As a digital marketing agency, we are constantly finding new ways to better serve our clients. There are a million tools out there to help businesses learn more about the performance of their digital efforts and what they can do to increase their performance. The amount of information you can get is wonderful! Unfortunately, pretty much all of these tools have a monthly cost, and when you’re running multiple tools, those costs can add up quickly. It’s key to make sure that you are capturing as much critical information across all parts of your digital marketing system as possible, without paying too much for unused or redundant features. I’ve compiled a list below of some of our favorite tools here at Wexler Consulting Group, broken down by our 3 Stage Process. These are tools we use on a daily basis and with some great success, but is by no means a comprehensive list. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section below and I’ll be updating this list over time. One final disclaimer: we aren’t paid by any of the companies who make these great products or receive any other incentives, this is a purely objective review as much as possible. So let’s get started!
Phase 1 is all about getting established online and getting your traffic to where you need it to be. For more details, you can always check out our process breakdown .
Google Analytics (Free): I can’t start a list like this without going through the basics. Google analytics is simply a must have for businesses that are just starting to establish their presence. Get the tracking going and get it going early for best results, as this is the foundation for a lot of analysis later on. You can spend a ton of time digging through the data, configuring your goals and filters, and creating custom reports, but enough on that for now. Don’t worry, I’ll be putting up more on this powerful, free tool later. Alternatively, if digging through data doesn’t get your blood pumping quite as much as it does for us nerds over here, you can always have us do it for you.
Cyfe ($19 / month): While you’re setting up your site tracking, social media pages, e-commerce tools, project management, etc., it’s important to have a place right off the bat to centralize those flows. Some would argue Cyfe is a little too simplistic and doesn’t offer enough customization, but it’s dirt cheap compared to a lot of other options, and can definitely give you a quick snapshot of digital efforts, so you know which areas need more attention. It combines well with google analytics, most major social media accounts, and a couple other tools that just about anybody should be using, and can be a great way to get started if you don’t have a lot of time to build out custom solutions.
GeoRanker (Free): Georanker is a great way to track and monitor your site’s organic search position by location – this is really important for small and medium-sized businesses who can’t compete on the national level, but stand a good chance in their local markets. Their free account offers enough functionality for most of your needs.
SEMRush (Free): SEMRush is an extremely powerful tool for a number of uses, but the key thing here is you can monitor your backlinks, top keywords, and a host of other information that can help you drive traffic. One of my favorite parts of SEMRush is that the free version displays top competitors for keywords – often these will be much bigger sites that can provide awesome opportunities for backlinks, and let you boost your referral traffic. There is a lot more that can be learned from competitive intelligence, but more on that later.
Hotjar (Free, $29/month for unlimited access): Hotjar is one of the top heatmap tools out there. A free account will be enough to set up basic tracking and get an idea of how users are interacting with your site. You can also use it to request feedback, which can provide some valuable insights from users on how your pages can be improved. This is great for seeing what areas of your site are attracting the most attention, and thus where you can feature Calls-To-Actions (CTA’s) to capture those users.
Leadpages($25-$49/ month): Leadpages is one of a couple different landing page and form builders that allow you to make great looking pages that will convert better than a lot of homemade or prebaked solutions (note: the drag-and-drop builder is a relatively new feature, I know they didn’t have that before). Having customized landing pages is huge for boosting your conversions from outside sources like PPC, social media, and email marketing. If you’re just dropping those on your homepage, you’ll be missing a lot of opportunities. Leadboxes, under the same platform, and attractive forms you can link to buttons on your website, emails, etc. for lead-gen that doesn’t have to navigate off the current page. There are a couple other options in this market (Unbounce is another popular one) but this is what we use the most. Some Marketing Automation platforms include landing page and form creation functionality, so be sure to check so you aren’t paying twice for the same features. The really important part is that you have an attractive and easy way to capture information, and drop it into a CRM for follow up actions.
Sharpspring (Varies): This is where we really get into some of the advanced stuff, and where the cost goes up (because the features are more important). Sharpspring is a CRM and Marketing Automation tool similar to Infusionsoft (outlined below). The primary reason I’m highlighting it here and not in phase three is because of the VisitorID feature. This allows you to not only track your new contact’s usage of your site but to link it to the usage before they volunteered their information, so you can get a better picture of what enticed the user to opt in. There are a ton of great features in Sharpspring, and I’ll be diving into it more in the future, so stay tuned.
A quick note here- there are a TON of CRM solutions out there for storing all of the leads captured. Salesforce is definitely the market leader here, and SugarCRM is another big one. We STRONGLY recommend a CRM that either comes with Marketing Automation software (Sharpspring, Infusionsoft, Hubspot, etc.) or either has a REALLY strong integration (like Marketo and Salesforce). Tying these two tools together vastly increases your ability to do something with the leads you capture, which leads directly into…..
Infusionsoft(Varies, $199-$599/month) – I did warn you things get a little more expensive here, but trust me. This is where you want to be putting your money. The endgame of digital marketing is always to drive revenue. Why else would we be spending money if not to make money? Infusionsoft is an amazing tool, particularly for small businesses, because it combines the CRM, Marketing Automation, Sales Automation, and E-Commerce capability (in some packages – if you don’t need E-commerce, Sharpspring can be a more cost-effective solution). Once you have strong web traffic and you are capturing leads, you need something that turns those leads into buyers and preferably does it while requiring as little time spent / transaction as possible. Your time is valuable and limited, so having an automated, scalable solution is what we’re looking for here. The combination with e-commerce especially means that a well-run Infusionsoft platform can drive your business like nobody’s… well… business.
Now let’s tie this all together-
If you’ve reached this point, you should have a functional, healthy digital marketing system in place. I know, that was a lot of work…. But it’s not done! Now comes the most important part! It is absolutely critical that once you have a system built, you are constantly updating and refining it.
Cyfe (free): I know I mentioned this above but it’s worth revisiting – not only can Cyfe be used to track your traffic sources, it can also integrate with e-commerce tools (like Infusionsoft) to bring things full picture. This is, however, the part where you may want to be prepared for a little more robust data analysis.
Qlik Sense (Free): Qlik has some pretty powerful data integration tools for pulling in from various sources and letting you check KPIs, and the data market has near endless possibilities for other things you can pull in to bolster your data.
Domo ($95/user/month base): Domo is a little more expensive but definitely has some powerful features if you really want to dive in on the data side.
Microsoft Excel (Not free, but you’re probably already paying for it): Back to the basics, baby! Excel is one of the most underutilized tools in business analysis, especially for small businesses that don’t have a ton of complex data streams. You would be amazed at how much insight you can get from digging into a spreadsheet with a couple of functions and maybe a tiny bit of Visual Basic for some Macros. For a small or medium-sized business, most of the big-impact data comes down to simple things that just aren’t being tracked properly, like your profitability by product. I’m going to be doing a follow-up article on how to get some really important numbers for your business in a quick, easy, and free way, so stay tuned!
I hope you find these tools useful, and of course, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! If your team doesn’t have the time or expertise to set all this up, just drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you out!