Marketing tools are essential for streamlining and automating the more cumbersome aspects of the process. But many marketing tools have a reputation for being difficult to use, which is why I created this guide.
All of the tools listed below are great for beginners and non-tech-savvy marketers. I’ve also broken them down into essential marketing categories.
Let’s start with the absolute basics: WordPress.
You could consider it to be the “OG” of content management systems.
As of late 2015, it powered 25% of the world’s websites.
And it’s very likely that number is even bigger today.
A large part of WordPress’ appeal is its utter simplicity and non-technical nature.
You can create and maintain a beautiful website with literally zero knowledge of coding.
And if you happen to understand HTML, you can completely crush it.
If you want to create a site for your business or blog, I highly recommend WordPress.
You can learn how to do it from scratch with this video from Quick Sprout.
When it comes to cloud storage, I think of Google Drive as being the universal platform.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve worked with clients or business partners who’ve made Google Drive their platform of choice.
Like most Google products, it’s super intuitive and easy to use.
I use it for writing and backing up content as well as for sharing content with others.
It’s perfect if you have multiple people working on a project because sharing and editing is a cinch.
Besides docs, you can create slideshows, drawings, spreadsheets, and more.
I don’t care if you’re Mark Twain, everyone is bound to make mistakes when writing.
Whether it’s a silly spelling error or poor grammar, it’s impossible to catch everything.
But Grammarly will do just that (or pretty darn close to it).
Add it to Chrome, and Grammarly will monitor everything you write, point out any issues, and offer advice on how to resolve them.
It goes above and beyond Word and will make you look like an expert even if your writing skills are lackluster:
The cool thing is that it will also scan your emails before sending them out so you don’t look like an idiot when corresponding to customers or clients.
I highly recommend it!
Word count is kind of a big deal, especially if you’re writing long-form content and need to reach a specific number of words.
But not all online writing platforms display word count.
I love this tool because I can quickly copy and paste a body of text, and Word Counter will let me know how many words I’ve written.
It’s super quick, and I’ve never experienced any sort of glitch.
Coming up with new ideas for content can be a major struggle.
Even if you’re an expert, it’s not always easy to come up with stellar ideas.
I’ve found Google Trends to be a great place for getting a sense of what’s popular at the moment.
Often, it will point me in the right direction, and I can then use it to gauge the exact interest in a particular topic.
For instance, here’s how the interest in content marketing has grown over the past five years:
Using Alltop is a breeze.
Simply type in a search phrase, and hundreds of popular blog posts on that topic will pop up:
I use this for brainstorming all the time, and Alltop has helped me come up with some epic ideas for blog posts.
Words cannot express how much I love BuzzSumo.
Pretty much anyone can figure it out within minutes, and it’s the perfect tool for generating an arsenal of content ideas.
But what separates it from other tools is the fact that it provides you with key info such as:
- how much engagement content receives
- who is sharing it
- links pointing back to the content
The only caveat is that you must purchase the Pro version to unlock all the features.
But you can still do a basic search with the free version.
This one is a bit like the Google Keyword Tool, only simpler.
Enter a search term, and Ubersuggest will spit out dozens or even hundreds of ideas:
It’s really easy to use, and it’ll keep supplying you with topics whenever you need them.
Communication and collaboration
If WordPress is the OG CMS, Basecamp is the OG of project management and team collaboration.
Countless other products have been developed, many of which are cooler and sexier.
But Basecamp still retains its status and continues to be one of the big dogs.
I love its clean interface and how intuitive it is.
It’s very non-intimidating even for the most non-tech-savvy of marketers.
At this point, you probably know I’m big on visuals.
Images make it easier for me to absorb information and stay on top of my game.
That’s why I love Trello.
It involves a system of boards where you can communicate with colleagues and keep tabs on project progress.
It can easily be scaled up or down as necessary and can really boost productivity.
I know many people who swear by it.
This is another visual-oriented platform that I’ve used on several occasions.
I prefer Basecamp over Asana, but it’s the number one team-collaboration platform for many marketers.
In fact, some companies that use it include TED, The New Yorker, and Uber.
My favorite aspect of Asana is the ease with which I can track a project from start to finish.
I’m a stickler for deadlines, so this helps me ensure they’re always met without a lot of stress.
When I think of Slack, I think of hipsters. But in a very good way.
It’s perhaps the coolest, sleekest, sexiest collaboration app in existence.
And it’s dead simple to use.
Slack revolves around creating “channels” where you communicate with team members either publicly or privately.
Drag and drop your files to share with others, and search your archive any time you need specific information.
Slack makes it easy.
I stay busy, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I’m bombarded with a barrage of tasks on a daily basis.
One of my favorite weapons to counter that is Wunderlist.
I place it on my desktop so I can see exactly what’s going on and what I need to take care of on any given day.
And, of course, I can also access it from my smartphone or tablet.
