Marketing Tools I Love

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As a marketer, we have lots of great tools available. I’ve tried out many. These are some that I love and why. I’m not affiliated with any of these brands, and my recommendations are simply my humble opinion.

Hootsuite

There are lots of social media management platforms available. I’ve been using Hootsuite for about a year, and I think it’s pretty nifty. I use it both on desktop and the app. The only negative is that on the app, I can’t schedule for a LinkedIn company page. I also use the Hootlet extension so that I can post directly from the article I’m reading. I set up most of my social media on Sunday for the following week. Because I manage multiple accounts, it keeps me organized. You can create multiple streams and “listen” for keywords. It’s also easy to manage engagement, as I can reply, retweet, share or like directly from the app.

Canva

I’m so obsessed with this platform. I am officially a raving fan, and I’ve recommended it to about 10 people thus far. Canva helps you make your imagery and designs look professional. I am NOT a designer so I need help. Canva has amazing templates, most of which are free. And it already has the sizes you need for a variety of posts: social media, blogs, etc. You can create eBooks, presentations and pretty much anything marketing related. I also just used a template to update my resume. They even offer “magic” resizing so that if you create a design in one template, it will automatically resize it. The basics are free, but I do have a paid subscription. It’s probably the best $13 I spend a month.

Instapage

Full disclosure, I’m neither a designer nor a coder. But I wanted to build easy landing pages without waiting for a designer or a coder. I tried out several landing page creators. I’ve loved Unbounce for a long time; that produce some great content. It just wasn’t a good fit for me based on skill set and price. Instapage is so easy to use! Drag and drop basically. They provide a lot of templates, or you can make your own. You can also add your brand font and colors easily. For a very reasonable price, you can create unlimited pages. Super easy to navigate, and it integrates with many website platforms like WordPress.

Pixabay

I’m no fan of stock imagery. It ruins so many cool websites. I try to use imagery that aligns with the idea but looks natural. Pixabay is my absolute favorite free photo site. They have a nice collection of photos and illustrations. I’ve been using it for years. I rarely ever have to go to a second source because Pixabay almost always has what I want. Pixabay photos are on my blog and portfolio website. Even though it is free, you can donate money to them. I use them a lot so I have no problem with helping them out.

Hubspot

Last but not least, I absolutely believe Hubspot is the best marketing automation software. I’ve been in love with their message for years and finally got the opportunity to use it for a project I worked on for several months. It’s so intuitive, and it integrates everything. You can post blogs, design landing pages, manage SEO and more. Plus, they offer FREE education. I’ve taken the software class and the certifications classes in inbound, email and content marketing. Their webinars are pretty insightful as well. Marketo and Pardot, to me, aren’t even in the same neighborhood, and both of those platforms don’t offer any training unless you are a paying customer. It also costs quite a bit to even take their certification tests.

If you need tools to work on marketing yourself or a brand, check out my recommendations. I’d also love to hear about the marketing tools you love.

Happy Marketing!

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Marketing Chat: Insights & Best Practices

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I’ve had the pleasure of being part of many great conversations about marketing, both with those in the discipline and outside of it. I’m always happy to share my experiences, what I’ve learned, my opinions and what I think are the most critical strategies. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions or discussions I’ve been a part of recently.

1. What are the best ways to build an email list?

First, you have to do it legally. Anyone you email has to agree that you can email them, and they have the ability to unsubscribe at any time. Email is a currency. You get people to “pay” with their email address so you have to create value. Hubspot recently posted a blog on this that was spot on. This is what I think are the best strategies:

  • Landing pages with relevant offers – typically this would be high value content that is targeted to specific segments and is centered on education and information rather than a product
  • Social Media: connecting with followers in almost any platform provides you the opportunity to allow them to opt in
  • Website forms: include forms throughout your website for a variety of offers based on what pages they are landing on – subscribe to blog, download an asset, schedule a demo or any other CTA (call to action)
  • Webinars: these are low cost events that are virtual in nature and should again be educationally focused. If you have a great topic that can genuinely help someone with their challenges, they will sign up for webinars, and spend an hour with you.

