Last updated: December 19, 2019 by Loz James

Welcome to the show. In this episode I’m going to discuss my top five marketing tools of 2019.

I’ve not really talked about my marketing stack before – but that’s long overdue because I quite simply couldn’t run the content marketing and SEO campaigns that I do for clients and my own projects if I didn’t use marketing automation.

So in no particular order, here are my best tools of the year – that I absolutely cannot do without on a daily basis…

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1. Active Campaign

For email marketing and automations based on tagging people’s interests, I absolutely love Active Campaign. I’m slightly obsessed with creating automation workflows in this software, and I’ve got so used to its interface and layout that I couldn’t even entertain using anything else.

It does have its drawbacks – for instance I find editing emails within automations to be clunky – but when used in combination with lead capture software such as ConvertBox, then this is the only email marketing stack you’ll ever need.

I’m on a $50 bucks a month plan at the moment, and that’s sufficient for my needs in terms of automations and campaigns, so give it a go yourself if you need an email marketing provider or are thinking of changing from another solution.

2. ConvertBox

This brings us neatly onto my next choice – ConvertBox. Describing itself as the new, more intelligent way to convert your visitors – it really is the new, more intelligent way to convert your visitors. ConvertBox helps you create email signup slide-ins, popups and exit intent forms that use advanced segmenting and targeting to convert more of your site traffic into email subscribers.

That sounds fancy but what I really like about this software is its easy-to-use and intuitive interface, the personalised nature of the messaging – and also the fact that the design of the various conversion boxes and elements is refined and doesn’t scream, ‘I’m doing some marketing’ at your prospects.

I went for their lifetime access pricing which is a few hundred bucks at the time of writing, so I’d get in on this fast as I think this offer is running out very soon.

3. Ahrefs

Next up is my SEO tool of choice, Ahrefs. I use this literally everyday and find it to be the Swiss army knife of SEO software. From website audits to keyword research and link analysis – and everything else in between – I choose to stay with this tool because I trust the quality of their data and the size of their backlink database.

Over the last few years I’ve alternated between their lite and standard plans – and although it can get a bit pricey as you go up the service levels – don’t forget you are paying for the integrity of their data, which is really everything in SEO terms.

One feature of Ahrefs that has really impressed me this year is the site audit. I used to use SEO Optimer (which is fine) and a mish-mash of other tools – but I’m finding the data this produces to be really insightful.

The best thing I can say about Ahrefs is that it’s a bit of an SEO oracle – in that if I find a great keyword or some link data in another tool (such as KW Finder which is also great), then I always double check it in Ahrefs just to be sure.

4. Gmail

I started using Gmail in anger at the start of this year – not I would add in anger at Gmail itself, but at the host of other useless email platforms I’d failed with previously (Mac Mail you’re guilty as charged).

I think I pay about $5 bucks a month for the G Suite version of Gmail, which means I can use my own Content Champion domain as part of my email address – and I can honestly say since I did this I’ve never looked back.

Gmail is such great value, and there’s been no down time, no lost emails, no storage or sending problems or glitches of any kind – and it’s so easy to create folders for different clients or subjects, and tag everything that comes in and out, that you always know where you are.

I’m sure there are more sophisticated ways of using Gmail, but I like keeping it simple – and that’s why I just love the user-friendly interface, folder system and layout. I use it as a kind of online filing system – and so far it’s been superb.

5. Google Docs & Sheets

Ok – so this final choice is really two tools – or does it actually count as one within G Suite itself? Anyway who cares about Google’s convoluted product suite structure – Sheets are Docs are just a revelation.

Firstly, I really love how easy docs and sheets are to set up, and the way they save everything automatically so you don’t lose your work like in desktop Word or Excel. I also like the easy formatting and collaboration options so your team can work on a document together and easily be assigned various access levels. I also like the way you can share documents and sheets with clients through a simple link.

But what’s best about these two is the way they work together. This year I’ve created some quite sophisticated workflow checklists in sheets, that link through to docs for more information. The best examples of this are my podcast workflow document and some standard operating procedures (SOP’s) that I’ve created for various SEO tasks – both for myself and clients.

I’ve got these as part of G Suite so it’s just a few bucks a month, but you can use both docs and sheets for free on personal projects.

In Conclusion: My Top Marketing Tools

So there you have it – a quick rundown of my favourite marketing tools of the year; my five absolute ‘can’t live without them’ essentials that I use everyday.

As we know, new marketing tools are coming out all the time, and my tip for next year that I’ve yet to really get to grips with is – the onpage optimisation software, so maybe that will make my 2020 list if it becomes a key part of my marketing stack in the next 12 months.

Until then, I hope you have some success with these tools and thanks as ever for listening.

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