Calling all marketers who need more hours in the day to create valuable, high-performing content!
Naturally, us content creators love to keep busy, but we have a lot of tasks to keep on top of and a lead board to set alight on a daily basis. Luckily there are some great tools out there that can save you time, improve performance and help you get to know your audience better.
There’s a whole raft of these handy platforms and powerful software packages on the market, with more being launched on what seems like a daily basis. To make sure you don’t disappear down an inbound marketing tech rabbit hole, we’ve put together a summary of the best apps, widgets, and gadgets available.
From CRMs that make managing multichannel campaigns a breeze, to content creation platforms that transform the customer journey, we’ve got it covered. So, grab your notepad and a revitalizing beverage and get ready to discover this years’ essential inbound marketing tools.
What marketing tools and tech should I use for inbound?
Good question! You’re likely to need various tools to support you with different tasks and solve different problems. It’s important to remember that tools are just tools — they’ll help, but you still need a solid content marketing strategy and good tactics to make inbound work.
Here are some questions for you and your team to explore before choosing your inbound martech stack.
- What is your budget, now and for the foreseeable?
- What problems are you trying to solve, and what do you need your martech to do?
- Who will be using it, and what kind of training and ongoing support will they need?
- How many seats will you need from the get-go, and is that likely to increase or decrease over time?
- Will it benefit other departments such as sales or customer service?
With your answers in place, let’s look at the best solutions to support your different marketing activities. Keep in mind that as you whittle your list down, you may need to consider whether your chosen tools will integrate. If you find yourself getting into a bit of a headspin, don’t fret. The best martech providers will be able to offer expert advice, so head on over to their website to get the full lowdown or give their sales team a call.
The best CRMs for inbound marketing
The top inbound CRMs can genuinely revolutionize your marketing activities. Who wouldn’t want to centralize all tasks and data, streamline and automate multichannel communications, and efficiently manage campaigns — all from one platform?
Here are a few of the stand-out CRMs for inbound marketing.
HubSpot has practically become a byword for marketing CRMs. Their platform truly feels like it is built by marketers for marketers. One of Hubspot’s key benefits is its holistic approach to campaign management. Users can create and distribute personalized email campaigns, manage social media accounts and blogging, set up paid advertising, create and A/B test landing pages and automate targeted communications throughout the entire customer journey.
This is all tied up in a beautifully integrated package, so your sales team is automatically notified with details of warm leads once they have completed a specific activity. Keeping track of your performance is straightforward to see what is driving the most conversions. It’s the kind of inbound marketing tool you’ll wonder how you got by without.
Zoho is a great CRM all-rounder and one of the best for managing targeted email lists. Some users report a bit of a steep learning curve, but you should quickly make any training time back once you get to grips with the impressive workflow automation tools. Zoho’s website also has a great library of resources and various customer support options to put you on the right track.
Zoho offers a range of features to help inbound marketers attract and nurture leads. Users get real-time notifications when customers interact with their business so that you can reach out right away. Users can also set up automated responses to typical queries and get insights into the best times to contact customers on various channels, including social, telephone, email, and livechat.
The top Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools for inbound marketing
SEO is a complex beast and can be very time-consuming to manage. The technical side of things can also be challenging from a training perspective.
Here are a couple of reputable solutions that simplify keyword targeting and tracking, identify website issues, and keep an eye on your SERPs.
Like Hubspot is for CRMs, Moz has become the go-to for this particular branch of inbound marketing. Moz’s range of tools is impressive enough, but add in the fantastic library of resources, and you’ve got a clear contender for SEO tool champ.
Moz offers three plans; Moz Pro, Moz Local, and Moz Stat. Moz Pro is a great option for inbound marketers, giving you a complete toolkit for keyword and backlink research.
The site audit feature alerts users to technical issues on the website and even offers advice on the best way to solve them. This is a major time-saver and helps ensure you consistently deliver a great user experience. Moz will also offer guidance on-page optimization and a raft of reports to help you track progress and report successes to your management team.
Suppose your brand has a physical location and customers you want to attract in that area, such as a retail outlet or hospitality business. In that case, Moz Local can help you with listings management and distribution, social media, and more. Moz Stat is designed for businesses tracking a lot of keywords, such as larger e-commerce merchants. Head over to the Moz website for more information on what’s on offer.
