Over the years I have used tons of tools for marketing programs and campaigns I’ve created. But, I get a lot of people that ask me “what do you use for email marketing?” or “what did you use for analytics?” I thought about companies I have started like Eventup and Visible Factors, among others, and every company I consulted for, these are the products/tools I set up or recommend consistently
Google Analytics is a no brainer, before you start promoting or doing anything, make sure you have Google Analytics set up correctly. I’ve walked into many engagements where this was not done correctly and the tracking and measurement was completely off. Also, if you are in E-Commerce or have some sort of conversion flow, make sure your funnels are set up correctly.
There are a variety of ways to use google analytics for conversion tracking, using regular expressions, as well as email/reporting. Google Analytics can be as simple or as robust as you want it to be. Take the time to put all the right tracking in place so as you start creating campaigns, you know exactly what you are getting out of them.
I love Mailchimp, just because it is easy to set up. You can use their APIs to tie it into your user sign up flow and add them to specific lists. You can manually create lists that are s of your full list fairly easily. Admittedly, there are other companies like sailThru doing way better at automating, but it is more expensive and not as easy to set up.
Create customizable templates, design your own, use their HTML editor, etc. You can create campaigns and schedule them for later dates, integrate Google Analytics, you can test the look of the email on various clients like Outlook, Gmail, etc. And they have spam testing tools as well. You can get more advanced later, for now, start sending emails right away.
WordPress is the most powerful blogging platform, hands down. The CheezBurger Network runs off wordpress and does millions of uniques monthly, so it is definitely able to handle the traffic. Personally the reason I love it is because of how extensible it is with tons of options for frameworks like Thesis or Genesis. Along with that there are tons of themes out there on sites like WooThemes orThemeForest.
And, don’t get me started on the countless amounts of plugins there are to extend wordpress. For SEO, my buddy Joost De Valk has some amazing stuff on his site, including the best WordPress SEO Plugin. Also, for caching, to ensure your site can handle the traffic, use W3 Total Cache.
I love tools that give me insight into customer behavior, and Crazy Egg does just that. I love heatmapping and having the ability to see where users are clicking the most on pages. Also, it’s fun to see large amounts of clicks on things that aren’t clickable. (e.g. images) Really helps you understand how to cater to your customer and change your site to help this. I’ve been in situations just like this, where we had static images on pages users thought they could click on and there was no link. After changing this, click through rates and engagement on sites increased dramatically. After adding Crazy Egg, I was able to understand users/customers better and guide them to the content they were looking for.
Being able to make sense of your customer and user behavior is cool, but, when you can track and test variations of that, it is even cooler. Optimizely lets you create A/B and Multivariate test of all sorts, from Engagement to conversion events. You can use this for things as simple as button color and button text to placement and variations of content on pages to see what converts best. We’ve been able to nail down various landing pages using Optmizely to test out all of the above.
From an SEO standpoint, getting a Pro account on Moz is a no brainer. They offer a variety of pretty simple tools like rank checking (although, Bonus tool shoutout:Authority Labs is way better at Rank Checking), an On-Page Grader, and Open Site Explorer to check links. Along with all of that, they have a great amount of resources for paid pro members, like their Q&A section.
Google Webmaster Tools
I always set up Google Webmaster Tools once I set up Google Analytics because it allows me to track the “SEO Health” of the site. Understanding the pages crawled, crawl rates, indexing and time spent downloading a page. Also, they have tools that alert you if your site is not crawlable, there is malware, or any other sort of blocking and tackling issues.
Bonus: Google PageSpeed Insights Tool
The Page Speed Insights tool is good to understand site speed inefficiencies on your website. This is important because I’m a huge believer in quick page load times from a user experience standpoint. It’s proven to be part of Google’s Ranking Factors, but more importantly, user experience increases as page load times decrease.
At the end of the day, these are all tools to help you with marketing campaigns. They won’t run the campaigns for you, there is no magic here. And, many people have different opinions on the tools to use. I can say that, in my opinion, these are the best bang for your buck products and tools to help get your company going in the right direction from an online marketing standpoint.
Are there any must use online marketing tools in your toolkit? How do you use these tools when starting campaigns/websites/companies? I’d love to hear your feedback and follow me on twitter to keep the conversation going.