Tools don’t make the marketer, but they sure as heck make the marketer market better! One of the questions we get asked oh so often is what tools we suggest. Well, suggestion a tool and actually USING a tool are two different things. Internet Marketing Agencies don’t usually kick your results up a notch strictly by intuitively knowing how to tweak word here and by throwing a switch there- they use tools to boost their own skills. Here are 6 of the tools we use for our own clients- and we know we aren’t alone!
BuzzSumo is a Freemium online application made to help content marketers research and create the kind of content that people care about, as well as to help determine who already has a proven interest in those topics.
Simply pop a topic you are thinking about covering and BuzzSumo will show you the most popular existing content about that topic as determined by the number of times that content has been shared. You can break down those shares by how/where those shares happened, and even trace back where back links to the article are coming from. This is great for deciding if a topic has sufficient interest to justify your time to write about it, and it will give a you a leg up on finding out who might be interested in linking to or sharing your finished product.
The paid versions of the tool add more tools like unrestricted and unlimited searches exportable data, trend tracking, and outreach lists which are great for white hat link building.
If your agency is being tasked with creating the kind of content that will drive more traffic and ultimately more qualified leads to your website, knowing what sort of content is already working is huge. It’s always easier and more effective to drop your line where the fish are already swimming. Likewise, it will help your agency to know what influencers may already be showing an interest in that topic as they are the most likely to help share that content and link to it.
It’s free to use BuzzSumo for a half dozen searches a day. These searches are limited to basic information such as a link to the article itself, a run down of where that piece has been shared, and a view as to how many shares there are.
To dive deeper and unlock unlimited daily searches, you can sign up for one of the 3 premium plans which start at $99 a month and go up to $1000.
Chances are, you are already familiar with Hootsuite, by name if not by reputation. The tool is one of the two most well known social media dashboards in existence, and for our money, it’s the most useful one that we have come by.
Hootsuite allows you to connect multiple social media platforms under one dashboard, which is a great time saver if you have more than one or two platforms to updated. Unfortunately, that seems to be where most people stop using the tool, which is a real shame as that just scratches the surface of what this tool is capable of doing!
The tool also has some great conversation and tracking abilities, a fantastic tool for pre-scheduling content, a very easy to understand analytics platform for tracking how well your posts are doing, and an app store which gives you access to dozens of extensions to further power-up the tool with various 3rd party integrations.
If your agency is helping you with your social media marketing, chances are that they are either using Hootsuite or HubSpot (or possibly even both). Besides the fact that it adds a huge level of convenience to the mix, the fact that you can bulk-upload updates (with the premium version of the tool) allow an agency to plan entire months of a social media campaign in advance.
The “Pro” plan starts at $9.99 a month for vastly expanded options, though you can add ala carte items through the Hootsuite store. Of course, there is a free trial of the Pro option, and you can always use the free version which is still an incredibly useful tool!
Twitter is one of the “Big 3” social networks that everyone knows they need to have a presence on, and yet so few people really seem to understand how it works. Companies pay so-called extras to delivery hundreds or thousands of followers in the mistaken assumption that this will make your company look more sought after and drive new business. They blindly follow anyone and everyone they come across, and they never really stop to see just how their content affects their success (or lack of) with building their brand online. Crowdfire is designed to help correct those lazy habits!
Launched in 2010, Crowdfire gives you a dashboard where you can quickly see stats such as who has followed you, who has unfollowed you, who you follow that doesn’t follow you back, when people started or stopped following you, and it even gives you suggestions as to whom you might want to connect with based on the people who are already interacting with you! The tool also gives you the ability to set up an autoresponder so that whenever someone begins to follow you, they will receive a private message of your choice.
