Selecting Tools to Streamline Your Online Marketing
Being a business owner you want quality tools that optimize your time and help your business grow. It’s a balancing act to find what tools work for you, but on a budget that also works for you. We all know that marketing is a critical aspect of growing your business and helping it succeed. So, what marketing tools can you use to get the best value, optimize your time and help your business grow, all while remaining within a reasonable budgeting? Let’s find out.
Spoiler: At the bottom of this post we summarize your options and pricing in a chart for easy comparison.
What You’ll Need Your Marketing Tools To Help You With
We decided to do some research to determine which types of tools businesses need. We first considered the marketing elements that would be used to create a “full funnel” solution. For a complete online marketing solution that leads customers through the marketing and sales funnel, a business would need tools that help streamline and manage the following:
- Emails and Workflows
- Social Media
- Landing Pages
- CRM and Lead Management
- CMS and Hosting
Researching The Best Marketing Tools
our search for the best tools, we narrowed it down to two general
“buckets”. You can go for an “all-in-one” tool or pick up various
individuals tools. Within each “bucket” we’ve narrowed it down even
further into what your specific options are. Each option had various
“levels” of pricing ie. basic, premium etc. When evaluating, we opted
for the mid-price point for each software. This ensured we didn’t go too
basic or too advanced for the needs of a small or medium sized
It’s important to note that we haven’t personally tried out all of these tools and this information is based on our research. If you’ve personally used any of these tools, let us know what you think of them in our comments section below. Alright, let’s get started and take a look at your options!
The “all-in-one” Options
1) Inboundio – Basic Marketing Needs
First up for the “all-in-one” bucket was Inboundio. The marketing software with the lowest price point of $49.
Inboundio covers most needs. Inboundio includes e-mails, workflows, landing pages, CRM and lead management and analytics. This seems like a perfect option for any small business to manage the basics of marketing. The product appears to be clean, simple and to the point (based on the product screenshots). This is likely a good solution for an entrepreneur with limited online marketing experience.
The downfall? There is no SEO, website management or hosting. However, there seem to be some tools that integrate well into this. The other concern with Inboundio is the vagueness of the functionality. We wonder – just how far this product can take you?
2) Rainmaker – Content Focused
Rainmaker came next in line based on affordability. They are either good at creating compelling copy and design, or they have a good product here. Whatever it was, it peaked our interest. The focus seems to be on creating content that generates traffic and conversions. At $149 you get SEO, landing pages, analytics, website and hosting.
However, when you consider a full marketing tool, there are some crucial downfalls. They don’t manage emails/workflows, social media or CRM/lead management. It seems they do a few things really well and where they lack, they integrate with other applications. If Rainmaker was an all-in-one solution, they would create some serious competition with HubSpot.
3) HubSpot – the all-in-one solution
That leads us to our next option, HubSpot. This is probably the most known or first thought of, all-in-one marketing solution. They’re known for their expertise, but they’re also known for being a bit pricey, starting at $200 a month. But, HubSpot does it all – emails, social media, SEO, landing pages, CRM, and hosting.
The only downfall with HubSpot is that they stump you on one critical item. They allow you to create and send emails. But, if you want automation of emails via workflows, it’s going to cost you another $600 a month. It’s quite the large jump in price.
We use HubSpot now. Although it isn’t completely perfect and has some constraints, it is a powerful tool. We love the HubSpot Academy for teaching all the in’s and out’s of inbound marketing – a definite value-add bonus. You can get certified in various topics such as ‘Inbound Marketing’, ‘Email Marketing’, ‘Growth Driven Design’ and more. It’s a great way to ensure you are on top of your marketing skills and in a world full of information overload, gives you a go-to place to make sure you cover everything you need to know.
4) Infusionsoft – CRM focused tool
Next, we looked at Infusionsoft where they focus on CRM, instead of content. It’s even more expensive at $228. It offers emails, workflows, landing pages, CRM and lead management. If you want to include social media you will need to pay another $29 . Note: we included it IN the total price listed above.