But do not buy lists! These people don’t know you. Your unsubscribes and bounces will go up. Don’t spend your marketing dollars here. 

2. What should I post on social media?

I typically advise that the rule should be 50/30/20: 50% should be your content that is general, educational and informational; 30% should be content not authored by you but is relevant to your industry or audience (leading experts, SMEs) and 20% promotional, wherein you have a specific social media promotion, like a giveaway or offer, to generate leads.

3. Should we do direct mail campaigns?

In most circumstances, I’d say no. They are costly and have little response. It’s hard to track ROI on this unless there’s a promotional code. For B2B, I would advise it only if it’s clever and relevant. Do you have an actual product versus a service? When I worked in the large format printing industry, we had a laser cutter that was a really innovative piece of machinery. I often toted around small samples of what the machine could do. People could see the quality and intricacy of the finished product. To add relevance, I often brought them samples of their logo to keep. This would have been a neat direct mail campaign that could have generated interest from current and prospective customers. For any direct mail campaign to work, it’s got to be targeted and executed well.

4. Do I need a content strategy?

YES! Content strategy at its most fundamental is creating the right content for the right audience and posting it in the right place. It’s not something that’s best done off the cuff. It takes research and planning to learn how to cultivate and repurpose content and to ensure it has a clear voice while also changing tone where appropriate. Content strategy is a huge part of your overall marketing plan and shouldn’t be ignored.

5. Why inbound marketing?

I’m an inbound marketing enthusiast. I absolutely believe in its ability to connect with audiences and generate quality leads. It has the power to convert unlike outbound marketing or cold calling. It relies heavily on well-written, authentic content. It takes into consideration who your buyer is and where they are on the buyer’s journey. It integrates content, SEO, email and social media. I could write for days on the marvels of inbound marketing. If you are not currently embracing it, do your research. Understand its importance in elevating your brand to the next level. I recommend inbound.org as a starting point.

6. How can I increase my open rate on emails?

When considering open rate, think about these metrics:

  • How many people actually received the email (hard and soft bounces)
  • Is it optimized for mobile? We as a society now tend to open most email on phones.
  • Am I clearing spam filters?
  • Is my subject line intriguing? Is it short enough? Does it present the idea of value?

7. How do I determine what content I should require an email to view versus what do I give away?

This is subjective. But I’ve considered this when building websites and took on a scoring approach. The shorter the content the more likely I was to tag it as free. The content I felt was really for those at the beginning of the buyer’s journey I typically didn’t require an email. Whitepapers, which are longer and require more research, most likely required an email. The more work I had to put into producing it; the more valuable I believed it to be so I wanted an email for all my hard work! You can also look at trends to see how well content fared from a landing page or email campaign. It if it was popular that may mean people are willing to pay with their email address. Also more targeted content usually required an email address because it was for such a select industry or group.

8. What are the biggest obstacles to marketing success?

Speaking personally, the challenges I have faced in being successful were:

  • Lack of Tools: not having the right software or platforms to manage, measure and automate. If you have do most of this manually, it takes a long time, and you don’t have time to focus on more important things. Tools provide amazing insights and help you see trends so that you are aware of when a lead is sales ready.
  • Inability to Execute: Fear from the powers that be kept me from executing many planned out strategies. I developed websites, product launches and social media strategies that never went anywhere because the company didn’t really understand the value of marketing. They were so afraid to make any little mistake that fear kept them from doing anything. I’m not a status quo kind of person so it was pretty impossible to succeed in this type of environment. When you hire people that are experts in their industry, trust them! They really know what they’re talking about, and if it doesn’t work, then keep trying and learning.

These are a few highlights from recent conversations. I’d love to hear from you! Tweet me, or reply below. I’m glad to answer them or have a discussion. I’m always up for a marketing chat!