Most agencies who know what they are doing will tell you that a million on one inactive or unmotivated followers will hurt you rather than help you, and that following a lot of people who don’t follow you back (or whom stop following you once you follow them) is equally detrimental to your Twitter strategy. Crowdfire makes it much easier for your agency (or for you) to keep your list clean and balanced. Like wise, it can help with your link building strategy by giving you strategic suggestions for whom to connect with. Many of these suggestions are the type of people who make great candidates to help share your content- assuming it’s great content of course!
The starter edition of Crowdfire is free, and it has all of the basic but awesome tools that I’ve already mentioned. More in depth options exist in a variety of premium packages starting at $9.99 per month.
Keyword.io (that’s the web address by the way) does exactly what it sounds like it does: it helps you discover and plan keywords for your content!
Ever since Google started making changes to their own keyword tools a few years ago, marketers have been scrambling to find simple to use tools that will help them come up with the magic phrases that will make their content rank well with the search engines, and Keyword.io is all about ease of use! You simply pop a topic into the bar, and boom- out comes up to 750 suggestions
Because the tool isn’t an actual google product, it can’t show you actual data from the search giant based on your site like the Google keyword tools do, but it does base it’s suggestions in part off of data it pulls from the Google Search Box. For quickly discovering long-tail keywords, this tools is fantastic!
I’d be lying if I said that most agencies have given up on using the Google Keyword Planner for doing key word research. At the end of the day, that’s a tool that every marketer needs to use to the best of their ability. The Keyword.io tool is a great addition though, and for quicker/easier suggestions, this is a the new go-to tool.
The basic version of this tool is free- you don’t even have to login anywhere! If you need to kick things up a notch though, you can upgade to the pro plan to get twice as many long tail suggestions, tons of additional information that is hard to get through the traditional Google Keyword Planner, and – if I am being honest- a much easier to digest dashboard than any other keyword tool I have come across! The pro version starts at $48 a month and goes up to $88.
I’m not sure if Basecamp is the world’s #1 project management software, but it certainly is the most popular one for agencies!
Basecamp is a simple to use and full featured project management platform that allows teams to corroborate on project, create and complete to-do lists, create web-based text documents, share files, view milestones, track time, message in real time, and even create “client portals” which allow clients to view certain portions of a project but not others.
Besides the obvious answer of “they use it to manage your projects”, they are probably also using it to keep track of billable hours, keep historical records of what they have done (what has and what has not worked), and use the Client Portal function as a bit of a marketing tool to help show what they are doing for your company. The version you see will most likely be a very clean version of what the internet marketing agency sees, and most agencies will allow commenting through the client portal, but not the ability for the client to make further changes.
The base package of Basecamp is $29, and for businesses that don’t need the client facing portion, this $29 package is probably all you will ever be, but if you need the “Clientside” product, you’ll jump up to $79 per month.
I actually have a soft spot for web tools that actually tell you what they are in their names. Nothing is quite as irritating as having to do a bunch of research just to translate a “fun” and “quirky” name into what it actually does. In this case, HubSpot’s Website Grader is exactly what it sounds like- a great (free) tool to help you (or your agency) figure a rough idea of where your current website stands in terms of things like accessibility, SEO, social media, and blogging.
It’s not an exact science, but it IS a great way to get a base reading on ROUGHLY where you site is strong and where it needs help. There are issues…the grader doesn’t always recognize the plugins or the programs you may have built into your system…For instance, we use a marketing automation system that the HubSpot grader doesn’t recognize, and likewise it doesn’t seem to read our preferred social sharing plugin (and because of those two things going unrecognized, it penalizes our site’s score by a few points), but it’s still a great way to see the general areas you have been successful in, and a great reminder of what pieces may have gone ignored!
While it’s no surprise that most of the HubSpot partner agencies make the Website Grader one of their first stops when they are talking to a client (or potential client), you’d be amazed by how many other agencies use it as well. It’s a great way for an internet marketing agency to see where they can help the most and to do it without spending valuable time and resources on an in-depth audit at a time where they may not yet have secured the client.
Free- and you can’t beat that, can you?