Marketing

80 of The Best, Easiest-to-Use, and Most Valuable Marketing Tools from 2018

In the market for a new piece of software? Here, 31 marketers share which tools they adopted in 2018 and will continue to rely on in 2019.

Elise Dopson Elise Dopson on January 16, 2019 • 18 minute read

If you say “I wish there was a tool to help with this!” multiple times in your day-to-day role as a marketer, you’re not alone.

Marketers are always looking for ways to save time, be more productive, and improve their results–which is why the average marketer has over 100 pieces of software in their toolbox.

But with thousands of new applications being released every week, it’s tricky to know which is worth your cash investment. You need to know the software you’re pitching to your boss or client will deliver long-term ROI, right?

That’s why we asked 31 marketers to share the best, new tools their team adopted in 2018.

From assisting with content creation to handling in-house communication across their department, we’ve broken their answers down into five main categories.

Click to view each one:

  1. “That was easy”: Tools offering the easiest solution to a complex problem
  2. “You get an account; everyone gets an account”: Products which have been easy for an entire team to adopt
  3. “How could I live without you?”: Tools each team spent the most time using in 2018
  4. “Shut up and take my money”: Software delivering the highest ROI
  5. “It’s getting serious”: Tools expected to be used in 2019 and beyond

…or continue scrolling to browse them all.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

1. “That Was Easy”

Ever fall victim to putting tasks on the backburner because you either: don’t have the in-house expertise, or, time/effort to get it done?

You might benefit from these six pieces of software that marketers use to solve complex tasks.

easiest marketing tools to use

Google Trends

“Pumping out fresh, relevant content is not always so easy”, says Nate Masterson of Maple Holistics.

He’s right. According to Content Marketing Institute, producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for 60% of B2B content marketers:

But Nate has found a solution in Google Trends.

He says: “Nevertheless, we found Google Trends to be an invaluable resource for crafting new content that is desired by our target audience. In addition to revealing trending searches by country, Google Trends classifies keywords by category, query, format, and timeline. This has helped us determine which topics are on the rise and which consistently top the Google search charts.”

marketing-tools-google-trends

Boomerang for Gmail

If you’re struggling with inbox overwhelm, GigWorker‘s Syed Irfan Syed recommends Boomerang for Gmail–an add-on which “helps you in your email outreach with features like read-receipts and follow-up reminders.”

That’s not the only feature on offer, though.

“It’s best feature is Respondable, which predicts how likely would you get back a response. Based on the trillions of emails Boomerang has studied, Respondable takes into account the readability, length of email/subject-line and more.”

He also says it’s worked wonders for his PR activity: “It is one of the primary factors which helped us get our HARO email outreach (i.e. answering HARO queries in order to get publicity) go from 0 to 47.06% (including positive responses and links earned).”

…Talk about making a complex task easier.

Google Analytics

Search for any marketing tool and I’ll bet Google Analytics makes its way onto the shortlist.

Rightly so, as Jeremy Ellens of LeadQuizzes explains: “We had been using a complex smorgasbord of tools including HubSpot, Chargify, and Google Sheets to figure out the ROI of our signups from SEO. With the help of Databox, we were able to get the same essential reporting by using conversion in GA.”

He adds: “Additionally, they helped us track pageviews by author to further measure the efforts of our content writers”–making the software hybrid a fantastic option for content marketers who’re unsure whether each member of their team is responsible for driving results.

Design Pickle

Graphic designing is a fantastic skill to have in your team–but it comes at a cost.

The average salary for a graphic designer in the U.S. is $43,068 per year, but Referral Rock‘s Megan Mosley began using Design Pickle as an alternative in 2018.

Before using this tool, Megan’s team “relied on a few people (including me) to handle all the images, infographics, and design elements”. She says: “As you can assume, that took a ton of time and we lacked consistency with our content as a whole.”

“By using Design Pickle, we have gained consistency and our time back” because they “now have a personal designer to help us achieve our vision. We are able to focus on our bigger tasks and hone in on the things we’re actually good at.”

Isn’t that the dream?

Elementor

Speaking of design, you might struggle to make small tweaks to your website (especially if you don’t have a web developer on your team).

Josh Ho, also part of the team at Referral Rock, recommends Elementor–a WordPress plugin that allows you to drag-and-drop elements on a webpage, which he used to “customize and take our home website, blog, and landing pages to a new level.”

TurboTax Assistant

The chatbot industry is expected to surpass $1.34 billion by 2024.

And with the opportunity to chat with customers in real-time around the clock being a huge advantage for customers, it’s no surprise TurboTax Assistant has made its way onto the shortlist.

