Oct 3 2022
7 min read
A few months ago, I was brainstorming with a content marketing intern about a blog on how to repurpose user-generated content. That’s when he asked me this question: is social media a good marketing tool?
My answer was: Yes, social media is an excellent ‘marketing channel.’
Although we often casually interchange the two, there is a radical difference between ‘marketing channels’ and ‘marketing tools.’ The former is the way you market your products and services. It also refers to the platforms or touchpoints of your business promotions.
On the other hand, marketing tools are software applications that you use to execute & track your marketing campaigns on each of these marketing channels.
So, by that definition, the social media platform Instagram is a marketing channel, while Buffer (a popular social media management app) is a social media marketing tool.
Marketing and promotion are the lifelines of any business. Whether it is a B2B, B2C, or D2C business, marketers need an arsenal of tools to make their lives easier. These tools help execute, monitor and evaluate the marketing game plans.
Social media marketing tools
Email marketing tools
SEO & market research tools
Content marketing tools
Advertising tools are essential for business growth. Whether you want to advertise online or on a corporeal medium like digital signage, you need tools to publish those ads, check the click-through rates, and allocate budgets.
The following are some of the top offline & online advertising tools for businesses:
Search Ads 360
SharpSpring Ads (previously Perfect Audience)
Pickcel’s digital signage software (for offline ads)
✔️ Our Top Picks of Advertising Tools
Search Ads 360 (online ad management software)
Search Ads 360 (SA 360), earlier branded as DoubleClick Search, is a prominent alternative to Google Ads brought to the market by Google itself. This solution is better than Google Ads if you want to launch online advertising campaigns across multiple search engines (Bing, Google, Baidu, Yahoo & more).
Search Ads 360 also offers more intelligence and automation than Google Ads. Through smart features like automated bidding, data-driven attribution (DDA) reports & deduplicated reports, businesses have more power to assess and manipulate their online ad campaigns.
Pickcel Digital Signage CMS (offline ad management software)
Have you ever wondered how the brand commercials end up on digital billboards or in-store TV displays? Or perhaps how corporates manage various digital screen content on hundreds of office screens?
A digital signage CMS or content management system is the answer. The CMS is essentially a software application that allows you to launch advertisements & promotions on digital signage.
Therefore, these tools are dedicated to offline marketing.
What makes the Pickcel screen content management software such a powerful marketing tool is that it unifies multiple display solutions under one umbrella. The software allows any business (retail, corporate, transport, education, healthcare, hospitality) to remotely manage and publish any content on their digital screens.
The Pickcel application also provides comprehensive reports on the screen activities (screen uptime, screen content playback). And the list does not end here. You can check all that Pickcel offers on the software feature page.
Who would have thought that social media platforms that were originally built for our entertainment would one day become a staple marketing tool for businesses? And yet, here we are!
Companies, big and small, are now investing in social media marketing as the returns are high. The presence on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn directly affects a business’s branding, customer engagement, and often direct sales.
Here are some social media marketing and automation tools that you can try out for your social network campaigns:
Campaign URL Builder
✔️ Our Top Picks of Social Media Marketing Tools
Social Pilot is a holistic social media marketing automation tool. This allows brands to create social media posts, publish them, and generate analytic reports. The software offers bulk scheduling of posts, content customization, and multi-user collaboration to streamline social media campaigns. At $30/month for seven social media accounts, it competes well with Buffer.
Linktree is a fantastic social media marketing tool that gives most of its features for free. It is a custom landing page builder. You can generate a Linktree URL, and when your audience lands on that URL, they can find a hub of all your content (blogs, e-books, PDFs, videos, slides). Each of these content cards will have a URL to take your audience to the actual content platform (your business website, social media platforms, online accessible cloud storage)
Certain social media platforms like Instagram do not allow all users to add clickable links to their posts. Linktree comes as a convenient content marketing tool for such cases.
Campaign URL Builder
Social media campaigns are useless unless you have a tool to track their performance. UTMs are codes added at the tail of any URL to give each campaign an engagement tracker.
So, let’s you want to share the link www.google.com on Facebook and LinkedIn. Using the Campaign URL Builder tool, you can create separate UTM-linked custom URLs for Facebook & LinkedIn. Based on your custom campaign attributes, they will appear something like this:
This small change within the URL will let you figure out how many followers are clicking on your link from Facebook and how many from LinkedIn.
UTMs can be added to any clickable link: social media posts, press releases, emails, or guest posts. The best part about Campaign URL Builder is that tool is completely free! It also has a URL shortener.
The UTM tracking and URL shortening features are not available in many social media marketing tools. Some applications with these features may need you to upgrade to a costlier team plan or enterprise plan. So, if you are at a stage where you don’t want to spend a lot on social media marketing, this free tool is for you.