Unfortunately, Infusionsoft still misses the mark for “all-in-one” online marketing. They don’t offer SEO, analytics or hosting. For a sales team, it would be something to consider. But, in terms of online marketing, we’re just not quite sure it would be the best solution.
To get the best fit for you, you may consider combining a bunch of individuals options.
As with almost anything, there are pros and cons to using an”all-in-one tool and individual tools. Depending on your needs, individual tools can get a bit expensive, and you may have to juggle many accounts that may or may not work together. However, these individual marketing tools are more focused on a specific solution, doing one thing really well.
So what are some individual tools that you can use? We break them down by function below.
It’s important to note that there are tons of tools out there and it would take a lifetime to go through them all, so we’ve selected some of the most popular tools and picked out the top one or two for each function and discuss the pros and cons to each tool to help yo make a more informed decision.
Emails and Workflows
MailChimp or Constant Contact
Both MailChimp and Constant Contact are easy-to-use, intuitive platforms. In terms of cost comparison, however, based on the typical needs of SMBs MailChimp is more affordable than
Constant Contact. The forever free plan for the first 2,000 emails is a
unique advantage that MailChimp has is perfect for SMBs.
However, price points vary depending on your needs and features provided. You’re looking at anywhere from $0-$245/month for MailChimp (depending of course) and Constant Contact will run you $0-$115/month.
On the other hand, Constant Contact outperforms when it come to support. MailChimp offers self-service, chat or email support whereas Constant Contact has phone, chat and email support. In addition, they have a community forum, recorded video tutorials, local seminars and email marketing boot camp classes for live instruction and other additional training and support services. In terms of functionality, however, it’s pretty close. Capterra put together a great comparison chart that will help you see. They mention it would probably take days to go through them all in detail since there are so many – that are also ever-changing.
(Note: the highlighted cells indicate unique features, where one email provider had an advantage over the other.)
|Feature Comparison||MailChimp||Constant Contact|
|Customizable Email Templates||✓ Easier-to-use customization features, mobile-friendly templates||✓ Wider variety of templates, broken out by industry and function, plus greater customization control if you know HTML|
|Drag & Drop Editor||✓||✓|
|Image Storage||✓ Unlimited, free storage||Free for up to 5 files, but access to library of free stock images|
|Auto Responders||✓ Paid Feature||✓|
|Email Client Testing||✓ Paid Feature – Inbox Inspector||✓|
|Geolocation Delivery by Time Zone||✓ Time Zone = Paid Feature||Manually Segment List by Time Zones and Location|
|Automatic A/B Testing||✓ Subject Lines & Segments||Manually Split Into Two Lists|
|Click, Open, Engagement Reports||✓ More Users Preferred MailChimps Report Layout||✓|
|Coupon Codes||✓||✓ Save Local (Groupon-esque) Daily Deals for $1 per Voucher|
|Mobiles List Signup||✓||✓|
|Text Messaging||✓ e.g. SMS Texts for Events||✓ e.g. Text to Join Mailing List|
|Social Analytics||✓ Deeper Twitter Integration||✓ Deeper Facebook Integration|
|Event Management||Integrates with Eventbrite||✓ Add on to CC Platform for $20-$25 per Month|
|Surveys||Simple polls, or Integrates with SurveyGizmo or SurveyMonkey||✓ Add on to CC Platform for $15 per Month|
Hootsuite or Buffer
Hootsuite and Buffer both help manage social media. The main difference among them is that Hootsuite is a social media management platform and Buffer is a content publishing
platform. They also both publish and schedule content, are easy to
collaborate with team members, and cover your main social media
networks. In terms of analytics, Hootsuite offer analytics of your
social networks (how social networks are performing, your social traffic
etc) where Buffer just focuses on the content you published. If you’re
looking for something basic and to just help you schedule your content,
Buffer may be the best option, whereas if you are trying to dive deeper
into analytics, Hootsuite might be the best option for you.
In terms of costs, Buffer has a free plan and increases – $10, $99, $199, $399. Hootsuite has a free plan as a well and their Pro plan at $9.99 monthly. If you want to go beyond that you have to contact them for a quote.