I can easily save links, photos, and other media I want to keep.
I also use it to set reminders of specific tasks’ deadlines and make note of any business/project ideas that pop into my head.
In other words, Wunderlist helps me keep my you-know-what together.
If you use WordPress (like I recommend), you’ll want to take advantage of this plugin.
It’s a little like Google Calendar, but specifically for scheduling your blog posts.
- Manage drafts
- See what’s been posted
- See what needs to be posted
- Manage posts from different authors
Like most things on WordPress, it’s user-friendly, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out its features.
The tagline of this platform is “Accomplish more, every day.”
And that’s fitting because I’ve found Todoist to be a major catalyst for productivity.
You simply record tasks, prioritize them as needed, collaborate with others, and get stuff done.
I love its no-nonsense interface and minimalist vibe.
This is another WordPress plugin and one that I highly recommend if you’re fairly new to the SEO game.
Here’s a screenshot of its features:
In other words, it handles nearly every major aspect of SEO.
The best part is its simplicity.
I love Yoast SEO because it’s very hands off and automates many of the more arduous SEO tasks like creating optimized URLs, keeping track of keyword density, and so on.
Before you publish your content, Yoast SEO will rate its readability and your keyword usage by giving it a color: red for poor, orange for okay, and green for good.
If you loathe the technical nature of SEO, this is a great plugin to use.
If you were to use only one tool for performing keyword research, this is it.
Even the biggest SEO nerd will agree that it’s useful because you’re gathering data right from the horse’s mouth—Google itself.
The cool thing is that you don’t need to be technically adept to figure it out. Most of the features are pretty self-explanatory.
In my opinion, Moz is perhaps the Internet’s number one resource for all things SEO.
I especially love its Whiteboard Fridays, offering in-depth analysis and insight.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to determine key SEO metrics like links, page authority, and domain authority, I highly recommend MozBar.
Simply add it to your Chrome toolbar, and you’re good to go.
This is another great SEO tool that’s amazingly easy to use.
Just enter a URL or keyword, and you instantly get a boatload of useful information such as:
- Organic search volume
- Top organic keywords
- Main organic competitors
- Branded search
If you’re looking to perform competitive analysis for keyword or content opportunities, look no further than SEMrush.
If you’re creating content, you’ll need plenty of beautiful visuals.
In my opinion, Canva is hands down one of the best platforms for creating your own images and documents from scratch.
It’s really easy, and Canva offers a wide array of images that are totally free.
You can modify them as needed for your content or for branding purposes.
The best part is that you can do this with virtually no design experience.
PicMonkey is a photo editor that allows you to design, resize, do touch-ups, create collages, and a lot more.
Using it is no sweat even if you have no clue what you’re doing in terms of design.
It’s perfect if you have your own images you want to customize, and PicMonkey helps you make them look like a million bucks.
Here’s my take on stock photos.
I prefer to pay for them and get the best of the best.
But if you’re just starting out or are on a budget, Pixabay is one of my top picks.
Everything is royalty-free and available for the public to download, modify, and distribute.
They have a massive archive of pictures that covers most topics, and the quality of their images has really improved over the past couple of years.
Here are just a few samples:
Creative Commons is basically an aggregator of images free to use for commercial purposes. These images can be modified, adapted, or built upon.
You enter a search query, and choose from multiple platforms like Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Open Clip Art Library, and even Google.
It’s a great tool for streamlining your image search.
Bannersnack is a a cloud-based, easy-to-use, professional banner maker.
With Bannersnack you can drag and drop text, images, buttons and cliparts to create stunning banner ads in minutes.
Some of the features of Bannersnack include
There are countless metrics platforms out there for measuring your website’s performance, traffic numbers, and so on.
But I think it’s safe to say that Google Analytics is the be-all and end-all tool.
The free version is more than sufficient for diagnosing your website and, in my opinion, quite easy to use.
I’ll admit there is a bit of a learning curve, but most people can figure out the basics in a day or two.
Bitly is perhaps best known for being a URL shortener.
In fact, I use it all the time for condensing URLs on my Twitter page:
But it’s useful for way more than that.
Here’s the deal.
Bitly allows you to track individual links and gather key information about their performance.
You can tell what your audience is responding to (or not) and tweak your marketing efforts accordingly.
Finally, there’s Clicky.
Despite its comprehensiveness and level of detail, I consider it to be one of the most user-friendly analytics tools.
You can see what’s happening on your website in real time, monitor the actions of visitors, and even look at heat maps, which I love.
I know some marketers who actually choose Clicky over Google Analytics.
The Top Marketing Tools in Summary
You don’t need to be a developer or tech-savvy user to get the most out of marketing tools. There’s no reason to overcomplicate things.
The best marketing tools can automate and scale your campaigns, even if you’re a complete beginner. You can spend time focusing on other aspects of your business while your marketing tools handle the rest.