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Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve given you a pretty good grounding in what inbound marketing is all about. Last week, I created a roadmap that would lead you to conquer this varied but rewarding practice.
Now, if you’re going to climb Everest, would you do it with only a map? Of course not. You need the equipment that will get you safely to the summit.
Fortunately, there are a huge range of inbound marketing tools available, some free and some premium.
Today, we’re going to take a whistle stop tour through all the key areas of inbound marketing, in order to identify the tools that will be most useful to you.
These tools will help you maximize your knowledge, save time, and complete the necessary tasks as simply and quickly as possible, freeing up more time for your other priorities.
This list is not exhaustive – of course there are other tools out there. What I’ve tried to do however is recommend my personal shortlist of the most powerful and useful tools that I use every day.
This is a mix of premium inbound marketing tools and free inbound marketing tools, usually with an option for one other depending on your budget.
So, without further ado, let’s get kitted out with our inbound marketing arsenal.
The foundation of any inbound marketing is strategy, and your strategy is based on research. Here’s how to do it quickly and easily.
Google Keyword Planner – The keyword analyzer will help you see how often keywords are searched for, and by extension what keywords people are using when they’re searching for your products.
There’s nothing more fundamental to inbound marketing, but this free tool makes sure the fundamentals comes easily.
LSIGraph – LSI Graph is a keyword generator that will allow you to put in a single keyword or phrase and be furnished with a huge range of suggestions on subjects related to that keyword, ranked in terms of their popularity online.
This forms the scaffold for a whole content strategy, should you wish to cast a wide net.
BuzzSumo – Buzz Sumo comes at the same problem from a different direction. Instead of you dictating what area you want to work in, you can go where the traffic already flows.
Buzz Sumo helps you identify trending content according to a wide range of filters.
If you want to see what’s trending, what’s most popular on a competitor website, who the biggest influencers are in your niche, then look no further. One of the most valuable tools you’ll find.
If research is the foundation, content is the bricks and mortar. We covered content marketing in detail here if you’re interested in going further down the rabbit hole, but here are the highlights.
WordPress – This is a no brainer. WordPress is the most powerful, flexible CMS platform out there. What’s more, it comes with the largest plugin support of any platform, allowing you to install specific plugins that do just about anything, without ever having to learn how to code.
Even better, themes allow you to create amazing designs around your content. Pro tip: find a theme with Visual Composer to make it as easy as possible.
Co-Schedule – Co Schedule is a WordPress editorial calendar. That means you can create a schedule for your content marketing that includes your blogs and social media. You can assign specific tasks to members of your team, who can report when they’ve been done.
And all this from inside WordPress. You can also log into their web-based app if you prefer. This will save you having to keep all the plates spinning in your head, and will give a clear structure to your strategy.
Trello – If you’re more of a visual person than a schedule person, and a lot of us are, then Trello is the project management tool for you. It allows you to create lists, decks and cards that allow you to interact more richly with your workflow.
You can still manage who is working in what and see what stage it’s at, but in a more gamified way that will help keep you motivated to work through to the end. They offer a calendar power-up enabling you to create an editorial calendar similar to Co Schedule.
It’s really up to you whether you want the convenience of an integrated system or the something that purpose built to be rewarding to use.
A tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it: does it make a sound?
Guess what, it doesn’t matter! No one heard it! Search Engine Optimization is the thing that will help people who love hearing trees fall over to find them. It connects you with your audience.
These tools will help you do it better, quicker.
SEOPressor Connect – SEOPressor is an all-in-one plugin for WordPress that enables you to see your content how Google sees it. Using an algorithm created by analysing more than 3 billion rows of data, it helps you optimize your on-page content while you’re writing it.
You can optimize up to three different keywords in one piece of content, giving you on page analytics, semantic building, crawler control, link management and SEO intelligence in one package. Sweet.
LSIGraph – Remember this one? It’s back! As well as helping inspire you when you’re on the starting blocks, LSIGraph is also providing you with useful LSI (basically, related) keywords.
These will increase the SEO score and by extension, the ranking of any piece of content when included.
Moz – For the hardcore pros, Moz offers valuable premium platform that starts at $95 a month and goes all the way to over $500.
For that, Moz covers the off-page SEO aspect of your website, as well as offering up campaign and keyword solutions.
Given the expense, this is an industrial-scale solution, but a strong one for that bracket.
Social media is another invaluable audience generator and a great platform to engage with audiences and create a conversation around your content.
This in turn means people investing energy in your stuff, which builds trust, loyalty and authority.
In short, you have to have your stuff on social media. We covered these tools in detail here, but here are the top two.
Jetpack Publicize – Jetpack is a free, versatile WordPress plugin that, along with giving you traffic analytics and audience insights. It’s Publicize feature is free and especially useful in automatically publish your blog posts to your social media accounts the moment they are created.
It saves you both time and mental capacity, while getting your content out to the sharers and retweeters of the world.
Hootsuite – Hootsuite is a social media management tool that brings all your social accounts onto one dashboard. That way you can post the same content to multiple outlets at once.
Even better, you can schedule content, allowing you to write a series of updates and have them posted at specific times or intervals.
Consistent content, delivered on time. Golden.
Email marketing opens a direct connection between you and your audience, to advertise to them whenever you want.
This is power needs restraint to be utilized effectively, but it also needs a subscriber list. Here’s how to sort that out quickly and painlessly.
Aweber – Awebers offers you an email marketing platform that can store a potentially unlimited number of email subscribers, while enabling you to email them all at once.
Or you can split them into different lists for different uses and created targeted emails to different groups – particularly useful for A/B testing and more.
It even creates subscription forms for your website.
MailChimp – MailChimp offers a free way to manage email campaigns and subscriber lists, with a simple email composer that allows you to create more engaging ways to convey your message.
It aims to be simple, clean and free until you reach a certain subscriber capacity, by which time you’ll want to pay for the premium features. Ideal for beginners.
Leadin By Hubspot – This is a great way to add subscription forms in pop-ups, as well as a host of other strategic placements, all designed to increase sign-up rates.
Because it handles the sign ups, it can also give you detailed tracked analytics to help you see how you’re doing on your targets.
Knowledge is power, and analytics hold the keys to knowledge.
You need to be tracking everything you’re doing on every scale, so you can understand what’s working and what isn’t, as well as finding clues as to what you can be doing better.
Google Analytics – I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s the go-to solution for tracking every aspect of your website, including traffic, sources, conversions and even purchases made, if you have that kind of site.
If you aren’t registered with Google Analytics then get on that right away. You’re basically firing blind until you do.
SocialMetricsPro – Social Metrics Pro gives you a bit of extra juice when it comes to understanding that mercurial modern concept: virality. It tracks the social shares and engagements your content gets while contextualizing this against your past performance and against other posts in the field.
HubSpot Inbound Marketing Software – If this list felt overwhelming and you’re now a little dizzy from how many tools you have to fit in your proverbial belt, then don’t feel too intimidated quite yet!
For a price, HubSpot can offer you an all-in-one solution that will have you covered every step of the way.
From content creation and optimization, sales funnels, email marketing, analytics and so much more. A professional solution for businesses that need a unified system.
You understand what inbound marketing is. You have a plan for how to optimize your inbound marketing strategy. You have the tools you need to take those actions and enact your inbound marketing methods. But there are still crucial parts missing.
Don’t forget to set aside time to let your imagination off the leash in all this. It’s what will define the quality of the final work.
With that in mind, there’s only one thing left to do: Do it.
Updated: 21 July 2017