News for you: email has not gone out of fashion. According to Oberlo, for every $1 spent on emails, the average return can be $42. Email marketing still holds its charm because it does not invade the personal time of the customer, unlike cold calls and SMS marketing.
Email marketing is rather formal, and therefore it works to convert leads and spark business conversations. Here are some of the most high-ROI email marketing and automation tools:
✔️ Our Top Picks of Email Marketing Tools
Mailchimp and Moosend
Tough competitors to each other, Moosend and Mailchimp are both top-of-the-class email marketing and lead nurturing tools in the market. One of the reasons marketers love using these tools is the massive range of email marketing and landing page templates.
Moosend does provide more exciting eCommerce automation recipes than Mailchimp. But, the latter has its own eccentric advantages like mobile apps and multiple language support (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Deutsch).
Both the email marketing software offer free and premium plans.
Whether you are sending marketing campaigns to existing customers or reaching out to possible leads or collaborators, getting the right person’s email address is essential. Voila Norbert helps with just that. It is an email finder.
This software application is meant only for B2B businesses. It has interesting features like showing confidence scores, gathering bulk email addresses of people in a particular organization, and verifying emails.
Norbert allows you to retrieve 50 emails with the free plan.
Hunter is another email finder tool just like Voila Norbert. I add Hunter along with Norbert in our top picks because Norbert has a glaring shortfall. It requires you to input the prospect’s name. But what if you don’t know the name? That’s where Hunter can help you. In Hunter, you can simply type in the domain or company name and generate all available emails with associated departments or designation of the prospect.
Hunter allows you to retrieve 25 emails with its free plan
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and market research are two of the most constitutional exercises for any digital marketer. There is rarely any aspect of marketing that commands the use of a software tool as much as SEO and market research.
These tasks become all-consuming if done manually, and thus choosing the right tool becomes essential.
Google Data Studio
✔️ Our Top Picks of Email Marketing Tools
SEMRush and AhRef are the first two choices that come to any marketer’s mind when discussing SEO, SEM, or market research. Both are top-notch digital marketing research tools. Both offer a bundle of marketing tools like keyword research, content idea generators, and site audit tools.
However, looking into a drilled-down SEMRush vs. AhRef comparison, you will find that SEMRush has a bunch of extra features that make it a slightly better market research tool.
Some of those features are content audit, SEO content template, bulk analysis for link building, ad history, market explorer, and tons more! Compared to AhRef, the SEMRush keyword research tool offers additional metrics like search intent, SERP features, and trends.
Google Analytics is the analytics staple for any marketing ninja. Firstly, it is free (for the most part). And secondly, it gives you a bird’s eye view of how your marketing efforts are working on the ground.
You can gather all sorts of intelligence, such as real-time user engagement (with details like the exact page the user is browsing, how the user landed on that page, and user activity duration).
You can check visual data representations of the geographical distribution of the user base, segmentation of devices used to access the website, and the temporal segmentation (how many users are active at any time of the day)
In terms of content, too, Google analytics can show page views of each website page and a visitor’s journey through the website (through behavior flow data). The marketing tool also allows you to track your Google Ads performances.
In marketing, the market research data doesn’t come from complex software tools alone. Sometimes, marketers need to conduct their own ground-level survey. That is where the more tailored business intelligence comes from.
Who are your customers? What do they like about your business? What are their principal pain points?
These are questions that no software can accurately answer. They are specific to your business, and these types of marketing tools exist in the form of survey forms.
One of the most popular survey form builders is Typeform. While hundreds of other form design tools are available, Typeform stands out from its competitors due to its sheer design flexibility and simple UI.
Typeform is also well known for its wide range of templates and platform integrations (Canva, Salesforce, Slack, Calendly, Hubspot, and more)
When we promote a product or service, we market it using some form of content. That is why content designing applications are integral parts of a marketer’s arsenal.
Business contents are not solely products of a writer’s creative spark. These are well-thought-out, well-researched, and result-oriented pieces that merge marketing tactics (catchy headlines, keywords, passive brand promotions) with creative writing.
Here are some of the content writing and content marketing tools that help professional business writers to get the best results out of their content:
Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator
✔️ Our Top Picks of Content Marketing & Production Tools
Zoho Projects is a super cool and comprehensive content production and planning software. The tool offers great flexibility in creating ‘projects.’ One can custom define parameters like task status, tags, status colors, and subtasks.
It also allows teams to collaborate through team tags & owner tags. You can attach images, PDFs, URLs, and text files in a single place accessible to your team members. The best part is that you can also track the activity stream to understand the pathway of a task.
Zoho Projects also gives real-time data visualization dashboards to assess the percentage of tasks pending quickly. Collaborators can also filter out their own responsibilities through name tags.
If you are a professional writer, you may already know about Grammarly. For the longest time, it has been a one-stop content editing tool. Grammarly has become a must-have content marketing tool with intuitive writing suggestions, grammar improvement, and proofreading.