“We began developing and testing a chatbot, known as the TurboTax Assistant, to provide superior self-help and support to TurboTax users”, says Intuit’s Casey Phillips, who uses the tool to “help users to better disambiguate their questions so that we can provide the right FAQ result to best meet their needs.”

2.”You Get an Account, You Get An Account, Everybody Gets an Account!”

Often, a new tool you bring into your toolkit needs to work for multiple employees.

Whether the software facilitates work conversations or allows multiple team members to access it at the same time, the ease of providing everyone with an account is likely a huge bonus.

These four marketers share which tools have been easiest to adopt across their whole team.

marketing tools for a team

Slack

Chances are, you’ve heard the word “Slack” crop-up once or twice.

It’s one of the largest team communication software in the world, boasting over 9 million weekly active users–including New Breed.

Amanda Nielsen says the team at New Breed “previously used Google Hangouts to manage projects.” However, they “found ourselves using multiple channels outside of Google Hangouts to share documents, manage tasks and reminders.”

That’s when she turned to Slack–and now, she wouldn’t turn back: “We love Slack because of its plentiful integrations and task management features. Some of our favorite Slack capabilities are custom polls, reminders and custom Emojis. These are just a few of the many features the platform has to offer that make our day-to-day a bit easier.”

Gray Group International‘s Alejandra Melara seconds the Slack love and uses it to meet deadlines. She says: “Slack is not only a great communication channel but is also a great automation tool. With it, we are able to set alerts and reminders so that we are always completing important tasks when they need to be completed.”

Asana

Struggling to manage your workload?

You’ll want to investigate Asana–a tool Andrew McLoughlin, of Colibri Digital Marketing, began using to organize his team’s “workload with our clients and our freelancers.”

He says: “It’s made a world of difference, helping us track deadlines, leaving tagged comments on tasks, coordinating deliverables with multiple steps, and organizing tasks by subcategories and individual projects. We’ve tried a half dozen similar tools, and this is the one that best matches our workflow.”

asana for marketers

Rippling

Scott Haney, of Chili Piper, saw the need for Rippling because “as we were going through our SOC2 Type1 and subsequently SOC2 Type2 assessments, we found there were quite a significant amount of tasks to keep up with. It’s no small feat. Being a small team and entirely remote, we needed a way to manage all of these tasks to stay SOC2 Type2 compliant.”

He says the software “help[s] automate onboarding, app provisioning/de-provisioning, computer management, and various aspects that help us stay SOC2 Type2 compliant.”

As a result, he says “it has been an instrumental tool in helping with our onboarding/offboarding processes to manage various HR tasks.”

3. “How Could I Live Without You?”

I know the feeling: Searching high and low to find a solution to solve your marketing problems, only to find the perfect piece of software that you wondered how you previously lived without.

It’s a common feeling for the marketers we interviewed, too.

These seven tools racked-up the most usage time amongst our marketers–and left them questioning “how did I live without you?”

most used marketing tools IN 2018

Ahrefs

Ahrefs has been a game changer for our team in 2018″, says Mackenzie Thompson of National Health Care Provider Solutions.

“Using the paid tool, we’re able to track new backlinks, lost backlinks, our sites and competitors domain ratings and rank, tracked keywords and ranking, and keyword content gaps. All of these tools, have been used for individual projects as we actively work to continuously improve on the processes we’ve developed around link building.”

Ben Johnston, of Sagefrog Marketing Group, was also impressed by the features on offer: “Not only did it provide excellent data on backlinks and provide opportunities to build them, but Ahrefs also has a robust keyword research tool, a content gap analyzer, it’s own internal content search engine… The list goes on and on.”

Compound Growth Marketing‘s Founder and Principle, John Short, is another a huge fan, commenting: “I hadn’t used it before, but its been an incredible fountain of knowledge for us.”

ahrefs-demo: marketing tools for 2019

CrazyEgg

Looking to learn more about the visitors landing on your website?

Jackie Tihanyi says the team at Fisher Unitech adopted CrazyEgg “to look at a more in-depth readout of what our website visitors are actually doing when they land on our site.”

She says: “I used this tool to record sessions on our website as well as create heat maps, scroll maps, confetti maps, etc. to see what did and didn’t engage users on the site. I also used this tool to A/B test landing pages. For example, we tested a PPC landing page with less content and video against a page with just content and images and saw a dramatic increase in conversions on the landing page with less content and video.”

Spotlight

…Name fail to ring a bell?

Ladder‘s Edwin Plotts explains: “It’s a tool we actually built specifically for our team to automate our audit and analysis process – and we just recently released it to the public!”