Yoast SEO for WordPress (plugin)
SEO is all about optimizing your site for search engines such as Google and Bing, and Yoast is a leading plugin in the market. It’ll cover page titles, descriptions, URLs, navigation, content quality, anchor text, image optimization, correct use of headings and tags, among the main features. For a single site, you are looking at $69/year. That being said, this tool is for WordPress websites, which most people use for their sites. HubSpot can manage and analyze SEO as well but you’d have to have your site hosted on their platform.
Instapage or Leadpages
Instapage and Leadpages are very similar tools for creating landing pages. They offer templates, integrate with services such as Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, and MailChimp,
and have A/B testing. The main difference aiming them is Instapage
gives you more flexibility to build a landing page from scratch where
Leadpages is a great option if you want to create something template
based. Both are essentially good tools and it just comes down to your
|Basic/Standard||$29 (2 A/B split tests)||$25|
|Pro||$55 (unlimited A/B testing)||$40 (includes A/B testing)|
|Unlimited/Enterprise||$79 (unlimited A/B testing)||$67 (includes A/B testing, Template Importer and HubSpot & Salesforce integration)|
CRM and Lead Management
Podio, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Insightly
Business News Daily put together a comprehensive review of CRM tools which we’ve narrowed down to four options. As Business News Daily explains:
Podio — Podio delivers a clutter-free CRM solution for $9 – $24 per month. It is a very “lightweight” software that lets you customize features, so you get all the capabilities you need without all the additional fuss or complexities. With this product’s simple interface, you can easily get where you need to go without getting lost in extra steps navigating the software.
Salesforce — Salesforce has everything you need in a cloud-based CRM software. It’s affordable, easy to use, offers a ton of features at a small business price point, and apparently has great customer support. You’ll be looking at a $25-$300 monthly investment if you decide to go with Salesforce.
Infusionsoft — Infusionsoft is a favorite because of its ease to use and offers a comprehensive set of CRM tools at a fair price. Users like its automation features, ability to nurture leads all the way to closing the sales and extras like email marketing, billing and project management. If budget is a concern for you then you might not be impressed with the $199-$599 monthly fee, with an additional mandatory Kickstarter coaching package. This one-off cost will be anywhere from $999-$2,999.
Insightly — If you are just starting out and small then Insightly may be the best option for you. It’s a simple, scalable solution that grows with your business. It offers both basic and advanced capabilities, so you can start with a free or affordable standard plan, then upgrade as your business expands with the enterprise version running you $99/month.
Web Analytics and Social Media Analytics
Most tools, such as those for creating landing pages, or automating emails usually come with some form of basic measure of Analytics. We’ll take this a little further and explore website analytics and social media analytics – areas where you may want a more robust overview into your analytics.
Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a great and free way to track website analytics. It’s a go-to solution for many people. Bonus points if you get a heat map tool like Crazy Egg that visually shows you where customers are going, their journey on your website and where they are dropping so you can optimize for the best user experience.
Social Media Analytics
When it comes to social media analytics there are a ton of options depending how in depth you want to get into your social media analytics. Some popular ones are:
Simply Measured – Simply measured compiles data from every major social network, you can compare campaigns to discover new ways to optimize, analyze your competitors and compare them to benchmark social performance, and has hashtag and keyword tracking. Social starts at $500/month.
Fanpage Karma – Fanpage Karma is a great tool to not only analyze your own social media analytics but it gives you a chance to see how your competitors are doing as well. They offer:
- Analytics – Analysis and Reporting for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest
- Social Monitoring – Monitoring and Analysis of search terms for Twitter and Google+
The analytics starts at 0 and goes up to 349 Euro, whereas the social monitoring goes from 0 to 199 Euro.
Facebook Page Insights – Don’t forget, your Facebook Page Insights provides a good look into your Facebook Analytics, for Free. This includes stats on page likes, reach, engagement, it shows when your fans are online, where you fans are coming from a demographics such as age and gender.
Twitter Analytics – Similarly, Twitter has its Twitter Analytics which provides stats on how many tweets you post, impressions, profile visits, mentions, and followers. It also shows highlights such as your top tweet and your top follower. And, of course, free as well.
