The Internet has changed the way companies communicate. And this means that digital communications have become a high priority to marketers. Below are a list of technologies and capabilities that are important tools for today's inbound marketer.
- Email marketing - email is still a critical tool in the lead generation arsenal. Email software should provide high deliverability as well as campaign reporting. Solutions vary greatly in price and capability. There is some overlap between "email only providers" and marketing automation providers (later in the list).
- Social Media Monitoring - in the digital economy, it is important to listen in on the conversations going on in your market. This is important not only for lead generation opportunities but for brand management. Whether people are talking about you or your business in a positive or no so positive way, you want to know about it. Solutions range from simple monitoring systems using free tools like Google Alerts to sophisticated systems like Radian 6.
- Social Media Publishing - it's hard enough to find time to do all of the things that we need to do. Then social media comes along and requires even more time and effort. Social media publishing and integration tools can make this easier to manage by integrating key elements of your marketing. For example, you might integrate your blog with Twitter and your Facebook Page for easy content syndication.
- Website Content Management System - in order to give visitors and the search engines what they want (fresh, relevant content), you need to keep your website updated. This becomes a challenge if you always need your IT team or a web developer to make changes to your site. A content management system makes website editing as simple as using a word processor. Popular content management systems for standard business implementations include Wordpress and HubSpot.
- Analytics - in order to turn your website into a lead generation machine, you need to be able to measure and track what is going on. This means using website analytics. Google Analytics is a full featured analytics tool that is free from Google. HubSpot also offers easy to use analytics as part of their marketing solution.
- Blogging - blogging can generate a steady stream of traffic and leads for your business. There are both free and paid platforms that can work for you. Most website content management systems will offer a blogging component. Wordpress is really a blogging platform that can be used as a website content management system.
- Keyword Research - if you want to rank for target keywords in the search engines, you have to know which keywords you want to rank for. Keyword research tools can provide an in-depth understanding of search volume and competition for specific keywords. The best tool is the Google External Keyword Tool offered by Google. There are also paid tools available like Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery.
- Backlink Analysis - backlinks are critical for SEO success. So tools that help to identify where you and your competition are getting their links, which ones carry the most authority and/or link text is a cricial component. Like almost all of these categories, there are free and paid tools available such as Backlink Analyzer (registration required) and Majestic SEO.
- Lead Nurturing - lead nurturing or marketing automation takes email marketing to the next level and can help put your marketing on autopilot by automatically following up with leads with pre-designed campaigns. Providers include HubSpot, Marketo, Silverpop, Eloqua and Manticore.
- CRM - since our goal as lead generation marketers is to generate qualified sales leads that turn into sales, it's extremely helpful to utilize closed-loop reporting. This means have the means to track a lead from "click to close". Marketing automation or lead management solutions that either provide CRM capabilities or integrate with CRM systems can fill this role.
- Keyword Rank Tracking - if you are doing any type of Search Engine Optimization, you need to know what your rankings are and how they are trending. It's the only way to know what's working and what's not. Free tools like Google Webmaster Tools can help with rank tracking as well as other systems like HubSpot.
- Social Media Sharing - find social media plugins that work with your content management system and blog to make it easy for people to share your content. These plugins create buttons that go with your content. The graphic below shows social media sharing buttons.
This is a general category list with a few specific examples. This is by no means a complete list or a recommendation of one tool over another. Please provide your comments as to what else should be added or which specific tools you like in each category.
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