But since they started using the tool in-house, Edwin says it assists with three main aspects of their business:

  1. “Part of our sales process is to audit the prospect’s analytics, ad accounts, website, and competitors. Initially, we had a specialist who’d spend anywhere from 4 to 12 hrs on each audit. Spotlight automates this audit and spits out a cross-channel report that even includes an auto-generated executive summary, so what once took a minimum of 4hrs of paid analyst time now takes 5-10min and our sales team can handle it themselves!
  2. Monday reporting – even with dashboard tools – can be maddening. Spotlight allows us to automate reporting across any channel, from LinkedIn Ads to SalesForce to Airtable to Google Search Console and everything in between. The real kicker here is that it also calls out the most significant insights and generates an executive summary.
  3. Instantly seeing optimization opportunities. We can set an audit to find all the ads, segments, etc in an ad account that have spent at least X and are seeing a target CPA above/below Y. Makes it super easy to hunt for key wins or areas to cut spend.”

HubSpot

When you’re a business, every minute of the working day counts.

Hubspot is a must for any business, as the workflow functionalities, CRM integrations, and sales functionalities have helped me automate countless tasks, and qualify leads enabling 1 person to do the work of 10″, says Daniel Lynch from Empathy First Media.

The PHNX21creative Agency‘s Kenny Lange agrees: “The way in which we can gather data around client satisfaction and experience in an automated way is awesome! We were able to find out some pain points with particular clients and in parts of our processes that we previously were unaware of. We also got clarity around what specifically our clients liked about working with us and can now double down on those points.”

But it’s not just the HubSpot software that’s impressed P5 Marketing‘s Robert Donnell.

He says: “The assistance they provide partners is outstanding. The resources provided by my HubSpot partner team made a huge difference. Their effort, spearheaded by Chris Moore, made my 2018. The sales training provided by Dan Tyre and David Weinhaus encouraged me and focused me on the right targets for growth.”

…mixed with Drift

HubSpot offer tons of integrations with other ssoftware.

When Marc Herschberger, part of the team at Revenue River, “recognized a trend of fewer people filling out forms for content”, he turned to Drift–and helped “drive major increases in conversions at both the top and bottom of the funnel”, as a result.

Insycle

Are you one of the 55% of marketers that struggle with identifying leads to convert?

So did Nextiny‘s Gabriel Marguglio, before he “decided to start using Insycle because we found that it could solve one specific problem that we had when identifying opportunities and closing customers inside the HubSpot CRM for our clients.”

They realized some of their customers “don’t use the HubSpot CRM and they don’t have a way to connect their system to HubSpot”. But with Insycle, they were “able to mark opportunities and close customers in the system to understand which marketing and sales activities are generating success, therefore we decided to close these manually for them.”

The best part? It’s saved him oodles of time: “This process used to take 3 to 4 hours per customers per month and now with Insycle we can do this in 15 minutes.”

Agorapulse

Over 2.46 billion people have at least one social media account, so struggling to stay up-to-date with your social activity is a common problem for marketers.

Natalie Hagen, of TakeLessons, began using Agorapulse in 2018, to help.

She says the tool “has been instrumental in helping us keep track of all of our social media interactions”–a huge helping hand for her team, especially when they “have 20 various social media accounts (from different platforms)”.

Natalie says Agorapulse “allows us to respond to comments from each of them as well as schedule posts and have accurate reporting.”

4. “Shut Up & Take My Money”

ROI is likely to be a huge metric your marketing team strives for.

But it doesn’t just apply to strategy or ad spend. You’ll need to make sure the software you’re investing in is delivering results, too.

These six marketers found a tool that gives a bang for their buck.

marketing tools worth the money

Zapier

Zapier is a tool that allows marketers to automate tasks across various apps.

Jonathan Aufray, of Growth Hackers, says straight off the bat: “Zapier has been the new tool our company adopted and that made a huge difference.”

But why does it form such an important part of his toolstack?

He explains: “Thanks to this tool, we automated many of our processes. As soon as we find a repetitive task, we use Zapier to automate it. It allows us to gain tremendous amount of time. The ROI is up through the roof.”

Advice Media‘s Joe Sloan agrees: “Zapier has made it simple enough for our marketing department to connect our website directly to our CRM system which then connects to our email marketing system. This has enabled us to automate lead assigning, email drip campaigns, qualifying leads, and much more. Many of our other marketing efforts such as video production can now take a front seat because so much of the mundane tasks we needed to manage are now automated!”

SpyFu

If you’re looking to track your competitors’ marketing activity, it might be worth investigating Jennifer Noto (of Carolinas IT)’s , tool of the year: SpyFu.

