There are hundreds—if not thousands—of various online marketing tools out there. This is a curated list of the most useful ones.

The Core 5 (Best of the Best)

The following tools are part of many marketers’ toolkits. They have been battle tested, and more than likely will have a meaningful impact on your marketing efforts.

  1. Google Analytics
    If you’re going to install only one piece of third-party JavaScript code on your website, you might as well make it Google Analytics. Aside from giving you the basics (how many people visit your site, which browsers they are using, etc.), Google Analytics arms you with invaluable insights about your Audience (e.g. Demographics, Interests) and lets you set up and track custom events and goals. You can even link your GA account to Search Console (to understand organic traffic) and AdWords (to see the full customer cycle).
  2. Google Search Console
    This is a free tool that gives you an idea of how Google is crawling and indexing your site. With Search Console, you can quickly see how you’re doing in the search rankings over time—and what might be causing potential errors. Make sure you install, use, and understand this tool prior to retaining the services of an SEO agency.
    Also: Bing Webmaster Tools (the Microsoft equivalent)
  3. Ahrefs
    There are many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools out there, but Ahrefs sits at the top. Quickly analyze backlink profiles of your competitors to see what you need to do in order to beat them in the search results. Also, track your own search ranking over time by custom keywords (and by geography). It’s not free, but it’s worth it (there’s a 7 days for $7 trial offer usually available, great for getting a taste).
    Alternative: SEMrush (also paid, also amazing)
  4. MailChimp
    There are many tools out there for email marketing, but you really can’t go wrong with MailChimp. Create subscriber lists, build email templates, and send emails. A/B testing and email scheduling available too. Free for the first 2,000 subscribers.
  5. Google Optimize
    Easily create A/B and MVT (Multivariate) tests to see which variants of your webpage lead to the best outcomes. Quickly test design variations to determine an optimal layout for your goals (maximize lead form fills, conversions, purchases, clicks, etc.)
    Premium (paid) alternatives: Optimizely, VWO

The Best Resources (By Category)

Next, we break down the most popular tools & resources for each major category (SEO, media buying, etc.)

  • Social Media Management: Buffer
    Buffer lets you set up scheduled posts that will automatically go out to the 5 major platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn). They provide analytics, as well as account management for multiple users. There’s a Free plan (up to 10 scheduled posts, 1 user)
  • Influencer Discovery: BuzzSumo
    Search by topic or website to see who’s trending. Very popular tool for content marketers.
  • Project/Task Management: Trello
    Trello makes it easy to organize and collaborate on just about anything. Create boards, lists, and cards – it’s very intuitive (and free if you don’t need advanced features/support).
  • Keyword Research: Google Trends and Keyword Planner
    With Google Trends, you can keep up with online search trends for your industry or product and see a breakdown of interest by region/city. With the Keyword Planner, you can out what search keywords to target, both for SEO and SEM purposes. Includes rough search volume counts and tools for generating similar keywords. Note: you will have to create at least one AdWords ad and enter billing details to get access.
  • Keyword Generation: keywordtool.io 
    Use this tool to easily generate long-tail keyword suggestions. As a bonus, it’s free and you don’t have to have an account (unlike Google Keyword Planner)
  • Landing Pages: Unbounce
    Quickly create and test landing pages to collect leads, capture information, and drive people down the funnel
  • Customer Messaging Platform: Intercom
    Interact with site visitors directly to acquire, engage, and retain them before they bounce (leave). It’s not free, but it’s probably the best one of them all. Free alternative: Tawk
  • Industry news: Google Alerts
    It’s impossible to keep up to date with everything going on these days. Make it easier on yourself by setting up custom alerts to be emailed to you whenever certain topics or keywords are trending.
  • Customer feedback: SurveyMonkey
    SurveyMonkey has been around for a while, and is still the king of survey software. Aside from making it easy to create and run surveys, they offer a lot of extra features and support. The Basic (Free) plan still gives you unlimited surveys – but with only 10 questions/survey!
  • Site Usability: Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights
    Just punch your URL into these free Google tools and you’ll get immediate feedback about how mobile-friendly your site is (very important these days), as well as what’s slowing the site down. Site speed is often overlooked these days, but every additional second of loading time greatly increases the chances of someone leaving (“bouncing”) from your property. Also: check out our site speed survey to see how you stack up against the Ecommerce giants.
  • Visitor activity analysis: CrazyEgg
    Shows you exactly how people are interacting with your site by overlaying heatmap (activity) over site elements. Includes a 30-day free trial.
  • Backlink Research (Free): Moz Link Explorer
    It’s arguably not as good as Ahrefs or SEMrush, but it’s still your best option if you’re on a very tight budget. A free backlink analysis tool. Keep track of your inbound links, see potential spam warnings, etc. Part of Moz SEO, a set of products/tools for keyword search, link building, webpage performance, and more.
  • General Marketing education:
  • FB/IG Campaign Management: AdEspresso
    If you already know what you’re doing with FB ads, AdEspresso offers lots of features to save you time when bulk creating, uploading, and optimizing ads. Massive ad budget? Check out Smartly.io
    Not sure what you’re doing? We can help.
  • Tag Management: Google Tag Manager
    Planning to have multiple third-party tags firing on your site? This is common when building out a multi-channel marketing strategy. With Google Tag Manager (or a similar tag “container” technology), you can make tag changes without redeploying your whole site.
  • Logo Creation: Hatchful
    Don’t have money for a designer? Check out Shopify’s handy tool for quickly generating great-looking logos
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): HubSpot
    “Everything you need to organize, track, and build better relationships with leads and customers.” Free plans available. Very popular software, used widely in the industry. The Marketing Hub offers Lead Generation, Analytics, Marketing Automation, and more.