When it comes to platforms for your site some of the most popular are Wordpress, HubSpot, and Squarespace. There are pros and cons to each.
- Squarespace – Squarespace
is easy to use and intuitive and a great option for beginners. That
being said, you are very limited in terms how much you can customize the
- HubSpot – HubSpot
is a bit more robust but still fairly intuitive. With their clearly
outlined and easy to follow online training, it’s easy to get a grasp on
- WordPress – Finally,
and one of the most popular options out there is WordPress. Although
not the easiest option for beginners, beginners still use this platform.
Based on your skill level, or ability to hire a developer, you can
really customize WordPress and add all sorts of great plugins.
Both Hubspot and Squarespace are hosted by their respective companies.
For WordPress however, there are several options for hosting. The best we’ve found are the following:
- Kinsta– Kinsta is a Premium WordPress host for businesses big and small. Their servers run on the most current and fastest technology to make sure your sites load fast. From the various hosting companies we have worked with, Kinsta has the best customer service and really care about the health of your website. They help protect your sites against malicious attacks and monitor them constantly for threats. If an issues arises, they are quick to respond and very helpful in sorting it out for you. For development, the most useful feature that Kinsta has is its ability to create staging sites within seconds. This makes starting a development project extremely smooth and efficient.
- WP Engine – WP Engine is stable, fast, secure and they have great support. They offer a lot of very great features for you to self-host your site here. You will still need to update your plugins yourself and manage your site yourself, however, they have a lot of tutorials and documentation to assist you. WP Engine will cost you $29/month.
- Pantheon – At $25/month, this is the fastest self-hosting option for WordPress that is out there. It has similar features as WP Engine but is faster and more developer focused. You can use it if you’re not a developer, however, it is best suited for developers. With Pantheon you will still manage your website yourself and handle your plugins yourself. If something breaks on it, it’s up to you to hire a developer to fix it!
- Growth Labs Marketing – With over 7 years of experience building specialized servers for WordPress, Growth Labs hosting is extremely fast and secure. As a full managed solution, migrations from your current host is handled, uptime is constantly monitored and should something go astray, Growth Labs will be first to know and already underway on addressing the issue before you even have a chance to hear about it from someone else. With a full “a-z” solution, this is a perfect solution for those who don’t want to worry about plugins breaking your site, or handling back-ups. Everything is managed by Growth Labs, all you need to do is manage the content on the site. This starts at $70/month. Contact us to learn more about hosting solutions that fit your needs.
To help you compare options, we’ve summarized this information in a lovely chart below.
|TOTAL COST||$49||$125 (+ $15 + $9.99)||$200||$199 (+ $29)||$0-$4,368|
|Emails and Workflows||YES||YES, but through MailChimp $15/mth||YES, but Automation bumps you up to $800/month||YES|| MailChimp: free, $10, $199, $245/mth|
Constant Contact: free, $20, $45, $115/mth
|Social Media||YES||Yes, but through Hootsuite for $9.99/mth||YES||Additional $29/month|| Hootsuite: free, $9.99, unknown/mth|
Buffer: free, $10, $99, $199, $399/mth
|Landing Pages||YES||YES||YES||YES|| Instapage: $29, $55, $79/mth|
Leadpages: $25, $40, $67/mth
|CRM and Lead Management||YES||$228 for infusionsoft||YES||YES|| Podio: $9-$24/mth|
Infusionsoft: $199-$599/mth + one time cost of $999-$2,999
|Analytics||YES, basic reporting||YES||YES|| Google Analytics: free|
CrazyEgg: $9, $19, $49, $99
Simply Measured: $500, $1000, $2000
Fanpage Karma: €49, €99, €149, €199, €349
Facebook Page Insights: free
Twitter Analytics: free
|CMS and Hosting||–||YES||YES||–|| CMS|
Squarespace: $12, $18, $26, $40
HubSpot: Dependant on your plan
WordPress: free, $5.99, $8.25, $24.92
WP Engine $29/month
Growth Labs Marketing $70/month (fully managed)