“This tool has helped us see how much competitors are spending on paid search”, Jennifer explains. “You also get an in-depth look at your own site so you can see how your own keywords are performing. The application is so detailed that it will tell you what keywords just made it to the first page or what just fell off the front page. It even allows you to add your own list of keywords that you want SpyFu to track with your competitors.”

Summarizing, she says: “This tool is so insightful and really allows you to see valuable data for your competitors as well as your own website!”

Wistia

Does your company invest heavily in video marketing?

According to data collected by Wyzowl, 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool, and 91% of video marketers consider video an important part of their marketing strategy (an increase from 85% in 2018).

One piece of video you might invest in is explainer videos.

Kristen Craft says her company, Tettra, use Wistia to “great engagement […], and a higher conversion rate among those who watch our explainer video, for example, than those who do not.”

Soapbox

Katie Morrissey, recommends Soapbox–a tool that Wistia‘s very own team built to help other marketers build professional presentation videos.

Now sing the tool in-house, her team “record/share 4k + videos, which contributed to 40% YOY revenue growth.”

Not too shabby.

Clickflow

Clickflow is an SEO experimentation tool that helps marketers find pages on their website which could benefit from a change to their title tag–a feature which Chad Zollinger of BestCompany says “is especially useful because research eats up a lot of our time as content marketers. Clickflow put my title tag/meta description research and tracking all in one place and automized the whole process.”

“I save time and make money”, he explains. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that Clickflow completely changed how I consider title tag changes: now, they’re my go-to tactic when I want to optimize a page for clicks.”

5. “It’s Getting Serious”

A tool needs to massively impress us to continue using it, right?

Luckily, these four marketers hit the jackpot–and plan to rely on their software of choice in 2019 and beyond.

marketing tools 2019

TwentyThree

“We needed to find an easy way to upload, promote, distribute on multiple channels, and measure our video sales, marketing, and customer success videos”, explains Impulse Creative‘s George B Thomas.

TwentyThree has given us all the tools we need to be super efficient with our video strategy.”

Drift

“We had tested live chat but it didn’t work in that single state based on the structure of our company”, explains Cassandra Clemens of Square 2. “We knew we needed a chatbot as well and one that was flexible, scalable, easy to manage and integrated with HubSpot.”

That’s when their team settled on Drift.

Within just six months, they’re already reporting the following results:

  • 21% increase in conversations
  • 22% increase in email addresses collected
  • 75%-100% increase in booked meetings

PersistIQ

Colton De Vos, of Resolute Technology Solutions, explains: “In 2018, we built a strategy around using PersistIQ for outbound ABM (Account-Based Marketing) and it has made a huge impact for our campaigns.”

(He’s not alone: 60% of companies plan to invest in ABM technology in the future.)

Colton says: “The main benefits we were able to capitalize on using PersistIQ were increased open rates (60%+) throughout our campaigns using A/B testing of subject lines, increased engagement rates tying cold calling and emailing together, and leveraging industry-specific content pieces that were relevant to our audience.”

“PersistIQ has saved us a lot of time we would otherwise have spent tailoring each message and manually sorting which contacts had been reached and what stage they were at”, he explains–so it’s no surprise he’s seen fantastic results: “Based on 218 decision-makers in Financial Services firms we reached out to, 175 (80%) opened the emails we sent or replied by phone and 45 (21%) engaged us for services or planned to in the near future.”

MarketMuse

MarketMuse is a content marketing tool that crafts unique content using artificial intelligence (AI).

Since her workplace (Best Company) started using the software, Sarah Hancock says: “We’d never had a solid content optimization strategy prior to adopting MarketMuse, but since adding it to our toolkit, I feel that content optimization has become one of our strengths.”

She explains: “MarketMuse uses AI and machine learning to provide a robust analysis of your content, show you where the holes in topic coverage are, and help you determine which keywords you need to include for the topics that you write about, leading to more relevant, helpful, high-quality content.

But for Sarah, it wasn’t just a tool her company failed to see a return on. It’s a tool that continues to drive incredible results.

“We put it to the test by using the tool to optimize the content on 60 pages on our site around target keywords that we wanted to rank higher for (most of the keywords were ranking in positions 11 through 30 before the optimizations). After 4 weeks, the ranking for each target keyword improved by approximately 2 positions on average without making any changes to the pages outside of the content optimizations.”

That’s why she says: “It’s hands down the tool that made the biggest difference for our content marketing team in 2018. MarketMuse will become a necessary tool in every content marketer’s toolbox, and we definitely plan to keep using it into 2019 and beyond.”

About the author
Elise Dopson
Elise Dopson Elise Dopson is a freelance B2B writer for SaaS and marketing companies. With a focus on data-driven ideas that truly provide value, she helps brands to get noticed online--and drive targeted website visitors that transform into raving fans.
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