Resources For Marketing Geeks

Finally, if you’re someone working at an agency or in-house marketing team, you might find the following handy.

  • Chrome DevTools
    Web authoring and debugging tool built right into Google’s Chrome browser. Useful for website development, debugging, and monitoring what requests are being made. Invaluable for investigating ad tag placement and behavior on any site. (On a Mac, press Option + Command + I while in Chrome to bring up the interface. Ctrl + Shift + I for Windows users.)
  • Ghostery Browser Extension
    Easily keep track of all third-party tags firing on any site. Useful for keeping up with all analytics and advertising technologies implemented on your own site (especially if an external party, such as an ad agency, has the ability to add tags to your website code). For individuals, a useful way to monitor exposure to tracking technologies online.
  • Charles Proxy
    Monitor all HTTP/HTTPS traffic between your machine and the internet. Has widespread applications both in web development and AdOps troubleshooting.
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider
    A website crawler that analyzes site links and onsite elements for SEO purposes. Available as a free download as a desktop app, with additional features as part of their premium offering. Great for technical SEO audits!
  • Ad Tech terminology (by OpenX)
    Confused about all those three letter acronyms and obscure industry terms? A glossary should help clear things up. Warning: you might soon be asking your DSP about the estimated ROAS for a CPM-priced RTB campaign focused on PMP inventory.
  • URL Parser
    Quickly decode/encode and extract data pass-back values from any URL (by yours truly).
  • A/B Significance Test (by Kissmetrics)
    A quick and dirty calculation of significance. Note: this will produce misleading results if the underlying experiment was not set up properly. If you need help executing a proper A/B test, please get in touch.
  • A/B Test Sample Size Calculator (by Optimizely)
    Computes the minimum sample size you will need (per variation) for a statistically significant test result (defined as the Minimum Detectable Effect, or the minimum relative change in conversion rate from your baseline conversion rate).
  • Thalamus
    “Research ad vendors and buyers across the largest advertising database on earth.” Yelp for AdTech, essentially. Comprehensive and useful.

* * *

If you feel any important tools are missing, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Last updated: April 2019