Let’s face it, there are a million digital marketing tools out there. Pick a need, from SEO to content creation to headline generators, and you’ll find twenty on each topic. There’s no doubt you’ve seen endless lists of tools on every blog out there. So, of course, I’m going to join in the fray.
Here’s the difference though. Instead of giving you this massive list of tools, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I promise two things:
- I personally use each of these tools
- They are gold, Jerry, gold! (And some of them are even free!)
If you’re a small business owner who is looking for a huge list of every tool under the sun, there are plenty of great posts about that stuff. But for real, actionable advice on tools I really use, well, keep reading.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Confession: I don’t always come up with killer headlines for my posts the first time.
A writer as amazing as I am? Shocking I know. So, I want to pull back the curtain and give you the free tool I use to improve my headlines: the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer.
The fact of the matter is when it comes to headlines they are important. You need a great headline to get anyone to want to click on your content. That’s just a fact. The problem is lots of people (and I’ve been guilty of this) spend lots of time writing posts and spend about 10 seconds on the headline.
You want to avoid that.
If you’ve struggled with headlines, this is where you’re going to get help.
Here’s how it works.
Go to this link. You’ll be brought to this page. To start, do two things (which I’ve illustrated in the image below):
When you do that, CoSchedule has their gremlins spit out a score for you. Not only will you get a score you’ll also get some helpful tips on how to make your headline better.
Let’s take this post for example. Look at all the terrible headlines I had to blow through before I got a good score:
This is the simplest tool I know to dramatically improve your headlines with very little effort on your end. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
Ok, so you’re posting your content on your site. Now, where else are you posting it? Did you know you can repurpose your content again on Medium? Hell, you can even make your own publications too (we’ll save that for another time).
Even though Medium is easy to post your content one of the biggest complaints from people is you couldn’t use an opt-in box to drive people to your website.
Well, not anymore my friends. Enter Upscribe. I’ll admit I recently found about this tool, on a Medium post of all places, but I’m here for it already.
Basically, it’s a really simple way to create an opt-in box for your newsletter that you can add to any one of your Medium posts. No tricky coding or all that bs, all you have to do is copy and paste your personal link once you’ve created it and hooked it up to your email list.
Check it out:
I created my form, hooked it up to my MailChimp account, and in three clicks I was good to go. I then inserted my custom link right at the bottom of this post for my side project all about books called Literarian (sign up if you’d like.)
Oh, p.s. you can also get the basic version of Upscribe for free.
The Google Keyword tool can be a nightmare even in the best of times. Sorry, Google. So when I found StoryBase I knew I had a winner.
StoryBase is a sort of all in one tool to improve your content marketing. It combines keyword information, with search demographics, and all sorts of cool stuff like common questions into one. This information can be a lifesaver if you’re trying to find a good way to approach a topic. Or you can use it if you’re stuck on what to write.
Here’s how it works.
I’m going to pick a random example to walk you through the features. Let’s go with Game of Thrones as our keyword. Why not have a bit of fun.
Let’s imagine you’re running a Game of Thrones related blog and you want to come up with new content. Pop the keyword into the box on the main page, click enter, and you’ll get all sorts of good stuff.
First, you’ll get basic demographics, the general age, and gender of the people searching.
This part is my favorite. The questions feature is tailor made for writing content. Check this out, you see there are over 2,000 questions? You’ve got an entire list of blog posts right there waiting to be written.
You’ll also see other results like long form phrases and phrases related to your keyword too. I love using StoryBase to come up with good content ideas that people actually need.
Most every marketer I know has to take a lot of screenshots. Some of us, I won’t mention who (but it might be me) love inserting screenshots into posts.
I’m all about the visual, after all.
But, until a few months ago, I was taking screenshots the old fashioned way, using command-shift-4, dragging it to the right area, and saving it.
Oh, what was I thinking? What I wanted was a screenshot tool that would let me draw, blur, and write but I never knew which one to pick, until now.
Enter Awesome Screenshot. This is a simple Chrome plugin that allows you to do all sorts of fancy pants things with your screenshots. You’ve probably noticed a few above.
You can edit your screenshots from Chrome, which is what I do 95% of the time, or from the desktop browser if you want to get more advanced.
To see how it works, here’s a screenshot of a screenshot. It’s all very meta, I know.
Use this tool to add lots of visual content to your posts and presentations.
It doesn’t matter what type of site you run, SEO (search engine optimization) is important. You can use something like StoryBase to get the general gist of terms you want to use. But, to really take things to the next level, you’re going to want to have a good handle on what keywords and terms you actually can rank for.
That’s why I like Mangools. It’s a suite of different SEO related tools that has two good features. First, it’s really easy to use and read and second, it’s affordable, my plan is $25 a month. Note there is a free version with limited features.
When you sign up, you get access to three tools:
The keyword finder helps you find those coveted ‘long tail’ keywords. The SERP checker lets you check out how your competition is doing on certain keywords. And the SERPWatcher (currently in Beta so soon to come) will let you see how your target keywords are actually ranking.
All of this is important stuff.
You see, it’s nice to have dreams of being on the first page for a term like ‘digital marketing tools’ but as you can see, the competition is stiff. Not impossible, but tough. So it’s really good to know if you’re wasting your time or missing out on something easier.
Check out the screenshot of the results above. Tons of information, right? And super easy to read. Anything that’s green is easier to rank and it gets harder as you go more towards orange and red.
I’ve tried a bunch of different SEO tools but am really sold on this one.
Buzzsumo has to be one of my favorite tools. I know I’m not alone when I say this. I almost always see Buzzsumo included on lists of digital marketing tools.
What is so great about Buzzsumo?
