the each customer and make each point of contact a whole lot easier for your sales team.

Recommended

ProsperWorks: Beautifully simple CRM that integrates perfectly with Google Apps. If you use Google Apps or GMail (it's about as good as email gets so if you have any issues with your current setup, make the move), then ProsperWorks just works.

Worth a look

HubSpot: Yes, this is the same tool as above! Hubspot covers all bases, including CRM. Store contacts and companies, track deals, manage tasks, create custom fields and personalise views.

Salesforce: The #1 CRM solution, Salesforce is a comprehensive tool to manage each customer. It's popularity means it integrates with pretty much every other online tool.

SuperOffice: A comprehensive CRM that is very modular meaning you can subscribe to just the parts you need. Worth a look.

 

5. Social media management

If your plan is to use content to help market your business then you will need to operate several social media accounts. If you run each account seperately you will find you are working late every day and making life very hard for yourself! Even if you simply use social media channels to keep customers informed, make announcements, offer support, etc. without a social media management tool you will be replicating work. 

A social media management tool can save hours each day. It integrates all of your social platforms in one place, automates posts so messages are sent to multiple channels, at the optimal time to target your audience when they are most engaged, and some also allow you to curate content.

Recommended

Buffer: A simple but highly effective tool, Buffer also integrates with other very useful tools like Pablo for creating images that are perfect for each channel, and quuu.co which posts on your behalf to keep your posts ticking over. 

Worth a look

Hootsuite: The best known social media management tool, Hootsuite integrates with many other tools making it well worth a look.

Bitly: The well known link shortening tool, it also lets you manage your social platforms and measure sharing success.

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