The software not only corrects your grammar, but it also constantly shows a writing score (0 - Great Job). The app UI is as simple and elegant as it can get.
With Grammarly Premium, you can also check plagiarism. If plagiarism is found, the tool shows you the exact page with which your content matches.
Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator
Admit it, we marketers and writers do struggle to develop intriguing blogs and make the headlines stand out. Hubspot Blog Ideas Generator is just the tool to use when such a roadblock appears.
A simple free tool, it generates compelling and often amusing blog titles based on the keywords you provide. You can download 250 blog ideas for each keyword, but you have to fill out a short form with your name, work email, and phone number.
All marketing and promotion efforts fall short if it doesn’t catch the eye of the audience. And nothing catches our eyes better than innovative designs and graphics. There is a flood of design tools in the market. Search in Google, and you will come across a list of design software, alternatives to popular design apps, and a whole host of review sites.
We have written a couple of blogs ourselves. When you are done reading this blog, you can check out these two listicles:
Coming back to the point, design tools are essential in marketing, and choosing the right ones will save you a lot of time, effort, and money. Here are some design tools that marketers can use to create a variety of marketing collaterals:
✔️ Our Top Picks of Design Tools for Marketing Collaterals
Lumen5 is a video design tool that will blow your mind. For the longest time, video design has been a time-consuming task; well, not anymore!
The application is perfect for marketers who want to take care of their design needs independently. It allows you to convert your blog posts or any form of article content into a video in less than ten minutes.
All you have to do is paste the URL of the blog that you want to present as a video or paste any text on the text box. The app’s AI then pieces the entire article into short scenes that are superimposed over creative visual backgrounds.
You can now edit everything: from texts, Icons, style, background, and screen aspect ratio to even the background music. You can also record your own voiceover!
Pablo is a simple and free graphic design tool from Buffer. This application is mainly useful for creating quick social media posts. It has minimalist features― templates & free images, a few social media post sizes, a logo uploading option, and a few basic image filters. That’s all.
But, this simplicity makes it useful for marketers. You can design posts faster than ever and directly post them on different social media sites or download them locally.
Ceros allows you to create interactive content to boost your marketing strategies. There are a variety of templates like auto carousel designs, interactive quizzes, interactive games, interactive messages, animated landing pages, and much more!
This is one of the coolest marketing and promotion tools I have come across. It allows you to explore all the features with a free trial.You can also get great ideas from their resource hub Ceros Educate.
Marketing is not a one-person job. It requires collaboration from different teams like marketers, writers, designers, researchers, managers, and business development teams. Miscommunication or unsteady collaborations between these teams can lead to a direct negative impact on sales.
Most marketing teams use at least one messaging and collaboration tool to streamline internal communication. Here are a few top communication tools that help marketers daily:
Pickcel Meet your Team app for digital signage
✔️ Our Top Picks of Messaging & Communication Tools
Slack is one of the most reasonably-priced internal communication channels. In fact, many of its basic features are available for free for a lifetime. You can message your team members one-to-one or carry out group conversations.
Groups can be made accessible to all to join or invitation-only groups. You can send voice messages, images, videos, URLs, documents, react to comments, send emojis and even format your text messages.
The paid versions offer better features like quick huddles that work as Zoom calls with screen sharing options. You can also integrate several apps like Google calendar (to get meeting updates on Slack), Polls, Twitter, OneDrive, Asana, and a ton more.
Pickcel Meet your Team App for Digital Signage
Workplace communication doesn’t always happen over virtual meets or messaging channels (although admittedly, we have all grown used to the digital universe of communication in the past few years.)
Sometimes, digital signage in the workplace can also help in passive communication. For example, Pickcel Meet your Team app allows you to showcase new and existing members on a digital wall. These team members can be recent recruits, interns, freshly-promoted staff, or your overseas collaborators.
The simple digital signage application lets the management convert employee detail spreadsheets into attractive slides with employee photos. The app helps with introducing new employees and recognizing your team members.
If you are a seasoned marketer, you may already use some of these marketing and promotion tools for your business. But if you are a newbie in this field, the unending list of software tools can be overwhelming. You will find tools that offer unique features, but their cost is high. You will also come across free applications, but their offerings don’t align with your marketing goals. What to do then?
Firstly, create a checklist and write down your marketing goals and requirements.
Secondly, browse through some of these application websites and shortlist a few (3-5).
Thirdly, avail of free trials or check out a demo of these marketing tools.
Finally, you will see that some apps meet your expectations while others do not. It’s time to let go of the ones not satisfying your marketing goals. The ones you narrow down to may not have all the features you want. That will never happen.
That is where you micro-prioritize your goals and choose one. If you have enough bucks to spare, it is best to take up subscriptions to those brands that offer a suite of marketing & promotion tools. But, that said, the choice still rests on your marketing strategy and budget.