First, it’s easy to use. It provides you with a ton of useful information on social shares for keywords, authors, and websites.
Here’s how it works.
Go to Buzzsumo and create an account. You can start for free and get limited information. After that, the price is $99 per month. Enter the term, author, or site you want information on as shown in the image below.
Then check out your results.
It helps you see at a glance what type of content is popular and gets a lot of social media traction. It also helps for spying on competitors. You can track what kinds of content they are putting out and see what’s clicking with readers. This helps me with inspiration for ideas for future pieces of content.
Epicbeat is a new tool for me, but I’m falling in love with it already. I don’t know about you, but I love seeing lots of data in one place. Epicbeat is a data factory which tickles my nerdiness. (Is that a word?).
It’s sort of like a hybrid between a Buzzsumo and Ninja Outreach. Epicbeat lets you search for keywords, authors, and sites. It also has a ton of useful features I’ll highlight here:
- The content itself (that includes data like engagement, shares, length, tone, etc.)
- Content insights like the most popular formats, word counts, and reading levels
- Influencer insights where you can see who is sharing the content and their social channels
Here’s a shot of the main dashboard with a keyword search:
So that in of itself is all great. But Epicbeat goes a step further and lets you curate the content you find.
Check it out, in two clicks I can add any content I want to my social streams or my blog.
This is perfect if you’re also looking for great stuff to share on your social media streams. And you can also use the feature to insert these links into your blog too, making round up or links posts fast and easy.
One of the biggest social media channels right now is Instagram. Brands are seeing a lot of success and engagement being able to push out lots of visual content.
Instagram is great if you have a phone ready at all times to snap and image, slap on a filter and upload. But, what if you’re a brand who doesn’t have that option. What if you’d love to create better graphics from your desktop and use those on Instagram too?
Well, have I got a tool for you. Say hello to Grum. I’ve been recommending this to everyone I come across as a lifesaver tool for Instagram.
It’s the only way I found to upload images and graphics that I make from my desktop right into Instagram. I use Canva a lot for making graphics and being able to have these as a way to promote blog content is great.
Here’s an example. I created this graphic to tie into a blog post on Canva:
Then, I simply uploaded it into Grum right from my desktop. You can see the date and time it was posted. Plus, it gives you some quick engagement stats:
Another feature I love about Grum is you can schedule posts in advance. I pop into it weekly and schedule images a week or two weeks out, quick and easy.
So if you’re a brand that could get a lot of engagement from Instagram but hasn’t embraced it yet, consider Grum. It could make your life much easier.
Oh, how do I love Lanes.io? Let me count the ways.
When it comes to project management I’ve tried about every tool out there Trello, Asana, Teamwork, you name it.
About six months ago I discovered Lanes. I finally found the project management tool that I knew would work for me.
Here’s why Lanes is my go to daily organizational tool. It’s a Chrome extension. So, every time I open a brand new tab Lanes opens up. It shows me everything I’ve got on my plate for the day. I can also expand by the month and even by the project too.
Here’s a sample shot from my account:
What I love about Lanes is it goes above and beyond ‘just’ project management. It has a built in task timer so I can use it to run a Pomodoro Method of short super focus bursts of work.
Lanes also features a goals section which you can use for anything from learning a language to tracking a specific project. The support team is also amazing. I haven’t had issues, but they are always rolling out new features and asking what I’d like to see to improve the system.
And they have data insights too:
It is free to use, grab it from the Chrome store. They also have an app available too. I started with the free version then upgraded within days; I paid $35 for a year. Honestly, I’d pay way more. (Don’t tell them that and give them any ideas).
I guess depending on who’s reading this it will make me sound either old or young. But here goes. When I first started typing out my reports in school in late elementary school and early junior high, I realized how terrible my spelling was.
You know what I mean, those damn red squiggly lines under every other word. Needless to say, the bad spelling Gods threw me a bone when they created Grammarly.
If you struggle with any spelling or grammar issues, this is the tool for you. Beyond being a poor speller, I also discovered I was an excessive comma user. Commas are wonderful, I exclaimed while adding them in after every five or six words, turning once simple and easily readable sentences into graduate level thesis statements.
I mean, what could go wrong?
Grammarly works almost anywhere. On any website (which helps with emails). On blogs (great for WordPress). And even social media (no more deleting clever Tweets because I misspelled something).
The one big negative with Grammarly is it doesn’t work (yet) on Google Docs. I get around that by either uploading my doc into Grammarly or copying and pasting the text.
I didn’t want to forget one last tool for creating better content. Especially considering I’m using it right now. That’s the Hemingway Editor.
Remember the grammar issues I was complaining about 30 seconds ago? Well, they don’t stop with commas. I also have no idea about adverbs and now to NOT write in the passive voice.
Enter Hemingway Editor. It get’s its name from the king of short and snappy sentences, Ernest Hemingway. And, for me, it has been a real lifesaver.
The Hemingway Editor spots all sorts of potential problems and lets you know by highlighting your screwups as you type. It covers adverbs, passive voice, complex phrases, hard, and very hard to read sentences. You can see my draft of the previous section above.
It also gives you a word count and readability score. Where I used to think I was very clever writing at a post-graduate level, now I aim for the fourth grade. As long as I have low numbers in all those boxes, I know I have good stuff. Easy to read is also king.
Now, I run almost everything I write through both tools. You might think that seems excessive. I don’t. They’ve been key in helping me improve my writing and give clients great content too.
Well, there you have it. My ten favorite digital marketing tools. Plus a bonus thrown in for good measure.
If you love these too, let me know I’m always happy to talk shop. If you’ve got something you think is even better, challenge me to a duel, and we’ll see who wins.