ContentKing promises to be the only SEO auditing solution that can monitor and report on your web properties 24/7. This feature is ideal for helping you to identify and rectify issues quickly before website performance is affected or you lose a valuable customer. ContentKing integrates with various platforms, including Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Slack; the latter makes it great for communicating issues with your internal development team.
The platform can also track all changes made to your website, helping you attribute any ranking changes to a particular activity.
ContentKing offers a range of plans to suit different budgets and is easy to use. The company also offers a free trial, so you can make sure it is the right solution for you before investing.
The best social media platforms for inbound marketing
We’ve already mentioned Hubspot’s social media capabilities, which you can find out more about on their website. Here are a few other inbound marketing tools that can help busy marketers schedule and amplify their content on social media, create stronger community connections and reach new customers.
With over 30k brands on its books at the time of writing, Sprout Social has earned its stripes as one of the most user-friendly social media tools for inbound marketing. Sprout offers a range of social media publishing, scheduling and reporting tools, and conversation management and measurement.
Alongside its marketing capabilities, Sprout can deploy ChatBots in minutes and automate replies making it super-handy for your customer service team, should it help to split the costs across departments.
Hashtagify is a valuable platform for Twitter and Instagram users who need to optimize their hashtagging strategy. The platform tracks influencers and generates hashtags to improve your reach. Hashtagify also offers recommendations for boosting engagement as well as custom suggestions for your next posts and influencers and competitors to consider tracking.
This all comes with robust hashtag tracking capabilities and recommendations on the best times to post and a suite of reports to help you identify what’s working well or otherwise.
The best content experience platform to boost your inbound marketing
At Foleon we believe that great inbound marketing happens through exceptional content experiences. That means creating integrated content journeys that hit exactly the right notes with your target audience, build trust and smooth their way along the path to conversion.
This is a real challenge without the right content experience platform to support your activities. The handy inbound marketing tools we’ve selected provide a user-friendly platform for creating interactive, personalized content that is delivered to a specific audience segment or positioned in the buyer journey for the customer to self-serve. A downloadable eBook at the awareness stage, for example. Here are some contenders for the best content experience platform for inbound marketing.
Forgive us for blowing our own trumpet but as users of our own content experience platform we can confidently sing its praises. We designed Foleon so content creators of any skill level can craft professional, interactive, media-rich content, on any device from anywhere in the world. Intuitive interfaces and drag and drop editors make both creation and editing a breeze and the marketing personalization features are second to none.
The best content creation happens when collaboration is seamless and fun. Both internal and external stakeholders can easily work together, offer feedback and update and sign off projects. All while ensuring the project owner remains in control of the assets and the brand is protected. Naturally, the platform is highly secure and includes a wide range of analytics to help you improve performance and refine the user journey.
Sounds good, right? Check out our website for more information on our content creation platform.
The best writing tools for inbound marketing
We always go for quality over quantity when it comes to content. But content creators still need to publish a healthy amount of content to reach different audiences and support lead gen, customer retention, and sales activities.
Here are a couple of useful and reputable writing tools that can help you improve the quality and readability of your content and increase your impact on your target audience.
In our humble opinion, Grammarly is the top platform for spelling and grammar checks. We just couldn’t do without it. In addition to its valuable QA capabilities, Grammarly offers a wide range of tools to help busy content creators get more quality content to market.
An AI-powered writing assistant alerts writers to issues with readability, spelling, and punctuation. It even lets you know when the writing style isn’t the best match for the target audience or when you could reframe sentences in a more concise or reader-friendly way or with a more active voice.
To ensure it performs to its best ability and to save you time, Grammarly can be customized with your own dictionary. It will also check for plagiarism, intentional or unintentional, so you know your website content is always original.
Coschedule headline analyzer
Writing impactful headlines is tricky. It’s hard to strike the balance between writing a headline that grasps your audience’s attention amid all the competition while still being clear about what your reader will get from your article. Getting it right means delivering a great customer experience and building that all-important trust and credibility. Plus it’s much better for your bounce rates.
The Coschedule headline analyzer takes the pressure off. It offers guidance on the kind of emotional response your headline will get, optimizes the word count to create impact, measures the reading level, and helps you balance out your words and messaging. Did we mention that it is also free?
The best inbound marketing design tools
Many content writers struggle with creating great visual designs. We can’t be great at everything, right? Having access to professional templates, efficient collaboration tools, and slick image editors can mean the difference between a design that enhances your written content and images that distract and deter. Here are a couple of winners for you to consider.
Canva helps busy marketers create high-quality graphics for social media, video, presentations, posters, logos, and much more on any device, from anywhere in the world. Users can choose from thousands of templates to find one that truly resonates with your brand and audience and create images
Recognizing that design processes often involve a number of stakeholders, Canva includes a number of collaboration features such as leaving feedback, getting approvals, and sharing design iterations.
Brand consistency can also be assured by sharing and saving color palettes and logos within the editing interface. There is a variety of plans to choose from, including a free option for individuals and small teams.
Photopea has pretty much everything you need in an online image editor. The software can run on any device and it handles both raster and vector images. If you need an image resized in seconds, no problem. Or perhaps you want to create a professional illustration, web page, or animation from scratch. It can all be done with this user-friendly tool.
For those of us who come under the limited design capability umbrella, Photopea offers a pretty good range of templates that you can customize to suit your brand.
Great tools for inbound marketing analytics
Monitoring and tracking your inbound marketing performance is vital. It helps you plan and allocate budget, improve your campaigns, understand your audience better and hone your direction of travel. Naturally, you don’t want to spend hours trawling through data to get those valuable insights. Here are two great tools that will give you the accurate data you need to succeed in your inbound marketing activities.
Google Analytics is the go-to marketing analytics package. It’s free, super simple to set up and manage, and it helps you measure just about everything under the digital sun. Plus the resource center and the Google Analytics Academy training and support are incredibly useful, no matter what specialism of marketing you come from.
Some of the Google Analytics features are a little more tricky to learn and set up but can be worth the extra effort. Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a good case in point. By adding snippets of custom or templated code to your website you can track the activity on web pages such as scroll depth, clicks, downloads, and video activity.
Mixpanel takes care of a number of the same tasks as Google Analytics such as website navigation flows, engagement metrics, and suchlike. The key difference is the way Mixpanel approaches marketing data.
For example, you can compare how user journeys differ between website visitors from paid advertising and those from organic search. It also supports cross-device tracking and reporting across multiple user sessions and offers users the ability to analyze feature launches and A/B tests.
Getting to grips with your marketing metrics is a challenge. It’s also tricky to know which KPIs to set for the different inbound marketing activities. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Head on over to our blog on how to determine and measure inbound marketing KPIs for the complete lowdown.
Choosing the right inbound marketing CMS
Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) takes time. But as one of the most important inbound marketing tools, it is 100% worth taking your time to find a solution that will suit your business and your team, now and long into the future.
We can’t possibly go into all the great CMS out there so we will just mention some of the top features and functionalities to look for when you are doing your research.
Remember that the CMS provider’s sales teams are there to answer your questions. If you need clarification on what’s on offer or whether it is right for you, pick up the phone or drop them an email.
Top things to consider when choosing a CMS
- Price. You’re always going to want a good ROI for your martech spend. CMS' aren’t ridiculously expensive but they are an ongoing cost so you need to make sure yours can deliver what you need. Fortunately, most CMS providers offer a variety of plans and can be customized to suit your business as it evolves.
- Ease of use. The best CMS is pretty straightforward to use with WYSIWYG editors which makes it easy to edit and update pages. You may want to add your own code at some stage (in the case of the aforementioned Google Tag Manager, for example). Therefore it’s definitely a good idea to pick a tool that supports this.
- Which other companies use them. There are few better ways to tell if a product will suit your business than to check who already uses it. For example, if you are an e-commerce merchant you’ll want to see other businesses in your sector who have been successfully using the CMS over time. You’ll probably be able to find testimonials and case studies on the company websites.
- Good levels of security. It goes without saying that keeping your business and your front-end users safe is critical. Updating your CMS is a surprisingly time-consuming and complex task and things can go awry. Take this advice from someone who has been there! When you are going through the consultation process ask your provider to give you a complete overview of how updates will work, who is responsible for the SSL certificate, and how manual backups will work.
- Customer support. You might not need much hand-holding after the first few months but it’s good to know that it’s there!
Time to update your toolkit
We’re sure by now your notepad is choc-full of ideas and inspiration for the tools you want to have in your inbound marketing tool belt. As we mentioned above, if you feel overwhelmed by choice or can’t decide on what your priorities should be or how they will all integrate together as your needs change, get in touch with the company. If they are worth their salt they will be more than happy to discuss the best solutions to fit your business and will be on hand to support you with any training and implementation you need.
On that note, if there is anything you want to know about the Foleon content creation platform or any of our other products, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We absolutely love to talk about marketing and we will be happy to share our knowledge and experience with you.